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Budoka

Tackling modern WADs for newish and/or ordinary players : where to start ?

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It’s usually fairly clear which 90s/early 2000s WADs are for common players and which ones are directed towards Doomgods. We all now whether to play Icarus or HR2 first. With recent releases, however, things are not so clear cut. Most of them become really hard at some point, which is fine. However, the way in which they become harder tends to be unpredictable, and that makes finding a fluid training curve throughout them complicated.

I tried my hand at most of the following already, but always seem to get pummeled into the ground at some point. What I would like is for those who have finished most of these (maybe all ?) to suggest a rough outline of the order in which to tackle them, starting with the easier ones and finishing with the hardest of the hard. Also, I you think If omitted some important classics, please do mention them.

I’m ignoring Sunder, Slaughterfest 2011/2012, Chillax, ToM and the like for the purposes of this request. They’re from a different playground, really. I’m also excluding « neo-retro » stuff like Reverie or DTWID, which of course is going to be more lenient and chill. II’ll list the WADs in order of release date for now :

-Scythe II (we all know this one gets pretty rough…)
-Aeternum (beat it already, but listing it anyway. Pretty hard I think.)
-Deus Vult II (the worst of the bunch maybe ?)
-Plutonia 2
-Claustrophobia 1024 (seems pretty brutal from the get go, from what I’ve played)
-Hell Ground (well, it seems manageable until you reach the finale…)
-Whispers of Satan
-Speed of Doom (could give DVII a run for its money, no doubt)
-Epic, Epic 2

-Plutonia Revisited
-Jenesis (I think that’s a hard one)
-Vanguard & Lunatic (See Aeternum. I’d say those two are medium level overall.)
-Community Chest 4 (yeah, that’s a really hard one. I made it to MAP10 before giving up)
-Back to Saturn X (that is to say, the whole freaking thing)
-Hell Awakened (Being a Zdoom WAD though, maybe it’s a special case)
-3 heures d’agonie, 3HA2
-Hellbound
-Unholy Realms
-Nova, Nova 2
-Resurgence (I know I played it over halfway through, but that’s still far from the end and even then I brute forced my way through most of it. Although maybe playing Speed of Doom first would be better, despite the fact it’s supposedly tougher.)

-and finally, Valiant (somewhere between Vanguard and Aeternum ? Worse than Aeternum ?)

So, there you have it. I plan to beat all of these eventually, so any hindsight from you veterans would be appreciated by me, and no doubt by anyone who attempts the same.

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You can always lower the difficulty!

Crap, someone just threw a tomato at me for typing that sentence.

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The difficulty is subjective.
And most important:

rdwpa said:

You can always lower the difficulty!

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yeah don't think of difficulty settings in terms of how good or bad you are, but how chilled out or stressful you want your game to be.

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I know I can lower the difficulty, I did it for Resurgence. But it's frustrating, because it feels like I'm playing a truncated version of the mapset. Often when playing on HMP or lower, I will find an encounter lackluster, only to read a review or watch a UV-max demo and suddenly realize that the UV version of said encounter is actually really good, but I didn't get to see it because I gave up UV at an earlier point. And with so many mapsets out there to discover, you can only afford to replay the same ones over so many times.

gaspe said:

The difficulty is subjective.


...You don't say. Except subjectivity has its own limits, for example you're not going to see anyone argue that they have an easier time with Sunder than they do Evilution.

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I've played most of these, and of the ones I have played, I'd rank them like this from easiest to hardest:

Whispers of Satan
BtSX
Lunatic
Hell Ground
Epic 2
Vanguard (the first 11 maps would place this earlier in the list, between BtSX and Lunatic, but map 12 is fairly tough IMO)
Valiant
----(fairly big jump in difficulty here)----
Unholy Realms
Plutonia 2
----(another big jump in difficulty)----
Scythe 2
Deus Vult II
PRCP
----(another big jump in difficulty)----
Resurgence
Speed of Doom

Note that it's been a looooooong time since I've played Plutonia 2, so my recollections of it may not be accurate. Also, I didn't care for PRCP, so that might be coloring my perceptions.

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It's hard to gauge, as I got better over the course of a year:


Easy To Medium:

Suspended in Dusk
Back To Basics
No Rest For The Living
TNT Evilution
Whispers Of Satan

Intially Medium:

BTSX EP1
Alien Vendetta
Scythe
ScytheII
Bauhaus

Hard:

BTSX EP2
Plutonia
Vanguard
Valiant
Unholy Realms

Nightmare:

Going Down
Sunder
Anything by Ribbiks

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2002: ADO 10th Anniversary edition. Not super difficult nor a walk in the park.

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I've played some of 2002 and liked it. I'd consider that fairly old-school though, when compared to the polish present in most of the stuff I listed.

Thanks for your opinions, Cynical and Urthar.

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If you're having problems with newer stuff, try doing some uv max or speeds of easier maps you've done before. You'd be surprised how much it can help to be focusing on killing mobs efficiently and quickly in getting you through those tougher maps. Watch some uv speeds and try to copy movement of the runner, that also helps. Kingdome streams on twitch pretty frequently, watch his plutonia and scythe speedruns. If you want some maps in a similar playstlye to sod and resurgence, check out my newgothic maps. They can be difficult, but have a lot of health and ammo.

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Just my two cents to extend/reinforce statements in AB's post: I was able to significantly raise my skill and general survivability by simply abandoning savegames, one day I just decided to do so all of a sudden. No matter what the map length is, no matter how hard it is, it's just you and death that sends you back at the start should you fail this ordeal. At first it's pretty darn scary, and one needs some balls to be able to overcome frustration (I think I've finally succeeded in that, but not a long time ago I was still having issues of sorts with it, heh) and be able to live with huge chunks of personal time wasted in vain, yet at the end of the day it's the approach that really shines. The amount of pre-planning, on-the-go thinking and training in various scenarios really do help become a better player because the price of failure is always the same, and survival becomes much, much more viable than in savegame-based playthrough.

Of course it's not Sunder that should be approached with this mindset when it's not a developed habit (or, in my case, the only way of enjoyment in addition), I started practicing this approach with mild mapsets like WoS, Doom 2 Reloaded etc., and pulled the bar higher and higher as I moved onwards. I think the first hardcore-oriented megawad I tackled that way was Mini-level megawad, and only then newgothic, combat shock and slaughterfest series came in, among other things.

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What about the old stuff? Is there a list somewhere to know which levels are not that hard?

The problem for me with many of the popular extensions, like Plutonia or TeamTNT stuff is that it is so hard that I am unable to enjoy it.

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Louigi Verona said:

What about the old stuff? Is there a list somewhere to know which levels are not that hard?


Most of the early megawads aren't that difficult in terms of monster resistance, but they can often have unintuitive progression ... I know the DWMC had issues with both MM and Requiem for that.

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Thanks, Armoured Blood. Though as far is KingDime is concerned, I'm not much for stuff likes void glides or generally skipping most of the content, which is why I tend to strongly favor UV-Max attempts over UV-Speed attempts.

Demonologist: I favor this approach as well, but it can get really discouraging when confronted with "marathon" maps such as Archaeolophobia or some of the longer levels in Scythe II.

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Budoka said:

Thanks, Armoured Blood. Though as far is KingDime is concerned, I'm not much for stuff likes void glides or generally skipping most of the content, which is why I tend to strongly favor UV-Max attempts over UV-Speed attempts.

Demonologist: I favor this approach as well, but it can get really discouraging when confronted with "marathon" maps such as Archaeolophobia or some of the longer levels in Scythe II.

Although watching speedrun movement is useful, I meant more like this, where he's playing Sunder. And I'd really recommend going back to old maps to try doing a UV max or a no saves playthrough, not start right into Scythe 2.

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Thanks, I'll watch that when I have the time. And I'm actually making demos right now, I guess if I publish them some people may be able to gauge what my overall level is. It's for a fairly easy mapset though, aside from the occasional odd scenario.

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The ends of pretty much all of the modern megawads I've played are really hard. It's just a question of when they get there. Here are some thoughts.

I've played 2/3rds of Epic 2 and all of Scythe 2. Epic 2 starts trying to kill you in earnest on about MAP16, 31 if you opt for the secret levels, which you should because they're easier than the normal progression. Scythe 2's major difficulty spike is MAP24, which is a full-on slaughtermap. I haven't played beyond Scythe 2's 24 outside of multiplayer. It's insane.

Recently, I've been playing NOVA II over in the megawad club thread. The big difficulty spike there is either at map 32 for the secret levels or 23. 17 and 19 are difficult too, but not as much as 23.

Play TNT before Plutonia, seriously. TNT's sparse on ammo if you pistol start, but the Casali brothers are downright evil. If it could be trapped in vanilla, they did it.

Vanguard is pretty easy up until MAP07 (really creative idea, but hard). I'm currently stuck on 14 and not interested in continuing.

EDIT: see below

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I'm kinda curious as to how you were able to get past Scythe 2 map 23 with no problems, but got stuck on 24, given that 23 probably the second hardest map in the whole set (behind 29), and 24 is probably the easiest map of the last two episodes.

Disagreed on TNT before Plutonia, if for no other reason that TNT's maps are incredibly boring and generally overlong. Hell, I've never actually made it past map 12 or so of TNT without succumbing to the will to say "screw this boring crap, I'm quitting".

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Cynical said:

I'm kinda curious as to how you were able to get past Scythe 2 map 23 with no problems, but got stuck on 24, given that 23 probably the second hardest map in the whole set (behind 29), and 24 is probably the easiest map of the last two episodes.

Disagreed on TNT before Plutonia, if for no other reason that TNT's maps are incredibly boring and generally overlong. Hell, I've never actually made it past map 12 or so of TNT without succumbing to the will to say "screw this boring crap, I'm quitting".

Whoops, I mixed them up. 23 is the difficulty spike I had in mind. 21 bumped me down to HMP; 23 made me quit trying to finish the wad solo. I loaded it up and died in less than a second. Second attempt resulted in me living for a pretty crazy minute. Thanks for correcting me.

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ArmouredBlood said:

Although watching speedrun movement is useful, I meant more like this, where he's playing Sunder. And I'd really recommend going back to old maps to try doing a UV max or a no saves playthrough, not start right into Scythe 2.


Keep in mind I am not a specialist in slaughter maps! Like I was saying on stream before, very large scale fights are interesting to work out and i'll often go back to sub-optimal strats before reverting to better things.

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Budoka said:

Thanks, Armoured Blood. Though as far is KingDime is concerned, I'm not much for stuff likes void glides or generally skipping most of the content, which is why I tend to strongly favor UV-Max attempts over UV-Speed attempts.

Demonologist: I favor this approach as well, but it can get really discouraging when confronted with "marathon" maps such as Archaeolophobia or some of the longer levels in Scythe II.


that's my approach as well, i admire players who can finish a 30 minutes map in 2 minutes by taking the craziest shortcuts, but i take that route only in tedious maps, as i see a map being done when nothing is left alive.

Demonologist said:

Just my two cents to extend/reinforce statements in AB's post: I was able to significantly raise my skill and general survivability by simply abandoning savegames, one day I just decided to do so all of a sudden. No matter what the map length is, no matter how hard it is, it's just you and death that sends you back at the start should you fail this ordeal. At first it's pretty darn scary, and one needs some balls to be able to overcome frustration (I think I've finally succeeded in that, but not a long time ago I was still having issues of sorts with it, heh) and be able to live with huge chunks of personal time wasted in vain, yet at the end of the day it's the approach that really shines. The amount of pre-planning, on-the-go thinking and training in various scenarios really do help become a better player because the price of failure is always the same, and survival becomes much, much more viable than in savegame-based playthrough.

Of course it's not Sunder that should be approached with this mindset when it's not a developed habit (or, in my case, the only way of enjoyment in addition), I started practicing this approach with mild mapsets like WoS, Doom 2 Reloaded etc., and pulled the bar higher and higher as I moved onwards. I think the first hardcore-oriented megawad I tackled that way was Mini-level megawad, and only then newgothic, combat shock and slaughterfest series came in, among other things.


quoting this for truth.

as i said in some other thread where the OP was asking how to improve, playing from pistol start and without saves was the change that allowed me to improve most.

you see, i play doom almost since it came out, and now i consider that all the years when i kept my weapons from the previous map and reloaded my savegames obsessively were a waste of time, from the standpoint of improving as a player.

a map plays very differently when you have your full loadout already, or have to pry a shotgun from a sergeant's hands first. same for falling back on a savegame whenever an imp dared scratching that shiny megasphere, or going on with 2 hp left.

playing dm would be another important thing for improving, mostly in agility and weapon handling, with the caveat that this doesn't matter as much against a big, dumb monster horde.

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