How to play Doom on modern Windows systems
- For help running Doom on other operating systems, see How to download and run Doom.
Playing Doom on the Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 operating systems can be problematic. Games based on the Doom engine originally ran under MS-DOS. Modern Windows versions have limited to no support for DOS programs, and the Doom and other Doom engine games may run poorly, have serious issues (sound support is especially affected), or not run at all, especially if the system is 64-bit.
Some recent commercial versions of Doom (such as the Collector's Edition) include Doom95, the original commercial Windows port of Doom. However, even this does not play correctly because of modern Windows compatibility issues and bugs in the port itself (see this page for detailed information).
Various official versions of Doom are now available from id Software through Valve's Steam platform. Some of the versions of the game available utilize DOSBox to run the original executables (see below for more details), while others have ported the game engine so that it runs natively under the host operating system. The latter is true of Doom 3: BFG Edition, which includes the original Doom and Doom II (with slight modifications) along with Doom 3 and its expansion packs all in one package.
By far the most effective solution is to use a source port. Many source ports exist which are derived from the Doom source code, Heretic source code and Hexen source code. These are further developed and much better supported than the official game engine versions released by id Software and Raven Software.
For playing Doom with the same feel of the original engine (capped framerate, limited screen resolution and so on), Chocolate Doom exists. However, there are other source ports which come with a variety of new features along with lots of bug fixes and almost complete removal of the engine limitations. The most popular of them are:
And if you want to play multiplayer games on the internet, you should also try:
Setting up a source port
For choosing a source port, one should check the official website for more detailed information and support. Not all source ports are compatible with all operating systems (although all ports mentioned above support Windows) and most source ports specialize in certain types of functionality and features. For a more detailed overview on source ports, see comparison of Doom source ports.
To setup a source port, first install the game as normal. Then go the source port's web site, download the source port's Windows version (usually stored in a ZIP archive), and extract the archive into the location where the game was installed. Running the source port executable (e.g. the file named prboom.exe for PrBoom, zdoom.exe for ZDoom and so on) should then start the game.
Many source ports can detect the Steam installation paths for the official versions of the game, and will automatically play them without requiring any copying of the IWAD files.
Using console versions of Doom whose ROM images are dumped into a file for game system emulators is another way to play Doom on Windows, but is not legal unless the player owns the original cartridge or disc.
- Use DOSBox to run the original DOS game executable (e.g. doom.exe for Doom, doom2.exe for Doom II, etc.). Poor performance can be improved by increasing the "cycles" parameter in the DOSBox configuration file. If you have difficulties setting up the program, you can try a user-friendly front-end such as D-Fend Reloaded.
- You could even set up a whole emulated PC e.g. with VirtualBox and install MS-DOS, DR-DOS, FreeDOS or Windows 9x there; this might look like "breaking flies on a wheel", though – DOSBox should be much faster in emulating, if it is compatible enough.
- SoundFX 2000 allows sound support for DOS games under Windows XP.
- VDMSound does the same as the above.
- Run the original DOS Doom, Heretic and Hexen executables without sound: either use the -nosound parameter or set snd_sfxdevice and snd_musicdevice to zero in the game configuration file.
- It is possible to run with music but no sound effects: In setup, select General MIDI (not Sound Blaster), with 0x300 as the address. Sound effects should be turned off. This gives a configuration with music; however, even in this configuration the music may not play properly.
Quick & easy solution
If the above text confuses you or if you are unsure which source port you want to use, you can follow the instructions below to get to play Doom as quickly and easily as possible:
- First install your Doom game normally to a folder of your choosing. If you do not have any of the Doom games, you can download the free shareware episode here.
- If you downloaded the shareware episode, you should now have a file called doom95.zip. Right-click on the file and extract its contents into a folder, e.g. Doom95
- Download latest Chocolate Doom version here.
- Right-click on the Chocolate Doom archive and extract its files into the same folder as the shareware episode or where you installed the full game.
- Open the folder and start chocolate-doom.exe, which should launch the game.
- If you want to configure sound, keys or other features, open chocolate-setup.exe instead.