HOT SALTY (DOOM) WADS
WAD. To the uninitiated, this sounds like something to be discarded. Something to be disregarded. Maybe even something gross. A wad of what? Snot? Toilet paper? To those of us with some culture, WAD stands for “Where is All the Data?” It's the file extension and format
To the uninitiated, this sounds like something to be discarded. Something to be disregarded. Maybe even something gross. A wad of what? Snot? Toilet paper?
To those of us with some culture, WAD stands for “Where is All the Data?” It’s the file extension and format used by DOOM (1993) and all games using that engine when it comes to the raw game data. It is also the format used for add-ons, with the exception of modern source ports which often use the pk3 extension. Many Doom fanatics still usually call any add-on or swap a “wad,” though. It’s force of habit. At this writing, roughly 27 years of habit. We’re not breaking it now.
Ever since 1994 or so, when rabid Doom players began making their own levels for the game, there has been a more or less endless flow of WADs. While DOOM.WAD is called an IWAD or “internal wad,” These user-created files are “patch wads,” or PWADs.
I’m talking about those little PWADs today. Well, not all of them. I’d need several lifetimes, and I’d want to spend those several lifetimes doing something more productive, like learning to turn lead into gold or slowly forming a worldwide shadow empire with me on its hidden throne. I’ll stick to three PWADs today. None of them are just maps/levels, although one or more of them do add or change the layout of levels. These are WADs that alter gameplay in some way.
Note: I am playing/testing these wads and mods using GZDoom, and unless otherwise noted, a similar source port is best for optimal results.
Lasting Light (2013)
This is a fantastic example of a .pk3 file that turns Doom into a new game with minimal tampering. The maps are dark except for your lantern, which requires oil to keep lit. This oil can be found in little cans that seem to be the only pickups available, not to mention how sparse they are. And trust me, it’s better to keep that lantern lit… except when it isn’t.
You see, three different entities are skulking about in the dark, waiting to terrorize the living shit out of you. All of them react and behave differently. The Screecher can’t hurt you if you don’t look at it, but it makes itself pretty fucking hard not to look at by placing itself directly in your line of site suddenly and scaring the pants off you. The Creeper actually gets pissed off when you roll up with your lantern lit, but will leave you alone if it’s dark (which leaves you vulnerable to the asshole Screecher). The Stalker doesn’t give a shit if your light is lit. She just wants to murder you and you need to run and break line of sight as long as you can.
What? Yes, you are utterly defenseless. I know, that’s hard to accept when you’re playing Doom. Once I got over it, I actually found this mod really entertaining. It’s a creative little set of changes that totally turns Doom on its head and it made episode 1 of Doom into a challenge again. The music and atmosphere are really effective, and you’ll be jumping despite yourself when you get taken unawares.
Extreme Weapons Pack (2013)
This one seems to only work with DOOM2.WAD and is barely a mod. It seems more like high-effort trolling. I’m not even in doubt. That’s exactly what it is. But it gave me a laugh when I first found it. Then I looked at the Zdoom forum topic (link above) and it’s not only a joke, but a fairly popular one. I’m a fan.
This mod makes the game considerably more challenging, and it does this by giving you the goofiest weapons possible. Your starting pistol will fire, at best, 3-4 shots (usually 1 shot) before requiring a good cleaning. Your normal shotgun pretty much doesn’t fire, and the double barrel one spins you around (the barrels are uneven) and takes forever to reload. The Chaingun takes a while to wind up (like an old school WW1 rotary gun) and fires at a pretty clumsy rate. It also has significant kickback. The rocket launcher fires slow-motion rockets that are usually duds. The plasma rifle is a vacuum cleaner. The BFG is… well, it’s faulty. Comically faulty.
The chainsaw is replaced by an electric toothbrush, which is probably the least ineffective of all the mod’s weapons, interestingly enough. As someone who appreciates (and sometimes engages in) alpha-level trolling/griefing, I find myself oddly in love with this hilarious piece of shit. It’s funny. I’d recommend sparing yourself the tedium of trying to beat Doom II with this mod, though. I’m sure it’s possible, but the joke wears thin well before that point unless you’re the right kind of insane (I’m not).
Diaz: Last Hours of Purity (2008)
I really enjoy this one. It’s a non-shitty attempt to create an entirely separate narrative, connected to the base Doom lore, but with a different storyline and character. From the lore text file (and I love that there is one):
The Research Crimes Prevention Agency (RCPA) is targeting the UAC over their controversially unethical research. Agent Diaz is sent as a peacekeeper to oversee their latest experiment, and to see if the evidence is correct. But of course, everything’s gone to Hell before she even gets there…
The mod itself features some excellent weapons with good implementation of more contemporary reloading and recoil mechanics. I especially enjoy the Mauser rifle and the big clunky revolver. The enemies are a handful and a half too. D:LHP replaces the standard, clumsy humanoid zombiemen with living, lethal soldiers (including a berserk experimental soldier with cyber-psychic enhancements that you can also use if they drop the module when they die). This mod makes Doom a bit more dangerous to play without being ridiculous about it, and it’s another mod that makes episode 1 of the original Doom a challenge again for this old jackal who knows the maps by muscle memory. It smooths the curve by making what used to be minor threats into things that can (and will) kill you. And don’t fucking forget to reload or you’re dead. Many of your weapons can be alt-fired as bludgeons, but they’re slow and don’t do much. Keep your weapons loaded and conserve ammo.
I’m reluctant to rate them, since many Doom WADs are a matter of taste. However, I like my own opinions about everything and you should too because my opinions are the best. So here goes.
LASTING LIGHT: 8/10 (Good concept, totally different gameplay that flips Doom’s axis completely in a refreshing way)
EWP: 6/10 (It’s a joke WAD, but it’s a pretty funny joke WAD)
DIAZ: 8/10 (Still Doom, but very different Doom, I feel like it’s a nice halfway point between Doom and modern FPS games)