By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
One of the most iconic games ever made is without a doubt the Doom franchise. If you started playing games back in the beginning of the PC era, you probably have played one of these games. Even if you’re a younger millenial, you no doubt have experienced a game inspired by Doom. And now Doom is back; will they breathe life to their Franchise? Will we once more experience the impact of what Doom and their other influential franchise Quake once brought to the industry? This weekend we all got to try the Multiplayer, and after only a couple hours the Steam reviews were already plagued with negative ratings. Are they justified or just trigger impulse reactions? Can fans doom Doom just with their salt? I decided to find out!
For the youngsters out there, I can understand if you haven’t really heard that much about Doom or never played it. But back in the early 90s Doom built the foundation of modern shooters. Though built on simplistic ideals with a near complete lack of story, their dungeon design, semi-jump scares, and gameplay build around twitch skill and adrenaline fueled entertainment proved to be an addicting combination. It was a real challenge clearing rooms, and every minute felt like a bullethell as never before seen numbers of foes barraged you from all sides.
Notice I haven’t talked much about the history of Doom’s multiplayer in my fond memories? Doom has always been about the single player, even though it pioneered the multiplayer death arena mode. Quake perfected that route. So as Doom 2016 approaches with a heavier than ever emphasis on the multiplayer experience, fans have begun to worry, especially with the development team for multiplayer outsourced to Certain Affinity. Obviously we cannot expect this new Doom to be such a ground breaker as its previous titles, as franchises like Call of Duty have built out nearly every variant imaginable in the genre. But we still expected an adequate experience on all accounts. Thus the immediate negative reaction has us gaming press scratching our heads at the whole affair.
The first thing I noticed when getting into the game, is that they followed the trends of the last generation of successful FPS games. I felt like I just loaded up another Call of Duty, with gear customization you get by playing the game, perks that will help you out during the matches, and an online character that resembled Master Chief. And even though the Doom character always looked a little like this, it just felt a little strange to me seeing him in updated current gen graphics. In the multiplayer you can also play around with loadouts or make custom ones yourself. Its not much of a stretch to say the system is a direct copy from Call of Duty, combined together with a perk system that the actual competitive fans simply just hate. The more levels you gain, the more perks you get to unlock just like in Call of Duty. By leveling up you can unlock weaponry, loadouts, perks and other customizations for your character, and I personally can write a book about how disappointing I am to see this. But to each their own, and since there are plenty of people that seem to like this type of unlocking system, I would say its just a preference type of thing. Surely the wave of negativity isn’t the vast majority of shooter fans going from sheep to hipsters over night! Right now we only got to try out two different game modes. The good ol’ Team Deathmatch game mode and a game mode called ‘Warpath’ where you control a moving point to win.
Describing multiplayer gameplay in one word? Slow. Movement in particular is quite slow. Shootouts just lack the fast paced action you’d expect in a twitch shooter experience. However despite the pacing issues, the controls feel fluid and key presses are quite responsive. The ‘Doom Feeling’ is definitely still there, but its not as appealing as before.
I played team deathmatch for a few hours straight and also experienced why the game right now in its current shape just feels like its halfway done. With gameplay as slow as it is, even if you’re the better player, there isn’t a skill ceiling high enough to differentiate yourself much. The tools to surprise your enemies simply aren’t there. It feels like a simple shooter, with the generic ammo boxes and health objects scattered around, and people using either the shotgun for close ranges or the sniper rifle for longer distances. Obviously I am not going to talk about the balance or diversity of the weapons, but it definitely felt lackluster and disappointing to not see as much innovation as I had hoped. Even the best elements of Quake weren’t brought over into this new Doom; its like they’ve gone back in time, and forgot what made their games so successful in the first place.
As of now Doom is just another jump into game, join a team, and mindlessly blast away shooter on the market. Skill is marginalized for RPG progression perks, in lackluster maps offering little strategic opportunity. Despite plenty of height layers, the maps aren’t utilized in a way to keep players on their toes for potential surprise attacks. The inclusion of jumping even feels off as there isn’t any need or requirement to use it. Basically in a nutshell, the game doesn’t feel competitive in nature. As someone mentioned on the Steam reviews:
This isn’t Doom. This isn’t old school, and they aren’t going back to their roots (maybe they just forgot what it used to be about), so stop saying it is. It’s another generic, modern military shooter with a hellish look.”
And he hits the nail on the head. The multiplayer is simply disappointing, and I hope the single player has more to it than a pretty package for somewhat nostalgic Doom gameplay.