Canceled & Abandoned DOOM Games We Want To Rip Into

canceled DOOM games

Rip and tear. It’s a (relatively) new anthem for first-person shooter fans, but the basis for it has been brewing since the early 1990s. DOOM’s fast-paced action revolutionized the genre, so much so that it’s often incorrectly credited with being the first of its kind.

Just as it wasn’t the first, it was far from the last. In fact, DOOM as a series has evolved significantly since its earlier pixelated days. After appeasing an audience frothing at the mouth for more demon-slaying action with DOOM II and Final DOOM, with sprinklings of DOOM 64, a PSone port, and user-created levels (called WADs) broadening the audience, id Software shifted gears and brought the series into survival horror territory with DOOM 3.

The thing about being a DOOM fan is you do feel well-fed. Countless ports of the original two games, multiple releases of DOOM 3, an expansion, and then, of course, the two most recent entries, DOOM 2016 and Eternal, all satiated that need to slaughter demons. But that doesn’t quell the disappointment in knowing that there are DOOM projects that never were nor never will be.

Post-Microsoft’s acquisition and the rather open and (quite literally) shut DLC ending, the future of the series is all speculatory, but it gives us a breather to remember the small number of canceled and abandoned DOOM games over the years.


DOOM Absolution

Considering it launched only two years after the original DOOM ported to the PSOne, it’s easy to mistake DOOM 64 for yet another port if you don’t look at any screenshots. On the contrary, the N64 release, developed by Midway Studios San Diego instead of id Software, boasts a darker aesthetic, new sprites that lend a horror vibe, and an arsenal of redesigned weapons. If all had gone to plan, though, DOOM 64 wouldn’t have been the only new DOOM experience to land on Nintendo’s fifth generation console.

Pitched as a deathmatch-style shooter, DOOM Absolution would have been the first (and, as it turns out, last) DOOM party game. Unfortunately, it was a lofty goal for Midway. Not only did it stand to go up against a multiplayer giant, GoldenEye 007, but it would need to make the DOOM formula work as a split-screen competitive multiplayer, something that not even the development team was allegedly confident about.

Back in 2002, Doom Depot member FirebrandX claimed to have spoken to DOOM 64 lead programmer Aaron Seeler regarding the canceled project. According to their conversation, Seeler called the team “deathmatch purists,” stating they couldn’t get past the idea of a split-screen deathmatch. So, the project was scrapped, with not even concept art released to the public

Unfortunately, that’s where Absolution’s legacy ends. In a 1997 post, IGN announced that Absolution, described as a sequel to DOOM 64, was officially canceled.


Croteam’s DOOM

Croteam DoomIn 1994, Croatian video game developer Croteam entered the scene with Football Glory. Doesn’t ring a bell? Maybe we need to fast forward seven years to 2001, when an alien-fighting soldier traveled to Ancient Egypt as humanity’s last hope for survival. Serious Sam: The First Encounter kicked off a cult first-person shooter series that kept Croteam on the map for years. However, Sam wasn’t the only gruff hero the team hoped to follow into a world-saving adventure.

In the May 2007 issue of Croatian gaming magazine GamePlay, Croteam made the shocking reveal that it had pitched an idea for a new DOOM title to id Software. While the interview has been lost to poor archiving, Daniel Lucic, Devolver Digital’s current and Croteam’s former marketing manager, confirmed in the developer’s subreddit that the interview and the DOOM pitch are real.

Though virtually nothing is known about Croteam’s pitch, a page full of screenshots allegedly shows concepts that were eventually used in Serious Sam 3: BFE. Some of the designs from BFE, including the Khnum and the ghastly Scrapjack, bear striking similarities to DOOM favorites, the Baron of Hell and Mancubus, respectively.

Along with some character designs, there are other elements of BFE that suggest it started as a different project outside the Serious Sam scope. An unusually realistic color palette not typical for the series and more claustrophobic or urban level designs align better with a tense demon-slaying experience that brings the horrors introduced in DOOM 3 to Earth.



We’re finally getting into territory where there’s actually plenty to show and talk about. Though DOOM 4 has long since been scrapped, many elements leaked over the years since its cancellation. They’re still circulating the internet today, giving us the opportunity to ponder many “What if…” scenarios.

Unlike the previous two unreleased DOOM titles, DOOM 4 was actually midway through development before id Software decided to pull the plug. In a multi-part documentary on DOOM from the Noclip Video Game Documentaries YouTube channel, id Software artist Kevin Cloud confirmed that, ultimately, the development team wasn’t happy with the game’s direction.

“What we had done, we explored a direction and got to a certain point and felt like this wasn’t capturing what we felt like was going to be a strong DOOM,” Cloud explains against the backdrop of footage of what’s being referred to as DOOM 4 1.0. Long before the documentary, though, id Software had pieced together a concept trailer that was a far cry from the DOOM we’ve come to know and love.

The trailer introduces a rag-tag team of soldiers thrust into the middle of a demonic invasion. The battleground is Earth, but not at all the fractured landscape we traversed in 2020’s DOOM Eternal. An urban setting and more cinematic visuals spawned the title Call of DOOM among viewers, which DOOM (2016) game director Marty Stratton did not refute.

“It was much closer to something like that. A lot more cinematic, a lot more story to it, a lot more characters around you that you are with throughout the course of the gameplay,” Stratton explains. Hugo Martin, id Software’s creative director, likened it to a more grounded story a la Robert Zemeckis’ Contact, stating it was “more realistic and more about the global impact of a hellish inversion.”

Stratton further talked about the direction of the game, noting mechanics like taking cover and the distinct demon design, which differed greatly from DOOM 3’s hellish cohorts. Unlike the 2016 reboot, DOOM 4 was also set to have a slow-burn start, with players duking it out with zombie-like enemies for a while before the demonic threat even reared its ugly head.

All of this sounds interesting as a game, but Martin pinpointed the issue with this direction during the DOOM documentary. “As a concept, I could see why they went there because I would probably want to explore that, too — if it wasn’t a DOOM game. To tell a big story, it sacrificed the Doom Slayer.”

While we’ll never get this version of DOOM, there are plenty of consumable bits of it out there to enjoy, from creature concept art to cinematic story trailers and gameplay snippets.


Doom Eternal’s Invasion Mode

Doom Eternal Invasion
Doom Eternal Invasion

Do you remember Resident Evil 6 and its weird multiplayer mode where players could join another’s playthrough as a monster and wreak all sorts of havoc? Wouldn’t that be incredibly cool for DOOM? Imagine you’re just plugging along, shoving shotgun shells and plasma rounds into lowly demon faces, when suddenly you’re up against a demon that seems almost smarter than you? It would be a welcome challenge in a series that rewards creative solutions to a hellish threat.

That was the concept behind Invasion Mode, the planned multiplayer update to DOOM Eternal revealed at Quakecon 2018 that was originally meant to be available at launch. However, in a disappointing tweet from Eternal’s executive producer, Marty Stratton, the free update was scrapped, instead replaced by something a little safer. According to Stratton, we actually have the 2020 COVID pandemic to thank, as the development team was unable to efficiently work on the multiplayer mode allegedly partially due to a remote workforce.

In lieu of Invasion Mode, Stratton confirmed that the resources would instead go toward developing a single-player horde mode. While the new mode, which was available as of Update 6.66 in October 2021, certainly satiates the need for endless demon slaying, it doesn’t replace the brilliant mischief players were prepared for with Invasion Mode.

Considering most demon encounters in Eternal are mini-hordes, a dedicated Horde Mode was a logical addition. Unfortunately, that still left the game with just one multiplayer mode, and while the 2v1 setup of Battlemode is entertaining (at least for a while), a unique way to rip and tear other players a new one could have made DOOM Eternal that much better.

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