When Bethesda releases a new game from the id canon, you can be sure it’ll be strewn with references to past (and upcoming?) games. Rage was peppered with hidden environments from id Software’s classic catalogue, Wolfenstein: The New Order contained a playable level from the original 1992 classic, and Doom is no different: in addition to several (albeit abridged) classic Doom levels, you’ll also find evidence of other classic universes.
Id Software has gone to town with the references in this one, not only to other games, but to seemingly unrelated popular culture iconography. If you're moving slowly enough to notice easter eggs in Doom, chances are you aren't playing it properly, but thankfully the internet has carried out the onerous chore of digging them up for you. Here’s a list of the best ones I've seen, but it’s probably not exhaustive, so once you've finished the campaign once, go huntin'.
Revisiting the '90s
Yes, there are old school Doom levels hidden throughout this reboot, but they’re well hidden and – in most cases – shorter versions of the classics. The enemies are replaced by their modern variants, though the old pick ups and explosive barrels are still intact. You can access these classic levels from the menu once you’ve unlocked them, but they don’t put up much of a challenge, and you’re kinda better off just playing the originals. Still, it’s fun to wander from the old maps back into the new one, and to imagine it’s still 1993, and that you’ve just found the most amazing secret in games.
Whichever way you want to approach it, YouTuber HarryNinetyFour has found them all, as you'll see in the video above.
Whatever happened to Commander Keen? Id Software’s shareware hero has been MIA for over 20 years, and while many bay for his return, I’m sad to report that it’s unlikely. Commander Keen, you see, is dead. His famous helmet can be found on a bloodied stake somewhere in the decrepit nether-regions of Mars. What’s worse, it appears he died a very brutal death. Much like our childhoods, I suppose.
It’s not the first time Sir Keen has appeared in a Doom game: he was quite prolific in the final hidden level of Doom 2, albeit hung morbidly from the ceiling.
The Icon of Sin
Doom 2’s final boss makes a return in 2016, but it’s a shadow of its former self, emitting the only projectile in the game that won’t kill you. It doesn’t spawn monsters, nor can you shoot rockets through its static skull in order to smite a (hidden) sprite of John Romero’s mug. Instead, it tosses a skull box onto a distant platform, containing one of the game’s mini-space marine dolls.
Doom does Candy Crush
Thought you’d wait for a sale before picking up Doom? Best cough up the cash now, oh miserly one, because it’s actually two games in one. In addition to a state-of-the-art FPS of unparalleled brutality, it’s also a pleasant match-three puzzle game, so long as you can find the right terminal in the Lazarus Labs level. Sure, you’re matching corpses and explosive barrels instead of lustrous hard candy, but some say the former tastes better, anyway.
Best make that three games in one, because everyone’s favourite Turkey Punching Simulator also comes in the box. Much has changed since it first appeared in Doom 3, except for the primal urge to deck annoying birds.
Former Adventurers Still Falling Victim to Arrows
In a hyper-violent future with plasma weapons and jetpack-riding mutants, you’d think it unlikely to receive a ye olde arrow to the knee. But no: here’s evidence enough that Doom is set in a ghastly post-apocalyptic Skyrim, where pinkie demons have spawned from an unlikely romantic partnership between Argonians and cave bears, and people are still copping unfortunate arrows to the knee.
It’s not the only Bethesda reference: you’ll find Vault-tec signage around too, if you care to look. (image via Reddit).
Hasta la vista
It’s possible to send Doomguy to his fiery death in a pit of lava, but it’s important to acknowledge that this has happened before in pop culture. Even in death, Doomguy shows reverence to the classics, as this Terminator 2 wink-and-nod will attest.
It’s not the only amusing death: if the in-game camera happens to face Doomguy’s head after he’s been annihilated, he’ll see an old-school version of his face. Looks like he’s all still pixels, underneath that state of the art suit.