Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: id Software
Release Date: Friday May 13th, 2016
Platform: PC, PS4, XBOX One
Time Played: 24 Hours
To clearly distinguish between the 2016 Doom and the 1993 Doom I will call the most recent one Doom (4).
Concept and Execution
The concept of Doom (4) is the same one of Doom and Doom 3 (which is also a remake): A group of scientists planned to make portal technology on Mars and use it for the benefit of humankind. Instead they made a portal to Hell and flooded demons on the Mars facility. You then assume the role of a Space Marine who was part of the group that was in charge of the portal experiments and are tasked with “cleaning up” their mess, which means getting a lot of guns with a lot of bullets and blasting through a lot of demons, and obviously in the end the hero reigns successful over the scores of slain demons! All of that is present in Doom (4) and was so well thought out by id. The game holds true to the original Doom and Doom 2 while borrowing some aspects from Doom 3 and balances this all perfectly.
The Multiplayer is very similar in its pace and play to older Quake games. id took a risk in the current FPS market in terms of games that are team based with much skill and some that do not require as much teamwork and made quite the excellent game. Doom (4) does encourage teamwork at points while at other points your team is not adversely harmed by a player straying from the group or plan to go get an objective while also branching out on its own in a genre of games that has not been prevalent in some years.
Concept and Execution Score: 25/25
The only thing that has remained constant between this Doom and previous ones with regards to mechanics is that you point a gun, shoot at demons, and run like a madman while doing so. Other than that, a lot has changed between Doom (4) and the previous installments. The most notable difference between Doom (4) and the other installments is the upgrade system for the weapons, Praetor Suit (the suit your marine is in), and the ‘skills’ you can obtain. Each weapon (besides the Super Shotgun) has 2 different upgrade paths that have two or three separate parts to them. Each upgrade makes the “alternate” fire for the particular weapon change and each sub-upgrade changes how that upgrade performs, for instance you can get an upgrade to the Combat Shotgun that allows you to either shoot a grenade or 3 shots in quick succession. Within these you are able to make the cool down less, increase the damage, or decrease the charge time and it is relatively the same basic idea across all weapons, however once you unlock the 2 or 3 upgrades for that particular part you are able to unlock something akin to a “master skill” in which your weapons functionality is greatly increased or made more diverse. This is an excellent system because it encourages thought into how you want to play not only for a play through but also how you want to engage hordes of demons throughout.
In the Multiplayer there weren’t many changes between now and the Open Beta previous to the release. When I played the Beta I told myself and anyone who listened that Doom (4) was having an identity crisis in terms of what was going on in the Multiplayer; I explained that it felt like Halo, played like Quake, and the “pre game” or “load outs” felt like Call of Duty. That hadn’t changed between the Beta and full release and it was a bit of a let down that id would implement a load out system into a game that could have done just as well as if it played out like Quake in that you start off with a single simple weapon and go through the environment picking up weapons. One thing that I do like in terms of pick-ups are the orbs that give powers such as Invisibility, Quadruple damage, and Haste (increased speed) – this I feel stays true to the original feel of Doom in that the flow and sway of battle can be changed by a single person getting a power up and cleaning house. While playing the multiplayer each weapon has its obvious pros and cons and each has a utility that can be completely situational which encourages thought when putting together a load out, meaning you need to think about 1) what game modes you are going to be playing in the immediate future 2) what is the environment of the game mode and 3) do these weapons complement each other in some way. Also along with each weapon being situational each requires some degree of skill in knowing things such as projectile velocity and how you can make your weapon perform, and also can you use the weapon to do “crowd control”. A thing that I am torn on is the idea of Hack Modules which are temporary bonuses you can imbue yourself with such as increased armor or decreased cool down on grenades. As much as that can diversify the game play I feel it really goes on a tangent from the original idea of Doom/Doom 2 if it had a multiplayer all those years ago. One thing that really throws a curveball into the game play of the multiplayer is the Demon Rune pickups that happen occasionally throughout a multiplayer match. What these do is allow the player who picked it up to change into one of four different demons, each of which has their own powers, skills, strengths, and weaknesses. At the beginning of the match (or at any point during death) you select which demon you want to be if you possess this rune, once the rune is grabbed the player is transformed into this demon for 60 seconds or until they are slain. If they are slain before the timer expires the rune is dropped and is able to be picked up and used for the remainder of the time. In taking down the demons it is almost impossible to do it single handedly unless you have quad damage or some power weapon so teamwork is encouraged in defeating the demon before it mows you all flat; 9 times out of 10 when the rune is dropped from whomever is slain the team in possession of the rune will switch which can eliminate one team solely controlling the rune and dominating the playing field while the other team is constantly waiting to respawn and get demolished again.
Mechanics Score: 21/25
But how does it look and feel?! Well, surprisingly it looks and feels like a combination of all three previous Doom games. Though each of the previous games were excellent and lacking in some ways this game more took from the more excellent aspects of each installment. The graphics are quite a far cry from Doom 3 in terms of quality but level design wise it is similar with its textures to Doom 3 than any other Doom. While the surfaces may be more reminiscent of Doom 3 the layout of the levels is not quite like any of the other 3 Doom games in that one of the most notable aspects of any given level in Doom (4) is the amount of verticality in any given area. The level of verticality is closest to what would be in Doom 2 but even then it is still greater because of the ability to jump and scale ledges in Doom (4). This can lead to some interesting situations between the player and where all the different demons are and what all the different demons are capable of doing. Depending on the situation it may be more beneficial to lead the demons around on a single plane of the level or it may be more useful to traverse the level in a more vertical manner as to lose and shake away some of the demons in pursuit of you. Though I like the idea of bringing Doom into a new age of video game design I think at some points they may have gone a little overboard with the amount of verticality in the levels in that sometimes all you are doing is jumping ledge to ledge to get on the same plane as a majority of the demons or to lose their attention. Another thing Doom (4) shares and lacks from previous installments is the progression within the levels themselves in terms of how free a player is to choose their own path to completion. Doom (4) is not like Doom or Doom 2 with regards to openness of the levels possibly due to Doom (4) having a definite narrative to it so therefore some levels had to be more linear in terms of how the player progresses from start to finish.
With regards to the Multiplayer and verticality it is apparent that vertical game play is heavily emphasized in several of the maps in that the objectives you are after are underneath several high ledges or you can get a better vantage on the arena or your opponents by climbing up to a higher ledge. This feels like it belongs in something other than Doom seeing as much of the older campaigns didn’t make it more advantageous to be in a higher position than your opponent. However each multiplayer level is well laid out for different game modes unlike other games in which players complain that “Game mode X works well on Map Z whereas Game mode Y is absolutely atrocious on Map Z”, Doom (4)’s Multiplayer maps all are well designed for the different game modes you can play on each of them. Each map too is well decorated and has environments taken straight from the campaign which is a good idea for this game seeing as it would be foolish to make a multiplayer environment completely separate from an environment in the campaign.
Atmosphere Score: 22/25
One thing that immediately hit me in the Campaign was the Glory Kills in which you are able to perform a melee attack on a demon with low health and go through an execution like animation. As stated it seems the Campaign put a heavy emphasis on these kills almost to such a degree that one would think the constant repetition would make the Glory Kills become passé and uninteresting in the long run however the opposite was shown to me. I played the Campaign to completion in about 4 or 5 sessions and each time I played with an ‘in your face’ play style in which I would be up close and personal with demons and go for Glory Kills to keep up my health, armor, and ammo. With each session I would regularly get half a dozen or more Glory Kills in each encounter with a horde of demons and they would usually not decrease the level of fun I would be having in the level because of how fluid the motions were and how natural they felt in terms of how they were fitted into the game itself. With each demon however there were varying amounts of Glory Kills that could be performed or that were regularly seen, more often than not you would only witness one or two different individual executions per demon in any encounter with a mob of them, though throughout a session or the entire Campaign you would most definitely see a gambit of animations, each are (98 percent) unique to each demon and situation – yes, depending on what angle you attack a demon from can change what melee takedown you perform on them. While you would think then that the constant jumping and shooting massive amounts of bullets at these demons would get boring too then you would be quite wrong. While the varieties of demons in mobs doesn’t vary much within a level the ratio of what demons are in any given pack will, though generally they will consist of many small demons for being annoying, several larger demons to be more persistent in their threats, and fewer big demons to be real targets and pests if you do not make swift work of turning them into bits. Each encounter was different and unique and was able to more often than not keep me on the edge of my seat in terms of how intense of a fight it would be, generally too I would finish fighting a mob and get the feeling of accomplishment and would say to myself quietly “Whew, I made it.” as I would wipe large amounts of sweat off my forehead. This level of combat is more like Doom 2 in that the level would have a large quantity of demons and engaging multiple at a time would be a challenge no matter what difficulty and would always feel rewarding to stand victorious in the end of the engagement.
In the Multiplayer there are some points when playing can be a drag because of how much of a skill gap there is between teams, but more often than not the teams are evenly matched and it leads to very excellent game play. Many of the game modes are fast and furious and require much precision to play well as well as to win.
Entertainment Value Score: 22/25
Within a few hours of playing the campaign I tentatively told myself ‘yes, this is a worthy successor in the Doom franchise’, and in the end I do believe the campaign is a true successor to the previous Doom titles in the way it brings in many aspects of the roots while mixing in other aspects that bring diversity into the game play. The multiplayer is amazing and wonderful but just shy of being almost perfect, but this still doesn’t detract from the fact the multiplayer is fun, diverse, and engaging.
Overall Score: 90/100