What would Doom (2016) look like if it came out twenty-three years ago? And just how old would that make you feel to see it in action? Doom 4 Vanilla, released yesterday, is an impressive 'demake' mod for Doom 2 that boils down everything it can from Id Software's series reboot while adhering to the limits of Doom circa 1993. That means new monsters, guns, music, art and levels. It's an impressive package.
The vast majority of modern mods for 'classic' Doom are based on heavily upgraded open-source versions of the game engine. Levels can be larger, monster AI can be more complex and effects can be vastly more detailed and messy. Case in point: Brutal Doom.
Doom 4 Vanilla uses none those modern fripperies. That fancy new Spider Mastermind with telekinesis, homing missiles and spread shots is entirely DOS compatible. Those new blood effects? Pushing the original Doom engine to its limits. The mod even goes as far as including a MIDI cover of Doom 2016's fantastic soundtrack. Take a look and listen for yourself in the trailer below.
While assembled by modder "Noiser" on the Doomworld forums, Doom 4 Vanilla uses sprites, textures and audio from over twenty other contributors, and you can see the full credits on the release thread here.
Being a pointedly old-school mod, there's some assembly required to play Doom 4 Vanilla, but Noiser has done most of the heavy lifting for you. All you need is a commercial copy of Doom 2, downloaded and ready to go.
Download the mod from Doomworld, unpack it wherever you want and place your DOOM2.WAD file in the same directory.
While the currently available version uses the pointedly old-school (but still Windows-based) Chocolate Doom engine, an authentic MS-DOS Edition of the mod is in the works. Still, if you don't mind fiddling around with emulators like DOSBox (or have a 486 PC lying around) you could probably get it running with a little effort.
But it'll probably make you feel old.