A Paladin’s Steam Review: Doom. Hell BFG Yes.

Doom

Think it’s time we got back into this game, don’t you?

A Paladin’s Steam Review: Doom. Hell BFG Yes.

  • Genre: First Person Linear Arena Shooter. Single Player, Multiplayer & Level Creation Support.
  • Developed & Published by: id Software and Bethesda Softworks.
  • Platform: Windows, Xbox One and PS4.
  • DRM: Denuvo Anti-Tamper & Steam.
  • Business Model: Single Purchase + Multiplayer Expansion Pass & DLCs.
  • Copy Purchased by Myself

Preamble

I didn’t grow up with Doom, Wolfenstein or other shooter classics of the DOS era. I grew up with Starcraft and Golden Eye instead. It doesn’t give me the same appreciation that others have for those older shooter series. I haven’t even actually finished any version of those older titles yet, but I will one day. When I do play the original Doom, it’s with the music blaring and guns roaring. That cacophony of power, metal and excitement is endless. While I may never call Doom one of my favorite shooter series, I still have a deep amount of respect for what it did and its impact on the genre. Like many older shooters, Doom had a difficult time making the transition to modern times. Doom 3 was a mess of, now outdated, horror game mechanics and a misunderstanding of what made Doom enjoyable. Doom (2016) is actually a completely rebooted version of Doom 4, a game that was in development hell since 2009. Yet, despite the long development cycle, I have to say I’m impressed with this incarnation of Doom.

Overall Gameplay Thoughts

Doom is a fast-paced, heart-pounding slaughterfest of Demons in a Sci-Fi futuristic setting. Room after room, corridor after corridor of doing nothing but killing demons in the most violent and destructive ways. A task that the Doom Marine and I didn’t tire of. There’s plenty of guns to choose from too, ranging from the standard pump action shotgun to an assault rifle that shoots mini-missiles to the BFG itself. Each weapon can be upgraded with different alt fire modes such as a grenade launcher on the shotgun. All of these weapons are a pleasure to use and are very well implemented. While some have disagreed with the implementation of the chainsaw, which kills enemies instantly to drop tons of ammo for all of your guns, I like that it actually has a mechanical purpose throughout the entire game. The reason people don’t like it as much is that it has some strict limits on fuel, allowing the player to use it only on a couple of demons at a time. I can understand their issue with it though. The worst gun would have to be the Pistol which doesn’t do much damage and is easily replaced by any other weapon in the game early on. Grenades are also pretty weak and I forgot about them after a couple of hours. Besides, who needs grenades when you have these giant awesome guns. The best gun? I personally loved the Gauss Cannon and its ability to rip through multiple demons in a single charged shot. While I do like the chain gun, I found that it used way too much scarce ammo to use for more than a few minutes. Still, an impressively managed system of guns.

New to this series are Glory Kills. Glory kills are when you melee an enemy at low health and you get a quick animation of the Doom Marine maiming/beating/ripping the demon apart. This is how you recover health (and armor/ammo depending on upgrades) during a fight. You’ll need to keep doing this constantly as these battles can get intense with the number of demons trying to rip you from head to toe. This combines with the pumping Metal & EDM mixed soundtrack, powerful guns and fast action to create an exhilarating experience. It will have pauses for some of the story or room transitions to avoid oversaturation but even then, I found that I liked playing it only for an hour or two at a time. Otherwise, it would get overwhelming to the senses. Playing even half of the campaign in one go is probably not a good idea to do in “one sitting”. Honestly, as I look back I find a lot of the combat begins to blur together because of how one-track minded the combat is. A lot of shooting, glory killing and picking up items while running or jumping from crates to platforms. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a blast for a 13 hour campaign but outside of the boss battles, it’s a combat system that doesn’t do a lot to change up how you fight outside of adding more and different types of enemies. They do try and get to change up how you fight through various challenges per chapter but a lot of those tend to be gimmicky and I never felt the need to keep achieve them.

Side note: no reloading in a modern shooter is weird. Not bad or anything, just weird. I never got used to that during my run through. I always kept hit hitting the R button and having either nothing happen or I’d switch alt fire mode. Also, there is first person platforming a plenty in Doom. However, while some of it can be tense to accomplish, the system they’ve implemented is very fair. If you miss the platform you’re trying to jump to, I found it was usually my fault that I missed it and not because the game decided I hadn’t quite jumped the .1 meters required to make it. So, good on you guys not making me hate first person platforming for once.  

Superfluous Mechanics

While combat is the main focus of Doom, exploration is the second half of the game. The game wants you to explore the levels for “secrets” and upgrades. To the point that even the suit has upgrades to find these secrets more easily. I don’t like the exploration system in Doom. The map system and early upgrades you can get for your suit make secrets not very secret anymore. They simply sit on the map, telling you what all is left. When secrets can be easily spotted on the map, it takes the fun out of looking for them.  

Also, the enemy AI, while pretty decent, doesn’t do a lot of intelligent thinking. The demons play to their individual strengths rather than charge straight at you, which makes them predictable but not brain dead stupid.

Narrative Talk

I focus on two pillars of a videogame when I write a review: gameplay and story. With Doom though, I find myself completely uninterested in either reading the story, getting engaged in it or talking about it. For the most part, a lot of the story can be skipped and the game will only make you slow/stop a couple of times for “important” details and pacing reasons. The rest is handled in codex entries that can be found all throughout the levels on your own and don’t have to be read. But they do add a ton of lore that won’t be given in the game itself. The essential gist is that you, playing as the Doom marine, awaken in a corporate research center on Mars’ surface. After obtaining his power suit and killing a bunch of demons, he’s introduced to the central conflict of the story. Earth is in desperate need of energy and this “evil” corporation has been mining Hell’s energy while doing R&D on the demons that exist there. The CEO is a pragmatic leader, who’s willing to do shady things in order to keep Earth alive. There’s a Dr, however, that makes a pact with the demons and opens a portal to Hell, allowing an invasion of Mars to begin. For unknown and potentially religious/power hungry reasons. These two characters are standard archetypes and don’t have any character growth or do anything unexpected. It’s why I only refer to them by their titles rather than their names because that’s how little importance the game treats them as characters. They are simply foils for the Doom Marine to interact with. Speaking of which…

This is an origin story for the Doom Marine. He remains his silent protagonist self yet is cleverly given a personality that the players will click with. He clearly has no love of demons as he will rip, tear and stomp on everyone that he can. He’ll bash monitors out of the way, ignore orders from people he clearly doesn’t like and breaks important technology so long as it accomplishes his goal of destroying every demon. You get this all through the animations that are performed that are frequently used throughout Doom but are over quickly enough as to not outstay their welcome. There are vague hints given as to who, what and where the Doom marine comes from but nothing concrete or forced. After all, it’s unimportant. The only thing that matters, is killing demons.

Brief Multiplayer Thoughts

I briefly gave the multiplayer in Doom a try but I just couldn’t get interested in it. The community is small and the modes aren’t that engaging for me to keep playing. It feels like this component was farmed out to another less experienced development team and it apparently was. Which is an incredibly strange move given how the game has an expansion pass for more multiplayer content and there was at least a significant amount of development time put into it. It doesn’t help that I’m not a fan of the old school extremely twitchy FPS action that it wants. It just doesn’t feel that refined or unique enough to stand out.

PC Settings and Audio/Video

Options confirmed by PCGamingWiki.

Game Options: What The User Can Configure:
Widescreen, 4K & Ultra-Widescreen Support Supports all resolutions AFAIK.
Field of View Slider. Slider goes from 90-130 degrees.
Windowed, Borderless Windowed and Fullscreen. User selectable.
Framerate: 60-200FPS support. V-Sync Support. Cutscenes capped at 60FPS, rest of the game has 200FPS cap.
Accessibility options. Colorblind, Subtitles and FOV supported.
Key Remapping: Keyboard & Mouse. Six Controller Presets. Fully rebindable keys with separate keys for multiplayer & SnapMap.
AA: TAA, TAA+FXAA, SMAA or TSSAA. User defined. AF (Decal Filtering) is also changeable.
Sound Options: Master, Music, SFX, Voices, Announcer and VOIP. Surround Sound Support. Volume Sliders for all of them. Honestly, I felt like the SFX was a little quiet.

Running on the id tech 6 engine gives Doom a lot of graphical prowess and capability. There are a ton of glorious vistas from Sci-Fi laboratories to the demon infested depths of Hell. It’s so gloriously over the top and colorful and I love it. To say nothing about how well done the demons and guns were implemented visually. Each demon is immediately distinctive even in a crowd of them so you know what you’re shooting at. It all mixes together in a glorious package. Which is a good thing too because you’ll get to see a lot of it up close with the glory kill system.

I personally had no issues running Doom at 60FPS except in incredibly busy and large arenas. Which, I could have turned down a few settings to fix that problem. I did experience a couple of crashes which I’m going to solely blame on the game. But, the save system is pretty generous so even if you do crash, it won’t take long to get back to where you were. However, there are quite a few loading screens and they are somewhat long even on a SSD. Be prepared for that.

Final Thoughts

Doom (2016) combines it’s old school lineage with modern FPS updates very well. The action is frantic and powerful, the length is about right and there’s enough weapon variety to keep one satisfied. It’s a visual metal treat and the sound amplifies the action in all the right ways. Sure, the shooting is a one track mind and doesn’t do quite enough to vary up the combat. The story is really forgettable though it works well enough. But what it does get right, it gets right enough to be worth playing. I wouldn’t get it for the multiplayer or SnapMap. Maybe the multiplayer will be better after additional patches but I’m not convinced there will be enough of a community for it to matter at that point. I’d like to be wrong but there’s fierce competition in the FPS multiplayer scene right now and I don’t think this does enough to separate itself out from the rest of the pack. The Single Player campaign though? Totally worth the asking price. So, go to hell and enjoy Doom.

Thanks for reading this review of Doom! Feel free to share if you liked it or take a look at my other reviews I’ve written.

-KingIsaacLinksr

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