John Romero releases new Doom II map to “support the Ukrainian people”

Screenshot from new level to old video game.

All screens in this article were captured from a GZDoom instance running “One Humanity,” currently on sale for €5 with all proceeds going to charity. (Yes, I opted for IDDQD. You’ll have to wait for another day to see my Nightmare difficulty speedrun without cheats.)

In a surprise treat for ’90s first-person shooter fans, Doom series co-creator John Romero emerged this week with a brand-new map for the 1994 classic Doom II. While it’s priced somewhat high for this kind of content—5 euros for a single old-school map—there’s a good reason.

Romero makes clear in the release’s template file that this WAD’s sale is intended to “raise funds to support the Ukrainian people.” It can be purchased at his personal shop site, where he says all proceeds will go toward two humanitarian organizations: the Ukrainian Red Cross and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund. (On the noncharity front, Romero’s store also sells a bunch of Doom-era goodies.)

Romero makes clear early on that we're in <em>Doom II</em> territory, not <em>Doom 1</em>.

Romero makes clear early on that we’re in Doom II territory, not Doom 1.

John Romero

One day after its Wednesday launch, the download was updated to add much of the same ReadMe information found in his 2019 Doom 1 map pack, Sigil, that explains to newcomers how to easily get the new map working in either Windows or MacOS. (As I found in my own casual testing, the same instructions do not work on Steam Deck, whose semi-closed Arch Linux implementation currently requires a dive into its command line.) To play Romero’s new map, “One Humanity,” you’ll need an original retail Doom II installation (which comes as part of the newest Doom II version on Steam and GOG), on top of which you can apply a source port like GZDoom.

A different type of humanitarian aid

Pro tip: Don't use a modern engine's mouselook toggles to peek below and aim directly at enemies in this map's pit of despair. That breaks the tension of classic <em>Doom II</em> maps.

Pro tip: Don’t use a modern engine’s mouselook toggles to peek below and aim directly at enemies in this map’s pit of despair. That breaks the tension of classic Doom II maps.

John Romero

Though Romero’s map design in the original Doom II isn’t necessarily as beloved as his Doom 1 mastery, “One Humanity” sees the Doom series co-creator return to form with a clever ring-based level design. Most of the level’s content looms above a pit of despair, which Doomguy can battle through and warp out of in the case of an errant fall (though he will need to plummet to find the level’s sole rocket launcher). But the top-floor series of rooms is imperative to finding keys and triggers that will open doors and raise bridges to the level’s exit door.

Box maze time.

Box maze time.

John Romero

Along the way, players will stumble upon Doom-level classics like a handsomely lit box maze and one of those freaking hallways that ends with you flipping a switch and hearing too many enemy-warp sound effects on the other side. The level’s arrangement of enemy spawns and tight walkways emphasizes the brutality of Doom II‘s super shotgun, which is always nice to get reacquainted with. And, yes, if you grunt-grunt-grunt along enough doorways, you will indeed find a useful BFG.

All of which is to say: this level celebrates solid, classic Doom II mechanics, as opposed to including graphics or structures that allude to events of any particular real-life era (though on a graphical level, “One Humanity” does push the Doom II engine with cool tricks like crumpled doors and fractured floors).

This seems like a trap.

This seems like a trap.

John Romero

The release joins an increasingly loud chorus of voices in games and tech to support the Ukrainian people amidst a Russian invasion—and while we’ve documented other tech companies’ recent efforts and fundraisers, we at Ars Technica welcome more links to such humanitarian efforts in the comment section below. I’ll close this out by quoting the “One Humanity” template file for those of you who may not choose to buy an old Doom II map file for one reason or another:

If you obtained this file for free, please consider making a donation to the Ukrainian Red Cross or the UN Central Emergency Response Fund.


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