Hoboy. This is it, the big one. I said when I did a deep dive into a Doom mod, this would be the first one. And I meant that. That all said, there’s gonna be a LOT to cover here. And I mean a lot. Also, technically this is *two* mods? With some various addons also available for it. I’ll mostly be focusing on the main mods that make up RLA though, RLA itself and its monster pack. So, if you want your Doom to have a more RNG based experience with a loot based system, tons of new monsters, but still want something that’s Doom at its core? Then read on!
GET IT HERE: Doom Roguelike Arsenal (ZDoom Forums)
So, this is it. My favorite GZ Doom Mod of all time, courtesy of its lead developer Yholl. But why is it my favorite? I guess because if anything, it’s as close as you can get to making Doom a “Looter Shooter” while still maintaining its identity at Doom. At the core of Doom Roguelike Arsenal is, well…The titular Arsenal. And it’s a BIG Arsenal. I haven’t even managed to count the number of guns, armors, boots, and other unique items that make up the mod. It’s…A lot. A WHOLE lot. And yet it’s not overwhelming because the entire concept of this mod is that you will not even see a fraction of what it has to offer in a single run of a mapset. Every run is a chance to run into a new weapon, or a new combination of monster types. It’s a mod that manages to feel reasonably fresh every time you play it, and thus is one I keep coming back to.
So, let’s get something out of the way first: You are gonna need to learn some new things to play this mod. You have a limited capacity for carrying guns and other items, and you’ll often find yourself needing to drop one thing to pick another thing up. In addition, if you want to change armor or boots, you’ll need to take off what you’re wearing (And break it if it’s an armor with less than its max durability). It’s a learning curve, to be sure, as Doom has never been able inventory management and just has you simply pick things up, but once you learn the keys to do it? It’ll be second nature. I mean, heck, I have to do a combination of buttons on my gamepad, KB+M users have it easy compared to me in this regard. Once you know how to drop your guns, unequip worn items, or drop inventory items taking up space, you’ll be good to go!
Another major change you’ll need to adjust to is that guns have to be reloaded due to having magazines, as opposed to just drawing from your ammo supply like in classic Doom. This means you’ll need to remember to top off your magazines between firefights, or be ready for a temporary stop in your DPS if you have to reload DURING a firefight. Reloading in Doom does feel kind of weird, but at the same time it’s one of the reasons this mod works as well as it does, so I couldn’t imagine playing DRLA without it.
So, the first thing you’ll notice when you start up a new game in Doom RLA is that you have to pick a class. It should be noted any class can use any gun, though some use certain guns better than others, as each class has specialties that set them apart and can define your playthrough of a mapset. So with that said, let’s look at each class and what sets them apart from the rest.
Oh man. The Scout is probably my favorite class in this mod, and for good reason. Normally, Pistols in Doom are a throwaway weapon once you get something better, and you’ll never touch the things again. Scout on the other hand turns sidearms into personal handcannons. There’s a lot of pistols in this mod, and Scout is the reason why: Because in his hands, these things have really good accuracy, bonus damage, and no randomization to their damage. This means a Scout will reliably hit where he’s aiming, and always do the most damage possible per shot, with that damage being higher than it would be if another class used the same gun. To put it another way: If you played Halo 1? You remember how stupid accurate and downright broken that Pistol was. That’s how good every pistol class weapon is in the hands of a Scout.
Admittedly, this does make Scout less adept at killing large groups quickly, and more of an ammo efficient, one by one type. Instead of spraying 30 rounds into a crowd of Imps, you’ll take each one of them down with a single shot. That said, Scout REALLY shines on heavier targets. He can easily kill a bigger demon using way less bullets than another class would. And as a result of this, he’s incredibly ammo efficient. You’ll rarely be hurting for Bullets as a scout unless you’re using an automatic weapon like a chaingun, but…Why would you be doing that? Their accuracy and high damage per shot makes them best at long range, doing what you would expect a sniper to be doing, only with a pistol instead of a scoped rifle.
That’s not to say being a stupidly powerful gunslinger is Scout’s only claim to fame. He’s also faster than other classes, can double jump (Breaking plenty of maps’ intended progressions in the process), but on top of all this, he STARTS with a full map of every level. That means finding secrets as a Scout is much easier than other classes, because you can see the entire map from the getgo. This is the other reason I love the Scout: Less time humping walls, more time just going straight to the secret and opening it.
At the end of the day, Scout is just great if you’re the kind of person who likes precision over spray and pray, and dealing with your threats from as far away as humanly possible. He’s also great in co-op since he’s got access to a full minimap of every level you enter, so there’s much less “Where do we go” and “Where are all the secrets” type questions in a run.
THE RENEGADE (Aaagh.)
While Scout might be my favorite class, I think Renegade might be the class that best represents what I consider Doom’s best kind of gameplay: Fast, up close, and aggressive. The Renegade’s weapon of choice is the Shotgun, because they fire 50% more pellets per blast than other classes do. Even with a basic starting shotgun, the Renegade’s 50% extra pellets mean he’s an absolute monster up close, and thus will constantly be weaving in and out of range as he fills his foes with lead. And if that’s not enough crazy for you, he can somehow get an extra shot that costs no ammo when using any shotgun after grabbing a shell or shell box ammo pickup. Two super shotgun blasts back to back without a reload is just as ridiculous and fun as it sounds. Also, Aaagh.
But it’s not just the fact he has an effective 50% damage bonus with all shotguns that makes Renegade great. It’s the fact that he’s able to take more punishment due to armor giving him bonus Protection, which means the armor takes more damage in place of Health than if someone else was wearing it. This means he’s less at risk up close, which perfectly compliments his playstyle of up close, aggressive combat. Aaagh.
But wait, there’s more! If you’re the type of person that likes mixing up your guns and swapping immediately after shooting, Doom Eternal style? There’s no delay when changing weapons as a Renegade. Instead of watching one gun lower as another is raised, Renegade’s new gun immediately appears in his hands with no downtime, meaning you can quickly switch from one gun to another it a situation demands it: such as changing away from a bigger weapon you have less ammo for to finish off an enemy that’s near death. Additionally, Aaagh.
Like I said, Scout may be my favorite? But Renegade feels like the “embodiment” of Doom due to being designed around an up close, aggressive playstyle. He’s all about getting in there and demolishing enemies from close range, and will definitely be a blast for anyone who enjoys using shotguns. Aaagh.
Now we get to, in my opinion, the best class for beginners. Or people who just want to shoot a lot. The Marine is all about Spray and Pray. That is, you Spray, they Pray. The Marine’s claim to fame is completely violating the laws of reality by only spending a unit of ammo for every four shots he fires in a full auto weapon, be it a simple chaingun or a hightech plasma rifle. This means he effectively has 4x the ammo displayed for these weapons, giving him the ability to mow down groups in a hail of bullets or plasma with relative ease. And since bullets and cells tend to be pretty common ammo types, he’s rarely hurting for them with his ridiculous “4 for the price of 1” gimmick. Who needs precision when you have this much ammo to fire, right?
His other ability ties right into this too: Powerups. They last twice as long for him, and when you grab one, your fire-rate is increased for the duration of the powerup. Even less useful items like a Radsuit or Light-Amp will give you this bonus, letting you kill things twice as fast with your rapid fire toys.
The Marine is definitely the choice I recommend for first timers that want to get their feet wet in the mod, due to its forgiving nature in terms of ammo. Getting 4x the shots doesn’t hurt, and neither does getting the occasional rate of fire boost.
Not to be confused with this Demolitionist from SWWM:
Now we get to, in my opinion, the hardest class to use in DRLA. The Demolitionist isn’t a bad class, or a weak class, it’s just one that has growing pains. The Demoman’s gimmicks revolve around late game weapons, which means you won’t have a major advantage early on. The big things for this explosive enthusiast are: He’s immune to all forms of splash damage, his own and that of enemies, aside from some very rare nuclear level explosions from very specific events. This means he can be up close with a rocket launcher and have no fear of taking damage. It also means if he avoids a Cyberdemon rocket that explodes in the wall next to him, he’s just fine. It doesn’t prevent *direct hit* damage however, so a Cyberdemon rocket that actually hits you will still hurt quite a bit. This immunity also applies to barrels (aside from the nuclear barrel, which I have disabled for a good reason) so he can go through a cluster of them without any worry. To add onto those explosions, any time he has an armor break while wearing it? He just drops bombs everywhere to blow people up.
On the other side of the proverbial coin, he has efficiency with any weapon that uses more than one unit of ammo per shot (Unless that weapon uses Shotgun Shells). This means a permanent half-off sale on every BFG blast he fires, effectively doubling how much he can use one compared to others. Once you have a BFG (or similar ammo eating weapon) and a steady supply of rockets, Demolitionist is an absolute beast and incredibly fun class to play. Before that point however, things can be difficult. Hence why I don’t recommend him for a first time run through a mapset unless you’re comfy not being able to use your specialty weapons for awhile.
The Technician is a very interesting twist on the “Jack of All Trades” class, and is also in my opinion, the most beloved class in co-op runs. The Technician does not specialize in any one weapon type: Instead he specializes in one of the mod’s unique features: Weapon Modpacks! One of DRLA’s unique mechanics is the ability to find modpacks to improve aspects of a weapon. Make them more accurate, hold more ammo, do more damage, or even have regenerating ammo among other things! But what makes things interesting? Certain modpacks combined with certain weapons can make entirely new weapon types called Assemblies. And Technician gets a damage bonus with ANY Assembly based weapon.
The more complex the recipe (IE, the more mods it uses) the better the bonus! On top of this, Tech here can scrap any weapon that’s not Common rarity for a free modpack, meaning he can turn all the unwanted guns into potential parts for wanted guns! But wait, there’s still more! Normally you can only carry 4 modpacks, whereas Technician can carry eight: Meaning he can keep a better assortment handy and ready for a potential assembly if the right gun is found. This makes the Technician the most adaptive class in the game in a sense, and thus a great one to try if you don’t want to stick to one gun category like the other classes tend to.
Now, let’s get into the real meat of the mod, shall we? THE LOOT!
DRLA has a somewhat unusual rarity/color structure that will likely throw you off at first, so let’s get that out of the way real quick. In terms of rarity tiers, we have…
Yeah, it’s a bit confusing if you’re used to how most games do it, but you’ll adjust soon enough. So what makes all these guns so special? Well…
Common weapons are essentially standard weapons, the kind you’re used to finding from Doom. And that means in this mod they’re bottom of the barrel. Though many great assemblies can be made from Common guns, and a modded Common gun can be surprisingly effective as well. Think of them as the piece of a much more powerful weapon, with the other pieces being the right modkits, and Commons can sport up to four mods at once.
Exotic weapons are a step up above Common, being similar in function and type, but being ever so slightly better than their Common counterparts. A good chunk of Exotics are also potential materials for an Assembly, but due to not being as common, not something you can rely on quite as much if going for a specific Assembly. They also support up to four modpacks.
Superior weapons are high end firearms that you won’t find nearly as often as others, but will typically be quite glad when you do. While they only support two modpacks, Superiors tend to perform incredibly well (Aside from the Vanguard Rifle…Hate that thing) in the hands of the appropriate class. The only real downside here is that they only come in automatic rifle, pistol, and shotgun flavors. No rockets or energy for our resident Demoman…
Demonic weapons are hellish toys that can be very powerful, but require quite a bit of luck to get there. For one, you have to find one of these things first, and they’re extremely rare. Second, if you want to see their true power, you have to be lucky enough to find three demonic artifacts, the only type of mod that Demonic weapons support. Each artifact upgrades a Demonic weapon by one level, with level three Demonics typically entering the realm of “Ridiculously overpowered, run winning toys.” I mean, heck, one of them is a pistol that can literally freeze an enemy in place when you aim at them once you upgrade it. That should say something.
Uniques are definitely weapons that live up to their name. Each one has something special that sets it apart, and there’s a LOT of them. Most of them tend to be quite powerful, though a few can also be quite the oddity when first used. Another thing about Uniques is they can only use the Exotic category of weapon mods, and only use one. In this case, rather than their normal effects, Exotic mods have unique effects on every Unique weapon, with drastically changed behaviors in most cases. That said, one needs to be careful: Grabbing a Unique may also get you unwanted attention in the form of a random boss spawn later on…So think twice on if the Unique is worth grabbing!
Legendary weapons are legendary for a reason. They’re A) Overpowered as heck… And B) So rare I’ve only ever found two in my entire time playing this mod for a couple of years. The only support one modpack, but that’s typically all they ever need. Though it should be noted they only support the rarer “Exotic” subclass of mods, and said mods have unique effects per Legendary, much like Uniques. Assuming you find a Legendary that matches your class though? You’ve practically won your run. Like Uniques, they’ll result in some unwanted attention down the road, so…Be careful about that.
Assembly weapons fall into their own unique category, as they are weapons you make by using specific mod packs (and ONLY those mod packs, no extra ones can be used until AFTER assembly) and can be Basic, Advanced, or Master level depending on if they use 2, 3, or 4 mods to make. Also, while rare, they can sometimes just be found lying around as opposed to having to be crafted. Assembly weapons can range from basic enhanced versions of weapons, to completely new weapons that will absolutely devastate the opposition.
Armor also utilizes this rarity system, although typically it’s a bit more simple: The rarer an armor, the better its protection. And a lot of armors above the Common level may also have cooldown based special abilities they can use, such as armor mounted weapons like rocket launchers, to being able to flat out stop time. While most armor has durability and breaks once it runs out, some armor cannot be destroyed, or can even be modified to be indestructible. On top of that, a lot of armor has set bonuses when combined with an appropriate set of Boots, Boots being protection against floor hazards in most cases, but may also provide bonuses like anchoring your feet so that you don’t have to worry about recoil knocking you backwards on heavier weapons. And then there’s the previously mentioned set bonuses, which can be VERY powerful.
Finally, we have various support items that make up the remainder of what you can pick up. Backpacks are more than just an ammo expansion now, with special backpacks providing special perks. The Combat Backback gives an additional 50% ammo capacity to all types, while the Specialist gives 200% to a chosen single type. And the Nuclear backpack passively generates additional Cell ammo for your energy weapons, making it great for Plasma and BFG enthusiasts. You also have Phase Devices, which can be used to teleport to the start of the map, mark a point to teleport back to later, or even let you teleport directly to an ally in co-op. Somewhat game breaking in some cases, but useful to have if you want to get out of a bad place quickly. And finally, the Skulls: items that explode corpses with additional effects like health for every corpse nearby that explodes…Just don’t be caught in the blast yourself.
So what does this all mean? It means every run is going to be very potentially different because of the gear you pick up each run. The sheer number of combinations you can wind up with is pretty ridiculous, and when you get gear that synergizes, you can wind up with something ridiculously amazing like a laser minigun that rapidly regenerates its own ammunition. Or an unlimited ammo three way explosive plasma cannon that completely destroys groups in a couple trigger pulls. The joy of this particular mod compared to other randomizer mods is that the gear is designed to interact with other gear, rather than just being a random assortment of weapons. And the customization aspect with weapon mods is just another great layer on top.
But what fun is all the gear without monsters to try it on? Well don’t you worry, DRLA comes with PLENTY of them. Nearly every monster has four tiers: Standard, Nightmare, Technophobia, and Armageddon ranked! With a few extras sprinkled in here and there. As you might assume, Standards are the demons you’re used to fighting, nothing too special there. However, there’s always a chance (unless you’re on a difficulty easier than Standard) that these monsters can be replaced by one of their higher ranked variants. And on higher difficulties, they will always be the difficulty rank chosen at Minimum! Standard too easy? Try having Nightmare enemies be the lowest rank you’ll face!
Speaking of Nightmares? They tend to be monsters you know, but with an added twist. Nightmare Cacodemons will randomly split into two, a fake and a real, leaving you with only a moment to figure out which one’s real before it resumes its attack. Nightmare Demons become super aggressive when you put them into a pain state, suddenly rushing you. Nightmare Cyberdemons will completely change the rules of engagement due to having things like shots that bounce around corners to catch you behind cover, and a hit-scan plasma cannon that will wreck you if you try to stay too far away. Be ready for some tough engagements when these nightmare beasties show up!
Techno enemies tend to be very, VERY different from their originals. Often with extra abilities or additional defenses that will completely throw you for a loop the first few times you encounter them. Tech Imps for example, carry plasma gun arms instead of spitting fire at you. Machine Elementals spawn an endless supply of high speed aerial mines that will chase you down and gib you with a few explosions. And the Cyberdemon Mk2? Explosions. So many explosions. And homing grenades that bounce after you.
Armageddon enemies? Well, they have one purpose: To end your life. Armageddon enemies are powerful, and tend to have extra abilities or gimmicks purely designed around making your life hell. If you run into an Armaggedon Tier Archvile? You might be tempted to just abandon your run right there, it’s that nasty. Then you’ve got flying, hitscan Arachnotrons, Revenants that can teleport in reinforcements while rapid fire spamming explosive plasma at you…Chaingunners that can literally teleport to a blindspot and then riddle you with bullets? There’s a reason I don’t play on Armageddon Difficulty…Because on that difficulty, enemies are ALWAYS Armageddon rank.
There’s also a few boss tier enemies that show up under specific conditions, though I won’t be spoiling them here. Just know you may have some unwanted problems if you pick up a Unique/Legendary, or a Demonic weapon…Though in the latter’s case, you might get something useful out of killing the boss that shows up! In the former’s case? Well, no reward for victory besides getting rid of the boss.
So, what kinds of mapsets are good to play with this? I would say any that aren’t Slaughtermap tier. Slaughtermaps tend to be balanced around the vanilla arsenal and enemy layouts, adding a randomization factor and reloading weapons can easily disrupt the flow of these maps and result in you being at a major disadvantage, so I don’t recommend Slaughtermaps for this mod. Plutonia tier difficulty or below is absolutely fine though, as long as you know what you’re doing. For the record, all my screenshots are from Unfamiliar, a re-imagining of the Doom 1 campaign’s episodes.
So, there you have it. There’s a lot more I could go into about this mod, but frankly? This is a case where I think you’re better off experiencing it for yourself after having been given a little taste with my look at it. There’s so many weapons, armors, and enemies to discover in DRLA. The best way to see why it’s so fun is to load up a mapset of choice and start slaying! So go do that!