By typical standards of the gaming industry, DOOM 4 (later re-branded as just DOOM) took many of us by surprise. Very similar to Fallout 4, Bethesda announced DOOM in E3 2015 and released it a year later. PR legends that they are. Many with an ear to the ground may have had reservations about DOOM. ID Software were bought out by Bethesda just a year ago, halfway through development. However, many of the ID veterans remained behind and they are still firmly kings of the FPS genre.
Being kings of the genre, ID are not at all afraid to show their age as developers. They’ve stuck with very old skool tropes that have been all but forgotten in the shooters of today. From the totally badass start of the game, you’ll be whizzing around maps. With weapon at the ready, no head bob and at a faster pace than we’ve come to accept in modern shooters. It’ll become apparent very quickly as to why this fast pace is so necessary with the opening minutes of the game making sure you know what you’re in for as the jumping and weaving begins.
Standing Still = Death
You simply do not stand still in DOOM. On top of all this old skool style, you’re also picking up health, armour and ammo each with their own specific sound effect as you collect them. As I started playing, I leaned back in my seat letting out a sigh of relief. ‘Ahhh. They’ve done it right.’. With plenty of secret areas and collectibles to uncover, you’ll be happily zooming around the multi-layered, sandbox levels until you’re content to follow the objective marker to get to the next level.
Cleverly, the developers haven’t suffered from any tunnel vision. They never beat you over the head too much with this recall to vintage-style play in the nostalgia fare. Instead, they’ve incorporated modern RPG-like elements into all your armour and weaponry. These can be upgraded through finding these secret areas or slaying every demon on the map.
For a game with frantic music and speedy combat, ID and Bethesda are to be commended. Mostly on their ability to create a reward system that entreats us to slow down and fully explore their game. Players will want to uncover every part of each map (the best and most useful map system we’ve ever seen in a game!) and hidden switches that reveal a complete map soon became a godsend.
The process of upgrading both your weaponry and armour is incentive enough to find as many secrets as you can. The game makes it very clear that you’ll be dealing with increasingly challenging odds. So it would smart to invest a little time in finding these upgrades. Indeed, each battle will be more intense than the last and enemy varieties quickly demand a sound knowledge of your arsenal, how to use it effectively and ultimately stay alive.
DOOM Guy’s Name Is Justified
Of course, getting the job done usually comes down to the gratuitous slaying of your foes. DOOM doesn’t mess about in this regard. You’ll be splattering skulls, hitting enemies to death with their own arms and cutting them in half down the middle as their sides butterfly outward, spewing forth extra pickups. DOOM consistently sets out to, and succeeds in making you feel like a total badass from start to finish. The first kill in the game is only a few seconds in and involves turning a skull into a cloud of red mist.
For the gore addicts out there, I’ll say it clear. DOOM is the most violent game I’ve ever played, knocking God of War and Mortal Kombat off their perches. It takes top place in the hall of gore fame due to the frequency and up-close nature of it. All of this at 1080p and 60fps with no slow down, folks.
DOOM Is Not A Mindless Shooter
Despite the seeming mindless focal point being a shed load of killing, DOOM’s combat will eventually demand your intelligence. For example, glory kills (crunchy finisher moves that usually involve fists and faces) will reward you with little snippets of health to keep you going. Chopping down foes with the chainsaw will replenish ammo if you’ve got the fuel for it. It demands a good sense of timing to take full advantage of certain situations. This give-and-take system to the combat can turn the tables in a tense battle.
It only ends up more satisfying when you’ve got new secondary fire modes to experiment with. All of this is mostly redundant on normal difficulty as you can spray and pray and get away with it. Any difficulty higher, though, and you’ll have to depend on flawless reflexes and intelligent death dealing.
Fight Like Hell Online, Too!
As far as the multiplayer goes, I’m sure you’ve heard your share of negativity. Granted, the campaign is a more stimulating experience but couldn’t the same be said of every other game that has multiplayer? This writer will be spending hundreds of hours to come on DOOM’s multiplayer and can’t honestly see what everyone is moaning about. The fact is – the multiplayer mechanics in DOOM are unconventional.
The arcade style of jumping twitch kills will be lost on anyone not old enough to have played Quake Arena (also from ID). I believe the multiplayer for DOOM is getting a bad rap because it’s so different. Bear in mind, when other games come out and simulate most aspects of the Call of Duty template, don’t we all complain about that too? Killzone: Shadow Fall earned my praise for being original in how it dealt with multiplayer and now, so does DOOM.
Don’t Be A DOOM Hater!
But let’s take a look at why I appreciate the DOOM multiplayer so much. Many people who’ve gotten accustomed to the COD template of multiplayer will likely end up frustrated at DOOM. The way it doesn’t have the ‘dead in a few shots’ kind of kills. All weapons will be unlocked to you after around an hour of play (don’t worry, there’s still plenty else to unlock after that) and this encourages you to find the perfect primary>secondary>throwable combo in a class that both suits your play-style. This allows for a suitable piling-on of the damage. Pickups become available to all players after a certain amount of time, similar to Star Wars: Battlefront.
In defense of the negativities, DOOM’s multiplayer does have its failings. Firstly, the demon possession powerup (basically a timed killstreak, available to all) was an interesting choice from the devs. But it doesn’t quite feel fully functional. A lucky player, caught in the right spawn cycle could end up being the demon for most of the match, making for an unfair advantage. The super shotgun is far too overpowered and should have been saved for a special pickup. Most times you die, it’s because of the blasted thing.
The Wasted Gem
Of course, there’s also Snapmap where you can create your own matches and maps. Perhaps the devs thought this would become a bigger thing than it is. Lots of fun modes and maps have been created but…people just aren’t heading over there. The lobbies are really quiet which is a shame as Snapmap is frankly bursting with potential. Hopefully, things will heat up over there soon but if they don’t, it will sadly be a wasted gem that Bethesda may not bother with again. It may also make you feel like you’re getting less value for money but that is, of course, not the developer’s fault.
Overall, the real gold dust of DOOM is found in its campaign. That was always the goal Bethesda and ID set out to do. By golly gosh did they achieve it. After playing DOOM 3, this felt like it was a departure from horror. But DOOM 3was a departure from action and gore. Of course, that’s what DOOM originally was so it is safe to say that this title is a resounding success. A return to form for the licence.