No one’s managed to speedrun the entirety of The Plutonia Experiment, some of the hardest levels ever made for DOOM 2, on the unbelievably tough “Nightmare” difficulty. Until now.
“It’s now been 19 years since Final Doom was released,” explained speedrunner Zero Master on his YouTube channel. “No one has ever attempted to do a single segment run of it on Nightmare difficulty before without using tools due to the difficulty.”
See if you can keep up with this GIF:
Good lord. It ultimately took him 45 minutes and 57 seconds.
The Plutonia Experiment was created by brothers Dario and Milo Casali for Final Doom, a two-part set of levels created by DOOM fans, acting as pseudo sequels to DOOM 2. This was an officially sanctioned release, as Final Doom was released at retail as new DOOM 2 episodes.
Let me try to establish the ridiculousness of Zero Master’s accomplishment here.
When you play DOOM 2 on nightmare, enemies move faster than normal — much faster. Per the DOOM Wiki:
The more common demonic monsters from the original Doom are the most affected by this mode. Demons and the related spectres move and attack twice as fast as usual. Some projectiles are sped up to 15 units per tic, making imp and cacodemon fireballs 50% faster than usual, while hell knight and baron of hell projectiles are 33% faster. These and other monsters also attack considerably more often, usually moving very little as long as they have their target in sight, which makes hitscan enemies considerably more dangerous, and the player’s fist and chainsaw much less useful.
Not only will enemies pursue you with a vengeance, but they continually respawn into the world. On other difficulty settings, you can clear out a room, and give yourself a chance to breathe. It’s why many DOOM speedruns occur on the game’s “Ultra Violence” difficulty level.
Adding insult to injury, Zero Master not only needs extreme skill to navigate The Plutonia Experiment, but an enormous amount of luck, too. How much damage enemies are able to inflict on you can vary wildly, which means there’s a chance a random hit could end you.
“The damage that I take is very random, so you need a lot of luck at times,” he said. “For example revenants can do 80 (64) max damage with ranged (melee) attack, BaronHellknight 64 (80), Cacodemon 40 (60), Mancubus can do up to 64 damage per fireball (they shoot 2 at the same time), DemonSpectre can do up to 40 (they attack very quickly) while a chaingunner will tear you apart if you let them get too close. Those are all max numbers, minimum damage is around 10 damage each hit.”
In other words, death is always close, and it’s not always your fault if it occurs.
This run wasn’t accomplished with tools, but he did employ a number of tricks to make it work, including “glides, rocket jumps, keygrabs, arch vile jumps and a lot of trigger skips.” Gliding allows you to reach areas that you shouldn’t be able to. Here’s an example of gliding in action:
Another common trick is the rocket jump, a manoeuvre that later became canonically implemented in Quake:
Plus, in this speedrunning variant, Zero Master is not allowed to die and start a level over. If he dies, the speedrun is done. There is one exception to this rule: suicide exits. In that case, a player purposely dies in order to clip through the geometry and propel themselves towards an exit warp. Despite being technically “dead”, the level counts as completed, and they move to the next stage as though starting a fresh game with 100% health, 0% armour, a pistol and 50 bullets.
All told, Zero Master had to deal with shit load of powerful enemies. Here was the final total:
- 704 chaingunners
- 422 revenants
- 123 cacodemons
- 90 barons
- 151 hell knights
- 23 cyberdemons
- 4 Masterminds
- 315 shotgun guys
- 86 zombiemen
- 74 pain elementals
- 140 mancubus
- 94 arachnotrons
- 99 arch viles
- 436 imps
Nice going, Zero Master!