megawads for beginners

Hi there,

I am relatively new to the Doom community. That is, I have played both Doom and Doom 2 in the 1990s, but have just in the recent past found out that there is still such a huge and vivid community around it.

Now that I know the official 4 ID WADs quite well, I was looking for something new and got immediately confused by the sheer number of megawads and total conversions available out there (i.e. in /idgames). Thus, I am looking for something that you'd recommend a newbie to begin with.

I have the following restrictions:
- I don't consider myself an expert player, so please nothing too hard (I have read that e.g. Hell Revealed would fall into that catergory)
- It should be of an overall high quality and have a consistent atmosphere and development in difficulty across the levels
- Boom/limits removing requirement is OK, but please nothing ZDoom specific

I have read through the "List of notable WADs" and also through the Noteworthy megawads on the "Megawad" page in doomwiki, but these are still too many for me to begin with. I am really looking for a list of max. 10 megawads that could get recommended to a newbie in good consience. Also, I consider the acceptance of a handfull of WADs for competition on Compet-N a seal of quality, but they seem to be all rather hard and furthermore at least 10 years old.

I have already downloaded "Doom The Way ID Did" for Doom and "Alien Vendetta" for Doom 2. Do you think this would make a good starting point?

Thank you very much!

- Fabian

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If you have an i5 or some other modern processor and a powerful graphics card that's able to play something like Far Cry 3 or Crysis 2, THEN, you should try Winter's Fury. It's the most impressive Doom Mod in a lot of ways.

My favorite Doom "mod" is Plutonia, although it is an official release, but perhaps you haven't played it - it's tough, but there are difficulty settings.

My other favorite is Eternal Doom, although that one might also prove to be a challenge - you can lower the difficulty, but there are still some tricky puzzles to solve.

Also, I would recommend Base Ganymede, as I think that might something right up your alley.

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You should get the Master Levels from Steam and finish the official id levels. I would also recommend No Rest for the Living as well, but you have to buy the entire Doom 3 BFG Edition for that..

You already have Doom the way id Did to cover Ultimate Doom, for Doom 2 I often hear Memento Mori and Reqiuem are good starter megawads. Also try Icarus, its from the same guys who made TNT Evilution.

Alien Vendetta you might want to hold off on for now, its leagues above anything else mentioned here. AV even rivals Hell Revealed in a few places

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fabian said:

I have already downloaded "Doom The Way ID Did" for Doom and "Alien Vendetta" for Doom 2. Do you think this would make a good starting point?


Very good I'd say. Alien Vendetta might prove to be very difficult at times for someone who's used to the original Ultra-Violence skill, a lot of megawads are a good deal harder on their respective difficulty settings compared to IWADs. Just remember there's no shame on playing on Hurt Me Plenty if a level defeats you.
Otherwise Alien Vendetta includes some of the most memorable maps in history (namely - MAP20 Misri Halek).

DTWiD is a "homage" to the original Doom 1 - as much as I would like to advocate for it, being one of the authors, (and due to the fact, that its difficulty level might be much closer to what you expect), I really think you should try with projects that are different from Doom aesthetically.

If you're new I wouldn't go as far as to try various complicated mods that introduce completely new monsters and items (and sometimes change gameplay dramatically). I'd instead start with high quality, vanilla compatibile megawads:

Apart from Alien Vendetta, which should be an excellent start, I'd suggest:

  • The Darkening Episode 2 (one of my all time favourites).
  • Back to Saturn X (released recently, instantly becoming one of my favourites)
  • Memento Mori (first megawad I've ever played, doesn't get old.)
  • Eternal Doom (full megawad with great new textures, tricks, gimmicks and enormous maps)

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Avoid AV for now, because it gets quite difficult in the last episode. You can tackle it later, after your skill has improved.

Of the classic megawads, I'd go with Icarus: Alien Vanguard before either Requiem or the Memento Mori series. It has a very solid theme that unifies the maps, and is relatively easy throughout. There are some tougher areas, but they're the exception, and unless you're trying for "pistol start every map and no saves" challenge, then it's not very hard. You will still a few spots that seem almost impossible at first (like maybe the start of MAP12) but those are really just small puzzles, and there aren't very many situations like that.

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The Cacowards and their predecessor Top 100 WADS of All Time would be good catalogs to start with.

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fabian said:

Thus, I am looking for something that you'd recommend a newbie to begin with.


A bit more information about how you play would be helpful. Alien Vendetta, for instance, is quite finishable by a mediocre player ... if you play on HMP, carrying gear across levels, and use lots of save and reload. If you play on UV, pistol start every level, and never save mid-level, then it's a very different story :)

It would also help to know if you like switch hunts and puzzles in your Doom. I personally don't, and due to that fact, I disliked Icarus enough that I never finished it. If you like that sort of thing, however, then it and Eternal Doom will be more to your liking than they were mine.

As a general rule, older megawads will have lower monster counts, and be easier overall than newer ones. On the other hand, they're more likely to have unintuitive level design decisions in them.

DTWID should be an excellent starting point for you - though new, it was consciously designed with a difficulty curve reminiscent of the original game.

The original Memento Mori shows its age in a number of ways, these days, but it was a landmark project for a reason - I thoroughly recommend playing it sooner rather than later (the longer you wait to play it, the more obvious its flaws will be).

You may also want to look at Interception. It's new, and the difficulty level might (or might not) prove too high, but it has the advantage of being the current megawad club project, which means several other people are playing it and you can compare notes with them about it in the dedicated thread.

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I'd agree some of the harder wads would still be worth checking out on lower difficulty settings. Looking in my favourite wads folder:

epic 2
scythe 2
whispers of satan
hell ground
plutonia 2 (bit hard)
lunatic
vanguard (cant remember much about this one)
community chest 4 (not so consistent maybe but great maps)
jenesis

Some of these might be a bit tough going on UV for a beginner, but they are well worth remembering

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end1.wad -- it's a brilliant old Ultimate Doom episode that still stands up today.

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You should definitely try out TVR, a fairly easy one-man megawad with a wide variety of themes, including train, city, and Egypt maps.

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seconding TVR... it's easy and a decade old, but it's so damn fun! definitely a starting point along with the original scythe. get through those two, then start looking around for more.

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dew said:

seconding TVR... it's easy and a decade old, but it's so damn fun! definitely a starting point along with the original scythe. get through those two, then start looking around for more.


Scythe? Heh, I wouldn't recommend it just yet: some of the later levels are somewhat brutal.

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Scythe starts off nicely. But yeah, it approaches slaughtermap territory around the end there.

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Scimitar is like a smaller, easier Scythe. No "you've got ten seconds to run ten miles or you die, also the road is full of imps" maps in it.

Cyberdreams can be hard, when you have to dodge cyberdemon rockets coming from all directions, but it's about brains over brawn. Just keep dodging.

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mouldy said:

vanguard (cant remember much about this one)


12 super cool levels. The latter ones are slaughtery but pretty light fare for slaughtermaps for the most part. I eventually was able to nosave them on UV, at least. Still, advanced compared to normal Doom stuff.

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Thank you very much for your replies!

I think for now I'll stick with *DTWID* and *Base Ganymede* for Ultimate Doom. I've already played some early levels of *DTWID* and enjoyed it a lot, Actually, it was exactly what I expected: New stuff that felt like traditional Doom!

For Doom 2, I think I'll start with *Icarus*, then work through the trilogy of *Memento Mori*, *Memento Mori 2* and *Reqiuem* and save *Eternal Doom* and *Alien Vendetta* for therafter. This should keep me busy for about a year ot two. ;) I should also definitely get *Doom 3: Bfg Edition* as soon as possible. I have seen a Let's Play of the first level of *No Rest For The Living* and it looked absolutely stunning!

I have tried out *Hell Revealed* and must admit that I did not like the levels at all. Then I sneaked into the often praised *Alien Vendetta* level 20 and found it absolutely impressive - but too tough for me. I also gave *Return to Saturn X* a try and found it looked also impressive and unique, but for my taste already a step too far away from traditional Doom.

I wonder that nobody mentioned Freedoom, though...

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