The new DOOM is the first game to bear the title in 12 years, and the first real DOOM game in 22 years, after DOOM 3 broke away from the formula of fast-paced action for a more moody experience. It seems like developer id Software has realized its past mistake and decided to reboot the franchise and start fresh. By doing so, it created the ultimate DOOM game that somehow manages to be both incredibly old-school, and the freshest first-person shooter the market has seen in years. That’s right – DOOM actually innovates by being old-school. It’s fast, brutal and doesn’t pull out its punches when it comes to difficulty and graphic violence. All the while, it embraces more modern elements like checkpoints, a weapons wheel and even some sort of narrative to drive this gorefest forward.
That’s not to say the story matters all that much. This is DOOM after all, and any piece of dialogue or in-game cutscene only serves to move you from one area filled with demons to the next. However, if you do choose to listen to what the few NPCs you meet have to say, or even read the codex entries you pick up, you will find interesting story and lore behind the bloody action. You can learn more about what happened on Mars, understand the origins of every type of monster you face, appreciate the guns you use to to explode these monsters’ heads, and even discover who’s this faceless space marine you’re playing. Still, DOOM being DOOM, you can blaze through the levels without bothering to listen to a single line of dialogue or read a single codex entry, and still have the time of your life.
When I say blaze, I mean that almost literally. The first thing you’ll notice when picking up the controller is just how fast the game is. The space marine doesn’t quite walk as much as he slides across the floor at an incredible speed. This takes some getting used to, and at the beginning you’ll probably miss a jump or two, or run past a demon when you just mean to bash it with a melee attack. Once you do get into the rhythm of the game, you’ll appreciate the extra momentum as you charge forward to stick your super shotgun in the face of a Cacodemon, or circle strafe with your plasma rifle around a Baron of Hell. Our space marine has also become quite more agile since last we met him, and jumping and climbing around the level is an integral part of both navigation and combat. In DOOM, standing still equals death, but the new freedom of movement means you never even consider keeping back from your enemies.
The introduction of Glory Kills also pushes you right into the heart of the action. Once you severely wound a demon, it will start flashing blue and orange, indicating it’s time to move in for the final, gory melee kill. Sure, you can stay at a safe distance and finish the job with a few rounds from your machine gun, but glory kills can produce precious health pickups, ammo and even armor – all very important when you’re playing on even the normal difficulty. There’s also the visual payoff, as glory kills depict various ways to dismember demons in gory details. It does get boring after a few times, but it’s still fun to try and execute different kills, and the pickups are worth it.
While glory kills are a great way to refill your health in a pinch, if you’re running low on ammo you can rely on the chainsaw. It wouldn’t be DOOM without a chainsaw, and this time, it plays an important part of every fight. The chainsaw can take down every enemy with a single hit, tearing them apart as ammo spill out of their blood carcass like the world’s most morbid pinata. The chainsaw requires its own special type of ammunition, and the bigger the enemy, the more of this special ammunition you need to cut through it. Since you can only carry a limited amount at all time, you can’t run around like a space Leatherface. The same is true for the other iconic weapon in the DOOM series – the BFG. While it doesn’t cause ammo to sprout out of your victims, one well-placed shot from this massive weapon can clear an entire room.
Of course, you have other weapons at your disposal, each one more useful and fun to fire than the next. And the best part – you can carry them all at the same time. No more will you have to choose between a long distance rifle, a sawed-off shotgun or a missile launcher – they are all there and ready to be used when the situation called for it. You can even apply different mods to each weapon to make it more compatible with your play style. For example, the combat shotgun can be outfitted with a grenade launcher that lets it fire a small explosive, or you can tweak its barrel to allow for a quick burst of multiple shots. The machine gun can be equipped with a high-powered scope that slightly increases both accuracy and damage, or a small missile launcher that consumes more ammo in favor of high damage output. This level of customization is indeed shallow, but it’s enough to give you the freedom to develop your own style when massacring demons.
Up until now I focused on the combat aspect of DOOM, which makes sense since shooting demons is how you spend most of your time with the game. However, in between one room full of monsters to the next, there’s actually some exploration to be done and secrets to find. These secrets come in the form of collectables, like Doomguy figurines that unlock models of monsters and weapons, or permanent upgrade points for your armor, health and ammo capacity. It’s great to see the secret areas, that made the original DOOM so unique at the time, have made their way into the newest entry. The modern twist on character and weapon upgrades is a step up from the consumable pickups of the original, and put real weight behind each new secret you uncover.
DOOM excels when it comes to level and monster design. Seeing all the modern iterations of the classic monsters will put a smile on the face of any fan of the franchise, and the way they splatter in glorious gory details will turn that smile into a grin. Sadly, the game falls a little short when it comes to how the weapons look and sound. If I had to use one word, I’d use “unremarkable” – while the super shotgun does bring back nostalgic memories, most other weapons, including the BFG, look like generic sci-fi tools and sound like them too. The plasma rifle in particular sounds and looks like a toy and not like the powerful tool of destruction that it is. I also encountered a bug on the PS4 version that cause all music to stop until I reloaded a previous checkpoint.
The multiplayer portion of the game takes an opposite approach to that of the single-player. Here, DOOM aspires to be more modern, abandoning its roots in favor of an experience more akin to the recent Call of Duty titles. Gone are the days where every player starts with the same basic weapon and then frantically runs, jumps the teleports across the map to find the nearest powerful weapon. Now, thanks to loadouts, you can start a match with relatively strong weapons, making the powerful weapon pickups less necessary, and therefore less sought after. This would have been fine in a completely modern shooter, but DOOM still has some old-school elements, like non-regenerating health and armor. So instead of fast-paced PVP action, you get a constant hunt for armor, health and power-ups. That is, unless you happen to pick up the demon rune.
The demon rune turns the player into one of four almost invincible demons. Some are more powerful than others, but all are by far stronger and more resilient than the human players. That is when you stop running away from players, and start insta-killing them. Playing as one of these demons is fun and very empowering, but they do feel somewhat unbalanced in most modes. The multiplayer’s main issue lies with the fact that the modern combat elements don’t go so well with some of the old-school, unlike the single-player mode.
However, what the out-of-the-box multiplayer component doesn’t deliver, can easily be found using the SnapMap. This easy-to-use level editor allows the community to create cooperative and competitive multiplayer experiences. While not as diverse as a full mod support, it has an intuitive tutorial that will let you start building and creating some incredible things with the tools at hand. Of course, you can share your creations with the world, and there are already some very interesting and innovative community maps out there.
Just like its predecessors, DOOM is a great first-person shooter. It is a mix of old-school gameplay and modern bells and whistles that coexist together perfectly, thus providing an experience both veteran FPS players and those with more contemporary sensibilities would love. The single-player campaign is definitely the game’s strong point, as the multiplayer, fun as it can be at times, just cannot compete with more modern titles. The SnapMap will draw in all you creative types looking to make your very own personal hell. Is the new DOOM better than the original titles? That’s debatable, but is it one of the best shooters in recent years? Oh HELL yes.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.