Sprinting through the corridor with my combat shotgun in hand, I charged up the explosive round and fired it at the first demon thrall that came my way, the metal rock soundtrack blasting through my speakers combined with the echo’s of my fiery rounds fills my living room as the army of Hell is reduced to bits of flesh and floors covered in blood. All that remains from clearing the kill room is a skull faced Revenant jumping through the air. I switch to my assault rifle and fire a few rounds, back to my shot gun, I let out a few slugs point blank, he stumbles and I approach him, grabbing the two thruster packs on each of his shoulders, and slamming them together, making paste of his bloody bone head. Doom is back and more gory than ever.
Doom is a fast paced blood filled shooter that requires a very different playstyle than that of the Call of Duty or the Halo’s of the gaming world. Your health doesn’t regenerate and enemies won’t take cover. Equipped with an assortment of killing machines that take the forms of shotguns, rifles and cannons, which none of them ever need reloading by the way, you are charged with taking Hell down a peg, and destroying everything in your way.
When Doom first appeared on the gaming scene back in mid December 1993, it took the gaming industry by storm. While this iteration won’t have that same impact that the original did 23 years ago, it still is an entertaining game that brings a bit of old school back to shooters. Despite the original game being a bit of a corridor shooter with a few open areas, this new iteration of Doom gives us a very vertical experience as grabbing onto ledges is a huge focus in this game, far more than I had anticipated. There are still a lot of corridors and some extremely large open areas, but the amount of depth vertically to this title is extensive. I was also surprised at how much this game relies on kill rooms, where areas won’t progress unless you cleanse the room of evil. You’ll also utilize a blue and yellow key system, which even in Hell, they like to color coordinate.
There isn’t much of a story here, other than a corporation using the energies from Hell to fuel mankind, and well, Doomguy isn’t having it and upon waking up in some unknown place, you grab your first gun and solider on, off to take down the demons of Hell. You’ll have some help from Dr Samuel Hayden and a AI named Vega, who in their own way, help you get from area to area until your final boss encounter. There are documents and secrets to find that flesh out a bit more of the story and lore that is presented here, but Doom is about shooting and killing demons and it does that just fine.
As you use your weapons to dish out painful damage to the underlings of Hell, you’ll be earning weapon upgrade tokens that allow you to upgrade and add features to your weapons. You can also find floating upgrade stations throughout the levels that add even more perks and alternative weapon mods to change that weapon into something more powerful. These stations allow you to mod a weapon in two ways, which can be swapped on the fly by simply pressing up on the D-Pad. Changing my shotgun from a precise shot to explosive rounds can be really handy. As you discover secrets and other various challenges, you’ll earn more tokens to further the upgrades of your entire arsenal. This works the same with armour as well, allowing you to make your Doomguy able to take more shots or dish out more damage. You’ll find stations in each level that also allow you to upgrade your health, armour and ammo capacity as well.
Visually, Doom is gorgeous, but as most of it is meant to be played a blistering speed, some details aren’t as impressive. Corridors start to look the same, and it’s not until later in the game that Hell starts to offer more variety in its color tones. There is some typical Doom and Quake style shine to the more human elements of the game that we’ve seen before. What is impressive; however, is the framerate. I’ve never had it drop or slow down in the slightest, no matter much hell I was unleashing. While some areas of Doom don’t look as polished as others, the game still runs and looks extremely good.
The creatures and abominations that need taken down also look fantastic. There is a fairly decent variety of creatures here that look great, but sadly they all share a similar color palette. When you stagger a foe using any of your weapons, they will glow blue and orange indicating that you can perform a glory kill. This event consists of you decimating your foe in the most gruesome way possible. Smashing heads, ripping off horns to feed them back to where they came, or curb stomping foes is just the start as each kill will refill portions of your health, and upon upgrading, some of your armour as well.
Various power-ups will also assist in dishing out damage to the minions of Hell that unfortunately for them, choose to stand against you. There is Haste, which makes you faster, Berserk which makes you punch-crazy and near invincible, and Quad Damage which does exactly what Quad Damage sounds like it would do, it grants you 4x the damage output. These power-ups are useful, and if you upgrade the right gear, they work even better than advertised.
I’ve been playing Doom on normal and the difficulty has been really well balanced. I’ve yet to come across anything in the game that has felt impossible. Sure, some areas have been difficult and the odds seemed stacked against me, but after some trial and error, I’ve completed anything that has come my way. You’ll find a bit of a difficulty spike in a few of the trials that test your might in a variety of challenge missions. These range from relic races, not being able to move unless you kill something, getting credit for a kill only by explosive barrel damage and more. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these modes and wish there were far more of them. Completing these trials give you a rune that grant perks like enemies will drop BFG ammo, or being able to control your double jump better. You can equip three runes at any time once you unlock the slots to do so. There is a good variety here and each of them have something good to help you in your quest.
I’ve logged a few hours into Doom’s multiplayer offerings and have had a great time with it. Upon completing a round you’ll earn a vast amount of customization components to add to either your Doom solider, your weapons, or which form of Demon you can turn into, providing you can find the Demon Soul in the match before you’re blown to bits.
The action is extremely fast and with no ability to reload, the bullets just keep flying. You have the same mechanics from the single player campaign with health, ammo and armor pickups, and even power-ups like Haste and Quad Damage make an appearance. You’ll compete on teams of six in the following modes:
- Team Deathmatch: 6 on 6, kill enemy players to win.
- Soul Harvest: Kill’s only count if you collect their soul after death.
- Domination: Control the zones to win the round.
- Warpath: Control the moving zone to win the round.
- Freeze Tag: Freeze your enemies and thaw out your allies.
- Clan Arena: Eliminate the enemy team.
Doom’s multiplayer doesn’t disappoint with its super fast gameplay and fantastic level design. The vertical style of map design from its single player campaign is lessened here, but still visible with ledges everywhere, their health, ammo and armour pickup’s beckoning me to visit. If you can sneak up on a player and perform a melee attack, the glory kills from the campaign are here as well. My first one was grabbing the other player and smashing their head into my knee over and over again until their head exploded, it was pretty awesome.
You can customize your Doom soldier with various schemes of armor: UAC, Utilitarian, Templar and Bounty Hunter are your classic solider style appearances, and to put the cherry on top, you also have access to demonic armor, my personal favorite. For some reason left and right arms are separate to unlock, so completing a set may prove difficult, but after every match I was earning new armor, colors, taunts, design patterns, guns, demon forms and new hack modules, which are perks you can play within the round like revealing player locations, reducing cooldowns or tracking wounded enemies. They have a timer when they are active and can turn the tide of battle in your favor.
There is also a map editor that allows you snap together pre-made rooms, hallways and other elements needed to make a battlefield of death. You can create both PVP and PVE content here should you desire and make small little story based missions to share with friends or other players. The editor is pretty intuitive and easy to get the hang of. Some of the maps that are available through the in-game browser are pretty fun and most of them are fairly creative.
Doom is incredibly fast, bloody and everything you want from the license. Its gore filled campaign has some really fun moments despite its kill room design. The bosses are few but satisfying with a epic final encounter that will keep you on your toes. Multiplayer is fantastic and quick paced as it should be. Doom is old school in the right way and modern where it needs it. Taking a demon by the arm, ripping it off and then beating it to death is just one of Doom’s little moments of joy. Doom is back, now go to Hell.