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High Noon Drifter brings Doom to the Weird West

High Noon Drifter

One of the best things about Doom is that there’s a version of it for everybody. If you like your weapons a little more old-school and your Westerns thoroughly Weird, then High Noon Drifter might just be what you’re looking for in a retro FPS.

It’s High Noon (or was when I was writing this), so dust off your hat and slip into the well-worn cowboy boots of ghostly drifter Corzo for your regularly scheduled fix of demon-slaughter across a thousand worlds with an arsenal of chunky revolvers, lever-action shotguns and a vicious whip.

While not the freshest of mods now, the version 1.2 update this week is a major upgrade, officially adding support for Hexen, as well as claymation freeware FPS Harmony, plus your usual slew of new features, tweaks and improvements. You can see the full list in the impressively long patch-notes here, or get the abridged version in the slickly edited trailer below.

The success of High Noon Drifter is more of a surprise to its creator (prolific modder TerminusEst13) than anyone. Originally planned to be a learning exercise so he could teach himself the new ZScript system, a new modding language in recent iterations of ZDoom. The project has evolved well past its original release plans, and is now one of the more popular character mods available for its flexibility and overall stylish nature. Who doesn’t want to play as a whip-cracking ghost cowboy, after all?

While a pretty straightforward (and thus easier to balance) character mod, High Noon Drifter does have a few tricks up its sleeve. Best of all has to be the Throw Hat button. When the full HUD is visible, you can see the brim of your hat just at the top of your field of view. Throwing it distracts enemies, forcing them to shoot at it briefly, a bit like the cigarette button in Vanquish. You can even keep your own hat aloft longer by shooting it, and pick it up – good as new – once it lands. Just wouldn’t be proper to leave your hat behind, after all.

There’s some other goodies, too. The ultimate weapon of the mod, Basilissa’s Mask, allows you to either throw beefy fireballs or – far more interestingly – tag Corzo out for a while and let his co-protagonist Basilissa, Baroness Of Hell come out to play. Corzo himself stays behind in a nice protective circle while you go on a time-limited demonic rampage, and when unsummoned, your perspective shifts back to where you were previously standing. It’s a fun power trip, but not wildly more powerful than the good old BFG.

High Noon Drifter is purely a character & weapon modification, but it’s designed specifically to play nice with replacement enemies, and even other Doom-engine games such as Heretic or even Chex Quest. The ZDoom forum thread for the mod contains an official list of recommended levels and mods to mix it with. One of the more interesting being Kriegsland, a Wolfenstein: The New Order-inspired thing replacing Doom’s demons with a legion of pulp sci-fi Nazis. Because Doom can be about a ghost-cowboy fighting space-Nazis in ancient Egypt and still feel like Doom, somehow.

And yes, it is compatible with Brutal Doom. The monsters-only variant, at least.

You can get High Noon Drifter here. You’ll need a newer version of GZDoom to run it plus Doom 2, although you can stack up almost any other Doom-engine WAD on top of all of that to get yourself another world to mosey on through.

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Dominic Tarason

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