Long post incoming weeeeeeeeeeeeee
So, I've been playing this mod on and off since around late 2019 or so. I've played it on just about any kind of mapset you can think of (vanilla maps, remakes of vanilla maps, slaughter-lite, full blown slaughterwads, puzzle maps, compilations, old school wads, modern wads, joke wads, all three nuts.wads, etc), and each update makes it progressively better and better in some way (my favourite new feature is easily the grenade hotkey, before that point I hardly used them but now they're an essential mid-game resource), so when I say that this is one of my all-time favourite mods, I'm not kidding. The level up and shop systems, the variety of playstyles that this mod allows for compared to other mods due to its staggeringly huge arsenal, and the elemental system for certain enemies to prevent players from holding left mouse until the map ends, makes playing any mod without these features feel empty and lifeless. That said, there are a few changes that I think would elevate this mod to greater heights:
Firstly, the variety of enemies, weapons, and items is impressive, and each update does an excellent job at expanding on the roster in interesting and fun ways. However, something that I think would help improve the user experience by a significant factor would be the ability to choose a particular "theme". So, if I'm loading up a sci-fi themed wad, having the ability to only enable the sci-fi themed stuff would enhance the experience, or enabling the fantasy stuff for a fantasy wad, and so on. Ideally, this would be implemented by letting you choose before the difficulty selection, or in an options menu and update on the next map, for wads that have multiple themes such as Scythe 2 or Eviternity. A "vanilla" option for purists would also be a welcome addition, especially for maps that rely on enemies behaving a certain way. And of course, I'd still want the option to have everything enabled for maximum chaos when I feel like it, something that makes slaughtermaps a more colourful and varied experience. My knowledge of coding is limited, and I understand if the idea of individually categorising every single weapon, enemy, item, decoration, etc, sounds daunting or next to impossible to implement, but there are a few reasons why this change is the one at the top of my list:
- When I'm playing wads with very specific themes, it can be jarring to have objects or enemies appear which clash horribly with the setting (for instance, having fire-themed enemies or air sirens appear in the ice-themed levels of Eviternity).
- Certain enemies, particularly boss enemies, totally crash the performance of my modestly powerful PC, so when I'm playing particularly big slaughtermaps, the game turns into a slideshow, and it'd be nice to disable those particular monsters and their effects.
- Challenge runs are something I greatly enjoy, so if I know a wad like the back of my hand (Lost Civilisation comes to mind), I want an incentive to replay those levels other than my sheer enjoyment of them.
- And most importantly of all, something many people in this thread have noted as a flaw, switching to your preferred weapons mid-fight can be cumbersome if you've collected a lot of them (If the Quad Shotgun was a woman, I would let her beat me up for lunch money, even though I haven't carried lunch money on me in over a decade at this point, but having to tap the 3 key up to five times just to access it because I walked over one of the useless 9 slot weapons is a chore that has cost me a good run more than once).
Secondly, with the amount of weapons you've added to this mod, some balancing would be a welcome change:
- All of the slot 1 weapons are fine, with the possible exception of the throwing knife, which feels a little too weak even at higher levels, and would be greatly improved if the alt-fire threw three of them in a horizontal spread.
- Slot 2 weapons are also mostly fine, but the dual wield Colts and Berettas need a serious reload speed upgrade. They are far too sluggish to be fun to use in a big fight.
- The Laser Musket is insanely powerful but needs to have a reload to balance it, because I often find myself spamming it in the endgame due to its power, accuracy and rate of fire.
- The W-Shotgun fires just a hair too slowly, and I think THIS should be the only slot 3 weapon without a reload to make it more unique.
- The Sniper Rifle's scope zoom should be something you have to hold down rather than toggle with the alt-fire key, and scoped shots should be more powerful to compensate for how much slower it is to fire.
- Like the dual Colts and Berettas, the dual Assault Rifles should reload faster.
- The beeping sound on the Multi-Elemental Cannon is distracting, and it takes far too long for it to change element type for it to be viable during a fight.
- The Flux Cannon is ridiculously OP and should have its damage nerfed AND require reloading.
- The D-800 is fine on its own, but makes the Plasma Pistol redundant, so I'd recommend nerfing it in some way. Also it should have a dual wield option.
- The Dual Plasma Rifles and Dual Plasma Pistols, yet again, take far too long to reload during an intense fight for it to be worth the risk, unless you're so high level and have so much health that the enemies are no longer an issue.
- The Black Hole Generator should suck people in from further away and deal less damage to the player to compensate for this.
- Both BFGs are OP, especially the one that doesn't need reloading. Even on slaughtermaps with the difficultly cranked up to max, I find myself feeling massively overpowered.
- The Railgun is begging for a scope of some kind, as a cell-based replacement for the Sniper Rifle at higher levels.
- The beeping sound on the Needler-type weapon is also distracting.
- The Omega Blasters look cool, but they also make the Plasma Pistol redundant, and honestly belong in slot 6.
- The Raider Rocket Launcher is cool, but belongs in slot 5.
- All of the slot 9 weapons are bad, they consume a rarer ammo type and don't do nearly enough damage to compensate for that.
- Elemental effects are generally rather lacklustre outside of using an enemy's weak element against them. Weapons that specialise in a particular element should be buffed across the board, with the exception of the Multi-Elemental Cannon due to its ability to select between all of them.
Thirdly, some aspects of the enemy roster needs looking at:
- Hitscanners are your worst nightmare, regardless of your loadout, stats, or weapon of choice. A chaingunner or two hidden behind a doorway can shred you faster than Yngwie Malmsteem on "Wanna See What Is Pain?" difficulty without giving you ample time to react, and while I understand that this is somewhat intentional because of how they're utilised in the vanilla game, I should NOT be fearing them more than most Cyberdemons or Spider Mastermind variants. To balance them, I suggest lowering their damage values, fire speed, accuracy, and reaction time to spotting the player, because in their current form, they are all WAY too aggressive for most maps, and are responsible for 80-90% of my deaths. This applies to the Demon, Mancubus, Spider Mastermind and Cyberdemon variants that fire bullets as well.
- Renegade enemies should be removed outright. Having powerful hitscan enemies spawn next to dead bodies several seconds after defeating them makes clearing rooms a chore, it drains more resources than is necessary, and has led to a further 5% of my total deaths in this mod. On a few occasions, I've seen Renegades spawn several seconds after defeating another Renegade! I always play with them disabled for a good reason, and I reckon most people playing this mod do as well.
- Stone enemies should take regular damage from explosives. I rarely use the Saturn V for this very reason. I'm always left with a cluster of stone enemies that I then have to either kick to death if I've got Berserk, or switch to an ice weapon to break apart, and I feel as though that break in the flow of combat really bogs things down and makes me want to use them less. I understand picking the right weapon for the job is part of the point of combat in this mod, but explosive weapons balance themselves by being harder to use in tight spaces due to splash damage, so stacking this on top of them is redundant.
- The floating spiky steel ball thingy that replaces the Cacodemon should not be as tanky or agile as it is. If that was your intention, don't then also give them a projectile attack.
- Certain Pain Elemental variants often cause massive slowdown on my PC due to how rapidly some of them spawn in Lost Souls. I recommend putting a hard limit on the amount a particular Pain Elemental can spawn, or reduce the speed at which they spawn them.
- The near-invisible Lost Soul variant that dodges your aim every two seconds is the absolute worst to deal with in open spaces.
- On the highest difficulty, the Hell Knight variant with the poisonous shield blocks far too often, making them nearly impervious to damage.
- The ice-themed Archvile variant makes an ear-shatteringly loud hissing sound during one of its attack animations. I suggest lowering the volume of that sound in Audacity, or reducing the number of times the sound is played during that animation, because without fail, it catches me off-guard every time if I don't already have the volume turned to its lowest value.
- Enemies that reflect projectiles back at the player shouldn't also reflect BFG projectiles. This leads to awkward fights where I have to aim at the wall rather than the enemy itself to hit them, which only increases my chances of being hit, and enemies with reflection tend to be on the tougher side.
- Mimics shouldn't be as tanky as they are. I get that they're meant to be an elemental puzzle for the player to solve, but I've had it happen once or twice where I've beaten a Cyberdemon with a sliver of health left, expecting a health pickup in the box, only for a Mimic to spawn and one-shot me while I fumbled for my strongest melee weapon, which I've found is the most effective way of dealing with them.
Fourthly, most of the items lose their usefulness the more you progress into the game. Here's how I'd fix them:
- Regeneration/Draining Potions should be percentage based rather than fixed values. I reckon 1% regen and 1% damage per shot would be a good ballpark, as that would mean a single Regeneration Potion active for 60 seconds would only heal just over half your health, making it a useful but not totally busted find, and you aren't going to max out your health with a single BFG shot with a Draining Potion.
- Ghostly Black Gems, both Daisy variants, and Dog Companions need a serious buff, they should level along with the player, and they should teleport next to the player if they get stuck somewhere.
- Portable Medkits and Portable Berserk Packs should also be percentage based. Having to quickly spam the Use key 20 times to recover my health after a rough fight doesn't feel right in the slightest, and cheapens their discovery somewhat.
- Give us the option to remove armour. I cannot stress this enough. Being stuck with green armour because I picked up a bunch of armour bonuses and having to waste rockets firing at the wall point blank so that I can pick up better armour is the worst, and I've actually died once or twice doing this due to miscalculating how strong my rockets were. I'd suggest replacing the Place Column feature with this hotkey, because I've never found a single use for that.
- UFO Beacons are fun, but they should only drop items where you place the beacon. In some open maps, they'll drop items in places you can't reach, and force you to idclip to reach them.
Fifthly, the shop system:
- As many have already pointed out, the prices are ridiculously unbalanced. A Divine Soulsphere is significantly more expensive than Divine Armour, despite both effectively doing the same thing (500 armour points at 100% block = 500 hit points), Invulnerability Spheres are shockingly cheap, and many of the most powerful weapons in the game are easily accessed within several levels of low-level combat. I'd suggest matching the prices of Soulspheres with their corresponding armour sets, and massively hiking the prices of all items. Shops should be something you only even think of doing in the mid game, once you've got a comfortable arsenal.
- Silver and Golden Tickets are next to useless for a few reasons. They're exceedingly rare drops, and the things you can buy from their respective shops are absolutely not worth it. Personally, I'd put the most powerful weapons in the game in the Silver Shops and make Golden Shops the equivalent of a boss chest, and I'd make the drop rate of both ticket types more common.
- On larger maps, especially slaughtermaps, Shops cause a significant amount of lag. I suggest putting a five minute timer on Shops, as anyone who wants the items they're selling will either already buy them or clear out the level and save up enough money to buy from them. Alternatively, a hard cap on the number of Shops that can spawn in a level would be appreciated.
- The Shops that spawn robot companions, like the other companions listed previously, need buffing, levelling with the player, and should teleport next to the player.
Finally, some miscellaneous ideas for improvements:
- More destructible objects. Those gross egg things that make stomach growling sounds are the worst, and I'd like to pop them open so they'd shut up.
- When you die to being hit with energy weapons, your body disappears as part of the death animation. When you enter the resurrect command to come back, you're stuck being invisible until you pick up a Partial Invisibility. I'm not sure how you'd go about fixing this, but sometimes I can't be arsed to savescum through a level and it'd be nice to continue a run past that point.
- Similarly, when you die to being hit with ice damage, your body freezes and you explode, making the resurrect command impossible. I'm not sure if that's just hard coded into ZDoom, but a workaround would be greatly appreciated.
- Bullet casings and debris should disappear after a set time, and that set time should be a lot quicker. This is especially noticeable in slaughtermaps, which tend to run worse and worse the longer they go on, despite the bodies disappearing.
- Levelling up past a certain point should let you ignore damage below a certain threshold (for instance, hitting level 10 lets you ignore 1 hit point of damage, level 20 lets you ignore 2 hit points, etc). This would help make hitscanners less of a threat, because now if you're sufficiently high level and wearing good enough armour, you can shrug off the bullets and focus on the heavy hitters.
- While I love throwing grenades at groups of squishy enemies, the animation should be a little faster.
- Splash damage should be reduced. Blowing myself up by walking over one of my own mines or underestimating their blast radius is the sole reason why I've yet to assign a hotkey for them.
I know this is a huge list of gripes, and you can easily read this as whinging by someone with no experience making Doom content, but everything I have written here comes from a sincere love for this mod.