DOOM is out, and it’s one of the most surprising releases of the year. The single player component, which was largely ignored by ID Software’s marketing team in the months leading to the game’s release, is absolutely fantastic in a way few of us would have predicted. It’s angry, it’s fast, it’s brutal, and it’s tremendous fun.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF SHOOTERS
If you weren’t aware, the original DOOM was released in 1992, and it revolutionized the industry. Sure, it wasn’t the first FPS (first-person shooter), but it is the game that popularized the genre. It was fast, very fast, and gut wrenchingly brutal. Running through tight corridors, pummeling demons with your shotgun, hard metal music blasting in your ears… DOOM truly was pure adrenaline. It also had a puzzle component as moving from one area to the next required finding keycards, and the levels, especially the later ones, were mazes. For years, subsequent shooters were based on this game to the point that every new shooter was called a DOOM clone for a while.
Then, other shooters popularized different aspects of the genre, such as Valve’s Half-Life which was a slower, less violent game with a tighter emphasis on puzzle solving and story. Later, even slower titles like Halo and Call of Duty brought a stronger focus on tactical gameplay. The latter was especially impactful, as it popularized things like the ability to aim down sights and sprint. These additions might sound minor, but they had a massive impact on how you played shooters. All of a sudden, you had to choose your spots, find cover, shoot, go back into cover, rinse and repeat. Gone were the freewheeling days of the 90’s!
THAT’S COOL, BUT NOW WHAT?
But then, something recently changed. It feels like developers realized that they potentially had reached the limits of tactical, slow gameplay, and thus what could they do? Well, logically, move away from it! All of a sudden, the pace of the games was increased dramatically, double and sometimes even triple jumping became the norm, as well as grabbing ledges and sliding while running. Improving the aim in hip fire mode also became thing, which greatly reduces the need to constantly aim through sights. The first game that pops to mind when I think of these trends is Titanfall, released in early 2014. Since then, it’s like every shooter out in the sun has adopted a similar style; they are fast again. It feels like, in many ways, a throwback to 90’s arena shooters. What is old is new again.
GRANDPA IS BACK IN TOWN, AND HE LOOKS YOUNG AS HELL.
And then, there’s DOOM. The new DOOM. And DOOM, well, is pushing the formula even further into fast paced action. In fact, there is little to no tactical element in this game. You can’t even sprint here, as your character is already moving along at extremely fast speeds. You can walk however, which is very slow, and it’s hard to imagine why anybody would want to do so, since movement does not seem to affect your aim in the least. It would also make you slower than the demons, a very bad thing indeed. You can’t reload your guns, which might sound like a weird omission but reloading is actually quite the tactical element, as it forces the player to stop firing, hide temporarily, reload, and then pop back out to shoot some more. No, DOOM ain’t about stopping anything, DOOM is about shooting non stop until all your targets are a crumbling pile of gore. DOOM is, *gasp*, it’s DOOM. And it’s bringing back the original’s secrets in a big way, with a very functional, and often very necessary automap. While playing the original, you’d spend a ton of time walking around in the minimap because levels were so darn complex, and you’d get lost in them all the time. The map isn’t quite as necessary this time around, but if you’re looking for secrets, you absolutely will abuse it. Said secrets actually appear on the map, you just have to find a way to reach them. This feels like an improvement to me as back in the old days, you basically had to hug every wall while pressing the spacebar, hoping to hit a secret wall. To be blunt, it was dumb. Now? Very not dumb.
I HOPE YOU LOVE JUMPING.
Did I already talk about how fast you move? Oh yes, I did, but did I talk about the game’s focus on parkour elements? DOOM, like most modern shooters, allows the player to double jump and grab onto ledges. Where this game differs from the genre is it made those abilities absolutely vital as monsters can do the same! They go up ledges and sprint towards you, ready to make you their next meal. Battles end up being frenzied melees where you simultaneously shoot at demons and run away from them by jumping all over the place. No other shooter does anything remotely close to this, to my knowledge anyway. And not only is parkouring a necessity in combat, it’s also how you reach most of the secrets in the game. You look at your map, spot an unobtained item, and then try to discover how to get to such item.
YOU WANT WEAPONS? HERE’S SOME WEAPONS.
Another interesting aspect Doom carried over from its predecessor is that you now carry your entire arsenal on you. It’s interesting because in a way, it makes you realize why modern shooters limit your equipment: it forces you to use all of it. When all you have on your are two weapons and a couple grenades, you don’t have a choice, you will use all of it, because you need it. But in DOOM, you have 8 or 9 weapons on you, each carrying modular components that changes the way the weapon acts. On top of that you, have a good selection of equipment such as grenades or holo projectors. So you find yourself, surprisingly, forgetting to use some of your stuff. For example, I always forget to throw grenades. Think about it, how often in other shooters do you forget to throw ‘nades? They’re the backbones of your arsenal, old reliable! You can’t afford to not throw grenades in other shooters. But in DOOM, where you have so many options, some of them just go by the wayside. I’m much more likely to switch to my rocket launcher if I need to make something go boom, after all.
IT USES A LOT OF THE OLD, BUT MIXES IN SOME OF THE NEW. TASTY.
A friend told me recently “So it’s not actually original, they just basically took the old DOOM formula and kind of applied it to a modern game engine” but that in itself makes the game superbly unique. Here’s a little something for the old among us: DOOM was released 24 years ago. That’s old, really old, and shooters have changed dramatically since then. Yeah, it’s been a while, long enough that a good portion of the gaming fan base might never have played this style of shooter before. DOOM feels new and it does so not just because it’s using old gameplay elements, it’s also using new ones, such as double jumping.
The Weapon upgrades in DOOM is one of the nicest modern shooter element, in my opinion. You unlock upgrades by finding secrets or by killing enemies. It’s a very straightforward system, and you’ll get upgrade points no matter what, but the nice thing about the upgrades is that they really don’t feel necessary. They mostly add minor bonuses to your weapons, but nothing that makes you feel like you wouldn’t be able to go through the game otherwise. I think that’s a strong design element, enabling you to just blast through the game ignoring secrets if you so wished, without impacting the difficulty of the game. Some of these upgrades also come in the form of runes, which you unlock by completing specific challenges. These too add minor bonuses, and could also be skipped. DOOM gives you a ton of options, but it also tells you that if you don’t want em, you can leave em. It’s very player positive, which I feel is another modern gaming trend. These days, gamers create their own experiences.
LET’S RUN AROUND AIMLESSLY AND SHOOT EACH OTHER.
The multiplayer component was outsourced, so it was developed by a different team. And, well, I wouldn’t say that the multiplayer component is badly made, I just feel that it’s misguided. It looks like they tried to follow the same design template as the single player mode, which is to basically remake old DOOM into a modern 3D engine, and then add some modern gaming conventions. In the case of the multiplayer, this comes in the form of loadouts. However, something’s missing. The multiplayer feels aimless. The game doesn’t have a ton of weapons like other contemporary shooters, so to force the player to choose only a few of em seems pointless. Once you start playing it feels like there’s a lack of strategy; you just run around, shoot bullets, kill people, run around some more. People think Call of Duty is mindless, but this just takes it one step further. It just doesn’t work very well, and is certainly not why you should be playing DOOM. It also makes you wonder why Bethesda chose to focus the marketing on the multiplayer aspect so much; I can’t think of one person I know who had a positive opinion of the numerous multiplayer betas we were subjected to. It might be due to eSports recent rise in popularity and are trying to capitalize on that trend. That being said, ID Software will retake control of the multiplayer from the company it had outsourced it to, so there is hope for the future.
Another very interesting part of DOOM is the snapmap feature. In short, it’s Super Mario Maker, but for DOOM. It allows players to create their own levels, upload them on the internet and allow other players to play through them. I’ve played through a few myself, and they’re quite varied: from old DOOM level remakes to DOOM trivia, levels run the gamut. This is sure to please the budding level creator in each of us.
DOOM is a rousing success. We were worried, but it was unfounded: this is truly a return to form, and with the recent success of Wolfenstein, it looks like ID Software’s old franchises are more alive than ever. It’s brutal action packed fun, and while it’s very violent, the only things you ever kill are demons from hell. This almost makes it great fun for the entire family! Almost. But, if you’re 18+, love shooting stuff in games, you could do far, far worse than DOOM.
Disclaimer: review copy provided by Imperial Games. The opinions expressed those of the author, and have not been effected, edited or dictated by Imperial Games. Use coupon code GoG at checkout to receive 5% off your next purchase.