DOOM (Xbox One Review)
Thats right, it’s back! DOOM returns to the FPS gaming frontier, gracing us with its malevolent charm that helps give rise to our primal instincts of killing everything in sight. It’s been a while since we seen a DOOM game and with several setbacks and a full revamp of ideas, this DOOM entry was almost lost entirely to the sands of time on a pile of games that could have been. Since Bethesda acquired the intellectual minds of Id Software, they have been on road of redemption to bring us the best DOOM game yet. And they have succeeded. Full to the brim with nostalgia and fast paced action, DOOM comes at us with shotguns fully locked, loaded, and ready to gib as many demons as possible.
With this DOOM being another reboot of the reputable gory franchise, it was foreseeable that this new instalment would have a twist on its original storyline. Normally you are a just a standard military space marine – one who has the herculean strength to carry 8 weapons at once – but a run of the mill space marine nonetheless; No superhuman attributes or supernatural talents. However, Id Software have turned the tables upside down and decided that our Doomguy has to be more than meets the eye to make sense of his incredible survival skills and his ability to face the hordes of hell all on his lonesome. Doomguy is now a long lost ancient warrior, of sorts, forged to fight the armies of hell for all eternity. Unrelenting and unstoppable. With the evolution of time, a fraction of humanity has colonized on Mars where they have discovered an energy that is everlasting and unlimited, Argent energy; or Hell energy put simply. But with this discovery and advancement in technology comes consequences, the gates of hell have opened and Mars has been overrun by the demons from hell. Queue Doomguy *insert heavy metal riff*.
For many, the storyline(s) of DOOM have been argued upon since its inception. Many believe that DOOM doesn’t need a story and the simple nature of demon slaughter is all the story one needs. Whilst others, myself included, believe that a storyline isn’t such a bad idea. As long as the game isn’t inundated with incredibly long cutscenes at every corner and doesn’t break the momentum of the gameplay, then it’s all hunky dory. The new DOOM does just that. It feeds you tidbits of information here and there, through communication monitors and holographic playbacks of conversations between the game’s cast of characters. You also get snippets of lore through your Dossier; a compendium of codex entries that explains the world, demons, weapons and even Doomguy himself. So nothing really feels forced or tacked on, you can digest the story if you want to, or simply turn a blind eye to it all and get straight back to mutilating monsters.
From Industrial Mining Complexes to High-Tech Laboratories and even Hell itself, every location feels alive and full of secrets to be discovered. The Mars mining facilities are overflowing with molten rock and feel warm and claustrophobic. The UAC labs feel cold and isolated from the rest of Mars, with an air of superiority about them. Hell itself is where the environments really stand out. Void of light and full of decaying life, Hell is full of aggressive scenery with impaled corpses and blood soaked walls. The architecture is very medieval-like and filled with occult imagery, suggesting Hell has a culture of its own and not a simple wasteland of the damned. Of course, Hell wouldn’t be complete without its local wildlife. The demon populace. All of your favourite demons have been brought back and revitalised. Looking remarkably like their 1993 counterparts and not the horrible looking DOOM 3 variants. Apart from one or two demons that don’t quite fit the mould, they all look tremendously good in design and operate well in the environments DOOM offers up. Revenants fly around, raining pain from above and Imps clamber up walls to gain their own vantage point. Each demon feels deliberate in design, allowing for a more versatile experience when you come face to face with these monsters.
Doomguy’s iconic armour has been given a nice new set of upgrades and a spiffy overhaul. Doomguy’s “Praetor” armour now allows him to ingest Hell energy into his suit, further increasing his suits vitality, endurance and ammo capacity. Doomguy can also stumble upon downed Elite Guards and extract their CPU chips that he can use to upgrade his suit’s own abilities such as; resistance to explosives, enhanced navigational features or improved cooldowns on equipment usage. The DOOM arsenal also gets the upgrade treatment as well. With weapons having a multitude of fire modes which require the player to find Combat Supply Drones throughout each level to put into use. These upgrades won’t come easy, you’ll need to scour each level for hidden secrets and complete in-game challenges to unlock them. The challenges are a refreshing taste to the DOOM formula, encouraging players to mix up their play style and approach levels with a different tact.
Some of the best laid secrets are those that require the player to seek out a hidden lever in each level that unlocks a retro map of DOOM I or DOOM II. Fans of old will appreciate these little nods to the original games. Once unlocked, you can access these maps from the main menu and play the original DOOM with upscaled weaponry and enemies, whilst the environment remains in 8-bit
The Singleplayer campaign, alone, saves the day. The campaign is ruthless and fast as all hell. With waves and waves of demons being thrown at you in every way possible, you’ll need fast reflexes to survive; especially on harder difficulties. Combat is just as bloody and gruesome as you’d ever want it to be. With a campaign of roughly 12 hours (including exploration and finding collectables) there is plenty to sink your teeth into. If you’re one of those hardcore fanatics that want to fire through the campaign as fast as you can – like you did back in the day – then it should take roughly 5-6 hours total. The Singleplayer component has always been the main focus of DOOM, and Id Software have outdone themselves, but now it’s time to trudge into the murkier waters of Mars. The Multiplayer.
DOOM’s Multiplayer is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand you have the semi-fast paced gameplay -akin to a lot of arena shooters- and on the other you have the “next generation” of mechanics modern shooters try to implement to the best of their ability: Clambering, Loadouts, Double-Jump. Even “Prestige” style rankings from Call of Duty have infected DOOM’s Multiplayer in the form of Echelon Ranks. I could be blowing smoke about this subject matter, as I have not achieved a single echelon rank as of yet, but with some players being a level 3 and echelon rank 7 it’s probably safe to assume it functions in the same fashion. These features wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t feel so tacked on. The clambering and jumping slows your momentum down to a halt and doesn’t benefit the multiplayer playstyle overall; It’s perfectly suitable in Singlepayer as increases the verticality in the environments and feels justified. Loadouts aren’t that bad, but as I discussed in my impressions piece on the DOOM Multiplayer Beta, they take away from map and weapon control popular in online arena shooters. And can encourage a stagnant meta in which everyone gravitates to the same loadout. Instead you are forced to keep an eye on the Demon Rune; DOOM’s alternative power weapon. This nifty relic transforms you into the hellspawn of your choosing, with four available to you, you’ll need to decide which is best suitable for the map you’re on. These tanks can turn the tide of battle fairly quickly as they have extremely high firepower and can decimate the opposition in a matter of seconds. So keep your eyes peeled.
As you progressively rank up in the multiplayer rankings you’ll be awarded with a random grab bag of gear, weapons, and colour palettes to deck out your space marine with. Regardless of what gear you get the most useful of these will be the Hack Modules. Hack Modules are burn cards that give you an edge over your adversaries for a predetermined amount of time. Their unique abilities encompass showing where the enemies on the map are for a small amount of time, power up timers, and others can simply give you a boost in experience gained. Never neglect these little gems, especially if you are a new player facing a tough match.
The meat and bones of any online shooter is deathmatch, but we also appreciate the other modes available to us from time to time. The noteworthy ones that differ from the normal formula are Warpath and Freeze Tag. Warpath is a King of the Hill variant that keeps the action moving in a singular direction round the map whilst forcing the powerups to spawn at the opposing direction of the fray. Generating a small amount of strategy require to hold both moving points of the map. Freeze Tag is a simply game mode that requires each team to “freeze” each other until no team member is left standing. Once all team members have been frozen, it’s game over.
As it is, the multiplayer can be a beacon of light to some whilst a pile of garbage to others. The fast paced gameplay harkens back to the Quake and Unreal Tournament days of online play. Fans of those games will find comfort in DOOM’s Multiplayer but those individuals who are accustomed to Call of Duty, Halo, and the likes won’t find what they are looking for here. The “next generation” mechanics do very little to welcome those players and just hinders everyone’s gameplay.
If you haven’t had your fill of DOOM with its masterful Singleplayer campaign and boisterous Multiplayer, then you can head on into SnapMap. DOOM’s very own Mapmaker. As somebody who enjoys being creative in the likes of building game modes and making maps, I was thoroughly let down by SnapMap; Mainly due to its extreme limitations. To me, SnapMap is an upgraded version of the original Timesplitters Mapmaker developed by Free Radical Design. Back in the day I loved what you could do with it. You could easily put together a map in half an hour and it would be semi decent, albeit void of detail. You even had simple logic functions that you could implement to have AI act in a certain matter. Fast forward to 2016 and DOOM has essentially took what Timesplitters had and adopted that for their own SnapMap feature. Again, this is another feature that wouldn’t be bad if done right. Each “Module” is void of contents and has very few options you can use to install decals within it, leaving it looking empty. In an attempt to make a single room more “lively” I had already used up 50% of the maps resources doing so. Another issue is with the limited enemy count that can be active at once; I think it’s in the realm of 8 to 12 enemies active on the map at one given time. Meaning you can’t develop an open ended map filled with enemies for the player to explore. You’re now forced to set up the map to work in a linear fashion, ensure the player follows a singular path, limiting potential. You could argue that the logic functions can be used to spawn in creature once a player reaches a certain point, but they’d still be tied to that area until the defeat every single enemy. Otherwise other logic functions won’t operate properly. SnapMap also only has one singular theme, every room has an industrial look to it. Even though there are other pieces of architecture in singleplayer, we are limited to one set in SnapMap. And with supposedly thousands of people making maps, you’re bound to see the same old features over and over again.
I could honestly keep going, continuously demoting SnapMap from its “revolutionary” ranking. But I shan’t. SnapMap does offer something though, it offers variety from the normal gameplay. Things like Survival game types or Horde modes can be created, you could even set up races/speedruns if you wanted. Some people have developed parkour challenges and other unique minigames. I myself am currently trying to develop a Puzzle Fighter HD type game mode where you must quickly vanquish all the demons in your arena whilst sending demons to your opponents to overwhelm them. At the end of the day, I’m hard pressed to say SnapMap will be a lasting feature. It’s best for creating these gimmicky game modes and severely restricts any Singleplayer/Multplayer map designs.
Given that my love for the original DOOM games continues to compel me to keep playing them till this day. I can happily say that DOOM (2016) scratches everyone of my itches. The Singleplayer is definitely the highlight. With tons of gibs, gore and shotguns to pass around, I was head over heels in love with the campaign. Everything from story to the next demon encounter pushed me forward. It’s just a shame it had to end. The multiplayer has me gripped, but I can only say that for myself. For many, this is what will divide them on their experience with DOOM. The Multiplayer isn’t going to prove anything to anyone who hasn’t played old fast-paced arena shooters before, but will keep those who have invested until the next iteration; or the next DLC at least. SnapMap is only worth your while if you’re looking for a neat little side excursion, a novelty to keep you busy, but ultimately fails to impress. If you’re a DOOM fan or not I would recommend you check out DOOM for its singleplayer alone, it’s basic gameplay and graphical detail is brilliant to say the least. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m just gonna sit back, gib some hellspawn and wait for the inevitable Quake reboot to happen.