Thanks to Awesome-o for this excellent review. No point system in
this one, just a standout review of the map.
How to get it.
Go into Steam and type Excavation
use map code KWP9C7VX
With a lot of Doom Snapmaps, I feel like I’m playing the same level every
time, just populated with different monsters and with a slightly different
layout. Id software have made an attempt to broaden the number of players
who can create content for this new Doom game, and in doing so they’ve
severely limited the number of options capable mappers would have had at
their disposal otherwise. Because of this, most Doom Snapmaps never feel
special to me.
From time to time though, there’ll be the rare snapmap that pops up that’s
actually quite good, one that lets me fulfil my dreams of tearing off the
horn of a baron of hell while I’m being chased by an assortment of 5 other
demons. From time to time; there’ll be a snapmap that has heavy metal
playing where heavy metal should be played, and not when I’m sitting around
doing nothing. From time to time; a map like Excavation comes along. Author
GHO5TF4C3 brings us a truly remarkable map that aims to play and function
like a level from Doom 4’s campaign. This map is filled to the brim with
detail and extravagant set pieces with a variety of different items, props
and pickups placed throughout to make your experience with this map that
much more enjoyable. But is all this enough to break the stigma that
Snapmaps carry with them? Is Excavation actually just another over-ambitious
Snapmap that tries too hard to replicate what makes the campaign so great,
losing sight of its original vision along the way? Or is this a rare case
where the author’s managed to capture lightning in a bottle? Read on.
You start off in a laboratory-esque room, rather empty, save for a lone
console in the corner. Activating it will prompt VEGA to alert you about the
demonic goings-on around the facility, and your objective is now clear as
day. Destroy the gore nests and kill every last demon there is. Once we
proceed through to the next room, we’re greeted by 2 unlocked doors, both of
which lead to different areas of the map. Just like the best missions in
Doom 4’s main campaign mode, the player is already presented with choice
from the very beginning; and though it may just be a case of “do you wanna
go left or right?” it’s still going to affect the player’s experience with
this map and the order in which they’re going to encounter the different
enemies and pickups there are to find around here. From the get-go we’re
seeing potential replay value, and opportunities for vastly different future
playthroughs. Not long after we make our simple yet important decision, we
encounter our first gore nest. When in the presence of a gore nest in most
snapmaps, there’s usually no build-up to the moment you tear that thing’s
heart out and start the battle. Here, however, you get that same sense of
“there’s a massive fight coming up, I better be well prepared” that’s found
in the campaign. The room has an intimidating red filter to it emitting from
the gore nest in the far corner of the room and a suspenseful tune is
playing, getting you pumped for the adrenaline inducing battle that awaits.
After you’re done collecting armour shards and spare ammo, you bite the
bullet and tear that thing’s heart out. The battle begins, and – what’s
this? It functions and plays like a campaign gore nest battle would? There’s
well placed props around that actually serve a purpose in the battle,
allowing you to move fast and free around the arena? In a Snapmap? Yes, the
unthinkable has happened. For once, there’s an arena in a Snapmap that’s fun
to play and move around in. Who woulda thunk it?
For the most part, all the gore nest battles you’ll initiate during your
time in the facility are an insane amount of fun and feel as rewarding as
beating one in Doom 4’s campaign would. Just like the campaign, you’ll have
tons of demons running at you from all corners as you try and chase down the
lone imp who’s so scared of you they’re actually retreating. Bad. Ass.
Despite the meticulously placed props, crates and powerups that add greatly
to what would otherwise be very bland and empty rooms, some of the gore nest
sections suffer when pinkies, spectres and lost souls start spawning in all
at once and bombard you from all around the map over and over. This isn’t
enough to ruin these gore nest sections but it can be extremely frustrating
nonetheless. Generally, I don’t mind pinkies and lost souls as long there
are no more than 3 at any given time and are placed more as a distraction
than an actual enemy you’re meant to put your focus on (this applies more to
lost souls than pinkies), but this isn’t the case here. In one fight there
were so many lost souls and pinkies attacking me at once that I was unable
to move for a short while. I did contact the author about this, and he
explained to me that due to the level of detail with all the props and
triggers in this map (which left the objects counter in Snapmap to 99.8%
full), he was forced to use the AI conductor tools instead of manually
placing his demons and their spawn points, and because of this the game will
sometimes randomly throw in a bunch of one specified demon in one wave
instead of spreading them out between waves, as was probably the author’s
Expect to lose half your health because of these little bastards time and
I also encountered another instance of what was explained to me as an error
in the AI conductor. I got to the third and final wave of a gore nest battle
when suddenly, enemies stopped spawning spread out across the arena and just
started spawning in at the exact same spot. It was a truly awful experience
and is unfortunately enough to sour one’s taste for this map, or at least a
portion of it. One after the other, I found myself shooting demons from afar
with my heavy machine gun as they spawned in on top of their kin’s dead
bodies. No movement was required. Pretty boring, to say the least. This
happened to me in a previous playthrough of the map too, albeit in a
This may be a frustrating glitch, but the blame shouldn’t be placed on the
author, it should be directed towards the limitations of Snapmap. If this
happens to you at any point, try your best to look past it.
After you’re done with all the gore nests, what looks like the door that’ll
end the level opens up. “Well gee, that was a great snapmap! Short, yeah,
but so are all the others!” All is well, and you lower your guard as you
wait for the “you win!” message to pop up on screen.
Until you realise it’s not the end. The game’s lured you into a false sense
of security – you’re vulnerable. Unexpectedly, the map’s not over yet.
You’re going to hell.
In most snapmaps, entering Hell just feels like you're going into another
room. You walk through a door and then - "oh, there's a hell portal prop
there. Guess I'm going to hell now!" But in Excavation, there's much more
build up and tension in the air leading up to what should be more an event
and not just a sudden change of scenery. You find yourself enclosed in a
chamber for a short while, with a robotic voice counting down the seconds
until you're going to be opening the door to Hell. You're getting pumped,
you're readying yourself for whatever might be on the other side of this
door. The first thing you see as the door opens is the portal to Hell –
daring you to enter and move on into the unknown. Walking through this
portal gave me the sense that I was past the point of no return, and you
find you actually are when the door you've just come through has locked
itself. The second you walk into the first Hell module, you're greeted by
the fabled Dark Lord of the Fourth Age. "Your nightmare begins here", he
taunts, as a haunting ambient tune kicks in. The music here is imperative to
the atmosphere Hell gives off when you first enter, this specific choice the
author picked gives off the vibe that you're entering a truly alien world,
and that whatever demons, items, or environments you encounter, you know
they're going to be bigger, badder, and scarier than those you've seen
before. The author has done a fantastic job building up this event, and the
atmosphere and tension present both before and immediately after you walk
through the portal has, for me, remained unmatched by any Snapmap I’ve
played since my initial first playthrough of this map two weeks ago.
Hell is where things really get crazy in Excavation. You thought the
facility battles were intense? That’s child’s play compared to what awaits.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say the facility sections of the map were
mainly just build-up. You got used to how combat would usually work in the
map, you collected most of your weapons, for the most part it was a warmup.
In Hell, you’re going to have to be insanely skilled to get through its
brutal and chaotic fights without dying. There’ll be moments where you’ll
have 5 cyber mancubui coming after you at once. You’re gonna have to be
quick on your feet and with your trigger finger, because here there’s NEVER
a time to stop and take a breath in combat. Battles in the Hell sections are
extremely exhilarating and adrenaline inducing.
“Can you hear them?” The dark lord inquires, as the player begins his first
encounter with demons on their home turf.
After you finish your first battle in Hell, you get access to the blue skull
key. Generally, I don’t mind keys that teleport into the level, but it irks
me a little when the game has to tell you where the key is, and not have it
teleport in with a table or something at an obvious place on the map (e.g.
the centre of the arena). Maybe this couldn’t happen due to Snapmap
limitations, as the objects count was already at 99.8% full, but even so
it’s an issue that bugs me and ruins the immersion.
The final room is an absolute blast. The moment you hear the track “Rip and
Tear” kick in, you know things are gonna get real. And they do. The battles
here are complete and utter chaos, in a good way. It’s one of the craziest
and most action packed battles I’ve yet to play in Doom 2016 as a whole. On
the first wave alone, you’re treated to 5+ cyber mancubi from the get-go,
with more monsters spawning in to distract you as you try and fight off the
big baddies. It only escalates from there. While I was playing it I just had
a massive dumb smile spread across my face, this battle is a great
representation of what Doom 4 is all about, mindlessly slaughtering big
demons with your awesome guns while rad heavy metal music plays in the
background. This is the epitome of Doom. You’re never going to want this
battle to end.
Can it get much crazier than this? (Spoilers: it can)
After three waves of what is probably one of the most action packed
experiences you’re ever going to have with a snapmap, you’re treated to a
short but sweet boss fight against a few barons of hell, and then a
teleporter appears in the area that’ll end the level. Personally, I thought
the ending was too sudden and it would’ve been nicer to move to a different
room or be teleported back to Mars and then flip an elevator switch or
something to end the level, but, as always, Snapmap limitations probably
prevented that from happening.
All in all, Excavation is a FANTASTIC Snapmap, and I’d recommend that
everyone – even people who generally don’t like Snapmaps such as myself –
give it a go. The world is incredibly detailed, music is amazingly well set
up, and combat is great fun. There are very few grips to be had with this
map. It feels like something straight out of the campaign in terms of
quality, and the fact that the author could accomplish that in something as
overly-basic as Snapmap gives me hope that in the future, Snapmaps won’t be
as bland and as same-y as they usually are.
You can play this snapmap by searching for Map ID KWP9C7VX.
Click for full size