Despite a troubled development cycle, the Doom reboot has turned a fine shooter. We look at the Xbox One version of iD’s latest.
Even Doom fans will have to admit… things didn’t look great for a while. The original development of the Doom reboot was canned, and iD was ordered to start over again by Bethesda. Allegedly, the game felt too much like some of the modern shooters (like Call of Duty) and not enough like a Doom game. Several key players left iD, including John Carmack, and the game was never really shown off at the major game shows. When Bethesda never ramped up their publicity machine for Doom all that much (compared to, say, Fallout 4), we felt a little worried. It feels good to be wrong.
Doom is very different from Call of Duty and Battlefield, and so is this reboot. While other games rely on cinematic storytelling to deliver their single player campaign, Doom centers around fast, violent and gory gunplay – lots of it. There’s a story as well, but that’s not what you want to play Doom for. Instead, there’s tons of explosive combat and a great deal of unlockables (and no doubt easter eggs) to be found.
The setting for this new Doom hasn’t changed much from what previous Doom games looked like – it is still a blend of sci-fi, horror and the occult. In terms of the latter, it is closer to the first two games than Doom 3 was. Enemies include plenty of familiar faces, as do your weapons. The chainsaw’s here, and so is the BFG – they even have their own dedicated buttons. Your hero is relatively anonymous, especially compared to what we see in games like Call of Duty or Battlefield – and that is exactly what Doom is about. No talk, all action.
This translates to the actual gameplay. The combat is hectic, explosive and in your face. There is rarely time to find cover and recoup – you have to be on the move, and you have to be on the offensive. That doesn’t mean that the entire campaign is a non-stop barrage of mindless shooting though, as a certain amount of tactical thinking is required. This is usually a case of using the right weapon at the right time, and saving another gun for when bigger enemies come out. Ammo and health management also come into play here, as certain kills yield certain rewards. Chainsaw kills get you more ammo, whereas ‘glory kills’ (think of them as executions) often result in your health building up again.
Completing challenges and finding hidden items on the map will allow you to apply upgrades to either your weapons or your suit/abilities. Weapon upgrades don’t just include things like more firepower, but can also enable secondary fire modes – giving you another way to take out your foes, perhaps without having to switch to another weapon. Suit upgrades mostly allow you to live a little longer, but can also involve new abilities for your character, such as better mid-air control when jumping – useful because you’ll be running and jumping throughout the game quite a bit.
For a while iD’s games were considered to be some of the best looking games in the industry, with their graphics engines paving the way. That role seems to have been lost, and Doom doesn’t reclaim iD’s crown. Their iD Tech 6 engine does provide high quality visuals, although the main draw here is the level of performance the game cranks out. For a game that’s so reliant on smooth and rapid gunplay, Doom delivers in spades. It’s not the jump up in graphics that Doom 3 was, but at least Doom has been updated to fit in with today’s shooters again.
Although our main focus was on the game’s single player campaign, there is also plenty of multiplayer content available. There’s a host of all the usual multiplayer modes included, but the most fun can be had using SnapMap – Id’s new and super easy to use editor that allow you to create and share your own Doom experiences. We’ve seen how much longevity games can have with a strong community behind them, so perhaps Doom will follow suit. For now, the main attraction is an excellent single player campaign – with the foundations for a strong multiplayer experience where we’ll need to see how it stands the test of time.