Shacknews - Cassidee Moser

One of Doom’s many nostalgic secrets are its classic maps, a collection of levels from Doom 1 and Doom 2 that can only be accessed by finding a series of levers and hidden doors throughout the campaign. Each mission has one lever and classic map doorway to find, each with some amount of challenge to obtain.

A few tips for you on your quest to find everything:

-          Once you discover these maps, a “Classic Maps” option will unlock in the game’s main menu. You can access the maps directly from here.

-          Many of the classic map entrances and levers will require some backtracking and exploration to locate, so be prepared to move backward if necessary.

-          You will know the lever has been activated and the entrance opened when you hear a guitar riff play after pulling it.

The UAC

Get the blue keycard and enter through the first blue door. Hen you reach a forked path, keep left and jump down into the gap you encounter to find a lever at the bottom. The entrance will be located nearby, toward the end of the path.

Resource Operations

Complete the restoring power objective in the misio, drop into the vehicle entry, then climb to the top of the construction platforms overhead. The lever wll be at the top, and the entrance is directly below.

Foundry

To acces the lever, cross the large bridge in the area, pausing to climb the platform with boxes. The lever is at the top, and the entrance is all the way across the room.

Argent Facility

The lever in the Argent Facility is hidden behind some barrels at the start of the level.

Argent Energy Tower

While riding the transport vehicle in the tower climbing part of the level, you’ll see the lever tucked away at the top of the lift. Go back down the hover lift to find the secret entrance.

Kadingir Sanctum

Venture into the dark corners in the cave, right near the Skyrim Easter egg. The lever will be located nearby. To access the doorway, backtrack a bit to the previous arena, and theentrance will be to the left of the door.

Argent Facility (Destroyed)

The lever in this mission is hidden on a ledge toward the start of the level. It will require platforming to reach and wll be behind the box on the platform.

Advanced Research Complex

The lever here is hidden a bit deeper in the level, on a pipe near the air valve.The door it opens is located toward the start of the level, so be prepared to do some backtracking.

Lazarus Labs

Deep into this mission, you’ll encounter a blood-soaked room with a large hole in its center. The lever is located beneath the right side door when you first enter the room. The hidden door is at the bottom of the pit.

Titan’s Realm

Enter the room after opening the yellow skull key door. The lever will be hidden behind a wall of loose rocks, which can be removed by platforming upward toward the level’s top floor and activating the skull switch. This removes the rocks and will expose the lever. To reach the classic map start, backtrack to the pit toward the star of the level and the classic lever entrance is located to the right of the base of the stairs.

The Necropolis

Toward the start of the level, you’ll be rewarded with a yellow key after entering an arena. Clear out the demons in the arena, and the lever will be located at the opposite side of the room, inside a little alcove. Pull the lever and backtrack a bit to find the entrance to the classic map.

Vega Central Processing

Obtain the blue keycard and gain access to the room where the Elite Guard’s body is located. The guard will be propped up on some boxes, behind which you’ll find the lever. Activate it, and then backtrack to where you originally found the blue keycard. The classic map entry is located at the end of the blue-lit hallway.

Argent D’Nur

The lever in this mission will be slightly more difficult to reach, since it’s locked off and only accessible after activating a skull switch. Near the top of the stairs toward the first wraith, you’ll see the skull switch embedded into the wall.

The switch will open the doorway to the lever. It will be easy to see, since it is located very near the smaller collection of glowing skulls. Enter the door and follow theblood trail toward the lever. The entrance to the classic map is conveniently located to the right of the lever. 

Visit our full Doom guide for walkthroughs, collectible locations, and more!

Shacknews - David Craddock

From Friday, May 13, until Sunday evening, I barely left my computer. I was working, you see. My assignment: to sprint through id Software's brilliant reboot of Doom, only peeling myself from my chair to fix snacks and answer nature's call.

Sounds like a dream job, right?

Yes, and no.

Five days earlier, Bethesda had issued a statement to press outlets informing us that we would not be receiving review copies until launch day. There was no review embargo; we were free to publish reviews as soon as they were ready. As excited as I was to crack into the game, I was also irritated. The original Doom is a timeless classic, one I revisit at least once a year. I'd volunteered to review "Doom 2016" for Shacknews out of a genuine interest to see if this reboot measured up to its canonized forerunner.

But Bethesda's decision to hold review copies until launch day moved the goal posts. I was no longer planning to spend nearly every waking moment at my computer because I wanted to. Instead, I'd have to.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm complaining about having to play a video game. There are worse jobs. Virtually every other job is worse. But Bethesda's non-embargo embargo got me thinking about review restrictions—how they hurt consumers and critics, and how they can help when done right.

Timing is Everything

Bethesda and id Software cordially invited players to dust off their super shotguns and return to hell on Friday the 13th of May the most apropos date imaginable for a game like Doom. That Monday, critics were fidgety. Less than five days remained until launch. That left one work week in which to digest what was shaping up to be a sizeable game if we wanted to have reviews ready to go for launch.

That same day, Bethesda's announcement came through. "DOOM is a robust game comprised of a single player campaign, online multiplayer, and SnapMap, and should be experienced as a complete package. As DOOM's SnapMap and multiplayer modes both require access to a server that won't be live prior to launch, review copies will arrive on launch day."

The explanation raised eyebrows. Sometimes publishers are able to flip a switch, so to speak, and let critics take the maiden voyage on a game's servers. But even if that wasn't the case with Doom, and setting aside Bethesda's Complete Package logic, there was no good technical reason why we couldn't begin "cracking on" with the campaign, as Jim Sterling put it on Twitter, to get a head start on reviews.

Polygon agreed, and asked Bethesda for permission to play the campaign early. Bethesda shot them down.

Most outlets don't worry about beating specific competitors to the punch. I wasn't willing a download code to appear in my inbox so I could scoop GameSpot or Kotaku or IGN. Ideally, reviewing a game isn't a race, because in most cases the date we receive access to a game matters more than when we're allowed to post reviews. A week out from release, preferably two or three, gives us time to soak up an experience and craft eloquent critiques that cover all the bases our audiences want to know about. When an embargo lifts, reviews can go live at the same time, putting outlets on more or less equal footing.

Holding out on review copies until Doom became available for purchase forced critics into a tough spot: fly through the game's content to get a review published within the first few days of its availability, or move slower and more carefully, and hope audiences still care what you have to say later on.

I'm not trying to exaggerate our situation. No jobs were on the line; no gun was pointed at my head as I played. But you have to understand the importance of being among the first (or the first) to review a game as high-profile as Doom.

Download codes for the game appeared in inboxes late Thursday night and early Friday morning, and reviews-in-progress sprouted hours later—placeholders that say, in effect, "We know you want a number, and we don't have one right now, but if you come back soon, we will. Promise!"

GameSpot's Peter Brown logged six hours in the single-player campaign before sharing his positive impressions. Zack Furniss of Destructoid played until 2:00 a.m., got some sleep, and then put in another hour before publishing his write-up, pledging to "finish this [campaign] up quick" before moving on to multiplayer and SnapMap. PC World's Hayden Dingman wrote his review-in-progress, and opted to keep playing even though he confessed (probably only half-joking) to needing sleep.

At that point, impressions were overwhelmingly positive. Critics seemed willing to lose sleep to play. That's the draw of a great game. I too fell under Doom's spell, and raved about its campaign to my wife, who lent an attentive ear every time I emerged from my office.

But set aside for a moment the praise Doom was getting at that early juncture, and consider the fact that I and other critics were treating the game as a sprint instead of a marathon. Every time I got up to refill my glass, grab a bite to eat, or do anything that took me away from the computer for more than an hour or two, I felt guilty and anxious. I hated that duality, the conundrum of loving a game even as I felt obligated to push through it.

Second, and more seriously, rushing is anathema to Doom's campaign. Its intricate maps encourage players to explore, an integral component of the publisher's vaunted Complete Package: unlike most other first-person shooters released during the past 10 years, Doom doesn't nag at you to hurry up or punish you for venturing off course.

Bethesda tacitly incited this behavior, harmful in two ways. First, critics try to put themselves in the consumer's shoes when reviewing a game. Some consumers plant themselves in front of a new game and finish it in a single sitting, but even when that's the case, they don't feel harried. They're not in a race.

But I—as well as some of my peers, judging by how quickly they were moving through the game—felt compelled to play as fast as possible in order to finalize our reviews and vomit out impressions, balancing expediency with our professional obligation to examine products with a discerning eye. For the first eight levels, I did everything: explored every nook and cranny, checked off every secret, claimed every weapon upgrade point. After that, feeling crunched for time, I switched gears, barreling through remaining missions so I could beat the campaign and spend time on the other two modes.

Charging through a game like Doom is like allocating one day to tour Disney World. Except you have to, because if you don't, someone else will hug Anna and Elsa first.

The Rumor Mill

There's a reason Doom's campaign turned so many heads, and not just because it's magnificent.

Popular consensus says that early reviews translate to publisher confidence, while late ones are tantamount to bunkers where publishers can take cover when critics and consumers drop nukes on total duds.

That's not always the case. Erik Kain of Forbes.com pointed out that Ubisoft has a habit of stretching embargoes until the last minute. Child of Light, Rayman Legends, and South Park: The Stick of Truth had launch-day embargoes and garnered reviews on the high end of the scale.

Still, the point is that passing out review copies early indicates confidence, another strike against Doom as it rounded the corner to May 13th. Its multiplayer beta from earlier in the year made players recoil due to its blandness, and handing out review codes to the press on the day of release, rather than well beforehand, seemed an implicit admission of guilt: Doom was going to be a disaster.

But it wasn't. Sure, SnapMap can only dig so deep, and the multiplayer is competent if flavorless, but the campaign is a masterclass of new-meets-classic design, and carried the weight of the Complete Package. Bethesda's decision to build a wall between critics and early review copies constituted poor marketing, plain and simple, and did a great game a disservice.

Feeding the Machine

Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann pointed out that harvesting a bountiful crop of high scores on day one lets publishers shoot their game to the top of Metacritic's charts, and gives them occasion to regale investors and boost or stabilize stock prices. Not all releases have endings worth of a Disney animated film.

Ben Kuchera made waves in 2014 when he wrote a piece for Polygon accusing Ubisoft of "weaponizing" embargoes by restricting reviews of Assassin's Creed Unity until noon on November 11, the day the game launched—thereby tying critics' hands so they were unable to warn consumers that the game was an unmitigated disaster, and one of the most broken high-profile games of the then-new generation of game consoles.

Flouting such transgressive restrictions is an option, but not a viable one. Breaking an embargo usually results in a blacklist, barring offending outlets from review copies and bleeding them of page views. Bethesda's non-embargo embargo on Doom was just as bad. Either the publisher lacked confidence in id Software's product, or it evinced a blatant disregard for the service critics provide.

Publishers are in the enviable position of being able to play the field. They believe they no longer need critics, at least not like they used to when magazines and primeval online review outlets were the only sources of feedback for consumers. They negotiate fetching pre-order bonuses like early access to content and exclusive in-game items so that if a game bombs commercially, they still manage to cash in a few million before word gets out.

Streaming platforms collectively represent another alternative for publishers—some captained by independent streamers, and other hosted by publishers, circumventing middle men to shill directly to consumers.

There are objective streamers. However, streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch are still the Wild West of game reviews. The shackles on these content creators are often looser than those that bind critics. For instance, popular streamers can post a game review hours, days, even weeks after press outlets like Shacknews because their audience will watch whatever they make, whenever they decide to make it. Their views are based on content, not on reviews specifically.

And streamers may be able to skirt review guidelines on the basis of semantics. Onerous restrictions like Konami prohibiting reviewers from disclosing the length of cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid 4 (an actual, honest-to-goodness mandate) can be evaded by creating a "Let's Play," videos where streamers talk freely without stamping on a score, instead of a "review," considered an official critique. Context matters. Furthermore, "Let's Play" creators can get away with not finishing the game, a condition publishers and consumers expect of critics.

User reviews are, at best, untrustworthy, and meant to be taken with a mountain of salt. On May 13th, one Steam user logged 1.4 hours in Doom before writing "Holy !@#$ bro! 10/10!! Bro!" Not everyone was as pleased: "wtf... the game feels cheap everywhere. The music, opening, and playthrough. I want my 60 bucks back," wrote one disgruntled player after less than two hours.

Salty and sugary feedback from users blended into hype soup. By late Friday, Doom sat at a 91% aggregate, translating to "Very Positive" on Steam's scale. Per Valve's guidelines, users can leave a review for any game they've launched—not only games they've purchased, but games played for free during special promotional weekends, and through the platform's Family Sharing option.

Doom's opening sequence is, dare I say it, even more action-packed than the first couple of rooms of the original's first map, E1M1. But getting through the first 30 to 60 minutes isn't enough to warrant rabid opinions in either direction.

Give and Take

There's a mistaken belief that publishers and game critics enjoy a symbiotic relationship: they scratch our backs with free swag and invites to fancy parties, and we return the favor by rocketing their games to the top of Metacritic's vaunted charts. Sometimes those are the results, but rarely are the motivations of either party so nefarious.

Critics are glad to hype games that deserve to have their praises sung. However, critics are also the first line of defense between consumers and bad games, and that often puts them at odds with publishers.

The fact is, traditional game critics are a dying breed. YouTube was our extinction event, leaving us fossilized beneath layers of Let's Plays, user reviews, and Kappa emoticons. Many widely read review outlets that appeared strong on the surface have fallen, and even the top dogs fight for scraps left by PewDiePie and Total Biscuit.

But we're not all gone. Those of us still standing are here because we care. We care about games, and about crafting well-informed and well-written opinions about them. Publishers should care that much more about their products, even if it means accepting that game reviewers are not always on their side.

The following resources were helpful in writing this article: reviews and reviews-in-progress from IGN, Kotaku, GameSpot, PC World, VG 24/7, Destructoid; user reviews dissected on Kotaku; social media posts from Twitter and Reddit; editorials and blogs concerning embargoes from Forbes, Polygon, Jeff Gerstmann, and a couple of pieces from Kotaku; and my own review on Shacknews.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Overwatch has been capturing our attention for a full week now, and once the dust settled on its launch, we rather liked it. But no game is perfect at launch, and Blizzard has made a name for itself by updating its releases regularly. Overwatch is certain to get the same loving care, which means the publisher must be currently looking for ways to improve the experience. Where should they start? We have a few suggestions.

Better Highlights

The "Play of the Game" feature is one of the most popular aspects of Overwatch--just look at the Overwatch subreddit for proof. So let's start there. A smarter PotG feature would be one welcome way to satisfy the playerbase by connecting to one of the most active aspects of it. Ideally, this revised Play of the Game feature would select both a wider variety of strong plays outside of racking up kills in quick succession, and also better at showing the plays themselves. Who here hasn't seen a Torbjorn PotG in which his turret was the one racking up the kills? There's no reason the game couldn't simply know to show you that from the turret's perspective--or better yet, with a third-person camera view or splitscreen to show both elements at once. 

Speaking of cameras, a Theater Mode could allow players to make their own highlight reels. Give us the ability to save replays, then find the camera angle that works best for showing off the action. It's a must-have feature for the eventuality of eSports anyway, so this should be right at the top of the list.

Competitive Scene

If, or more likely when, Overwatch becomes seriously considered as an eSport contender, it will need some way to set tournament-style rules, but being overbearing would risk turning off the casual fans. Given that Overwatch is very explicitly designed to be welcoming to new players, it's hard to imagine Blizzard turning a blind eye to them. So why not split the difference? 

We suggest the company introduce a Tournament Mode, or alternatively, roll official level rule sets into its current Ranked play. Casual could be the Overwatch we all recognize in its current configuration, while Tournament/Ranked could allow Blizzard to set a blueprint for official rule sets with elements like character caps. That way, if you want to run a team with six Pharahs for rocket-powered mayhem, you can still feel free in Casual.

More (or Any) Story

We touched on this in our review, but Overwatch's one real shortcoming is its lack of a story component. Its premise and characters are strong, and the animated shorts have shown there's plenty of room to explore interactions between the characters. It's even building a compelling narrative, as the shorts have suggested some very specific plot points regarding Reaper's plan and the reformation of Overwatch. 

As players, though, it's frustrating to see all this plot potential roped off entirely outside of the game. We're in this medium because we like to participate. A set of story missions, either focusing on specific characters or limiting your character choices by who is involved in a particular story "mission," would go a long way towards recognizing this potential and making us feel more a part of the world.

Making It Last

Ranking up is all well and good for matchmaking and earning Loot Chests, but the grind can only carry it so far. Eventually the community will have all the loot it really wants, and will need another incentive to keep checking in day after day. So why not offer daily quests? Giving players a reward for completing dailies would not only encourage long-term participation, but also help push players to experiment with characters and scenarios they might not otherwise try. Giving a little in-game currency would be a fine reward without compromising its microtransaction model.

Or, it could use the daily quests as an alternate path for Loot Boxes. It's always exciting to open a box, but right now the only in-game way to receive them is leveling up. A greater variety of ways to earn Loot Boxes--say, by completing five dailies in a row--would help them feel like more than level rewards.

If the increase in Loot Boxes and currency means we need more loot to collect, no problem. Just add skins for individual weapons or body parts.

Finding the Balance

This is one area that barely warrants mentioning, because Blizzard obviously must be looking into it already. The idea of any major publisher, much less the one that designed Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, launching a major shooter without gobs of analytic tools is unheard of. And to its credit, Blizzard has been generally slow-but-smart about these kinds of updates, usually giving a light touch to barely tilt unbalanced elements rather than overcompensate.

That means the company is certainly looking into current player feedback, as well as how it matches up against their own data. The community has been vocal about Bastion, but if a rebalancing is necessary, it could be as simple as giving Genji a longer block maneuver to serve as a hard counter. Meanwhile, Blizzard tends to take notice when elements aren't necessarily wildly out-of-balance but have the effect of making the game less fun, like having your team wiped from a Junkrat Ultimate and being powerless to stop it.

Not that we're bitter.

Shacknews - David Craddock

There's a disturbingly active community around Overwatch porn (so I've heard), and Blizzard's none too happy about it. Creators of illicit videos featuring characters from the game such as Tracer and Widowmaker are receiving DMCA threats from the developer warning uploaders to remove it immediately.

"We have disabled the following material as a result of a third-party notification claiming that this material is infringing," one creator of a video titled 'Crossing Worlds – Tracer, Widowmaker, Liara [FUTA].'"

I'm pretty sure I have at least three letters in that acronym pegged—sorry, poor choice of words—but I haven't decided how curious I am about the fourth.

In somewhat related news, check out our review of Overwatch, which does not account for expanded character lore revealed in now-prohibited pornography.

Shacknews - Shack Staff

Greg Burke is back top count down the Top 10 Mario Power-ups. Which one is your favorite? Please take a look.

For more, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews on YouTube.

Shacknews - David Craddock

Hot on the heels of a report earlier this week that the procedurally generated sci-fi game from Hello Games might miss its projected June release date, official confirmation comes by way of Sony. No Man's Sky now lists August 9, 2016 as its official release date on its PlayStation Store page, where users can pre-order digital and physical editions.

Given the prominent placement of No Man's Sky thus far, representatives from Sony and Hello Games will no doubt elaborate on the reasons for the delay in a few weeks at E3, if not sooner.

Shacknews - David Craddock

Need more evil gargoyles in your fighting games? Long-time Killer Instinct antagonist Gargos joins the fight in Killer Instinct 3.1.5, a new patch available now for owners of the Ultra Edition of the game on Xbox One and PC, Iron Galaxy revealed on Twitter.

For fans, Gargos has been a long time coming. Iron Galaxy announced him two months ago and only recently showed off gameplay.

In addition to Gargos, Killer Instinct patch 3.1.5 makes a few adjustments to balance and fixes for glitches, such as a crash that occurred when you signed out of a profile. The patch notes are quite extensive, and can be found here.

Shacknews - David Craddock

Worlds Adrift is shaping up to be quite the looker. An MMO sandbox game in development by Bossa Studios, the game offers a persistent universe made up of floating islands able to be altered by player actions.

Bossa released a new trailer showing off some of those vistas, as well as features such as the ability for players to build their own islands using the game's creation tool. "Those who have the tool installed can also check out other players’ islands and vote for their favorites, which will help determine which player creations will be used in the final game," a Boss representative said. "Even if you don’t feel like creating your own island you can hop on to any of the 1000 creations, using the free tool, and explore and swing your way around them."

Worlds Adrift is a looker, but it's got a deep personality, too. Islands hold remnants of long-lost civilizations that players can compare to piece together lore, and real-time physics that facilitates the world's pliability.

Worlds Adrift was announced back in 2014, and will be released later this year on Steam.

Shacknews - David Craddock

VR headsets are fun, but some of them lock you to your desk, seemingly ignoring the enhanced interactivity to be gained from the freedom to move around. A number of PC manufacturers aim to fill that void by introducing backpack PCs, letting you use your computer and accompanying VR gear anywhere, anytime.

Reports from The Verge and Gamasutra disclosed that MSI and HP are two of several manufacturers building backpack PCs. And don't expect this new form factor to sacrifice raw power for portability: HP's currently unnamed backpack unit is rumored to become part of its high-end "Omen" line of machines, and has the specs to prove it belongs.

According to The Verge, HP's unit will sport either an i5 or i7 processor, up to 32GB of RAM, and a graphics card that hasn't been revealed just yet—all snugly packaged into a thin backpack-like case that weighs less than 10 pounds.

MSI's concoction, named simply "Backpack PC," promises greater immersion when used in tandem with VR gear, and boasts an i7 processor and NVIDIA GTX 980 graphics card. "Free from the restraint of a fixed VR platform, users get to move around and enjoy VR with big movements and total immersion. No more worries about accidently unplugging the wires between the VR device and the platform. MSI Backpack PC renders greater mobility and freedom for VR gaming."

Images used in this story courtesy of The Verge.

Shacknews - David Craddock

As a follow-up to its announcement that Fallout 4 on Xbox One will receive mods next Tuesday, May 31, Bethesda held a livestream to discuss particulars such as size limit and how to search for and install mods.

After downloading the update, launch the game and look for "Mods" in the Fallout 4 menu. Link your Bethesda.net account, then commence browsing for installing mods. You can also browse mods on mods.bethesda.net if you prefer the more comfortable experience of using Web browser-esque interfaces on PC.

Launching any mod creates a new save-game file; this prevents your main saves from becoming corrupted should the mod malfunction: all you'd have to do is reload your original file to continue making progress in the base game and DLC expansions such as Far Harbor.

Budding architects should note that mods are limited to 2GB in size, though they can be smaller. And you can delete mods later on to free up space, of course.

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