A secret level is an optional level accessed from a generally concealed alternate exit. Since the secret level uses this second, less accessible exit, the game or episode it forms part of can be completed from start to finish without progressing through the level. A super secret level is a secret level accessed from a previous secret level, as seen in Doom II.
While secret exits could only be set up as switches in Doom, walkover lines and switches were both supported in Doom II and Ultimate Doom. The Boom source port also added exits triggered by impact weapons, including secret exits, which are consequently available in any Boom-compatible port.
Games and ports with some manner of MAPINFO support or equivalent feature allow to modify the hardcoded behavior detailed in this article. Level scripting, such as ACS or FraggleScript, can also be used to reach secret levels by other means than using a secret exit line type.
- 1 Secret levels in Doom
- 2 Secret levels in Doom II
- 3 Console versions of Doom
- 4 Doom 64
- 5 Secret levels in Heretic
- 6 Secret levels in Hexen
- 7 Secret levels in Strife
Secret levels in Doom
Doom has four secret levels:
- E1M9: Military Base, accessed from E1M3: Toxin Refinery.
- E2M9: Fortress of Mystery, accessed from E2M5: Command Center
- E3M9: Warrens, accessed from E3M6: Mt. Erebus
- E4M9: Fear, accessed from E4M2: Perfect Hatred
The actions of the secret level linedef types have been hard-coded into the engine. If the player activates a secret exit elsewhere than in one of the four aforementioned levels, the player will go to the secret level as usual. However, upon completing it, the player will be taken to the level immediately following the one they were meant to access it from. Depending on the specific episode and level this occurs on, the player may end up either skipping several maps, repeating the level they just left, or being sent back to an earlier level.
For example, armor percentage rollover bug.reaches E3M9 from E3M5, and continues on to E3M7, skipping E3M6 entirely. Inversely, reaches E2M9 from E2M6, and loops back to it when exiting the secret level. As a corollary, activating a secret exit within a secret level resets the level (following the usual intermission screen). contains an example of this. This allows to revisit the secret level an unlimited number of time, a quirk that permitted to demonstrate the
Secret levels in Doom II
Doom II has two secret levels:
- MAP31: Wolfenstein, accessed from MAP15: Industrial Zone
- MAP32: Grosse, a super secret level accessed from MAP31.
If the player uses a secret exit outside of MAP15 or MAP31, the next level will be the one that was last entered via an intermission screen. If such a level is not available, the player will be warped to MAP01: this effect is created by the secret level information not having been initialized. Some source ports change this behavior to something more consistent: for instance in ZDoom the Doom II secret exits outside of MAP15 and MAP31 merely lead to the same level as the normal exit.
Console versions of Doom
In the Atari Jaguar, Sega 32X, 3DO, and Game Boy Advance versions of the game, only a single secret level exists, MAP24: Military Base, which is the analogue of the PC version of E1M9 and is reached via the same manner from MAP03: Toxin Refinery.
Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn
Ultimate Doom episode
- MAP55: Fortress of Mystery, which appeared as a finale of the game entitled Dis in previous console versions, is now reached from an added secret exit in MAP17: Spawning Vats.
- MAP57: The Marshes serves as an exclusive secret level for the game's translation of Thy Flesh Consumed, to the exclusion of E4M9: Fear.
Doom II episode
- MAP58: The Mansion, an exclusive level reached from a secret exit added to MAP44: Suburbs.
- MAP59: Club Doom, an exclusive super secret level reached from The Mansion.
The Super Nintendo version of Doom retains the three secret levels from the PC version, but in two cases changes their methods of access:
- E1M8: Military Base (no change from PC)
- E2M6: Fortress of Mystery, which is now accessible from a hidden area added to the game's E2M2: Refinery. This is due to the fact that the Command Center level does not appear in this version.
- E3M8: Warrens, which is still accessible from Mt. Erebus; however, a rocket jump is no longer required as the game's physics do not allow it.
The Vicarious Visions-developed ports of Doom and Doom II to the Xbox include, besides the normal set of PC secret levels for both games, the following exclusive secrets, which were adapted from PWADs previously released by employees who worked on the game:
The formerly console-exclusive No Rest for the Living expansion pack developed for the XBLA version of Doom II included a secret level. This secret exit is also supported by the Doom Classic component of Doom 3: BFG Edition and the PSN version of Doom Classic Complete.
As a unique entry in the series, Doom 64 included numerous original secret levels and deliberately made them an important part of the game play by utilizing three of them to hide the Demon Keys. A fourth offers access to the game's cheat menus when it is defeated, and three additional "fun" levels exist to provide an extra challenge beyond that of the game's canonical campaign:
- MAP32: Hectic, accessed from MAP01: Staging Area
- MAP29: Outpost Omega, accessed from MAP04: Holding Area
- MAP30: The Lair, accessed from MAP12: Altar Of Pain
- MAP31: In The Void, accessed from MAP18: Spawned Fear
The "fun" levels accessible only via the Features menu warp cheat include the following:
Secret levels in Heretic
Heretic uses the same system as Doom. There are five secret levels, one per episode:
- E1M9: The Graveyard, reached from E1M6: The Cathedral
- E2M9: The Glacier, reached from E2M4: The Ice Grotto
- E3M9: The Aquifer, reached from E3M4: The Azure Fortress
- E4M9: Mausoleum, reached from E4M4: Sepulcher
- E5M9: Skein of D'Sparil, reached from E5M3: Quay
Secret levels in Hexen
- Hub 1: Bright Crucible, accessed from Hub 1: Seven Portals
- Hub 2: Sacred Grove, accessed from Hub 2: Shadow Wood
- Hub 3: Deathwind Chapel, access from Hub 3: Heresiarch's Seminary
- Hub 4: Desolate Garden, accessed from Hub 4: Forsaken Outpost
- Hub 5: Vivarium, accessed from Hub 5: Necropolis
In many cases it is necessary to perform actions in other maps as well before the access to the secret level is opened. Desolate Garden in particular will be impossible to visit unless both Bright Crucible and Sacred Grove were completed.
The Hexen: Deathkings of the Dark Citadel expansion pack features secret levels in each of the single-player hubs:
- Hub 1: Pyre, accessed from Hub 1: Ruined Village
- Hub 2: Armory, accessed from Hub 2: Treasury
- Hub 3: Ice Hold, accessed from Hub 3: Nave.
Secret levels in Strife
While Strife does not feature any officially secret levels, and the concept of a secret exit switch does not exist in its variant of the Doom engine, some of the maps in the game are unofficially considered to be secrets due to limited access, a lack of explanation given to them in the game, or their remote and optional nature which requires exploration by the player. Maps usually classified in this manner include:
- MAP22: Factory: Forge. An out-of-the-way area of the Factory which contains moderate resistance and a number of power-ups and inventory items to collect, but does not serve to advance the plot in any way and is not required to progress. Unused NPC characters located here indicate that the level may have originally played a larger role in the game.
- MAP30: Abandoned Front Base. After defeating the Programmer, the Front Base is replaced by this map, and many goods can be found which were left behind by the Front.
- MAP31: Training Facility. It is reached from MAP07: Castle, and becomes inaccessible once the Programmer has been defeated. Though not required, the player can earn stamina implant and accuracy stat upgrades by completing its obstacle course.
In Strife: Veteran Edition, a "super secret" level is added to the game as part of its talisman quest. Accessing the map requires that the player find a blue chalice for Timothy and then speak to the Master Smithy in the Forge.