If you've ever had fun playing a classic Doom game and haven't played Doom 64 yet, you should make it a priority. I remember it was about a decade ago when I first learned that Doom 64 was its own game: a Midway-developed title set after id Software's Doom 2, using an upgraded version of John Carmack's then-aging engine. Upon looking up video of it, I was instantly struck by how different its tone was, from the foreboding ambient music to the redesigned takes on every monster from the Imps to Cacodemons.
When Bethesda announced it would be releasing the first-ever official port of Doom 64 to coincide with Doom Eternal's release, I was pleased to see the game getting a chance to reach a wider audience of Doom players. I was even more pleased to discover that Nightdive Studio would be handling the port. Samuel Villarreal, Nightdive's lead KEX engine developer, actually made the unofficial and almost-perfect Doom 64 EX port that served as the best way to play Midway's entry without a real Nintendo 64 or an emulator.
In a Q&A about the port ahead of its release, Nightdive revealed to USgamer that Doom 64 would also be receiving a brand-new chapter tying its events into the story of Doom Eternal. Now that I've had a chance to play those "Lost Levels" and others have had a week to rip and tear through Doom Eternal's lore, it's time to talk about how this new chapter for a game from 1997 connects to 2020's new entry.Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Doom 64 and Doom Eternal ahead.
First, if you have Doom 64 and want to unlock the Lost Levels, there are two ways to go about doing it. You can either finish the original campaign, at which point the Lost Levels will be added to the "new game" option. If you're looking to skip ahead to them, you can take on the secret level "Hectic"—opened up via Doom 64's first level—and the option will be unlocked once you manage to beat it.
Doom 64's story is about as minimal as those of its predecessors, but its ending is arguably the most metal of any in the series. The Doomguy is called back into action after the events of Doom 2 when it turns out that a creature of immense power survived the demonic purge. Another invasion of demons begins, and the Doomguy does what he does best: punches and shoots his way through every demon standing between him and the biggest, baddest demon of the bunch.
That turns out to be the Mother Demon, Doom 64's final boss. While Nightdive did a great job with Doom 64's port (the option to fine-tune the brightness of light sources in particular is much appreciated), nothing can change the fact that the Mother Demon fight is either annoying or underwhelming. If you have a fully powered-up Unmaker weapon, it'll make short work of her. If not, the Mother Demon has homing rockets and a devastating flame attack that make Doom's classic circle strafing approach a non-starter. It's frustrating without the fully upgraded Unmaker, to say the least.
Survive that fight, and you'll get to Doom 64's ending screen: rather than wipe the blood and guts off and return to Earth, the Doomguy decides to stay in hell. The only way the demons will be kept at bay, he figures, is if he's there to keep them from rising up.
Okay, I'll Bite, What's a "Maykr?"
In 2016's Doom, it's implied but never fully made clear that the player character is the same Doomguy from all the way back in Doom and Doom 2. Given that Midway developed Doom 64 and few had access to the game for so long, the canonical status of Doom 64 was up in the air.
That's not the case any longer. The ties are ultimately more explicit in Doom Eternal than they are in Doom 64's Lost Level, but they do go both ways. As Guides Writer Joel Franey lays out in USgamer's Doom Eternal lore explainer, the Doomguy of Doom, Doom 2, and Doom 64 eventually ends up on the planet Argent D'Nur.
In the flashback scene from Doom Eternal where he first arrives on Argent D'Nur, the Doomguy is found wearing the exact helmet he's pictured with in artwork from Doom 64. You might think, then, that Doom 64's lost levels would make it abundantly clear how the Doomguy left Hell and arrived at Argent D'Nur. Not quite.
The Lost Levels start by dropping the Doomguy back in another Earth facility. He's been forcibly ejected from Hell by the Resurrector, the Mother Demon's sister. This time, it seems, the Doomguy's whole purpose is to get back to Hell, kill the Resurrector, and stay there. Essentially, it's a do-over for Doom 64.
The Story Continues… Maybe
The encounter with the Resurrector is basically a rematch against the same Mother Demon enemy type, only this time the arena is designed so that it's a bit easier to dodge her attacks—and thank goodness for that. Once defeated, you get a new Doom 64 story page about the Doomguy's odyssey to hell, but Argent D'Nur is not visited or mentioned in the levels:
You had not expected to be torn from Hell so soon after your fateful decision. Getting back there was your only concern. The plans of the sister Resurrector to exterminate you have failed.
A grim vision takes hold of your mind as the demon carcasses steam in your wake. Stretched before you is a path of perpetual torment... A path through Doom...
That leaves us with two takeaways. One, while the Lost Levels are really good, they're not packing some mindblowing scene that leads straight into Doom Eternal's backstory. Since this is Doom we're talking about, that's okay: what matters is that Lost Levels are true to Doom 64's distinct design quirks, from a pronounced fondness for crushers to multilevel arenas that are more complex than most Doom or Doom 2 levels. It's a shorter experience overall, but the individual levels are on-par with those from Doom 64's campaign.
Second, just as the time jump in Doom Eternal's backstory and the start of 2016's Doom is hazy—how'd Doomguy end up naked in a sarcophagus?—the time between Doom 64 and Doomguy's arrival on Argent D'Nur may still pack some story we haven't seen. Maybe the Resurrector pulling him out of Hell is what finally made Doomguy snap for good, putting him in the near-feral state he arrives at Argent D'Nur in. So if id Software decides it wants some wiggle-room to further fill in the Doomguy's backstory, it could always wedge more into the gap left after Doom 64.