This year was a surprising one for me. Dark Souls 3 was on its way, and despite some impressive trailers I was not super enthralled. Dark Souls 2 burned me by being merely “ok” in my eyes, and I wasn’t expecting the third to blow me away. But blow me away it did, as its currently perhaps my favorite in the entire series.
The other surprise was DOOM. DOOM was looking like it was going to be a real mess-early impressions weren’t great, some trailers didn’t look too good and review copies weren’t even being sent out. Clearly this all pointed to the launch of a game that was probably not going to be a great time. However, as Wolfenstein: The New Order showed us, all that stuff does not mean a game will be bad by default-given that games quality perhaps we should have been a bit more skeptical of the signs here, but it still caught lots of people off guard. And not without good reason in either case as I find both games to be rather good. Now, a word of caution-DOOM’s first levels aren’t super representative of how good the game can get and the demo stops short of things getting better in terms of how fun it gets as it ramps up. Just be aware the game requires a little time to rev up, but once it does it gets really good.
DOOM as a franchise is the granddaddy of FPS games-the first game is considered to be one of the fathers of the genre, and spawned all sorts of games in the same vein as well as controversy. DOOM 2016 continues on in its tradition-fast gameplay, movement, holding all your guns at once, and brutal demon fights.You can upgrade guns, suit abilities and find secrets that are either amusing little toys or give you upgrade tokens.
Additionally there are no iron sights for most of the guns, with secondary fire modes for all weapons-and two for each weapon except the super shotgun. You carry all guns at once, and once you get your guns you don’t lose them.The combat is fast and frantic, with incredibly fast movement-there is no sprint button and there’s not really a need for one given how fast you go. Demons are relentless and have different behaviors even in their own groups. Enemies are relentless, with a good variety keeping you on your toes as you move around the battlefield trying to fend them off and keep yourself alive. All the guns have their own unique feel, and limited enough ammo that you tend to cycle through weapons and try most of them-I wouldn’t say I had a single weapon that didn’t get semi-regular use. Additionally you have two tool weapons-the BFG, which is a brutally powerful gun that fucks the shit up and the chainsaw. The chainsaw is an interesting beast-it has fuel spread about here or there, but its somewhat limited. The reason for this is that the chainsaw is a a one hit kill-the bigger the foe, the more fuel it eats up-but conversely the weapon also gives you ammo for killing enemies, making it a risk reward scenario in certain situations.
Glory kills move relatively quickly and allow you to regain health from enemies with a brutal execution that is perfectly fitting with the character. It feels viscerally satisfying to pull them off and they go quickly enough to keep the pace at a good clip. Combat is immensely satisfying, and forces you to deal with more and more until you’re pushed to your limits. The gameplay is immensely fun, and its the most fun I’ve had with an FPS in perhaps ever. You and the demons are in constant motion, with some melee ones trying to aggressively get up in your business while you jump around, climb ledges and switch between weapons. You have to reposition, find ammo and armor to keep yourself alive and you can even find pick ups that give you an edge in the fight. The game really gets some teeth near the end and it forces you to be on top of your game-its a game that is constantly pushing you to do better and does so as if to say “see, you can do it! Now do it again, but this time with even more enemies getting thrown at you”.
The story? Demons invade, you are the DOOM marine, mash the demons into blood putty. Story is less of a focus-your character will even stop cutscenes from happening and refuse to listen to the omniscent voice character despite some reasonable concerns because your character don’t fuck around. I do wish that carried more into the later parts of the game, but overall its a good time and the story is less of a focus. I do find that the ending is kind of irritating-its a cliffhanger that really didn’t need to be set up the way it was and I think it could have been done more satisfyingly but as a vector to rip and tear the story is more than sufficient. There’s also some top notch voice acting in this game, and all the voices sounded pretty dang good. Its not super deep or complex, but like I said it gets the job done.
Graphics and Music
DOOM is a good looking game aesthetically, with all the demon designs looking pretty good and the game being more colorful than it might appear initially. The game graphically looks pretty dang good, with lots of nice textures, enemies and fluids/viscera. Theres particles, lighting effects…when you can get the game running at full specs it looks pretty good. However, its also a really damn demanding game-my rig, which can normally handle most modern games at full spec needed to go down to between medium and high, so check the PC requirements first to figure out what you’re getting into. There are also some graphical hiccups-rune trials seem to sometimes mess up the game and make it start chugging, and as the game goes on it seems to accrue some issues that make my rig unable to properly handle later areas while earlier areas were fine. Its odd and I hope as time goes on they smooth things out more.
The music is phenomenal-its very well put together, fits and adds a ton to each battle. The person behind it is Mick Gordon, who also made some of the music for Wolfenstein: The New Order and I think this is some of his finest work. I highly reccomend watching the below video to get some insight into how it was made, but its metal and brutal, a perfect fit for the game it features in. The tracks make every encounter just cathartic, with their heavy metal thrumming or brutal speed. I highly recommend giving it a listen if you’re on the fence-its what convinced me to get the game during the steam summer sale and it was worth every penny.
DOOM is probably the most fun game I’ve played this year. Is it the best? Perhaps not, but damn if it hasn’t been the most fun thing I’ve played in years. Its so fun that its ruined me for other FPS games-even playing Overwatch at a friends, the characters felt slow and sluggish to me, while the lack of a double jump caused me some consternation. Its a gold standard for how FPS games should play, and I think other developers should sit up and pay attention. This is how shooters used to be-and how they should be once more if you ask me. I would recommend it wholeheartedly, at full price or even with a semi-decent sale-its cathartic, brutal and some of the most fun you’ll have with a game if it looks like its up your alley.