20. Arch-Violence - Gusta and Thomas van der Velden (2008)
Plutonia 2 Map11
Baptism by fire is the name of the game in this much more complex and deadly remake of “Hunted” from the original Plutonia Experiment. In this version, nearly a hundred Arch-Viles play cat and mouse with you throughout the labyrinthine ruins on Ultra-Violence, so you’d better stop staring at the architecture and hunt down some heavy firepower before you’re toast!
19. Beneath a Festering Moon - Xaser (2014)
Back to Saturn X E2 Map26
A grand view, a climactic battle, and a great plot twist which sets up the still hotly-anticipated E3 all in one one. Towers, spirals, and beauteous weirdness are all part and parcel for Xaser's oeuvre at this point, but even among these "Beneath a Festering Moon" is particularly striking, both for its "I can't believe he was able to realize this under vanilla executable limits" factor which defines the project as a whole and, for normal humans, its rollercoaster ride of pitched battles and poignant cinematic moments.
Community Chest 4 Map20 / Map21
If you’ve ever so much as glimpsed lupinx-Kassman’s space duology, it’s easy to see why they were practically all the community could talk about in 2012. Taking players on a jaw-dropping journey from uber-futuristic floating platforms into the glowing cyberpunk bowels of the space station in search of a rogue AI named Shaman, they raised the bar for what Doom maps could be and set a "wow factor" precedent that mappers would strive toward for years to come.
17. Pale Monument - Insane_Gazebo (2009)
In a WAD renowned for its striking, cyclopean backdrops, "Pale Monument" remains one of the most strikingly monolithic of them all, not just for its unbridled sense of scale, space, and grandeur, but for the poignant air of melancholy which distinguishes it from its compeers as well. And, hell, boasting some of the biggest and most freeform fights in a WAD defined by epic battles doesn't hurt either, including one of the grandest cacoswarms seen to date.
16. Wild Bleu Yonder - Xaser and Matt Tropiano (2018)
Adventures of Square: Episode 2 A5
This mammoth sandbox map has it all: from quick-strike cover-based combat in the dense trees to wide open battlegrounds, from cloudy abysses to forests full of eyeballs, from lakes of bouncing jello cubes to creepy secret demon trees. It’s pure joy to explore it all and take everything in while blasting your enemies to smithereens.
15. The Shrine - Espi (2008)
Eternal Doom 4 Map27
The Shrine stands alone among Doom adventure maps. It’s one of those rare creations that feels absolutely timeless, like it could’ve been made yesterday or ten years from now and it would still be just as impactful. It was Espi’s most ambitious work before his untimely passing in 2009, and he really made this one count. From its castle courtyards and waterfalls to its vast edge-of-the-world cliffside vista, The Shrine brings to life the lonely remains of a lost civilization, with a completely original texture set and an unmatched eye for detail. A decade later, I’m still finding new things to admire in it.
Despite its epic scope, The Shrine still carries the same modesty that defined so much of Espi’s work. It feels natural and effortless despite being packed with scenes that any other mapper would eagerly turn into glossy look-at-me setpieces. The Shrine is an invitation to visit another world, courtesy of a master craftsman who was taken from us far too soon.
14. The Mancubian Candidate - skillsaw (2015)
Ugh. Another MegaWAD, another MAP07. Another bunch of Mancubuses to murder, another family of Arachnotrons to assail, same old, same old. Wait a minute - I can't kill the map's only Mancubus or I'll have an entire swarm of Archviles on my ass? Well, that changes everything! Using the MAP07 map specials embedded into Doom to create an interesting gameplay twist, Skillsaw presents a map that dares you to succumb to your base instincts and screw yourself royally, and it involves keeping one of the most annoying enemies in Doom's bestiary alive to succeed. Love it or hate it, "The Mancubian Candidate" is one map you won't soon forget as you play through Valiant. I mean, we sure didn't!
13. Comatose - Lainos (2016)
How can one map be so peaceful yet so creepy at the same time? This eerie, endlessly sprawling, consummately detailed ghost town makes you feel like you’ve wandered onto the set of a zombie movie, but instead of the shambling dead per se, you’re faced with nightmarish shadows who may have once been the town’s inhabitants. You can soak up all that delicious atmosphere while trying to piece together the hidden clues about what happened to everyone.
12. Thunderpeak Powerplant and Termination - Vader (2008)
Thunderpeak was the crown jewel of ZPack (though it was later released as a stand-alone), and it remains one of the crown jewels of ZDoom mapping in general. Featuring several great custom monsters – including Vader’s own Terminator, one of the most awesome custom bosses the Doom community has ever seen – it strikes the perfect balance between using advanced features to create something truly unique and impressive while also remaining true to Doom’s classic arcade feel.
11. Go Fuck Yourself - Ribbiks (2015)
Never mind that it’s an imposing and wickedly designed void map with a cool yellow tech theme, as beautiful and challenging as anything Ribbiks has made. We all know what we’re here for: the Arch-Vile carousel room, where you have to fight off teleporting hordes while simultaneously staying behind a perpetually moving circular wall to avoid getting fried. It’s probably the single most memorable combat setpiece in all of Doomdom.