Only two days after id Software's Doom reboot launched speedrunner Zero Master managed to be the first to complete its hardest difficulty setting, Ultra-Nightmare, which is actually regular Nightmare with permadeath enabled, i.e. you only get one shot at it. Indeed, it is a mode so challenging that nobody at id Software was able to complete it.
But being the first to do this wasn't enough for Zero Master. He needed a further challenge to... I dunno, make him feel. As such, he managed to conquer Ultra-Nightmare without using a single upgrade.
That means no weapon enhancements. No perk-granting runes. No Praetor suit upgrades. And no argent cells offering permanent boosts to your health, armour or ammo count (though the first one of these needs to be collected as a mandatory story requirement. Zero Master uses this to up his ammo capacity).
This makes things a lot harder. With that little health and no protective upgrades, Zero Master noted that "a single barrel or a face rocket can end your run very quickly." He also found weapon switching tricks to be less effective without the upgrade that makes this swifter.
With such a weak character Zero Master needed to be very judicious with his power-ups. As such, he makes sure the Mega Health power-up (which grants players a finite boost to 200 health and 200 armour) lasts for long stretches at a time. "I can't afford to lose my health from the mega health powerups later on, as I can't go over 100\50 from pickups. The lack of ammo makes it very important to be aware of where the ammo pickups are and not to waste the chainsaw ammo."
Amazingly, Zero Master's no upgrade run is over an hour faster than his original run, but that's because he's had a lot of practice. He also saves a lot of time not collecting secret items or playing Rune Challenges.
As hellish (pun intended) as this run may sound to most people, Zero Master was adamant that he enjoyed the thrill of it all and that bragging rights were only a secondary impetus for the pro player.
"Apparently a lot of people have beaten it now on Ultra-Nightmare, so I figured I'd take it a step further," Zero Master said. "But the main reason is because it's a very fun way to play the game! I play a lot more aggressive this time and I don't end up just using gauss cannon with rich get richer rune to clear everything late game."
While we see the successful run, Zero Master posted a few failed attempts in the video below. Note how quickly he can go from being on top of the situation to just another empty helmet laying on the ground.
This isn't Zero Master's first claim to fame with the Doom franchise. He's previously set speedrun records for the first two Doom games, including one for Doom 2 on Ultra Violence.
For those attempting Ultra-Nightmare without even further restrictions, I spoke to speedrunner DraQu who offered various tips to besting id's insane challenge.