As I waited for Doom to install, I was nervous. The Doom series has always held a special place in my heart, and—as with any reboot or rehashing of something you hold near and dear—one just hopes that nothing got messed up too much. However, as my hours in the game added up, it became obvious that id Software and Bethesda Gameworks had delivered exactly what I had been hoping for: an over the top, heavy-metal shooter packed with secrets, explosions, and replayability.
In Doom, players step into the power-armored boots of the Doom Marine (or as his friends call him, Doomguy). From lights up to credit roll, you will find yourself slaying through hordes of demons and hellish mutations. Using an arsenal of brutal weapons and the new “glory kill” melee finishers, you must fight to keep evil sealed within its own realm.
Combat in Doom is like basketball for Michael Jordan—it’s something that the game just knows how to do, naturally and flawlessly. His Airness had the slam dunk; Doomguy has the Super Shotgun. Each facet of combat feeds directly into another, creating an incredibly smooth experience. Never during my playthroughs did I once wish for an alternate option to what the game provided.
At the core of Doom’s combat system is the flow. On the surface it’s simple: stop moving during a fight, you die. However, you soon find there is a rhythm, and that once you tap into it, you can surf the waves of chainsaw-fueled adrenaline in an inexplicably peaceful way. Sure, while in this nirvana-like state you are actively exploding demons or performing one of the many gruesome glory kills, but it is there none-the-less.
To facilitate the flow, Bethesda has added much needed verticality to the game. Doomguy can now mantel as well as acquire a double-jump, taking traversal to new heights. Escaping to higher platforms or dropping below deck are essential to survival here, especially when in arena-type settings. The Doom development team’s nicknaming of the arenas as “skateparks” is no mistake—these levels were made for movement.
Grasped tightly in your armored hands are the stars of any good shooter, the arsenal. From your basic pistol to the BFG 9000, each weapon has a personality that radiates from its polished steel. My weapon of choice was the Super Shotgun—a double-barreled, no-nonsense boomstick that says, “I don’t need a glory kill, I just want this demon gone.” As much as I loved it, though, the proximity needed to maximize its efficiency was a little dangerous against enemies like the sharp-toothed Cacodemon. Luckily, Doom has nine guns to select from, most sporting unlockable mods that can be swapped out on the fly to cater to any situation.
One of Doom’s great successes adapting for today’s audience lies in its progression systems. In the campaign, the progression system appears as weapon mods, rune challenges, and ways to upgrade your Praetor (re: Space Marine) Suit. Most guns in the game have two alternate fire options, unlocked by finding Field Drones scattered throughout the maps. After unlocking a mod, you must spend points to upgrade it, before finally completing a weapon-specific challenge to earn the final perk. I really enjoyed this aspect of the game, and by attempting to master as many of the guns as possible, I found some interesting tactics that I wouldn’t have tried otherwise (The Heavy Assault Rifle’s mini-missiles? Super powerful when fully upgraded).
Rune challenges are also refreshing breaks from the campaign, posing tasks for players to complete that grant an equippable bonus for Doomguy. The challenges had some interesting mechanics to them, my favorite of which only allows you to move for three seconds after killing any enemy. Like weapon mods, each rune could also be leveled up after completing a unique endeavor.
Doom’s multiplayer handles progression in a much different way. By completing matches, earning achievements, and finishing challenges, players earn experience points that count toward a player level. Every time a character levels up, they are awarded a grab bag of goodies. These initially include weapon unlocks and new demons that you can play as, but later whittle down to cosmetic rewards like new taunts or armor pieces.
As a whole, though, Doom’s multiplayer can be frustrating. Problems with how the game handled latency ran rampant. I felt like many of my shots that were on target registered as misses, and that I was getting shot when I was clearly out of the enemy’s sightline. If there was one thing I wanted not to feel like the original Doom, it was the game’s net-coding.
However—if you can put your competitive nature aside—the multiplayer has a good amount to offer. Nine maps and numerous modes such as the mobile control point “Warpath” and the classic “Freeze Tag” kept me entertained as I worked my way up to player level 50. Weapon loadouts can be swapped mid-match, making it so I never felt trapped with a poorly chosen combination. My favorite was pairing the Personal Teleporter with the Super Shotgun, which allowed me to *bamf* then blast enemies with a brutal flank.
For those not feeling Doom’s packaged multiplayer, or those with an abundance of creativity, there is the third focus of Doom: Snapmap. This feature allows players to make not only custom maps, but custom game modes with relative ease. When playing through games created by other players, I was surprised to see how they were really able to maximize the system to build some awesome experiences. I haven’t gotten to the level where I’m proud of my own creations yet, but I feel that I’ll be spending much more time fiddling around with Snapmap’s options in the future.
I came away from Doom really impressed with the team’s melding of the classic franchise and the needs of modern gamers. The balance between action and exploration was handled with the required finesse, and I know that I will be spending many more hours with the game, even though I completed its campaign long ago. A mediocre multiplayer is the only thing holding this game back from being everything young me could have dreamt of.
Doom was crafted by a team that clearly loves the series, delivering chainsaws, explosions, and demon-slaying heavy metal all sealed with a kiss.
M – Mature
|Doom is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Bethesda Softworks for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of one to five stars.|
Matt learned how to play video games from his grandma, who bravely adventured with him through the “terrifying” halls of Shadowgate. He plays a lot of Dungeons & Dragons on a podcast with comedians.