Written by Liam Brand
The past week has been a long awaited one for dedicated DOOM fans, or at least the ones with enough foresight to pre-order Wolfenstein way back when. Players got to spend four sweet days with the DOOM Closed Multiplayer Beta. After spending many hours sampling the twisted, hellish shooter myself, I can’t say it was exactly what I expected. Sure, I had a pretty great time zipping around and blowing spacemen to bits for hours on end, but I still walked away a bit underwhelmed. Why? It all felt way too familiar, and not in the nostalgic way I was looking for.
Let’s talk about what I played a bit first. Before you even jump into a match, a couple significant features stand out. I’ll be the first to say that I’m a complete sucker for customization, and DOOM had everything I could’ve wanted in that aspect, and more. A majority of the customization options are appearance-based, with options to personalize your armour and weapons by choosing the colour schemes, patterns, and trim – right down to the fine details like how dirty or scuffed-up they appear. In addition, custom loadouts are available to players to create.
Though some may complain that only having loadout selection be limited to two guns and a grenade is too shallow, I greatly appreciated the simplicity, and how it helped keep the game balanced. There’s no wide selection of perks, attachments, or secondary equipment to give certain players an edge over others. At the end of the day, winning or losing in DOOM boils down to purely skill (and maybe a bit of luck).
On the flipside of the same coin, this may have contributed to the stale feeling I got from DOOM, there was nothing new. The guns all looked, felt, and shot the same as countless others I’ve used over the years of playing shooters. What also feels like an unnecessary addition to the loadouts are the Hack Modules. These are essentially limited-use power-ups that give minor boosts to players once they respawn. Advantages like knowing the location of the last player that killed you, or being able to see enemies’ health bars throw off the balance of the game, and aren’t really all that fun or interesting when used.
The actual online gameplay of DOOM is everything fans of old-school shooters want. Novelty-sized guns, smooth-as-butter movement, and plenty of blood. The game moves lightning quick, rarely leaving time to navigate or recover without being thrown back into combat. The player movement isn’t slow either, as everyone is locked into what feels like a constant sprint. This is by no means a bad thing. Compensating for the speed of other players, as well as your own, keeps combat interesting and especially thrilling..
In fact, returning to a game like Star Wars Battlefront after playing hours of DOOM was quite jarring, my character felt weighed down by sandbags in comparison. This was the part of DOOM that actually hit the nostalgia key with me. Though you aren’t as weightless as you are in a game like Unreal Tournament, this kind of movement in an online arena shooter hasn’t been seen for a long while.
The highlight of my time with DOOM, and what will easily be the biggest gamechanger, were the Demon Runes. These power-ups spawn once a game, allowing players to transform into various powerful beasts that are capable of flying, eating opponents, and tearing enemies to shreds. The demons are insanely fun to play as, and terrifying to encounter.
Despite its moments of adrenaline, I can’t help but feel like DOOM could be a bit grander overall. It promises on over-the-top, explosive fun and only sort of gets halfway there. When it shines, like the moments with the Demon Runes and particularly tense encounters in combat, it’s glorious, but most of your time will likely be spent in a deja vu cycle of run-and-gunning.
Maybe with the addition of more maps, game modes, and what hopefully turns out to be an epic story, DOOM will fully come to form as the exciting action game that’s being shown to us. As is, I can still see myself sinking many hours into DOOM’s multiplayer because of how fun it is at its core – but that seems to be where DOOM’s appeal begins and ends at this point. I believe it has the potential to come back strong as a proper revival of classic shooters, but DOOM needs an extra push to get there.
DOOM is set to release May 113th, 2016 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC