Cacowards Celebrate 2014’s Best Doom Mods And Levels

THAT DEMON SNATCHED MY TROPHY

John Romero celebrated Doom’s 21st birthday last week by sharing a load of neat-o unseen art and photographs from his personal archive, but in my gushing I missed a big Doom birthday tradition. For 11 years now, the Doomworld community have marked the day with the Cacowards, a celebration of the Doom mapping and modding community’s best from the past year. They’re still going strong! If you’re out of touch with recent Doom developments but fancy playing something new, the 2014 Cacowards winners are a fine place to start.

The Cacowards honour the best Doom/Doom engine levels, mods, map packs, and more, as voted for by Doomworld members. You’ll find levels praised for their design and technical trickery, mods rebuilding Doom as something new, and a few silly jokes. Only a few levels and mods find much fame beyond Doom communities, and they’re often just the ones that come across best on YouTube. If you want to know what Doom diehards think is good at the moment, this is a fair indicator.

I keep an eye on Dooming because of my readme file obsession but still missed a fair few of these. (I recommend Cacoward comedy mod winner Brutalist Doom’s readme, by the way.)

I’ll probably go for Best Gameplay Mod winner DemonSteele first; I like the sound of a Doom redesign inspired by anime, with a gun in one hand and a sword in the other. Then maybe Urban Brawl: Dead of Winter, as I really enjoyed the original Action Doom 2: Urban Brawl turning Doom into a colourful first-person beat ’em up. The Monster Hunter Ltd. levels sound ace too. And I want to see the clever technical bits of the Going Down mapset. And then also… lots to play tonight!

Here, look at DemonSteele on a few custom levels:

If you’ve got Doom on e.g. Steam as simply the game running in DOSbox, you might fancy (and will probably need) a community-updated engine. Zdoom is always a solid choice or, if you want shiny newness, Doomsday bristles with bells and whistles. Other source ports are available, of course.

(And if you’re confused by the name ‘Cacowards’, perhaps wondering if “cack” now means “good” in the same way that we vibrant young people say “bad” to mean “good”, this link might help.)

18 Comments

  1. Spacewalk says:

    Going Down and Shadows Of Cronos are my favourite two things from this year’s. One of ’ems for Hexen so it has to be regardless.

    • Anthile says:

      There are good Hexen mods? I had no idea. Also, bring back Hexen.

      • Spacewalk says:

        There’s a couple of good ones, Scourge Of Viscerus is a good starting point before you even think of looking at the big ones like Tower Of Chaos and Serpent: Resurrection. If you trawl through the rest of the /idgames archives and stick to the four and five star wads you’ll find a some more. That should sew it up.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        So much love for Hexen.
        I really adore its “weapons”, too. Didn’t just feel like re-skinned machineguns (usually, at least). The Mage in particular felt absolutely bad-ass.
        It’s funny, its combat was brilliant, but there wasn’t a great deal of it, and I personally found the majority of the puzzles a bit pants, even though they were meant to be the focus.

      • Razumen says:

        I absolutely LOVED Hexen, it pretty much devoured my childhood haha. Unfortunately it never really seemed able to compete against the push for more “realistic” games at the time. Such a shame because I always found games like Hexen to have so much more imagination and creativity in them.

        • bequietpirate says:

          I remember picking up Hexen 64 just so I could force my computer-less friends to coop and deathmatch it with me. I’m pretty sure me preferring Hexen DM over Goldeneye 64 was what kept me out of the really good schools.

  2. jezcentral says:

    Obviously, PC Zone’s infamous XXX.wad should win an award.

  3. Kaeoschassis says:

    Demonsteele is absolutely terrific fun – especially since a certain problem with its new Archviles has finally been fixed. It’s obviously not for those who like their Doom gameplay untouched, but it’s still very true to what makes Doom work so well – movement, awareness and picking the right tool for the right job. It easily deserves its award.

    Out of the stuff that got awards though, my absolute essential pick is Going Down. Everyone who plays Doom, purist or no, has got to experience this mapset. Its levels are small, simple, self-contained ideas, and yet as a whole it’s one of the smartest things to happen to Doom in a very long time. I cannot and will not spoil anything specific. (I will suggest not playing this one with gameplay mods on your first try though, it’s brutally hard in places, and messing with balance can make it almost unplayable if you don’t know your way around it)

    Out of stuff that did not get an award I’d just like to point everybody (again) at Nova: The Birth – a compilation of maps built by a fervently dedicated team of total newbies which had absolutely no rules or guidelines on theme, technique etc. It should be awful, but it is some of the most fun I had with Doom all year – simply because these people were not working with any preconceptions about what a community map or mapset is supposed to be, or what ‘rules’ are meant to be followed when mapping.
    There are obvious rough spots but some amazing standout moments of gameplay and some surprisingly great visuals. Stick with it, the finale is absolutely worth it.
    link to doomworld.com

    Alice, RPS, doom coverage always puts a smile on my face!
    And happy 21st, Doom.

  4. Casimir's Blake says:

    So thanks to me for mentioning this in the last Doom post on RPS…
    But yes, this is truly RPS-worth posting. So much talent in these mods and maps, incredible work. Further proving that modern-day FPS is creatively bankrupt by comparison. (Yes I’m aware of the sheer amount of craft that goes into them but does Killzone, Destiny, Titanfall etc play any better? No.)

  5. Magitek says:

    I recently had a stint with Doom a few months ago and my favorite mod was DoomRPG + DoomRL Arsenal. I’m a sucker for levelling up and dooming so I found it to be a great combination, it feels exactly like borderlands but with much faster gameplay.

    DoomRPG covers the levelling up, monster scaling, monster special abilities, as well as player active ability that allows you to spawn an army of troops, increase your movement speed and damage potentials to ridiculous levels, jump higher, stop time etc
    DoomRL Arsenal on the other hand lets you trick out weaponry and armor in a borderlands fashion, lets you craft items, and otherwise provides you with a ridiculously huge arsenal to wage war with.

    On the level side of things, I particularly enjoyed playing through hellBound (a 32 level campaign) with DoomRPG and it was just glorious. Hellbound makes use of the newer doom monster packs so there’s some extra surprises in there too. (I recommend you bump up monster aura scaling to ~60-100 so that special monsters spawn more often, if using DoomRPG)

    DoomRPG+DoomRL Arsenal may not be the most unique mod, but it sure provides a great deal of variety and fun to the game, regardless of level-set.

    Doom is still probably my favorite single-player FPS even after decades, primarily thanks to the efforts of mappers and modders. Now I shall procure more wads to continue my character..

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      My brother and I play this combination co-op and it’s an absolute blast, although the balance on DoomRPG is far from perfect so when I play single-player I prefer to just use DoomRLA and ignore the levelling-up side altogether.

  6. Mr_Blastman says:

    Alien Doom was the best mod ever… and those stupid scumbag MPAA clowns had to shut it down.

  7. Stuart Walton says:

    Sooooooooo, I just combined Brutal Doom with Going Down.

    IT

    WAS

    AWESOME!

  8. pseick says:

    One of the trailers for Demon Steele uses a track from my band’s new album.
    So basically childhood dreams have all come true.