The last time we saw the Doom series, creators id Software strove to frighten and surprise gamers with atmospheric, foreboding environments and monster closets. After an 11-year hiatus that included one scrapped concept, the first-person shooter that put the genre on the map returns with a new look much more closely aligned with the fast-paced, bombastic original.
To be successful at Doom, gamers need to unlearn all the conventions that have dominated the shooter space over the last decade. You won't be hiding behind cover while exchanging bullets, retreating from battle when your health is low, or keeping your distance from menacing beasts. Instead, Doom urges players to run headfirst into the fray with complete abandon and an itchy trigger finger.
This play style, which id has dubbed "push forward combat" is the only way to stay alive. With no ammo crates or health packs to be found in many of the arena environments, players must kill enemies and collect the loot that spills out of their remains to resupply. The best loot comes from conducting melee executions, which id has dubbed "glory kills" to fit the spirit of the series.
These glory kills are not for the feint of heart, but they are quite impressive. In the gameplay demo shown at the Bethesda showcase, we saw a stunning variety of brutal finishers, and they are programmed contextually so if you move in for the kill from the side you won't be snapped into a preloaded animation that snaps your view up.
The action is fast paced, with no ammo reloads to worry about, a double jump that lets you get to vertical spaces, and a fully array of classic weapons at your disposal like the double-barreled shotgun, missile launcher, and BFG. To survive, you need to take the fight to the enemy and constantly improvise as more demons join the fray. If you really want a challenge, tackle the fabled nightmare difficulty.
In between the intense arena battles, id sprinkles in more exploratory environments where players can learn more about the narrative, uncover secrets, and outfit upgrades and weapon mods. "We love the comic book nature of Doom and as game players we like to have a thread of intrigue that pulls us through, so we are building a story that I think players will like," says executive producer Marty Stratton. "It's taking the notion that players come to Doom with the idea that they want to kill demons, and we're twisting our story off that idea and hopefully planting a lot of seeds and thought. You've got these cybernetically enhanced demons and you have the UAC. What was going on there?"
Through all the flying bullets and brutal glory kills, id wants to keep the idTech 6 engine humming at 60 frames per second in 1080p resolution.
Doom is also joining the multiplayer fray with a six-on-six experience that calls to mind Unreal Tournament and Quake. Speed is once again the name of the game, and pickups are littered around the arena for players to fight over. Right now id has only confirmed three modes - domination, freeze tag, and clan arena, but it plans to reveal more at a later time.
If you're looking for more variety from your multiplayer, you can make it yourself via the new Snapmap technology. This empowering and easy to use creation engine lets players dream up their own challenges, design levels, program enemy A.I., and even create new modes. The creation tools support four-player co-op as well so, you can make Horde style challenges or tower defense modes with waves of enemies. All of the creations can go across all the platforms, and players can search for new experiences to play via the Snapmap hub.
With kinetic combat that cuts against the grain, super gory finishing moves, and an interesting set of creation tools, Doom looks to be following in older brother Wolfenstein's footsteps toward rejuvenation. We hope to get our hands on the game ourselves at Quakecon later this year to see if this fast-paced combat holds up over the course of longer game sessions.