Fans of id Software’s DOOM franchise have literally been waiting years for the closed beta for Bethesda’s upcoming reboot since it was announced via a pack-in advertisement bundled with Wolfenstein: The New Order. After spending 3 hours with a limited version of the game’s multiplayer this weekend I’m left with far more concerns and questions then fun moments to tide me over until the games’ May release date.
Two of DOOM’s six multiplayer modes were available in the closed beta – the FPS staple Team Deathmatch and a King of the Hill variant called Warpath. The inclusion of TDM just feels odd, literally every other online shooter and In all honesty the beta would have benefited from one of the more unique modes like Soul Harvest and instead what we are left with is a paltry selection of modes that does little to showcase how DOOM’s multiplayer will set itself apart from the competition.
Gameplay is fast and frantic with a default sensitivity on the PS4’s Dualshock 4 analog sticks almost feeling like it is set too high. Doom is literally a twitch shooter, holding your thumb on the stick for even a fraction of a second too long can lead to you getting absolutely obliterated. id Software has also brought back two of the core staples from previous DOOM games – a lack of regenerating health and powerful multipliers that allow you to deal extra damage. The former might be frustrating for folks who are used to COD’s, now standard, regenerating health and the latter will deling long time fans who miss the satisfaction that comes with going on a ten kill streak while sporting quad damage.
One of the selling points that Bethesda has pushed hard is the ability to play as one of the giant demons from the pits of Hell. In the closed beta players are only able to use one ‘Demon Rune’ – the rocket launching skeleton known as The Revenant. At seemingly random (although possibly predefined) points during a match a Demon Rune will spawn somewhere on the map and then show up on everyone’s HUD. The game then becomes a mad dash to secure the destructive power of The Revenant before the opposing team can gain control of it. Playing as the large creature is as satisfying as you would expect, while in possession of the Demon Rune, you’re able to instantly kill almost any opponent with a volley of rockets or take to the air with a very generous jet pack. Dying as The Revenant isn’t the end of the carnage, the Demon Rune lives in the game world for a preset amount of time, meaning that if you manage to kill The Revenant before the timer expires you can become the demon and going on a killing spree against your opponents.
Unfortunately the player customization found in the beta leave a lot to be desired. There are only a limited number of armor sets available, no gender options available, player armor color customization is limited to two colors and these settings are ignored in TDM. These are just a few of the problems with the player creation options available to players and hopefully some of these issues will be resolved before the game ships. As for the actual soldiers themselves, they have no personality whatsoever. They’re generic space marines that you could swap out with almost any other far future Sci-Fi series and the game would feel exactly the same.
It seems that DOOM is a game at odds with itself based upon what I played in the closed beta– while the gameplay mechanics are fun and the shooting solid, the rest of the package feels generic and severely lacking in-depth. Certain load-out slots and weapon options are locked behind a player level but the content dries up at level 9, yet the closed beta allows you to grind into the high 20s for some reason. Weapons range from feeling under powered – like the starting assault rifle -to downright laughably overpowered – running around with the Super Shotgun and insta gibbing people at close range is a legitimate strategy in DOOM as of the closed beta. Combine these facts with the lack of any sort of horror element or anything else that screams “DOOM” and you’re left with the prospect of an upcoming AAA FPS with tight game-play but potentially not enough content to keep me from playing the already established titans of the genre.
DOOM will be available on May 13th for PS4, Xbox One and Windows PC.