I got my hands on Doom's multiplayer at this year's QuakeCon, and walked away mighty impressed by its speed of combat, weapon functionality and feel, map design, massive amounts of carnage that can unfold at any given second, and, well, all of it. Id Software's first showing of Doom's multiplayer is exactly what I wanted it to be: fast-paced, retro in design, and a meat grinder of immediate action.
I played two 6v6 deathmatch rounds, both on the same map, which is inspired by the lava-based single-player stage that was shown last year at QuakeCon and again at this year's E3. The map is small, but offers plenty of paths and vertical areas. You never really feel safe on it. Almost every vector is an opening, and the sight lines are short, meaning an enemy could be on you at any given moment.
I was a part of blue team, a group of six players, many quickly showing they were seasoned PC FPS players, as they barked out orders and screamed at me when I foolishly jumped in the lava and died. They were also quick to scream that the demon token had dropped. If a player grabs this token, they transform into a Revenant – yes, the large, skeletal beast with two rocket launchers strapped to its back. The Revenant is essentially an overpowered killing machine, and the opposing team must do everything in their power to down this threat as quickly as they can. One blast from the Revenant's rockets murders a player. Given my poor aim while controlling this titan, I'm guessing the splash damage is also fairly lethal, as I still racked up two or three kills with it.
The standard class loadouts pack a punch, too. Either prior to starting a match or after every death, the player can pick from an Assault, Sniper, or Ambusher class. Two custom loadout options are also available. The Assault class consists of a rocket launcher, plasma rifle, and frag grenade. The Sniper has a vortex rifle, super shotgun, and personal teleporter (an item I sadly did not put to the test). The Ambusher tows a static cannon (a multiplayer-only weapon), repeater, and frag grenade. All three classes were fun to play, but I found myself gravitating toward the Assault class, simply because the rocket launcher is a beast in this game. Not only does it turn bodies into unrecognizable smears on direct impact, it features manual detonation, meaning you can miss your target but quickly detonate the errant shot to still inflict damage or even kill them.
There is no run button or cover to duck behind in this Doom reboot. Your character bolts out of the gate and never slows or accelerates beyond that speed. It's a game of twitch reflexes and skillful evasion. Many of my confrontations with the dreaded red team involved ducking in and out of corridors and double jumping. After every little skirmish, I would be on the lookout for health packs and armor.
Although I didn't perform a melee kill myself, I did see one of my teammates get up close and personal with an opponent and brutally take him down. Most of the people playing the game – presumably for the first time like me – didn't engage in too many face-to-face fights. Most of the deaths came from firearms or the Revenant.
It doesn't sound like you'll have long to wait to get your hands on an alpha of Doom's multiplayer. Id Software's executive producer, Marty Stratton, says that a random group of players who purchased Wolfenstein: The New Order and registered for the Doom beta will get access to the alpha. The beta will come closer to the game's launch next spring.
I had a blast with my first taste of Doom's multiplayer, which Stratton tells me will have a nice progression system. "We're doing it in a way that I think works really well for an arena shooter," he says. "You really do expect and want to be able to go into Doom for the first time and not expect to be handicapped in a progression way. When you buy it and sit down and play it, we hope you have a great experience, and then those carrots out there will be juicy enough that you want to keep going. Just from a gameplay perspective, I think we've hit on something that is fun and addictive outside of progression."