30. Untitled - B.P.R.D. (2001)
Spoiler alert: in Equinox, Aliens Did It. Or, more accurately, aliens were responsible for humanity's expansion to the stars in the first place... at least that's what its final map might suggest, with its opening scene being an alien facsimilie of the wad's opening crawl. Regardless of interpretation, this map just oozes style and serves as a perfect bookend for the set, sporting an absolutely beautiful soundtrack and a grand spectacle of a central arena. The word "Epic" has long been beaten into the dust, but just for second, let's pretend it hasn't so we can use it to describe this map... then leave the word for the aliens to abduct. Clearly they're doing a better job with it than we are.
29. The Given - dobu gabu maru (2017)
A prominent entry in a gradually but steadily burgeoning subgenre of monster-minimal or even entirely monsterless maps, Dobu Gabu Maru's The Given is something akin to a walking simulator for Doom, presenting a darkly fantastical and immediately compelling never-was world to wander about in, solving an impressive variety of brainteasers in lieu of mortal combat while drinking in the wine-deep and shadow-dark atmosphere. With a fascinating implied backstory that shows but never tells and visual presentation that's second to none (all stock textures to boot!), "The Given" is a trip that won't appeal to everyone, but that none will soon forget.
28. < | > - Gusta (2005)
Kama Sutra Map30
This map is…definitely something, that’s for sure. A crowning piece of sector art in a mapset known for its sector art? A lazy garbage ending to an otherwise fantastic megawad? A blatant symbol of all that’s misogynistic in gaming? One of the community’s most legendary memes? Whatever it is, we’ll just about guarantee you won’t forget it.
(Content warning: the entire premise of the map is to kill a giant vagina by shooting rockets into it, which is messed up on a lot of levels.)
27. God Machine - Ribbiks and Dannebubinga (2015)
Creating a suitable climax for a megaWAD comprised almost entirely of high-concept, harrowing death-struggles and equally striking, surreal environments is a tall order, indeed. The answer: "God Machine", a superlative collaborative asset by both of the set's authors, pacing out the blistering final battles with long periods of gripping, nerve-wracking wandering through the nighted bowels of a silently menacing megastructure, powering on machinery and gradually working towards....something. Something bad.
26. 1010011010 - darkwave0000 (2010)
Speed of Doom Map31
Like any good secret map, this one plays the “and now for something completely different” card and dumps you into a cybernetic pocket-plane ecosystem, a land styled like an organic hellscape but composed of pure tech and populated with armies of Doom’s tougher cyborg enemies. The scavenger hunt for hidden Commander Keen dolls is the icing on the cake.
25. Phylex: Top Floor - Scuba Steve et al (2008)
Action Doom 2 Map07
The community’s favorite 3D beat-em-up total conversion culminates in this over-the-top brawl on the top floor of the villain’s skyscraper. This Nintendo-inspired finale has ninjas crashing through the windows, final exam-style combat against the toughest enemies in the game, and a boss fight with a helicopter. Will you save your daughter? It depends whether you smashed up that one guy’s car three levels back, naturally.
(Content warning: Action Doom 2 emulates an 1980s mindset, which includes stereotyping/violence towards gay/disabled people.)
Back to Saturn X E1 Map 24/Map25
Tough Skin River isn’t the most brutal megawad finale ever made, but it may well be the most satisfying; the combination of intense combat, driving music, and a shift to a beautiful overgrown jungle theme makes it the perfect ending to a great set of maps. As if that weren’t enough, the melancholy epilogue drives it home even more – though you may find that home isn’t quite where you expected it to be.
23. Hatred - Dario Casali (1997)
1997's Requiem is an important historical piece for Doom and its community, to say the least, and you'll surely encounter more from it elsewhere on this list. Many of its maps are visionary, in a technically single-minded sort of way, but Dario Casali's (of Plutonia Experiment fame) m23 stands apart: whereas many of Requiem's maps focus on ingenuous engine hacks to create a clever (if crude) semblance of visual effects much-touted by post-Doom engines, "Hatred" fully embraces a number of engine quirks and features which are distinctly and uniquely Doom for a watershed map fielding one disconcerting (and darkly amusing) surprise after another.
22. Blizzard Conditions - Pyroscourge (2012)
Winter’s Fury Map07a
Released in 2012, Winter's Fury writ large has remained one of the greatest spectacles for GZDoom to date, and "Blizzard Conditions" is one of the most striking cinematic crescendos in a WAD that often seems to be comprised almost entirely of striking cinematic crescendos. Combining a truly dramatic setting--a blizzard-besieged secret UAC outpost on a mountaintop in remote Siberia--with blazing gunplay and one of many gripping bossfights, it speaks volumes that "Blizzard Conditions" is, in the context of the whole adventure, simply the calm before the storm.
21. Mr. X - Erik Alm (2005)
Scythe 2 Map16
You are in a dark storage hold, with only yourself and your weapons. You walk down one corridor, sloshing through ankle-high pools of blood, when you hear the electrical aftershock of a teleporter - but nothing is there. The snorts and heavy breaths of imps and zombies that SHOULD be attacking you shriek in deathly agony before you even see them. It occurs to you that you're not alone - you're being stalked. Someone or something is out there, and it may not be friendly.
WHO IS MR. X?