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Hell-blazers: Doom Eternal Speedrunning Q&A — FrostyXen

My name is Nicholas van der Waard, host of "Hell-blazers." What follows is my interview with Doom Eternal  21-year old world record-holder (for UN 100%) FrostyXen. FrostyXen also has a YouTube channel, as well.

"Hell-blazers," interviews Twitch streamers, speedrunners and Doom fans about Doom Eternal (2020); it asks them, based on their own experiences, to compare the game to the rest of the franchise, and what effect it will have on speedrunning and gaming at large. General information about the Q&A can be found here; a compendium of the interviews as they are published can be found here (which also includes interesting videos, break-downs and other articles).



The Runner

Nick: Many of the players I've interviewed are in their mid-30s, and have grown up with Doom during the '90s. Because you're younger, is Doom Eternal your first Doom experience?

Frosty: I first played Doom 2016 when it went on sale on the Xbox One like six months before Eternal came out.


Nick: Have you played the classic Doom games at all? The 16-bit ones for DOS like Doom 1 (1993) and The Plutonia Experiment (1996)?

Frosty: I played Doom 1 and parts of Doom 2 (1994) but none of Final Doom (1996).


Nick: Did playing of Doom 2016/Eternal make you want to explore the classics? Or did you play the classic games first?

Frosty: Yeah, a few months after I played 2016, I bought Doom 1 and 2 when they were on sale on Steam. I've already watched many videos about the originals so it was fun playing those iconic levels for the first time.


Nick: Are there any Doom games you haven’t played yet, but want to? Any that you've been avoiding?

Frosty: I've only played the modern Doom games and the original in its entirety. I do want to play Doom 2, Final Doom, and Doom 64 (1997) in the future. Doom 3 is probably going to be the one I either never touch or the last one I'll play.



Nick: You've played some of the older games and some of the new ones. Thus far, do you have a favorite soundtrack of the franchise? Individual track? Monster? Gun?

Frosty: My favorite track has to be "The Only Thing They Fear is You." Hearing it play throughout Arc Complex in my first playthrough was so memorable, especially in the Slayer Gate where they throw so much at you. My favorite demon would probably be the [2016] Cyberdemon. The fight was really intense, especially since I had no idea weapon-switching was a thing and just when I thought it was done, he came back to life and I had to go through it all over again. And my favorite gun is the Super Shotgun. Back in 2016, the double shot could kill most demons in an instant was amazing and I still miss it but the hook was a very nice compromise.


Nick: Audio-visually do the classic games hold their own against the newer titles, or do they feel outdated by comparison?

Frosty: They absolutely still hold up. The monster sprites still look good and the music is iconic for a reason. I even found myself looking up specific tracks from the game on YouTube just because they were so good.


Nick: The Doom games are heavily influenced by horror movies and heavy metal. Did you like either before playing Doom, or did the franchise encourage you to explore them?

Frosty: Unfortunately, I'm still really uninterested in both even after playing Doom.


Nick: In terms of the classic, '90s Id games, have you also tried Quake (1996)?

Frosty: I haven't yet but I definitely want to try it out in the future. It looks like something right up my alley.


Nick: Are you predominantly a speedrunner like some of my other interviewees—Your Mate Devo, DraQu or Byte Me? Or is Doom Eternal the only game you've speedrun?

Frosty: Doom Eternal is the only game I've speedrun. [Otherwise, the] closest thing I've done [to a speedrun] is in Halo: The Master Chief Collection (2014), where you have to beat each campaign within them hours on legendary difficulty based on your best times for achievements.


Nick: Is there anything unique about you as a person that informs your speedrunning approach? For example, Your Mate Devo's a software engineer, so I was able to ask him about the game from that perspective.

Frosty: Nothing like that, I just have a lot of time on my hand. I've just been playing FPS games since I was really young and I've never really stopped playing them.



Nick: Apart from Doom, can you list some of your favorite FPS games? In terms of fun factor and overall value, where does Doom Eternal rank compared to them, and why?

Frosty: The Halo series holds a special place in my heart, especially Halo 3 (2007). Countless custom game sessions, Action Sack and Infection playlists, the Vidmaster Achievements to receive the legendary Recon armor. Halo 3 will forever be my favorite game of all time. I've also played a lot of Call of Duty back in the day and during high school, I played a lot of Team Fortress 2 (2007) and then Overwatch (2016) until around the time I started college.

Doom Eternal ranks really high on my favorite list. The combat loop and movement options keep me coming back to the game day after day.

On Doom Eternal: Casually

Nick: Do you feel like Doom Eternal was made with a target audience in mind? For example, Doom Eternal has a lot of hand-holding for a Doom game. Do you feel like the game's many tutorials and traffic light-style signposts were added to make casual players feel more included? Do any of these features ever get on your nerves, or are they easy enough to ignore?

Frosty: With all the hype around Eternal before release drawing in players who never played a Doom game, possibly a FPS game, before and all the new mechanics they were adding along with the sandbox of 2016, the tutorials needed to be a thing. They can easily be ignored, literally with the tutorials where you can disable them in the menu. The green lights were also in 2016 so they might as well be part of the environment at this point.


Nick: As a casual player and FPS fan, is there anything about Doom Eternal that doesn't appeal to you, or that you feel Id could improve on in a future DLC/sequel?

Frosty: There are too many cutscenes throughout the game which were unnecessary. Just in "Hell on Earth," we have the gate opening after the first arena with the Arachnotron, the Arachnotron breaking through the wall, a demon force field disappearing, and a demon portal appearing at the end. All of these could have been done without taking control away from the player.

Also I wish collectibles didn't need to pause everything for Doomguy to inspect it. In 2016, you could move while in the inspection animation and you can skip it by switching weapons. Now, you can potentially die from a demon because you have to stare at a toy for a few seconds.


Nick: Was there anything about Eternal that surprised you, was bad when you thought it'd be good or vice versa?

Frosty: The sheer amount of collectibles in the middle levels definitely surprised me. I didn't think I could memorize that many but I proved myself wrong there.

I was also surprised by how quickly they were throwing heavy demons at me. In 2016, you at least had three different weapons before a Hell Knight appeared, but Arachnotrons appeared in the second arena and you were fighting against Mancubus with only three weapons.



Nick: If you had to pick one of each, what is your favorite level, gun, and monster in Doom Eternal?

Frosty: Arc Complex is my favorite level. The music, the sheer amount of monsters coming at you at the same time. My first playthrough of that level was amazing. The Super Shotgun is my favorite gun with its devastating power and the hook is just fun to play with. Is it unfair to pick the Icon of Sin? The first time I fought it, it was just intense. Shooting everything I had at it while using the Crucible at everything else that came at me while there were explosions happening everywhere. I was legitimately shocked that I managed to beat it without dying the first time around.


Nick: Which glory kills do you like the most?

Frosty:
The Prowler one where you rip its head and spine off. I was streaming on Discord when I first got it and everyone in the call reacted to it.

Speed and Mobility

Nick: Combat-wise, Doom Eternal is meant to be played fast. How does the speed of the game feel compared to, say, Doom 2016? Other FPS?

Frosty: It's probably the fastest game I ever played. I haven't played other games with many other movement options like Titanfall (2014) because I usually get overwhelmed by all of these options but with Doom, it just feels really natural to me.


Nick: Is there anything about the slower, more horizontally-oriented Doom 2016 that you prefer, or is Doom Eternal a "straight upgrade"?

Frosty: Personally it feels like a straight upgrade, though I haven't gone back to Doom 2016 ever since Eternal came out to compare them together.


Nick: How does the speed and mobility of Doom Eternal compare to other FPS games you've played already?

Frosty: Other games can't compare. Master Chief may be a super soldier but he moves like a turtle compared to Doomguy.



Nick: What makes Doom Eternal unique in terms of these variables? What made you speedrun it, versus an older FPS game from your childhood?

Frosty: Doom Eternal doesn't feel punishing when you're trying to go fast. In Halo, you're expected to take cover when you take too much damage and you're heavily punished if you don't follow this rule. Even lowly grunts and jackals can take you out when you're trying to skip encounters. Meanwhile on Nightmare in Doom Eternal, you can run past encounters with ease since you're so fast and health can be easily replenished with an Ice Bomb or glory kill.


Nick: Is there one fight in Doom Eternal you couldn't believe you survived, but was unbelievably fun regardless?

Frosty: The Icon of Sin fight. I listed my reasons above but still, that fight was amazing.

Tone

Nick: Relative to its presentation and action, what leaps to mind when you hear the word "Doom"? Campy schlock, or a videogame experience that's darker and more serious?

Frosty: Fun action with amazing music. From all the games I've played, it's just so much fun to kill demons while the stellar soundtrack plays to heighten the enjoyment.


Nick: Doom Eternal is less minimal than Doom 2016. It's also campier. How do you feel about this?

Frosty: Doomguy speaking should have been cut, especially since he never talks outside of Sentinel Prime. I'm sure they could have made those cutscenes work without Doomguy talking. Outside of that, I don't have a problem. The bright color scheme make it distinct from [the] muddy red and brown of Doom 2016. [editor's note: Fun fact: The concept/in-game art for Hell in Doom 2016 was based off Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński's work.]



Nick: Are you interested in the lore entries the game provides? How important is making the lore available to the player (via a menu index) to you—spelling it out, versus allowing the player to play the game and figure things out later, a la Dark Souls (2011)?

Frosty: I'm pretty interested in the lore that Id created and I look into the codex entries every so often. I think it depends on the series and how important the story is. For a story-based campaign, spelling it out works for Doom.


Nick: Are you familiar with Doom PSX (1995), which introduced darker lighting, atmospheric music and (more) menacing sound effects? In other words, should Doom be scary?

Frosty: I actually never heard of Doom PSX before (despite my YouTube recommendations being filled with Doom for a few months). Should it be scary? No, at least not with the modern incarnation of Doom where you're a mythical demon-slaying warrior. Can it be? Yes. Maybe in a spin-off, something similar to Doom 3 where you're just a regular marine instead of Doomguy.


Nick: The early games are mostly horizontal in their movement schemes. Even Doom 2016 had this. Despite the inclusion of horizontal movement schemes into Doom Eternal, does its combat retain that core, "Doom feel" in your opinion?

Frosty: From the few Doom games I've played, it's obvious that it's meant to be a one-man army carrying a lot of guns facing the legions of Hell, and Doom Eternal captures that very well.

Balancing

Nick: How do you feel about the Marauder? Do complaints about him upsetting the combat feel justified, or is he easier to handle than most people think (see: King Dime's latest strategy)?

Frosty: I've never understood the hate for the Marauder. Sure, he was difficult for me at first and it took me five minutes to beat him in the Arc Complex fight and the Taras Nabad secret encounter took dozens of attempts, but as I fought him, he got easier and easier to beat.



Nick: What are some of your favorite ways to handle the Marauder?

Frosty: Ice Bomb over his head, two lock-on rocket barrages. Dead in five seconds.


Nick: Doom Eternal has a large amount of projectiles to dodge, in-game; but is there a type of attack that is more difficult to avoid, in your opinion?

Frosty: Both the Whiplash and Carcass have this attack where they cause a small shock wave in the ground which locks onto you and briefly stuns you for a second. They can't even be avoided by jumping because they can still hit you. It just feels very cheap. Everything else is in the game can easily be dodged by dashing or jumping away.


Nick: The Microwave Beam doesn't seem to be very good (and can even cause a glitch that takes away the player’s ability to dash). Can it reliably be used to stun a charging Hell Knight as Under the Mayo argues, or is the weapon still garbage as DraQu argues in response?

Frosty: I watched that video and I tried to incorporate it into my play but it's just bad. The stunning aspect of the Microwave Beam can be done with either grenade without having to pull out the Plasma Gun and slow yourself for a second. Its role is just completely overshadowed by other, more conventional tools.


Nick: The Tyrant aka Cyberdemon always seems to be killed with the Crucible at the start of every fight. Do you think this makes him kind of irrelevant—less of a demon to fight and more of a button to push?

Frosty: To be honest, Tyrants aren't that scary even without any super weapons. In the Arc Complex Slayer Gate, they can be taken down in less than fifteen seconds with one or two lock-on rocket barrages and quickly swapping between Precision Bolt, Ballista, and Super Shotgun. The Crucible just lets you save time and ammo.


Nick: Is the player given too much ammo for the Crucible? Or is the Crucible necessary for end-game fights, wherein you'll need every shot to reliably make it through some of the bigger demon encounters on Ultra-Nightmare?

Frosty: Outside of the final arena of Taras Nabad and the Icon of Sin fight, you use it twice in most missions besides Final Sin where you use it five times. You still have to kill most of the demons with your usual arsenal so I think the current ammo is fine.



Nick: Does the Crucible feel static? If you know that a Cyberdemon is going to spawn, and maybe a couple of Barons, then won't the player save the Crucible for these demons each and every time? Why use it on small demons at all?

Frosty: I'm pretty sure that was what Id intended the Crucible to be used for. Sure, they made Crucible animations for each demon in the game but they don't want you to use it on every Imp you see.


Nick: Do you think that ammo generation for the Crucible should be different? Instead of collecting ammo, perhaps have the player be able to "charge" the weapon via kill-chains or multiple glory kills?

Frosty: I'm sure there's a system out there that could make it work better but I'm not a creative person so I'll leave it up to them to think of a better design.


Nick: In his video, "New Doom Eternal Content Update," Midnight discusses DLC content, including Demonic Invasions. If this option is selected, then player-controlled demons can invade a player's single-player campaign—even during Ultra-Nightmare! Will you be trying this, in your own playthroughs once it becomes available; or does this option hold more appeal for Twitch streamers (i.e., stream sniping)?

Frosty: It sounds really fun and I'll probably turn it on when I want something new in a regular Ultra-Nightmare playthrough. 


Nick: If you could change anything about the Unmaykr to make it a more viable weapon in combat, what would it be?

Frosty: Like the other people you interviewed said, make the ammo something else. Plasma ammo or charging with demon kills, just don't have it compete with the BFG.

On Speedrunning


Nick: Speedrunning as an popular, online activity goes back to the early 2000s. Shortly after that, Awesome Games Done Quick and similar fund-raising conventions started to appear. However, the tradition of speedrunning games goes back even further. Very early on, videogames like Metroid (1986) awarded the player for beating them quickly. Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988) was even played quickly for posterity by the heroes in front of a national audience, as seen in The Wizard (1989). However, in the mid-'90s, speed demos of Quake and Doom were "broadcast" on early websites—nearly a decade before regular video records first began to appear on the internet.

Twitch launched in 2011, nine years ago, and speedrunning has become more available than ever. As a younger gamer, did Twitch bring speedrunning to your attention?

Frosty: I actually don’t watch Twitch at all. Most of my speedrunning knowledge comes from YouTubers like Karl Jobst and Summoning Salt.



Nick: Did you know about Doom's rich and extensive speedrunning history before deciding to speedrun Doom Eternal?

Frosty: Yes, I did. I've watched all of Karl Jobst's videos about Doom and most of Decino's videos as well.


Nick: Were there any particular speedruns (or speedrunners) you knew about in advance that made you want to speedrun? What inspired you speedrun Doom Eternal in particular?

Frosty: Byte's UN 100% runs on Doom 2016 is how I found out about the modern Doom speedrunning scene but nothing inspired me to start running the game. It all started with me wanting to record a playthrough of me playing UN 100% HUD-less. After uploading that, I wondered how fast I could get a run in the UN 100% category on Speedrun.com and I began doing runs.


Nick: How long have you been actively trying to speedrun Eternal? Since it came out? Or was there a turning point you remember where things became more serious?

Frosty: I guess the turning point was after I posted the UN 100% HUD-less on my channel and I wanted a faster time. I began routing with more consistent strategies and I started studying other UN 100% to see what I can implement into my runs.


Nick: Speedrunners tend to refer to non-speedrunners as "casuals," implying a specialized difficulty that comes from speedrunning games. Do you still see yourself as a casual player, now that you have a world record under your belt?

Frosty: I am definitely not a casual anymore. I probably lost that title [after] 200-300 hours.


Nick: Some players concoct special challenges to make the game harder for themselves—not using the Ballista, Crucible, BFG or Ice Bomb, etc (see: Under the Mayo's "brawler mode"). You speedrun the game on its hardest and longest category: Ultra-Nightmare 100%.

Did you try other categories before deciding on UN 100%? What made you choose this particular Doom Eternal category as your first speedrunning challenge? Why not Any% instead?

Frosty: I'm a completionist. Ever since I played Doom 2016, I was collecting every collectible and completing every challenge in each level and I carried this to Doom Eternal. It's just a lot more satisfying for me. 


Nick: Has the experience made you want to speedrun other games?

Frosty: Nope, my interest is solely dedicated to Doom Eternal. Not only because the game is amazing but the techniques in this game are really easy. Yeet-hooking is merely holding A or D while hooked onto an enemy and weapon switching is really simple.



Nick: During Eternal's development process, the developers mentioned their game being made with Twitch and speedrunning in mind. Do you feel like the game affords itself well to the speedrunning approach, or are there decisions implemented by the developers that have made the experience frustrating for you?

Frosty: Most of the game fits speedrunning. Heavy and Super Heavy demons always spawn in the same place, platforming is very fast and some can be skipped entirely. I really only have one gripe and it's a big one: In some arenas, fodder can spawn in random location and random order and it can be incredibly frustrating when you're spending the last twenty seconds of an arena playing hide-and-seek with a Gargoyle or Imp because they spawned at the other side of where you are.


Nick: A recent video by Karl Jobst is also convinced Doom Eternal is the next Big Game in the speedrunning world. Do you agree with him? Will Doom Eternal rank up there with popular speedrunning games like Super Metroid (1994) or Goldeneye (1997)?

Frosty: Doom Eternal will definitely be one of the more popular games for speedrunning but I doubt it'll reach the level of Super Metroid and Super Mario 64 (1996). 


Nick: Will Doom Eternal (and Twitch) help change speedrunning into something we haven't seen before, bringing the practice to an audience of unprecedented size, but also demographic?

Frosty: Probably not. Doom Eternal is a popular game but I doubt it'll be something to shake up the speedrunning scene.


Nick: Do you have any favorite Doom runners that you like to watch and/or learn from, like DraQu? Do you feel like you are in competition with him or anyone else?

Frosty: Byte Me, Zero Master, and Draqu were all people I looked up to when I first started. I didn't think I had a chance to keep up with them but here we are. I don't see it as a competition. I just want to show off how fast I can beat the game and if others can beat that, I'll be happy to see how far this category can be pushed.



Nick: Are you just as invested in "flexing" as you are getting the fastest time? In other words, is there a performative element to your runs even though you’re not live-streaming them?

Frosty: No way. I've been killed for making small mistakes, there is no way I am not going to ruin a run to show off, and it'll probably lose me time in the end. I just hope the combat is enough to satisfy viewers.

Difficulty

Nick: Are there any moments in Doom Eternal's gameplay that feel cheap—that force you to play a particular way that doesn't feel fun?

Frosty: I've mentioned the Carcass and Whiplash's shock wave attack already but the basement arena in Cultist Base sucks. You're stuck in a small square room and you have to use the Cueballs to eliminate the Heavy demons or you're probably dead. I prefer their use in future missions where you can use them but it's not mandatory.


Nick: How difficult is speedrunning Doom Eternal versus playing it casually?

Frosty: There's no difference. Even when I'm playing casually, it's on Nightmare difficulty and I go for 100% on each mission.


Nick: You mention playing 4-6 hours a day. How many full runs do you complete per day on average?

Frosty: Typically, I play a few levels and then I jump into Ultra Nightmare. 95% of the runs end in Hell on Earth. 50% of those runs never make it past Exultia. If I'm lucky, I’ll get a single run past Cultist Base per day but those usually end in a BFG crash (where the entire game closes out after a BFG shot) or I die somewhere. I've only ever completed UN 100% three times so far.


Nick: More than anything else, what makes you reset (apart from dying to a demon) during a Doom Eternal run on UN 100%? What determines if you play for a longer period—let's say, six hours—versus a shorter period, or stopping for the day?

Frosty: It depends. Nowadays, I usually only play 2-3 hours where it's usually me replaying Hell on Earth over and over again until I stop playing to eat or go for a walk. I usually get a few runs into Exultia but they usually end because I failed a jump causing me time or the Slayer Gate decides that I should waste an extra minute in there. If I can get a run past Exultia, I'll play for longer.


Nick: Highly optimized runs tend to encourage more resets over smaller mistakes (especially during early portions of a run). Though not always, the size of these games tend to be much shorter than Doom Eternal's campaign mode. For example, the average Doom II map can be completed under a minute, and some of these records are decades old/tied multiple times. Conversely Doom Eternal has much longer levels, and the tendency for single-segment (SS) runs further takes any potential away for extreme optimization.

In your opinion, will Doom Eternal ever become as highly optimized as Doom, or old-school games like Punch-Out! (1987)?

Frosty: Any% has already been highly optimized like crazy. It's almost close to under 20 minutes which is just insane. As for the other categories, I don't think so. You can memorize all the spawns but demon behavior is way too random and erratic to optimize properly. Alongside the need for perfect aim and movement, Doom Eternal will never reach those games in optimization.



Note: For the rest of this section, I refer to an interview on stream I had recently with King Dime.

Nick: According to King Dime, Doom 2016 is harder at the start than Doom Eternal. In Doom Eternal, according to Dime, every demon can drop armor, ammo and health. However, the player can't initially blood punch or flame belch, which leads Civvie to gripe in his own review about the beginning of Doom Eternal being too hard.

Are the early levels "too" hard, or is King Dime right when he says the beginning to Doom 2016 was more challenging?

Frosty: The early levels in Doom Eternal are definitely harder than Doom 2016. You have more access to armor and health in Eternal but you have less ammo, there are Heavy Demons from the start and they're a lot tougher than in Doom 2016.


Nick: Hqrdest says that Doom Eternal is harder than Doom 2016—early on, but then it gets easier by the end of the game. The Spud Hunter also says in his Ultra-Nightmare guide how the first three levels are the hardest.

Would you agree with them?

Frosty: I agree, though I think Doom Eternal is still harder than Doom 2016 at the end of the game. Doom 2016 had siege mode and infinite ammo. That's all you needed to go through the later levels without breaking a sweat. The early levels, especially Cultist Base, are awful. I still have trouble with them.


Nick: Dime explains how Doom 2016 is more "permanent" if the player loses heath and armor. Meanwhile, there's less challenge (at least from a casual standpoint) to Doom Eternal once you know how to play the game: Lose hundreds of points of armor and health. Find a low-tier demon. Flame belch [or use the flaming meat hook]. Get everything back. To make this even easier, Doom Eternal constantly spawns low-tier enemies; it also regenerates the player's chainsaw fuel.

Is Dime's assertion correct? Does the challenge in follow-up Doom Eternal playthroughs decrease; or, does it merely oscillate as players pick up new speedrunning tricks that they learn, master, and incorporate into their individual play styles?

Frosty: Well, the more you play a game, the better you get at it. Doom Eternal is no exception. You get better at the mechanics, you deal with each encounter more efficiently. It's just what happens when you do something more and more.


Nick: Is there ever a point in Doom Eternal where its casual difficulty lessens, allowing a speedrunner such as yourself to focus on runs instead of simply trying to survive?

Frosty: Once you learn what tools to use at specific times. Which Heavies should I lock-on rocket barrage, when I should focus on upgrading a weapon mastery, when to chainsaw. Eventually it just became a list of tasks I have to do in each arena for the fastest time.



Nick: Would you recommend Doom Eternal to players who are new to speedrunning, but want to give it a try?

Frosty: If they really enjoy the game, for sure! There are different categories which are more welcoming to newcomers who don't want to learn slope boosting nor the location of every collectible in the game.

Ultra-Nightmare

Nick: When first playing the game on Ultra-Nightmare, many runners beat Doom Eternal one level per stream. Now that you've beaten it, do you find yourself reliably able to beat the entire game in one sitting?

Frosty: I haven’t done a casual Ultra-Nightmare run ever since I started speedrunning but I'm sure I'd be able to.


Nick: The rules during casual and speedrunning play are inherently different ("get to the end of the game alive" versus "get to the end of the game alive according to an emergent, player-defined set of rules"). However, in your drive to push yourself faster, do you find yourself making more mistakes during speedruns than you would during casual play?

Frosty: For sure. I feel like I mess up small jumps a lot more frequently in official runs than my practice runs for some reason and I tend to make mistakes which never happened in any practice run I did.


Nick: A common complaint I've heard among high-end speedrunners is how the game punishes the player for developer-intended play styles. For instance, staggering Heavy demons can be unreliable. Likewise, enemies like the Mancubus have "cheap attacks" (a heavy-hitting AoE attack with no wind-up).

Can you describe any aspects of the game that feel especially punishing or unfair/cheap on Ultra-Nightmare, especially when speedrunning?

Frosty: Besides the demons I already complained about, I dislike how some demons need to be Blood Punched for the encounter to end quickly. If you don't have a Blood Punch ready, a Pinky becomes the second most annoying enemy in the game to deal with and Doom Hunters and Cyber Mancubi take a really long time to take down. I've mostly gotten around this by routing to make sure I have Blood Punches ready for these enemies but I wish it wasn't an issue in the first place.


Nick: Do any of these factors limit your playstyle options as a speedrunner in a way that doesn't feel fun? Or is there still room for player creativity at the highest level, assuming this doesn't interfere with a player’s ability to get world record runs?

Frosty: Not at all [to the first question]: In a run this long with so many combat encounters, you have to get creative to quickly eliminate all demons in an arena.



Nick: Speedrunning is difficult, in general. However, casual players and speedrunners have both explained to me how Doom Eternal is a tense, chaotic, even exhausting game. Does Ultra-Nightmare wear you out, despite your ability to compete with the best speedrunners on the Doom Eternal leader boards?

Frosty: The only time I get worn out is when I just failed two dozen Hell on Earth attempts. I never feel exhausted or overwhelmed during runs, even in the most chaotic missions like Arc Complex or Final Sin.


Nick: If you could suggest any patch changes to the devs at Id—to make the game more fun than it currently is, but still preserve its challenging gameplay—what would these changes be?

Frosty: Reduce the damage for melee attacks for some demons. I understand that I shouldn't be getting close to a demon but Gargoyles can do up to 50 damage per swipe and I posted a video on my channel of a Carcass killing me nearly instantly from 121 health.

Technique

Nick: Runners tend to learn and borrow from one another. In a recent run, Byte Me can be seen employing a trick borrowed from Zero Master, another Doom speedrunner (see his video: "Doom Eternal - 100% Ultra-Nightmare in 2:45:13").

In your current WR video, I see you memorizing enemy spawns and specific scripted events, doing sequence breaks, and using various glitches to give yourself an edge. Did you acquire this knowledge from other runners? If so, did you watch runs on Twitch, or did you communicate with them on Discord or by other means?

Frosty: I memorized the enemy spawns just from my countless attempts of the game. Others, like the trick you mentioned, I learned from watching other UN runs on YouTube. I haven't talked to anyone for most of the tricks but I want to give a shout-out to King Dime on the Doom Eternal speedrunning Discord for teaching me how to skip the animation for the zombie toy. I still love you.


Nick: What are some of your favorite speedrunning runes and weapons? Are there specs that suck under normal circumstances, but work better for speedrunning play? Which weapons/runes suck no matter what?

Frosty: My favorites are the Lock-on Mod for the Rocket Launcher, Precision Bolt for the Heavy Cannon, and Meat Hook for the yeet-hooks. My rune set-up for runs are Blood-Fueled (increase speed after glory kills), Air Control, and Savagery (increase glory kill animation speed). Savagery is just a waste of a slot in standard play but is essential in saving a lot of time in speedruns. Chrono Strike is definitely the worst rune and most of the alternate mods of weapons aren't worth using.


Nick: Do you find RNG to be a large issue, speedrunning the game? For example, weapon damage in classic Doom/Quake is random. Compared to other Id games, how much RNG does Doom Eternal have?

Frosty: Hell on Earth is just an RNG-riddled mess. Fodder spawn and Arachnotron behavior can ruin runs very easily. Even in the last arena after the demon force field disappears, there can be an extra one or two zombie soldiers running around so you have to waste even more time.

Other than HoE and fodder spawn throughout the game, Doom Eternal is pretty lacking in RNG.



Nick: Your WR video description reads "fuck Whiplash." What makes you dislike that enemy so much in particular?

Frosty: They're just so annoying to deal with. They have nearly the same amount of health as a Revenant and Hell Knight but they're so slender that landing shots is difficult. It's like trying to hit a Scout in TF2 or Tracer in Overwatch. They do insane damage up close and they have the cheap shock wave attack I mentioned before. I pretty much exclusively lock-on barrage or chainsaw them.


Nick: Apart from Whiplashes, which enemies are the most annoying to come up against during a speedrun?

Frosty: Carcasses also really suck. They share the shock wave attack with the Whiplash and they can summon a shield which can sometimes soft-lock the game by projecting a shield inside a gate, causing it unable to be open. Their melee damage is also stupid and you can't even hook and super shotgun them consistently like the Prowler. You have to precision bolt AND THEN hook them for the kill. 

I also dislike the Zombie Security guard since you need to use the Plasma Gun or Meat Hook combo to kill them and they dish out insane damage but since they're only a threat up-close, they aren't too bad.


Nick: Which enemies are you the most happy to see? Can any of them be manipulated to behave in predictable ways?

Frosty: The Makyr drone because they're just pinatas waiting to explode. No demon can really be manipulated besides the Cueball.


Nick: As a speedrunner, how do you feel about the game's climbing mechanics? Are they fairly easy to perform, in the speedrunning sense? Do you find yourself going faster than you ever thought possible, with them?

Frosty: I think they're fine. You don't even need to climb since jump is a lot faster than clambering along walls.


Nick: As a speedrunner, how do you feel about the game's other additional movement schemes—the dash, double jump and so-called "yeet-hook"?

Frosty: They're all great. Dashing is a lot of fun and yeet-hooking makes some of the platforming areas irrelevant. It's also a nice way to travel across an arena to kill a Heavy Demon just as it spawns.


Nick: In the quest to go faster, speedrunners have found ways to bypass the purple goo and its movement penalties; there are also ways to exploit certain in-game architecture to skip certain paths/areas. Do you feel there are still plenty of "sequence breaks" to learn, which don't fall under the category of glitch, necessarily?

Frosty: The potential is there but I won't be the one to figure them out. I never figured out most of the sequence breaks in the run so I'll be relying on the other runners to find them.



Nick: Hugo Martin has repeatedly described the "Doom dance" as being the way the game should be played—managing resources while attacking enemy weak points and stripping them of their armor. Speedrunners play the game according to their own rules; can they play Doom Eternal faster/more effectively (as speedrunners) in combat situations by not doing the so-called "Doom dance"?

Frosty: I don't see it as a dance when I speedrun. In each arena, there's a list of things I have to do. Usually it boils down to "stand here for the Heavy demon to spawn, lock on that Heavy demon, chainsaw a fodder, kill the rest of the demons." The dance probably fits the chaotic nature of a casual run but in a speedrun, it should be avoided.


Nick: Glory kills seem essential—not just for speedrunners, but for anyone playing the game. They also slow players down. Do you ever find yourself deliberately skipping glory kills in a dangerous attempt to go faster?

Frosty: I actually go for glory kills a lot more than the other UN runners. I use Blood Punch excessively, especially in the early levels, so I need to glory kill to charge it frequently. I do avoid armor and health pick-ups, assuming that I'll get more in the next arena.


Nick: In Spud's recent guide video for Ultra-Nightmare, he notes the classic "circle-strafe" movement strategy as being essential. However, his target audience is players in general, not just speedrunners.

For speedrunners, do you have any survival tips of your own that you'd recommend when playing the game on Ultra-Nightmare?

Frosty: Put down Heavy and Super Heavy demons as soon as you can. They shouldn’t even be allowed to step away from their spawn point before they’re dead. Other than that, essentials such as demon and health spawns are important to remember.

On the Pandemic

Nick: With the pandemic going on, it's important to maintain physical distance, but also to keep our social bonds strong. Why do you think videogames, including speedrunning them, are so important in doing this?

Frosty: Videogames are a great way to interact with friends while also staying safe. Honestly, the only reason I started speedrunning seriously is because I wasn't needed at my dad's car shop and I needed something to do. I'll probably still continue to speedrun after this pandemic since it's just so satisfying to get a better time each time I play.

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For other blog posts by me, check out "Alien: Ore" Q & A Project, Dragon Ball Super: Broly - Is It Gothic?, Mandy (2018): Review, Gothic Themes in Perfect Blue. Also check out my guest work on Video Hook-Ups.

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