How to play Doom online multiplayer


Doom's multiplayer experience remains its most popular feature. Cooperative and deathmatch modes stay fresh due to thousands of fan-made levels and other modifications. Modern source ports add new gameplay elements and novel modes such as Capture the Flag and Survival.

To get started, you'll need a source port. The three most commonly played online are Odamex, Zandronum and ZDaemon. For the widest selection of mods, download all three; they are quite small. Place all of your IWADs (Doom.wad, Doom2.wad, Freedoom.wad, etc.) in each program's directory.

You'll also need a program to browse servers. Internet Doom Explorer (IDE) is a commonly used program, compatible with the above three ports and featuring an integrated IRC client with built-in links to their channels (#Odamex, #zandronum, and #zdplayers respectively). Doomseeker is another stable and easy-to-use server browser bundled with Zandronum.

All these programs are under active development, so it is a good idea to periodically check for updates.

Finding players to challenge is very easy, and the online community is (usually) friendly and quite welcoming.

Note: If you intend to host a public server, you will need to forward ports. A helpful article on port forwarding can be found here; many servers use ports 10666 and 10667. IDE and Doomseeker both allow easy configuration and launching of custom servers.

Using Odamex, Zandronum, and ZDaemon[edit]

Set program directories[edit]

Open IDE and click the Options tab at the top. Click Programs, under Directories in the left-hand column, and you'll see this:

IDE screenshot - app list.png

Click "..." to find your client and server for each source port.

Configure preferences[edit]

Click the Launch Game Parameters option at the left.

IDE screenshot - preferences.png

Here, you can enter your online username and set your player color by clicking the marine icon. You can make these different for each port, and Zandronum even allows colored text in your name.

The WAD check and Zandronum autotesting options are recommended to save time. You can also choose to record demos (.lmp files) of your online matches.

Set WAD directories[edit]

On the left hand side, click Directories, then click Wads.

IDE screenshot - WAD folders.png

Click the Add button. Add each source port's directory to the path list, as well as your main PWAD folder if you have one.

Configure GetWAD[edit]

GetWAD is a utility for automatically locating and downloading any add-on content required for your online session. Most servers use custom WADs, so this is an important step.

IDE screenshot - GetWAD.png

On the left-hand column, under Optional Components, click GetWad. Here you configure where new WAD files will be saved; you must select one of the directories you chose in the previous step.

Configure server list[edit]

This will control how servers appear to you and make it easier to find the exact game you're looking for. Click Appearance & Functionality on the left.

IDE screenshot - server filtering.png

Check Additional sort by players number and Don't sort servers with only bots to prevent accidentally playing by yourself, and check Refresh the server before launching the game to see if the server has emptied out or filled up while you were connecting.

Create a ZDaemon account[edit]

ZDaemon keeps score for many deathmatch and Duel servers. Click the ZD Scoreboard tab at the top of the IDE screen:

IDE screenshot - scoreboard.png

Here you can enter a name, password, and profile blurb to create an account on the spot. Be sure to use the same name you selected under "Launch Game Parameters" above.

Begin playing[edit]

Make sure you have all three source ports enabled, then click the Servers tab at the top. Click Players to sort by number of players, Ping to sort by connection quality, and so on:

IDE screenshot - server list.png

Double-click the server, wait for GetWAD to retrieve files if necessary, and frag away!

Server hosting[edit]

With online versions such as Odamex, you can start your own server with custom maps, rules, etc. Citadel Servers offers Odamex game hosting rental.

Video tutorial[edit]

Here is a helpful video tutorial by Wazzup:

Using ZDoom[edit]

For instructions on setting up netgames, see this thread at the ZDoom forums. ZDoom players cannot join in the middle of a game; all clients must be ready at startup.

Using Chocolate Doom[edit]

Chocolate Doom is an excellent port by Simon Howard (Fraggle) that allows playing vanilla Doom easily on modern PCs, updating and automating most of the networking setup, and avoiding the CPU slowdown of full VGA emulation (see "DOSBox" below).

One player must act as the server and host the game. To run a Chocolate Doom server over the internet, you need to know your public IP address. Some broadband providers use NAT, so the IP in your OS control panel may not be what the rest of the world sees., for example, can determine your public address.

When you start up a server, it is automatically registered with the master server. Other players can use the setup tool to find your server, or you can check for its address on the master server's website. If the server doesn't appear on the list, it's probably because you haven't properly set up the port forward for your NAT router (see above).

Start a multiplayer server by launching Chocolate Doom with the -server command line option. For example, to start a server for a deathmatch game, type chocolate-doom -server -deathmatch.

Other players can then join your server using the -connect option. For example, if the server's public IP address is, type chocolate-doom -connect

When the server becomes active, you will see the "waiting" screen which lists all players currently connected. Once all players are present, click the start game button (or press the space bar) to start the match.

Using vanilla Doom[edit]

DOSBox is an MS-DOS emulator capable of running the original DOOM.EXE and DOOM2.EXE.

First, install DOSBox and mount the directory containing the Doom executable and IWAD(s). If your computer is behind a router, you must also have opened ports.

To allow connectivity, edit the DOSBox config file. For default Windows packages, this is within the DOSBox application folder and has a name like dosbox.conf or DOSBox 0.74 Options.bat. Open this in Notepad or another text editor. Near the bottom should be the line ipx=false; change this to ipx=true.

On the hosting PC, type ipxnet startserver <port>, where <port> is the UDP port you want to host with.

DOSBox ipx example.png

On the connecting PC, type ipxnet connect <ip> <port>, using the same port number and with the host computer's IP address as <ip>. This works over the internet as well as on a local network, so if someone has set up an internet server (as Fraggle sometimes does), type the IP and port which they have specified. The IP and port must have a space between them, not a colon as in most source ports.

You can then launch a game, loading any PWADs (which must already be in the same folder as the .exe) and configuring coop or deathmatch play using Doom's standard command line parameters.

Using Doom Legacy for splitscreen matches[edit]

Doom Legacy has a splitscreen feature for when you want to deathmatch with a friend, but for some reason you are both in the same room. Version 1.42 of Legacy is strongly recommended for its stability and its intuitive launcher.

Install the package and open the launcher:

Legacy screenshot - launcher.png

Click Game Mode. Tell the launcher where your Legacy program and IWADs are. It is best to put all IWADs and PWADs in your Legacy folder.

Legacy screenshot - WAD folders.png

Now click Single Map (but not Multiplayer).

Legacy screenshot - game parameters.png

In the Additional options field, type +splitscreen 1 and, if you want to deathmatch, +deathmatch 3, as shown in the image. Typing no commands at all will start a coop game.

In the Additional files field, select a PWAD if desired.

Set each player's controls by pressing Esc, then selecting Multiplayer to configure player 2. Now click Launch to begin play.

Four-player game using two PCs[edit]

Start Doom Legacy through the launcher as described above. When the game starts, hit Esc, select Multiplayer, and select End Game. You should now be at the title screen. Press Esc, select Multiplayer, select Start Server, and enter a server name. (On this screen you can also set additional game options, such as no monsters mode or item respawning).

On the second PC, start the game through the launcher with the same WADs as the host. On startup, press Esc and select End Game. Now press Esc, select Multiplayer, and then Connect Server. The server name should be displayed; select it and hit Enter.

Now go back into the game on each PC and open the console (tilde key, ~ ) and type splitscreen 1. Configure the second set of controls by pressing Esc, selecting Multiplayer, then Setup Player Two.

Using console controllers[edit]

XPadder is a utility which simulates keyboard and mouse commands using any input device recognized by your PC. This means you can play Doom with Xbox 360 or PS3 controllers even in ports that don't support them. XPadder costs US$10, and setup instructions are posted on its forums.

See also[edit]