I’ve been following id Software’s revival of the granddaddy of First Person Shooters, DOOM, since it was announced over two years ago. After the rather bland looking E3 campaign demos from last year, there was relative silence about the single player content right up until a few weeks before the game’s release. After spending 3 hours with the single-player mode into the wee hours of the morning I’ve got some initial impressions to share.
DOOM could easily be boiled down to its most basic premise: “An unnamed marine fights the demons of hell on Mars with an ever increasingly powerful arsenal of weapons”. 2016’s DOOM is very much aware of what its’ strengths are and what little story has been presented to me over the course of its’ first 3 hours merely exist to facilitate the slaughter of more hell-spawn. Yes, things are a little more fleshed out than that but really, it is quite obvious that id Software is aware that most players aren’t coming to a revival of a 90s gaming staple for the narrative.
Within approximately 30 seconds of the game’s opening level on one of the UAC Mars compounds the game hands the player a pistol and a room full of demons to slaughter. The shooting mechanics in DOOM seem pretty spot on, by hitting demons & monsters in weak-points like the head players can launch a devastating melee attack that changes depending on a number of different factors – relative height to the enemy, weak point targeted and which direction the player is facing. It is absolutely brutal to watch the DOOMGuy rip off a demon’s arm or leg and beat them with it. Unfortunately, my initial prediction, that the pre-canned melee kills do get old rather quickly and sadly on harder difficulties executing these melee kills can be a vital tactic to survival.
The environments within the first three hours are quite varied – things begin with DOOMGuy following the orders of a disembodied robot in one of the UAC research centers before wandering through the corridors, searching for the satellite relay control centre needed to establish communication with the rest of the base. The interior levels aren’t as “shadowy” and “moody” as the more survival focused Doom 3 from over a decade ago. Id Sofware’s latest engine does a fantastic job rendering the cold steel interiors and orange hellish lights that come from an Imp launching a fireball at DOOMGuy’s face at a blistering 60 FPS but it is clear the developers aren’t going for a horror atmosphere at all. Doom’s second stage, wandering the desolate sandy surface of Mars provides a very pleasing change of scenery for DOOM’s single-player encounters. Early levels show a lot of promise with 3 hidden keys in each, a number of weapon and suit upgrades as well as alternate routes to explore. This means that players may find that it is easy to get lost in these sprawling single-player levels, if there’s one valid criticism that this early portion of DOOM has made apparent – it is that there is quite a bit of first person platforming in the industrial UAC sections of the game. It feels a little out of place with all of the run & gun gameplay that id Software has perfected in this latest game.
Bethesda has promised that the single-player campaign for DOOM clocks in at around 15 hours which means there is quite a lot more to explore before our final verdict, and that isn’t including the multiplayer. Look forward to more coverage of DOOM next week including our impressions of the game’s arsenal, our final review of the single-player and a comparison between the game’s multiplayer open beta and the final release. If you want to read our initial impressions of the game’s multiplayer – check out our beta impressions article here.