Id’s spectacular DOOM reboot has been out for less than a fortnight, but its SnapMap level editor has quickly captured the imaginations of its community. Already there are hundreds of custom built maps and missions available. But finding one that’s worth playing can be tricky. The vast majority are slightly wonky first attempts at mapmaking, while the "most popular" lists are plagued by a host of cheap and nasty maps designed to exploit the SnapMap points system.
Hence RPS sent me on a special mission to punch my way into the bowels of SnapMap and rip out something that’s worth your time. With that in mind, here are five of the best and most interesting user-made experiences, alongside a few other suggestions.
All of these maps can be found and played by typing their names into the in-game Snapmap browser.
One of the most ambitious maps currently in existence, Harvest DOOM attempts to transform DOOM into Harvest Moon. Players grow crops, raise pet Mancubuses (Mancubi?) barter with a friendly Hellknight who runs the local corner shop, and explore a nearby "Mine" populated by all manner of demonic nasties which also need to be harvested. With bullets.
The systems underpinning crop management are very simple. Crops are "grown" by pressing a button on a console, and then "watered" by interacting with them. Initially each plant has to be watered individually, but once you’ve planted out an entire field, you can irrigate them all at once, producing a speedier harvest and thus enabling you to focus on newer, more lucrative crops.
The ultimate goal is to reach the bottom of the mine. While straightforward in theory, the challenge becomes considerably tougher the further you descend. The weapons and equipment you’ll need to progress are all in the possession of the Hellknight shopkeep, so you need to sell your crops to him in order to kit yourself out appropriately. Think of him as an eyeless, musclebound, eternally damned version of Tom Nook.
Obviously it doesn’t work anything like as well as playing actual Minecraft. Nevertheless, Harvest DOOM goes way beyond what DOOM’s vanilla systems were designed for. Moreover, the traditional combat that takes place in the "mine" is equally entertaining, tough and sporting intelligent enemy spawns. As an example of what can be achieved with SnapMap, there are few better places to start.
If you like this: Sadly, there isn’t much else like Harvest DOOM on SnapMap. But it’s a fairly substantial creation and is still being expanded, so it should keep your occupied for a while.
A Cold Day in Hell
This map was designed by PC Gamer writer Andy Kelly. After playing a bunch of well-rated yet mediocre SnapMaps, I booted up A Cold Day In Hell out of curiosity, to see if a more critical eye had any effect on the quality of map design. Now, correlation does not equal causation, but A Cold Day In Hell is certainly one of the better all-round maps I’ve played.
It doesn’t attempt anything massively ambitious like Harvest DOOM. Instead, a Cold Day in Hell boasts smart pacing of enemies and weapon pickups, and considerably more environmental detailing than your average SnapMap. The layout has an enjoyable logic to it, and there are a couple of cleverly scripted surprises on offer. The imp-heavy fight surrounding a cafeteria decorated with discarded beer bottles and noodle boxes is a particular highlight.
It’s a short map, taking perhaps fifteen minutes to complete, and there’s a section toward the end where the action takes a dip. But in terms of a consistently enjoyable experience, A Cold Day In Hell provides everything you’d expect from a well-made DOOM level.
If you like this: Episode 1: Outbreak and Code: Danger! Mission: Escape! are similarly brief yet entertaining vignettes, with a pleasing flow to the level layout and consistent pacing.
20 Chambers is a fun experiment at using SnapMap to design a puzzle game. It’s a very simply structured level, a right-angled corridor sectioned off by blast doors. But each of these "chambers" contains a quirky puzzle.
Given Doomguy’s two modes of interaction are shooting and punching, these are surprisingly diverse. One chamber, for example, asks you to answer a riddle by selecting the answer from one of four consoles, while another has you memorise the outline of a path along the floor. One puzzle simply asks you to "Bust a Move". It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out what that meant.
There are a couple of duffers, such as a stupid non-puzzle that asks "Do you like the beat?" and a bizarre conundrum that forces you to play an insipidly written dating sim. But I admire the attempt to build something genuinely different in SnapMap, and the variety of puzzles on offer kept me intrigued until the end. It’s like that Saturday Night TV show The Cube, only with a shotgun instead of Phillip Schofield (a switch that, incidentally, would make The Cube a thousand times more interesting).
If you like this: SnapMap has two official puzzle maps on offer. "Parkour", tests your platforming skills with a very short map that contains floating crates and precariously narrow railings, while "the memory game", challenges you to memorise the contents of a room, before asking you a question about a particular element of it, like the number of enemies that spawned, or the lighting colour of a specific alcove.
Silent DOOM v.2.0
I deliberated for a while about including Silent DOOM because it is obviously unfinished. But of all the maps that attempt a "horror" spin on DOOM, this one is the most interesting.
The basic premise is essentially that of the Slenderman game; find 7 memory "fragments" while spooky stuff happens to you. But it’s Silent DOOM’s use of scripting and triggers that make it intriguing. It adapts portals to create seemingly infinite corridors, and uses cut-scenes to flash images of demons at you, like a rogue frame in a film reel. There’s even a section where a maze appears dynamically in front of you, each individual wall popping into existence as you move forward.
There are quite a few elements of silent DOOM I don’t care for, such as the overly desaturated aesthetic, the heavy-handed writing, and its sudden, disorienting ending. But the way it attempts to creep you out by manipulating your perception, rather than simply taking away all of your ammo, makes it stand out from the crowd.
If you like this: Baron Maze Run is a sufficiently spoopy distraction, placing you in a labyrinth of gunmetal corridors with two invincible Hell Barons hot on your heels. The map simply titled "Lurk" is also worth a look. It’s another dark room, big monster, no ammo affair, but it lasts all of two minutes and finds some clever ways to intensify within that time-span.
Pain Labs Extraction
If you come to SnapMap merely desiring more of what the delectable single-player offered - namely nonstop, wall-to-wall action - then Pain Labs Extraction is without a doubt your best option right now. Within moments of setting foot in the initial, purple-hued corridor, a dozen enemies spawn, the heavy metal kicks in, and from there it just goes.
It’s easy enough to throw a horde of demons at the player. But there’s method in Pain Labs’s apparent madness. The number and variety of demons is always just enough to get your pulse racing without becoming overwhelming, yet it leaves room to intensify toward the end. It also makes intelligent use of some of the tougher enemies as minibosses, placing them in cramped areas and giving them enough health to feel like a noticeable step-up from the standard demons.
The level design isn’t as well thought out as A Cold Day in Hell, and again it’s a brief affair, lasting all of ten minutes. But within that time Pain Labs manages to distil the essence of nu-DOOM into a remarkably heady brew.
If you like this: Cryp2nomicon is a fine map. It isn’t quite as bombastic as Pain Labs, but it has a more cinematic flair, and ingeniously adapts DOOM’s lighting to create a splendid night-vision section. Slayer’s Path is a multi-map campaign which currently has two chapters available. It offers similarly action-packed missions, but with a cooperative emphasis.