Fight Like Hell in DOOM
It’s been over a decade since a mainline DOOM was released. The last time I played DOOM was back in 2004 when DOOM 3 came out, and man did that game leave a lasting impression on me. It left a lasting impression on everyone who played it, especially those who played it in the dark. At the time, Doom 3 had no peer when it came to presentation and style, so expectations are sky-high for DOOM . Bethesda and id Software may have a hard time living up to those expectations, which were only inflated after Bethesda’s E3 conference where it showed off a fun, intense, incredibly gory trailer that shocked and delighted fans and the press.
This past weekend I spent considerable time with the closed DOOM multiplayer beta, and it left me wondering if id Software is headed in the right direction with this reboot. Actually, it left me wondering what direction it’s going period. As a kind of DOOM and Quake hybrid, the multiplayer here works in some ways and doesn’t work in others. Considering id Software’s track record, it’s reasonable to expect that the majority of people who are really excited about DOOM ‘s multiplayer component are going to be Quake fans.
I can tell you that while Quake fans will feel right at home, DOOM may not offer them the adrenaline rush they’re used to. DOOM , at least in the maps they had available in the beta, doesn’t play nearly as vertically as Quake does, and I didn’t come across any big launch pads at all. The double-jump also feels depressingly anemic. The game moves much more slowly than I expected it to, and long-time Quake fans will probably find the pacing a bit dull. Many of you complained about the speed and pacing of the game after Bethesda released some Alpha multiplayer footage, and it looks like your cries were not heard.
If you’re approaching multiplayer as a hardcore DOOM fan, on the other hand, you may be a bit disappointed in how tame the action can be. As you explore the maps you’ll find rivers of blood, pentagrams and demonic sigils, jagged rocks, and plenty of fire, but the actual combat feels relatively mild in its presentation. Even the glory kills, which you can pull off by performing a melee attack on an opponent who’s low on health, don’t pack a very brutal punch. After seeing some of the kill animations from the single-player campaign, I think we were expecting more of the same in multiplayer. As it is, going for the more brutal kills doesn’t do anything except render you vulnerable to enemy fire for the duration of the animation.
Casual shooters and Call of Duty veterans may have a hard time sinking their teeth into this one as well. So many of the mechanics that we take for granted as standards are nowhere to be found in DOOM . There’s no sprint button, you don’t reload your weapons, and customization for your marine and your loadouts are pretty minimal. If progress, unlocks, accolades, and titles are what you look forward to, you won’t find much to excite you here after the first few hours of gameplay. Then again, id Software wasn’t trying to make a Call of Duty clone , it’s making DOOM , and though I’ve been fairly critical so far in my preview, I really do think that there’s something special here. A mixing of new and old; some fresh spice to a familiar flavor.
When things heat up, and multiple foes and allies spill into the same room, the action is totally over the top. Rockets, balls of plasma, frags, and electricity fill the air and emit a rainbow of different colored glows, smoke, and explosions that mix with blood and debris. When a demon sigil appears on the map everyone makes a loud and violent beeline to it in hope of transforming into what is currently a totally overpowered demon with enhanced mobility and deadly weaponry. Warzone is also a really fun game variant – it’s like king of the hill or domination, except the zone you’re meant to occupy crawls along a set path throughout the map, forcing you to stay on the move and prepare for an ambush that could come from any direction at any moment.
And while things are a little more slow-going than I’d like, DOOM does keep you moving at all times. You don’t reload your weapons and your health doesn’t regenerate, so there’s really no incentive to staying behind cover or camping. All of your additional ammunition, health, armor, and power-ups are scattered about the map as pick-ups, so you’ll find it’s advantageous to keep running. This is something DOOM has inherited from Quake , and it pushes every player from room to room; there’s rarely a quiet moment.
I enjoyed my time playing DOOM , but if this multiplayer beta taught me anything it’s that DOOM will definitely be defined by its single-player campaign. Multiplayer feels tacked on, which is strange considering id Software’s history and Quake ‘s incredible pedigree. I wholly expect to be blown away by DOOM ‘s campaign, and I think it’s probably safe to get your hopes up for that. If you were expecting id and Bethesda to basically pack-in the next Quake through DOOM ‘s multiplayer component you’ll need to temper your expectations considerably, but overall there’s plenty to work with here. Crank up the movement speed about 15%, throw in a bunch of launch pads, and beef up that double-jump and we’re in business. Otherwise I think I’ll probably stick to the demon slaying. Regardless, I’ll see you all in Hell when DOOM launches for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on May 13.