Up until early last month, Doom Eternal was set to release today. Coming in as the last major Triple-A game of 2019, it had a lot of hype from positive coverage during E3. Google was also banking on it to make the launch of Stadia feel special. Thankfully, id Software knew it needed more time and made the tough call to delay it.
Still, what are we supposed to do without more Doom in our lives? First off, Doom has never gone away. Second, it's great you've asked that question. In preparation for Eternal's launch (which then morphed into sadness over its delay), I went about playing a ton of mods for classic Doom. The action of 1993's groundbreaking title still holds up and modders haven't stopped creating new levels and weapons for the legendary shooter.
In lieu of getting Eternal, why not check out these mods to make the time fly by?
Memento Mori 1 and 2
Created by a talented team of modders (and featuring work of the Casali brothers of Final Doom: Plutonia fame), Memento Mori 1 and 2 are some of the finest WADs of the 90s. While there are inconsistencies in some levels and the balance leans more to the hardcore side, anyone with a fondness for Doom is bound to have blast with these games.
Both WADs don't feature a cohesive selection of levels – the collection of modders didn't work with a specific blueprint – but they have fantastic music, lengthy and maze-like structures, and full cooperative support. Once you've scaled the mountain that is Final Doom, Memento Mori almost feels like a proper continuation up the difficulty spectrum.
To many fans online, Requiem is almost considered Memento Mori 3. Worked on by many of the same members (minus the Casali brothers who had moved on to Valve), there's a level of polish here that the two previous mods didn't have. This was a more confident team working with more knowledge of the Doom engine than ever before. They had so much skill, in fact, that they somehow created 3D objects and true room-over-room support in the game. It's remarkable.
Requiem sort of loses it past the mid-point, though. In true fashion to Memento Mori, Requiem sees an increase in difficulty and eventually tips over into nonsense territory. Still, the first 10 levels of this WAD are Doom perfection and the soundtrack is another winner. If you're still not satiated after Memento Mori, Requiem should be your next stop.
Doom 64 EX
This one is kind of cheating since it's technically not a mod. While the project took life as a total conversion of the oft-forgotten Doom 64 into Doom 2, eventually developer Samural "Kaiser" Villarreal converted work into his own engine and sourced data from an N64 ROM. That engine was known as the KEX engine, which would go on to serve as the basis for Nightdive Studios' remaster efforts.
The main reason to play this is that Doom 64 is a solid game. While Bethesda's official re-release will actually be an updated version of this (complete with the KEX engine), waiting until March just to relive Doom 64 is crazy. You should still buy it when it releases, but play Doom 64 EX now!
E1M4b and E1M8b
These two maps for The Ultimate Doom might sound innocuous, but they serve a special purpose. In the original Doom, the first episode of the game was comprised of mostly work by John Romero. A rockstar programmer at id Software, he created seven of the nine maps that Doom's "Knee-Deep in the Dead" are made of. I'm pretty sure you can figure out what these two maps do.
They act as replacements for the level's Romero didn't craft. Titled E1M4b and E1M8b respectively, they were also the first levels made by the Doom co-creator in over 20 years. It felt like a homecoming ceremony when he announced he was returning to the shooter that made him famous. The only thing missing would be an entirely new project made solely by Romero, but that follows nicely into our next recommend mod.
There's no way a list of must-play Doom mods in 2019 can leave this one out. SIGIL was announced toward the end of 2018 as John Romero's full return to making Doom maps. An unofficial fifth episode to the seminal hit, SIGIL does a lot of interesting things with Doom's original weapon and enemy roster. It also features some visually amazing architecture.
Two versions of this mod exist. A free version contains a soundtrack by indie composer James Paddock. A paid one has music composed by guitarist Buckethead. It's kind of ridiculous how well both soundtracks fit Romero's satanic vision of hell. Just be wary of the extreme difficulty on "Ultra-Violence" mode. Romero really isn't screwing around.
The final mod on our list, Dystopia 3 is an odd story. It stems from a mod made for Heretic (another id Software game running on the Doom engine) that was made up of a single map. The single map got converted to Doom and was titled Dystopia 2. The modder then felt the desire to create a full episode, leading to this mod.
It's basically a short episode that utilizes the extra monsters of Doom 2 to merge both the original and its sequel together. It also ends with you blowing up Microsoft's corporate headquarters because it was crafted in 1996. I guess you could get away with stuff like that in the 90s.
Still, Dystopia 3 does feature some unique gimmicks and brutal battles for players to chew through. It may not be the best thing around –and hasn't aged all that well-, but it's worth it just to see more of that 3D trickery in action.