5 Useful Tips for Classic DOOM

If you're new to classic DOOM and need help with slaying hellspawn, these 5 tips will prepare you for the age-old reckoning. For nearly 28 years, the series remains one of the most iconic series of all time. The originals have a different nuance from modern FPSes, though. Faster pacing, maze-like levels, various enemies, and a big arsenal call for radically different approaches.

5 Useful Tips for Classic DOOM Cover

Now that Microsoft acquired Bethesda, the entire main DOOM lineup is now available on Xbox Game Pass. Furthermore, Limited Run Games recently released DOOM: The Classics Collection, which contains DOOM, DOOM II, and DOOM 3. As there are many, who have yet to play the classic games (DOOM 3 aside – that’s a different story), here I offer 5 tips for surviving their ‘90s hellscape.

Aside from Xbox Game Pass, you can buy DOOM (1993) and DOOM II for Steam, GOG, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.

Windows 95 Gaming Promo Featuring Bill Gates and Doom. (1995, Microsoft)

1. Tap-Fire With Bullet Weapons

In the DOOM engine, bullet (or bullet equivalent) weapons have a hidden mechanic. If you wait for the shooting animation to finish instead of holding down the “Fire” button, the next shot will have zero spread. In other words, you can tap-fire with the pistol and chaingun – though why would you use the pistol outside of the 1st and 2nd level?

Anyways, this turns the chaingun from a spray-and-pray tool to a pseudo sniper rifle – saving ammo and popping distant targets. This is especially helpful in Final DOOM: Plutonia Experiment, which contains massive sightlines with heaps of Chaingunners.

This mechanic also applies to Heretic and Strife (1996)’s equivalent weapons.

The chaingun really helps for distant small fry - not just weaker groups or stunlockable mobs.

The chaingun really helps for distant small fry – not just weaker groups or stunlockable mobs.

2. The Shotguns Are KING

Classic DOOM’s shotguns have a strong reputation – and for a good reason. Both the regular shotgun and super shotgun deal consistently serious damage. The former one-shots small fries and has a surprising amount of range, while the latter obliterates weaker groups and big guys alike.

To top it off, shotgun shells are plentiful. If you can land all of your pellets, you effectively save ammo for other weapons while still being a murderous force – especially with the super shotty. They aren’t as good against tankier groups, but with all the different enemies and corridors thrown at you, there’s little reason not to default to them. They’re that good.

The shotgun is good, but the super shotgun...is super.

The shotgun is good, but the super shotgun…is super.

3. Secrets Usually Stick Out in Some Form

Almost every level has secret areas, and they’re often filled with weapons, ammo, and/or power-ups. However, with a bit of observation and logic, a lot of these “secrets” aren’t so secret after all. The trick is to look out for differently colored walls, react to conspicuous textures, and listen closely while moving. Do you see a prop or piece of wall that doesn’t match up? It likely contains a secret.

Furthermore, a few places require a close ear. In DOOM 1’s Toxin Refinery, for example, there’s a central computer room of sorts. If you touch the first set of stairs, you can hear elevators lowering. Rush to the left, and you can catch a ride on one of the panel frames. Doing so opens the path to a Soulsphere – one that could be seen through a window, once tantalizingly out of reach.

Of course, not all secrets are as straightforward as using your eyes and ears. If all else fails, you can find a computer area map to reveal unexplored areas in the minimap. Not every level has one, and while it doesn’t show how to reveal certain secrets, it helps nonetheless.

4. Make Use of Cover

Yes, you heard that right. DOOM isn’t all about running, gunning, and circle-strafing out in the open. To do that, to begin with, you need to stay alive. When the going gets tough, hiding behind walls and doors better ensures survival. Projectiles and hitscan bullets can’t go through solid objects, and some sprite-based props like trees also block projectiles. Only peek when you’re going to shoot, and you won’t be dying anytime soon.

This is called

This is called “wall peeking.” Doing the same with doors is “door peeking.”

5. Monsters’ HP Does NOT Correlate to Their Threat Level

Just because a monster has a lot of HP doesn’t mean that they’re the biggest threat. What matters more is how they attack. For instance, Imps shoot fireballs, and you can dodge those with ease. Cacodemons, Hell Knights, and Barons of Hell are much tankier, but they do the same thing as Imps: launch projectiles that can be sidestepped.

On the other hand, Shotgunners and Chaingunners have instantaneous hitscan weapons. Unless they either miss you or rush to cover, you cannot “dodge” their bullets. This means that they can quickly chunk your HP – especially in large groups. Those two are among the most dangerous enemies, yet they have some of the lowest health in the game.

To list other examples, Arachnotrons fire plasma pellets, but you can easily hide from or stunlock them. Revenants go down in two rockets but have destructive homing missiles. Also, Lost Souls not only annoy you with their charges, but they can also block your line of fire. Since they go down quick, that’s not too big of a deal…unless you’re using the rocket launcher.

No, I did not request a firing squad.

No, I did not request a firing squad.

Do you have any tips for classic DOOM? Feel free to leave a comment below. 
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(Bill Gates’ Windows 95 promotion provided by Khalbrae.)

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