After following id Software’s DOOM revival for more than two years I finally got the chance to chew through the lengthy campaign for this reimagining of the 1990s FPS classic. While the reception of the game’s multiplayer component have been met mostly with jeers the single player surprised critics and fans alike. Now that the game is available at hefty discounts should you reenlist with the United Aerospace Corporation or sit this one out?
Unlike the over decade’s old Doom III this new DOOM is well aware of why fans are going to be playing this game’s single player: to brutally murder hordes of demons in several different spectacular splat fests, collect an ever expanding array of over the top weapons, sprawling levels and at the end of the adventure do battle with a larger than life CyberDemon that commands the forces of Hell. The developers didn’t try to fit the existing DOOM franchise into a new mold – in contrast to Doom III’s survival horror inspired design decisions, this new DOOM embraces its gory roots and plays it up with an almost comedic effect.
One again dawning the iconic green armor of one of the FPS mainstays..no not Master Chief… but the grandfather of all other Space Marines DoomGuy. Throughout the 9 – 12 hour campaign (it took me about 10 hours to beat single-player on the medium difficulty) DoomGuy will explore several different compartments of the UAC facility on Mars where a portal to hell has caused hundreds of the damned to flood the halls of this technological wonder. Unlike other titles in the DOOM series this particular game doesn’t begin with a version of the UAC Mars Facility prior to the demonic invasion – instead, DoomGuy will pick up a pistol within the first 15 seconds of beginning the single player and immediately starts slaying Demons to pumping rock music.
Destroying the forces has never felt as satisfying as it has in 2016’s DOOM, this has a lot to do with just how id Software has improved upon the combat systems of old to make them fresh while keeping in things like the over the top violence that makes this reimagining distinctively DOOM. Typically the DoomGuy will take on encounters of 5 – 10 demons with several more waves spawning once the previous group has been destroyed. Unlike other games in the franchise, enemies will flash bright orange or blue if you’ve defeated them quickly enough. Rushing forward and clicking the right stick while this flashing animation will have the DoomGuy perform a “gory kill” – which can range from ripping off an enemy’s arms and beating them with them or ripping out a demon’s entrails and feeding them to them. Yes they are gruesome, and they do get repetitive but the gory kills can provide absolutely necessary extra health to DoomGuy during the middle of an encounter.
The other thing that makes the combat in this game so satisfy in the weaponry. A lot of the DOOM classics return – the pistol, the shotgun, the super shotgun, the pulse rifle and the BFG 9000 to just name a few but iD Software has once again outdone themselves by adding a bevy of secondary modes and modifications for each weapon. While playing challenges will passively be completed throughout the campaign awarding “weapon upgrade” points that can be spent on your arsenal. A standard set of enhancements will be available right from the get-go, such as enhanced magazines and quicker reload speeds but what really makes the weapon upgrade system so robust is the inclusion of modifications. By locating weapon drones in each level DoomGuy can unlock a set of modifications for each weapon. These modifications range from placing an explosive barrel underneath the shotgun to equipping the heavy machine gun with a scope – giving you options that allow you to deal with both up-close groups and far away targets. One of the best parts of the weapons modification system is that once you’ve unlocked multiple of them for a single weapon you can easily swap them with the press of the D-Pad.
With its focus on quick paced combat and first person platforming, it might not sound like DOOM is a game that you’d want to play for the story but id Software has actually spent a considerable time crafting the world of DOOM. Upon completing levels players will unlock dossiers on iconic enemies like the Pinky Demon, Cyber Demon, Hell Knight, Imps ,and others – these dossiers not only flesh out the traits & mechanics of these enemies but also does quite a lot to inform players about the societal structure of hell. Particular attention should be paid to the in-game narrative cutscenes and hidden PDAs contained in the levels because the sci-fi narrative about a mysterious corporation helmed by the first sentient artificial intelligence. For what could have been a throwaway narrative designed to simply introduce reasons for the DoomGuy to slaughter the minions of Hell, I found the narrative quite engaging.
DOOM’s single-player is a damning critique of the 4-hour campaigns we’ve seen in other FPS titles, whether that was id Software’s intention is debatable. What is clear is that they’ve taken the time to craft a very detailed science fiction universe for a franchise that is known more for splattering demon’s brains against the wall than it is for its storytelling. By marrying an optional rich world. gunplay that provides dozens of tools and upgrades to explore, the series’ trademark gore and large levels with dozens of secrets iD Software has managed to create a campaign that is nearly double the length of its competition and demands to be replayed. Finding all of the secrets can be daunting and failing a demon encounters on higher difficulties a few times can be frustrating but none of that detracts from just how slick of a package that DOOM’s single player is.