Created By: RaustBD on October 19, 2012 Last Edited By: RaustBD on November 15, 2012
Troped

Tactical Door Use

When the player has the opportunity to use a game's absurdly durable doors to his or her advantage

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Trope
Nearly all video game protagonists stand in awe, fear and wonder at the nigh-indestructible nature of the common wooden door. But what few of them realize is that their enemies also hold the same feelings of alien terror and incomprehension for them. In fact, most of them are even more afraid of these doors than the heroes are, because while it may be a pain in the neck for a hero to get one of them open, for the enemies such a feat is nigh impossible, even if said door has already been unlocked. Many of them lie awake at night in fear that they may have to face a hero who has actually figured that out, because such a hero will inevitably make use of Tactical Door Use.

When the player is able to close and open doors at will, he or she has complete control over where his or her enemies can and cannot go. When chased by a massive mob of foes, all you have to do to get out of it is hide out in a closet until they give up. Additionally, clever door configurations can make you turn an attack on all sides into a bottleneck assault you can easily deal with.

Needless to say, the games in which this trope appears tend to be Nintendo Hard or at least approaching it, as it takes a truly outmatched and desperate individual to see doors for the brilliant tactical instruments that they are.

EXAMPLES:

  • Geneforge starts using this trope in the second game. The enemies you face are incapable of interacting with doors in any way, and what with doors being, well, doors, they're extremely plentiful, and on the higher difficulties they can be exceedingly useful.

  • In Dungeons of Dredmor, doors separate every room from every other room. And with the exception of the locked ones you chose to kick down rather than unlock, all of them can be closed again with ease. Since this is a Roguelike game we're talking about, erecting an indestructible barrier between you and your enemies will very often save your life, especially if you encounter a dreaded Monster Zoo.

  • This is a key tactic to surviving the levels in the Left 4 Dead series. If you happen to wait too long in the safe house before venturing out into the new area, eventually the AI director will send a horde after you, but they can't get past the door, and lets you kill them off through the barred window. A good wait to rack up kill points for achievements or what-have-you. Elsewhere in the levels, you can close doors to temporarily prevent the zombies from attacking you, but this forces them to either seek out another entrance or eventually break the door down.

  • It's not actually used in the game, but many custom maps for Warcraft 3 give you the ability to open and close gates at your convenience.
    • Zigzagged in Starcraft II: many natural obstacles are present that can be used this way, but the AI will now attack them as well to open up units for attack. The Terran's Supply Depot building can be sunk into the ground and walked on, allowing for a variant of this trope (if the enemy is stupid enough to let his troops get seperated).

  • While the enemies in the isometric Fallout games can open doors, they cannot unlock them. Which means if you are going to be initiating a fight where the enemies are divided into different rooms, you can use your lockpicks to isolate them into neat little cells where you can brutally dispatch them at your leisure. You can also use this with undamaged force fields, and in the first game, at least, to protect your woefully fragile and suicidal companions from powerful enemies.

  • In the Retaliation add-on for Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, this option was added to the Firebase Reactor map. The players can now trap enemies inside the eponymous reactor by sealing its doors just as it is about to overheat, killing everyone still inside.

  • In FTL: Faster Than Light you can upgrade your ship's doors to be nigh-indestructible. If enemy boarders teleport onto your ship, just lock them out of your vital systems and open all doors between them and the vacuum of space...no more boarders.

  • Many creatures in Ancient Domains of Mystery are incapable of opening doors. If the randomly generated dungeon is kind to you, you might find a room that you can run to, close the door, and heal up. Opening up the door again gives you the benefit of fighting the monsters one on one as they come at you. With all the numerous items in the game, sometimes you can come across wands of door summoning, which creates a door for you. Doors can be destroyed, but most monsters don't have the capabilities to do so. Sentient creatures would sooner open the door than destroy it. However, whether enemies can eat through the walls surrounding the door is another matter altogether.

  • Quite often in Halo one can back in and back out of the doorway, letting it take the enemies' shots.

  • In Metroid, you can often escape enemies chasing you by exiting through the door. They will not follow between rooms but sometimes might hit you a few times inside the door before you get the next one. Backing in-and-out of them is not so useful because walking through the doorway resets each room. The exception, however, is Space Pirates in Zero Mission, who can still follow you from room to room, keeping up the chase.
    • The SAX in Fusion will chase the player between rooms as well.

  • Empire Of The Overmind. Monsters can open doors but not unlock them. Certain locations have doors which can be closed and locked. If you can lure a monster into the location, you can go outside and close and lock the door, trapping the monster inside the area. One such location has a respawn point where monster re-appear after being killed. If you close and lock the door, you can kill the monsters and they'll respawn inside the room.

  • In the arcade game Mappy, your only defense against the cats chasing you is to open and close doors. For some reason, the cats knock themselves out every time they try opening a door, so the player can use doors strategically. Rainbow doors, which only the player and not the cats can open, unleashes a one-time shockwave that picks up any cat in its path and clears them off the screen temporarily.

  • Completely averted in Dark Souls. Either the enemies can just walk straight through after you, or it's a boss door and something worse is on the other side. If you're really unlucky, both.

  • Resident Evil's early instalments used this, with loading screens between rooms.

  • This is a key survival tactic in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Though the enemies can and will batter the doors down, blocking doors can give you crucial time to escape or find a good hiding place.

  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth has you do this in an early sequence of the game, desperately locking doors behind you and trying to find a way out.
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • October 19, 2012
    DRCEQ
    I've seen this many times in video games, but I can only think of one example at the moment.

    • This is a key tactic to surviving the levels in the Left 4 Dead series. If you happen to wait too long in the safe house before venturing out into the new area, eventually the AI director will send a horde after you, but they can't get past the door, and lets you kill them off through the barred window. A good wait to rack up kill points for achievements or what-have-you. Elsewhere in the levels, you can close doors to temporarily prevent the zombies from attacking you, but this forces them to either seek out another entrance or eventually break the door down.
  • October 19, 2012
    Chabal2
    • It's not actually used in the game, but many custom maps for Warcraft 3 give you the ability to open and close gates at your convenience.
      • Zigzagged in Starcraft II: many natural obstacles are present that can be used this way, but the AI will now attack them as well to open up units for attack. The Terran's Supply Depot building can be sunk into the ground and walked on, allowing for a variant of this trope (if the enemy is stupid enough to let his troops get seperated).
  • October 19, 2012
    Khantalas
    • While the enemies in the isometric Fallout games can open doors, they cannot unlock them. Which means if you are going to be initiating a fight where the enemies are divided into different rooms, you can use your lockpicks to isolate them into neat little cells where you can brutally dispatch them at your leisure. You can also use this with undamaged force fields, and in the first game, at least, to protect your woefully fragile and suicidal companions from powerful enemies.
  • October 19, 2012
    Koveras
    • In the Retaliation add-on for Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, this option was added to the Firebase Reactor map. The players can now trap enemies inside the eponymous reactor by sealing its doors just as it is about to overheat, killing everyone still inside.
  • October 19, 2012
    MattStriker
    • In FTL Faster Than Light you can upgrade your ship's doors to be nigh-indestructible. If enemy boarders teleport onto your ship, just lock them out of your vital systems and open all doors between them and the vacuum of space...no more boarders.
  • October 19, 2012
    Chernoskill
    • In Legend Of Grimrock, a viable tactic to defeat powerful monsters is to open the door they are behind, attack once, and then immediately close the door again before they can strike. Monsters can't open doors, so it's just rinse and repeat.
  • October 19, 2012
    DRCEQ
    • Many creatures in Ancient Domains Of Mystery are incapable of opening doors. If the randomly generated dungeon is kind to you, you might find a room that you can run to, close the door, and heal up. Opening up the door again gives you the benefit of fighting the monsters one on one as they come at you. With all the numerous items in the game, sometimes you can come across wands of door summoning, which creates a door for you. Doors can be destroyed, but most monsters don't have the capabilities to do so. Sentient creatures would sooner open the door than destroy it. However, whether enemies can eat through the walls surrounding the door is another matter altogether.
  • October 19, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    • Quite often in Halo one can back in and back out of the doorway, letting it take the enemies' shots.
    • In Metroid, you can often escape enemies chasing you by exiting through the door. Backing in-and-out of them is not so useful because walking through the doorway resets each room. The exception, however, is Space Pirates in Zero Mission, who can still follow you from room to room, keeping up the chase.
  • October 20, 2012
    Prfnoff
    • In Angband, this strategy works enemies that can't open or bash doors; doors can be jammed with iron spikes to make them harder to bash down. Most later enemies and some of the earlier ones can open and/or bash down doors; fortunately, many notorious Explosive Breeders can't do either.
  • October 20, 2012
    DracMonster
  • October 20, 2012
    RaustBD
    @Drac Monster: What's wrong with the current title? And the trope's more about using doors as valuable tactical assets, not the actual qualities of the doors themselves that are necessary for it.
  • October 20, 2012
    DracMonster
    ^Seems like it doesn't communicate that only a player can operate the doors, but I guess it's OK, I did understand it right away.

    The title did kinda remind me of Scooby Dooby Doors though. This is kind of the Video Game version of that, actually -- you're using doorways to evade monsters in a way that defies Real Life logic. It's probably a Sister Trope.
  • October 21, 2012
    Arivne
    • Empire Of The Overmind. Monsters can open doors but not unlock them. Certain locations have doors which can be closed and locked. If you can lure a monster into the location, you can go outside and close and lock the door, trapping the monster inside the area. One such location has a respawn point where monster re-appear after being killed. If you close and lock the door, you can kill the monsters and they'll respawn inside the room.
  • October 21, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    In any Mario with Luigi's ghosts in, even though these translucent ghosts are probably top of the list of foes you'd expect to be able to float through doors, once you've opened a door they can't follow.
  • October 21, 2012
    Dawnwing
    • In the arcade game Mappy, your only defense against the cats chasing you is to open and close doors. For some reason, the cats knock themselves out every time they try opening a door, so the player can use doors strategically. Rainbow doors, which only the player and not the cats can open, unleashes a one-time shockwave that picks up any cat in its path and clears them off the screen temporarily.
  • October 22, 2012
    Ninjat126
    • Completely averted in Dark Souls. Either the enemies can just walk straight through after you, or it's a boss door and something worse is on the other side. If you're really unlucky, both.
    • Resident Evil's early instalments used this, with loading screens between rooms.

    And I'm not sure about this one...
    • Cry Of Fear uses the Resident Evil model... except on occasion, an enemy will simply break down the door, causing a pretty big Jump Scare and incidentally connecting two sections of the level together.
  • October 22, 2012
    StarSword
    • Subverted in The Elder Scrolls. Though the doors are indestructible, enemies are typically smart enough to turn the knob. Double Subverted in Morrowind, where casting a Lock spell fixes that problem. PC players in Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim can also use console cheats to do the same thing.

    EDIT: Alteration.
  • October 22, 2012
    nitrokitty
    This is a key survival tactic in Amnesia The Dark Descent. Though the enemies can and will batter the doors down, blocking doors can give you crucial time to escape or find a good hiding place.

    Call Of Cthulhu Dark Corners Of The Earth has you do this in an early sequence of the game, desperately locking doors behind you and trying to find a way out.
  • October 25, 2012
    spacemarine50
    I'm not sure what this is: Using invulnerable doors as shelter, or Opening/closing them at the right time?
  • October 25, 2012
    RaustBD
    @spacemarine50: Both of those are elements. Basically, it's the use of doors as a valuable tactical asset.
  • October 25, 2012
    ShadowHog
    While monsters can open many doors in Doom, there are several ones they cannot (particularly ones requiring keycards or opened by switches, although these are not the only examples). Similarly, players can quickly open a door, shoot into the next room and close the door again as a means of slowly picking off opposition from behind cover.
  • October 26, 2012
    DracMonster
    Would doors being player-operable only be a trope in its own right? Wondering if I should start a YKTTW for that, if this is focusing on strategic behavior.
  • October 26, 2012
    Generality
    This is a critical part of gameplay in the original Diablo, especially against the Butcher, who is as fast as the player-character and deals heavy damage with each hit. The only way to win is either to engage briefly and then run up the stairs to heal, or preferably, find a door with some grating next to it and get on the other side, pelting the Butcher with arrows while he helplessly runs back and forth trying to get at you. The same technique can be used on other monsters. However, later in the game there are fewer sealed-off areas to take advantage of, and eventually you come across beasties who do know how to open doors.
  • October 26, 2012
    IndirectActiveTransport
    The only thing I might change is calling it Tactical Door Use. For opening and closing, but I don't think the title is bad.
  • October 27, 2012
    Dawnwing
    Edit2: Thanks, Arivne, for fixing that; I hadn't known how to make images display fully in the YKTTW replies. Now I know. :)

    Edit: Edited by Arivne to put a line below the picture so it won't break YKTTW. Original poster was Dawnwing. Dawnwing, to put your name back on this post just edit it in any way, such as by deleting this paragraph.

    Possible page image? This is the only one from Mappy that I could find that shows the door opening and the wave coming out and getting the cat.

    quoteright:224:


  • October 27, 2012
    Dawnwing
    Hmm, for some reason that's not displaying very well. I'm hoping that making another post will make the whole picture visible rather than the top few pixels; otherwise, you can just copy the image's URL.
  • October 28, 2012
    DracMonster
    ^^^I would agree about changing to Tactical Door Use
  • October 28, 2012
    TBeholder
    ^ it looks even more like beating someone with a door. :]
  • November 15, 2012
    StarSword
    Post-launch, I took the liberty of adding the missing examples and indexing it to Video Game Tropes, Video Game Tactical Index, and Door Tropes. I also added the following Laconic page:

    "Monster chasing you? Shut the door."
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=8oapd6fix0ran0t8sa8r08cg&trope=TacticalDoorUse