Tested on: i7-4770k, 8GB RAM, GTX980, Windows 7.
Developer: id Software
Platforms: PC (review platform), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Alright, let’s get my potential bias out of the way first: I, like many other people on Steam, HATED the DOOM multiplayer alpha/beta. To me it was slow, the guns had as much punch as a pillow covered in pudding, and the two weapon limit loadouts are as un-DOOM-like as you can get.
With these impressions from the beta, I bought DOOM 2016 expecting to soon make a rage-tastic review where I’d deem it the least entertaining game of the decade – a shitshow of epic proportions that would make DOOM 3 look like a masterpiece in comparison. A game so bad, I’d need copious amounts of alcohol to consider finishing it. What I got, however, was extremely different from what I expected.
I’ve never seen a game approach its own narrative with this much outright hostility before. It’s oddly satisfying, in a way. Scratch that. Not just just satisfying — refreshing. In the first 5 minutes of the game, Doomguy waits about 20 seconds before smashing a terminal that looks like it’ll spend the next eternity spewing exposition, which sets the tone quickly and decisively for the entire game. All of the expository material is either hidden, or entirely skippable, save for select, brief moments that you wouldn’t consider skippable. Dialogue in an elevator, for example.
This helps keep the game moving at whatever pace you feel comfortable with provided you’re not one of those walking sim types. Then you’ll never be comfortable with anything. If you want to learn more about the world, the demons, or even the people yelling in your ear to stop smashing that trillion-dollar equipment, you can. Just be prepared to dig through each level looking for the codex pickups. If you want to just move from one demon-infested hellhole to the next, you can do that, too.
For those that are gonna be digging for the codex entries, I wish you all the luck in the world. The levels in DOOM are HUGE, and have a surprising amount of verticality, especially after the double-jump upgrade just before the half-way point. Each level took me about 45 minutes or so per level across the game’s 13 levels, and 11 hours of my playtime was spent on the single-player component. I wasn’t even really gunning for secrets or codex entries until the last couple of areas, so if you MUST find it all, it will likely take you longer. A lot longer. Get a good look at how big these levels are:
That’s zoomed out as far as I could go to get the whole thing in. And that little piece of land where the yellow arrow is standing? Here’s the view so you can get a sense of scale:
Speaking of huge, the same thing applies to the guns. DOOM is 100% certified grade-A gun porn. The chaingun being my personal favorite example. Every single weapon looks like it came out of the mind of a 13-year-old fresh off a marathon of the original game and was asked to improve it. This is NOT a bad thing in this case, as DOOM used to be known for excess. As for how they sound, well, each one of them is punchy. Each feels like they are going to do heavy amounts of damage, save for the Plasma gun and pistol, which sound like pew-pew laser guns, and do pathetic amounts of damage to match. The other exception is the previously mentioned chaingun. Which, in the 3-barrel configuration, sounds like the Inception horn (That “BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA” noise in every damn movie trailer these days) with all three rotating barrels firing simultaneously.
Is it fun though? The two-word answer is: yes indeed. It’s the most fun I’ve had with a first-person shooter since Bulletstorm. DOOM 2016 compels you to keep playing with adrenaline-pumping satisfaction, and will keep you demanding more even after the fade to black that follows one of the most painful cliffhanger endings I’ve seen in ages. The campaign is loaded with “FUCK YEAH” moments; some scripted, some of your own creation, and others as a result of attempting the level challenges. The boss Glory Kills all qualify, and are quite possibly the best of them. I won’t spoil the boss kills, but suffice to say that they would make comic book Doomguy proud.
Speaking of which, there’s plenty of references to all things DOOM, with comic book Doomguy being #1 most referenced. It’s an overplayed meme sure, but not far off from what this new installment has made its protagonist into.
Well, everything has a stumbling block, and DOOM 2016 is no exception. I know I just spent the entire article gushing about it, but there are some problems. Everything I took issue with in the multiplayer still remains: I think it’s slow, feels too much like Halo, the whole nine. Meanwhile the campaign, while great, is brutally short, and the ending is not exactly the greatest. It’s badass, don’t get me wrong, but some actual closure would be nice, instead of a modern equivalent to Master Chief’s infamous “finish the fight” tease.
“What about Snapmap?” I hear you asking. I honestly don’t know. It’s all arcane wizardspeak to me. I’m not exactly interested in building maps, and Snapmap sure as hell didn’t change that. Or make it easy. For those of you that are interested in that sort of thing, the tools it provides look to have vast potential, allowing for the creation of just about any kind of map you can think of, including co-op maps. Unfortunately, it has the user-friendliness of the Hellraiser puzzle box. I have a feeling that mastering it will require a deal with the devil. I’m apparently not alone in this, as the top maps are all “Easy win”, and “Easy snap points” maps. Here’s hoping someone finds the potential of this tool soon enough.
If you’re one of those people that buy a game almost exclusively for the multiplayer, give DOOM 2016 a pass, as it’s far from spectacular as far as online FPSes go. Do you like the level design of the first two DOOM games and Quake though? This is honestly a return to form with some new-age garnish in the form of glory kills and glorious graphics. An excellent return for an absolute classic.