Do what thou whit shall be the whole of the law.
The various official additional episodes for Doom 2 frustrate me so much. They can’t seem to get it right or respect the proper order and value of each. I don’t understand this nor why they can’t seem to get it right. It should be relatively easy to establish. Either take the BFG path, take the chronological complete path, or make them all free add-ons but for goodness sakes don’t be so arbitrary.
In the original retail version there was only one episode and it didn’t even prompt you to pick it. It was called Hell On Earth. Pretty straightforward. They replaced the episode structure with a single path version breaking them up into sections by text screens used to break up the monotony and give the player an idea of what’s supposed to be happening in the plot of the game. There’s an argument to be made that these mark the end of chapters or episodes of their own but just aren’t presented that way. After all, that one huge episode spans longer than any found in Doom 1. In any case the order, story, and gameplay was straightforward and easy to understand.
Then Id hand-picked popular community levels to include in The Master Levels which was an add-on with a menu interface that lets you select which one to play and it will configure and launch the various levels in Doom 2 to be played. It was a bit of fun but I believe it was not intended to be canon and each level reset the game so there was no level progression from one to the next like in other games.
Later console ports modified this behavior to effectively create an order to them and make them more like their own episode but they released two different versions of the level order between the console ports.
Next, Id pulled a couple massive community projects by the same developers intended to each be a standalone new episode for Doom 2 and published them together as an official release called Final Doom. They were standalone, meaning they would run without needing to own Doom 2. They could be argued to be two new independent games but they were built on the Doom 2 engine utilizing Doom 2 assets so they’re effectively an expansion pack for Doom 2 but sold as a standalone release of two independent episodes. Why they didn’t combine the two to be listed as episodes I’m not sure but it is what it is. It could be considered its own release not being canon episodes or not. It’s kinda the player’s job to decide.
Then they released Doom 3 and on some of the console ports included the original Doom and Doom 2 as additional bonuses. They did not ship Final Doom however. Then when Doom 3’s expansion pack was released, they included Final Doom as a bonus on that. I’m unsure if The Master Levels were included at all.
Well then years passed and eventually they re-released an updated and remastered Doom 3 called the BFG edition fixing various things and including various quality of life things. It also included new re-releases of Doom 1 & Doom 2 with some relatively minor changes plus an official brand new canon episode for Doom 2 as a bonus. It was called No Rest For The Living and actually lived on the episode selection screen of Doom 2 missing from the original release. It did not include Final Doom at all nor The Master Levels on that episode list. To me, that inclusion and omission makes it clear that No Rest For The Living was always intended to be the first cannon expansion to Doom 2 with Final Doom being considered its own standalone release, just one that used a lot of Doom 2’s assets.
At this point the arrangement was relatively simple, No Rest For The Living was the official canon additional episode for Doom 2, the master levels were not canon, and the other releases in Final Doom were to be considered standalone games in their own right.
More recently, creator John Romeo created Sigil, a semi-official add-on for the original Doom that’s supposed to come after the bonus episode of The Ultimate Doom. Even more recently, the was another in the form of a sequel titled Sigil 2. These two wads have proven to be really popular in the Doom community and are largely treated as official and canon since they were released by one of the original developers, albeit not one working for Id anymore.
Now here’s where things get complicated. Bethesda somewhat recently released an array of updated and improved brand new versions of Doom and Doom 2 (plus the first official PC version of Doom 64). However, Doom 2 is a hot mess. The Master Levels serves as its second episode while No Rest For The Living and Final Doom are both added on the add-ons section of the game implying they’re not canon. This makes no sense. No Rest For The Living was supposed to be the canon second episode but they effectively cast it aside for the one Doom 2 expansion that was the least canon of all of them. Why!? This makes no sense! Why is No Rest For The Living relegated to add-on content in favor of a retail compilation of random user levels? Sigil and Sigil 2 are there as add-ons too but at least that makes sense given the circumstances of their creation, but No Rest For The Living was clearly intended to be official and canon. All release of Doom 2 after that should have included it as the second episode, not The Master Levels. It troubles me on a deep level. I can understand doing that with Final Doom since they were standalone games in their own right but why do it this way? It makes no sense!
If it were up to me, I’d list them like this:
- Hell On Earth
- No Rest for the Living
- TNT: Evilution
- The Pluetonia Experiment
- The Master Levels
So in conclusion, Bethesda’s updated Unity-based version of Doom are a welcome change with some great quality of life features and the like, but they must’ve been high as fuck or something when they made that choice for now to handle Doom 2’s episode progression because it makes no sense.
Love is the law, love under will.
P.S. Doom 64 should have also seen a PC release and be called Doom 3, and then the Doom 3 we did get should have been called something like Doom: Origins since it’s effectively a reboot. Doom 2016 should have been called Doom 4. Naming it just Doom causes confusion and it’s not even a reboot.