So I’m about to admit what many a gamer would consider a cardinal sin. Doom, the original Doom, the grandfather of all first person shooters. The game that defined a genre, that Doom. The one just about every gamer has played at some point in their life. Yeah, that Doom. I’ve never played it. Now before the pitchforks and torches come out, I feel I must explain myself at least a little. I never had the chance to. I never had a computer I could really use until I was well into my teenage years, and even by then I came from a small town. A very small town. A very small religious town. It just wasn’t gonna happen. However, when I heard there was a reboot on the horizon, my interest was ever so slightly piqued. But I wasn’t as interested as I probably would have otherwise been. However, after seeing many trailers for it and the eventual early gameplay from youtubers who had a chance to record it early, my interest hit an all-time high and I managed to get my hands on the game as soon as I possibly could. Hopefully, this DOOM review makes up for missing all the other games. Because, I’ll tell you upfront. I absolutely loved this game. Let’s continue onwards and fight like hell.
Gametype/Genre: First-Person Shooter, Action, First-Person Platformer
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Reviewing: Playstation 4 Version
The DOOM Marine, or Doomguy (as we’ll call him), wakes up to find himself chained to a stone sarcophagus in a strange facility with a couple of demons lumbering towards him. He quickly breaks his chains and frees himself but not before killing one of the demons with a free hand. As he becomes completely free, he finds himself a little handgun nearby and finishes off the rest of the demons. Stark naked and mad as hell, he rushes into the next room to find his Praetor armor on display and quickly suits up. Upon fitting his helmet to his head, he turns to the display nearby with large letters stating a demonic invasion is in progress. He attempts to get a status report and tries to learn how the demonic invasion started; however, every query comes up inconclusive and it soon comes to his attention that one of the UAC facility satellites is offline. Just then a voice communication comes in stating “Welcome. I’m Dr. Samuel Hayden. I’m the head of this facility. I think we can work together and resolve this problem in a way that benefits us both.” Before the transmission can even finish, Doomguy takes the screen and shoves it, throwing it into a nearby wall.
After moving on to the next room and wiping out several handfuls of demons, he moves into an elevator. Just as the heavy metal main theme of the game starts up, Dr. Hayden comes back on the line from a terminal within saying, “I’m willing to take full responsibility for the horrible events of the last 24 hours but you must understand: our interest in their world was purely for the betterment of mankind.” Doomguy looks to his feet at the body of a dead facility worker, then back up as he begins to crack his knuckles. “Everything has clearly gotten out of hand now, yes, but it was worth the risk. I assure you.” He smashes his fists into the terminal and the screen cuts to a black screen with the publishers name, then the developers name appears. Then, queue the title card with a bit of a fiery background. id Software certainly knows how to start a game and make you think, “Man, screw this Hayden guy and everything him and this facility are about.”
Characters and Visuals
There are really only a handful of characters in the game. There is Dr. Samuel Hayden, who you meet early on, and then a woman you meet after a time named Olivia Pierce. Hayden wants to help you stop the invasion with as little damage done to the facility as possible. I won’t spoil any other information about Olivia’s role. Just know Doomguy’s closest ally in this could be considered Hayden, and you can tell just by the opening scenes that he very much hates the old doctor and his cybernetic voice. There isn’t really any character development you see between characters, except for maybe Hayden accepting that the facility is probably doomed. Doomguy has a personality but he never speaks a word. His voice is heard loud and clear through his actions. He brutally smashes demon heads or breaks off their limbs to bludgeon them with their own arm or leg. He forcibly breaks open things with reckless abandon, or breaks terminals with absolute ferocity. This guy doesn’t mess around and he very clearly hates demons and the people within this facility who are apparently messing with things they really shouldn’t be messing with. Doomguy apparently knows much better about the demons than these guys, it seems.
Visually, the characters and by extension the various and highly unique demons you find throughout the game look absolutely stunning. Scenery, fire, explosions, blood and guts all look crisp and clean. Plus, the whole facility has an eerie abandoned-but-crawling-with-things-that-bump-in-the-night feel. Atmospherically, everything fits as you would think they would. Demon designs vary very heavily between each and every monster, with more different and unique monsters being added throughout the game. The weapons look powerful and sometimes big and cumbersome, but nothing that Doomguy can’t handle. When you explode enemies, blood, guts and body parts rain across the room in a satisfying manner. Just in general, you can say this game looks and feels satisfying.
I played this game on Playstation 4, and it ran at a mostly solid 60 frames per second framerate at a sub-1080p resolution, with a dynamic resolution of 1600 by 1080 to 1920 by 1080. I didn’t notice any huge dips. Various reports online suggest it has occasional dips to 55 fps for a split second and then jumps back up to 60 fps. The Xbox One, according to various reports online, manages a similar performance with slightly bigger dips in framerate and a dynamic resolution that varies between 1350 by 1080 to 1920 by 1080. Both are very close to being completely 60 fps with a native 1080p resolution. The PC version supports up to 4k resolution and maintains a solid 60 fps or better, though reports say that older systems may struggle. I never noticed any bugs or glitches to speak of, but that doesn’t mean no one else experienced any. Loading into a level can take several moments, but the game loads the entire level, and some of them are very big. At least that’s the case on console, I can only assume the additional ram within a computer would compensate for this.
This game has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. I absolutely feel that the heavy metal went with the action flawlessly and kept you pumped and excited all throughout. Various sounds play throughout, with pumping soundtracks accompanying all combat encounters and stopping as all enemies were defeated. During cutscenes or other scenes that needed to have a harder impact, the music kept you rocking and excited for what was to come. The sounds of demons grunting and growling can be heard near constantly throughout the UAC facility, and the guns sounds carry as much impact as you would expect, as do every other standard sound effect ranging from footsteps to slashing, crashing noises to explosions. The noises the various demons make definitely stand out, as does the rocking soundtrack, as the sound design is some of the best in this game.
Gameplay and Mechanics
DOOM is a first person shooter. You see a reticle in the center of your screen and that’s where Doomguy is gonna shoot. To traverse throughout some of the levels, there is sometimes a fair bit of platforming. If you jump towards a platform or ledge and fall just short of landing on it, your character will pull himself up and over very quickly, so don’t worry. Level design is pretty rock solid, with a few times where you can’t back track, and many many goodies to find throughout each stage. All goodies you can find in a stage are shown on your map screen, which doubles as a sorta check list and a navigation tool. As you move closer to collectible items, such as the little Doomguy collectible figures you can find in each stage (Check out our thoughts on the DOOM in-game collectibles.) they will appear on your map. It’s up to you to figure out where or how to get to them once they do appear. I should note that as you play the game, you’ll be able to upgrade your armor and weapons, and one upgrade path for your armor reveals all collectibles and goodies on your map from the get-go, so you know exactly where they are before you get close to them. Even so, good luck getting to some of them as some of these goodies require difficult platform traversal and map awareness.
As you make your way through the game, you will find little supply robots that you can interact with to get modifications for your guns. You’ll find a gun in just about every level for the first two-thirds of this 14 hour or so long game. Each gun has two mods that you can swap out on the fly while gunning down your foes that vastly change how the gun can work. They add an alternative fire to the weapon, such as allowing the shotgun that you receive very early on either shoot a grenade or do a quick three-shot burst, that you can fire with the L2/LT button. As you defeat enemies within the various levels and find secrets throughout them, you’ll earn weapon upgrade points which you can use on your mods to make them better, such as increasing the blast radius for an explosion or reducing the cooldown on the mod so that you can use the alt-fire again sooner. There are a lot of guns and upgrades you can do for each one, so you want to get as many of these upgrade points as possible. Alongside upgrade points, you’ll find something known as Praetor tokens which can be used to upgrade your Praetor armor. These upgrades range anywhere from allowing you to handle stage hazards or explosions better to making you switch weapons or mods faster to revealing hidden items throughout the entire map. I highly recommend the map upgrade path first, as you’ll need the secrets that are revealed to get those weapon upgrade points.
The level design, as stated before, is fantastic here with a few times you back track around after finding keys or panels used to progress past locked doors. Demons litter the landscapes and the insides of buildings, and though Doomguy feels like an unstoppable powerhouse with so many overpowered and destructive weapons at his disposal, the demon enemies you face can be very challenging and numerous. The game is very conducive to continuing the fast-paced and high octane combat within, since you can’t just duck behind a wall to get your health back. Unlike most modern first-person shooters, Doomguy actually has a health bar that doesn’t fill up over time and his armor doesn’t replenish either. You’ll have to find health packs and armor around the area or Glory kill some demons. Every demon can be staggered after a certain amount of damage has been done to them, and once they stagger you can close in on them and melee them to instantly kill them brutally. Doing so always drops some health, so if you find yourself dying then close in on your targets– which is the exact opposite you’d think to do typically, so it continues the high octane feel the game wants to have. If you don’t act fast, you can’t get health, and if you aren’t constantly moving, you’ll die within seconds. This game isn’t necessarily challenging on easier levels if you constantly move and use your best weapons and max your upgrades and health out using the Argent Energy capsules you can find throughout each level, but you will die numerous times.
The real challenge on lower difficulties comes from the Challenge runes. Eventually, you’ll come across these floating stone runes in the game with the first one right in your face as soon as they are introduced. While you won’t miss the first one, the rest are pretty hidden away. But, you’ll know what they look like immediately. As an aside, the game doesn’t necessarily hold your hand, though it does pop up with notifications saying how to do the various things within the game. For most of its mechanics, it wants you to figure out how to do things organically with well done level design, such as with the placement of the first rune. Upon touching the challenge rune, you’ll be transported to stage that tells you to accomplish a certain objective, usually killing demons, with a certain weapon equipped and within a certain time limit. The time limit is typically very low and you get more time by killing enemies or slightly more from a glory kill, similar to how a ‘pass through the rings’ race would work in other games. Some of these are very challenging and you’ll complete them with only a moment to spare, and after many attempts. Completing each one will unlock a rune that you can equip which changes various stats for your character. For example, increasing the range that you’ll pick up health or ammo, or making enemies stay staggered for longer so that they can be glory killed easier.
Enemies significantly vary in shape and design, some enemies are bipedal, a few are quadrupedal. Some are shorter or similar in height as Doomguy, some are lumbering and towering, sometimes fat and grotesque. A few are actually able to fly, too. All of the demons, however vast and scary they may appear, want Doomguy dead at all cost and the AI is very intelligent and relentless. They absolutely will give you a run for your money if you are not careful. DOOM plays much different than many first person shooters, and should be treated as such. It’s a classy gent, and by classy gent I do mean a vicious blood-thirsty non-stop action war machine. I should note that littered throughout stages are various powerups that can give you an edge in combat, such as increased damage, movement speed, or making you invincible. They have bright, glowing colors and float above the ground, so they are hard to miss. They’re also indicated by a lightning bolt symbol with a circle around it on the map. It took me a while to actually realize that myself, so you won’t have to worry about that yourself when they appear on the map. Did I mention that they appeared on the map? Really, can’t miss em. Some are actually tucked away and you’ll have to find your way to them, but those are tied to secrets primarily.
Miscellaneous: Multiplayer and Replayability
DOOM’s campaign is actually entirely single player. So if you were after a game you could play through the story with a friend in, then you’re out of luck. But don’t lose hope. There are actually three different multiplayer modes within this game, though one of these modes is technically part of another. What I mean by that is there is a multiplayer online versus mode to fight against other players online, and then there is Snapmap. In Snapmap, you can design custom maps for 1-4 players to do various things in. These can range from a campaign-like experience as they traverse through a custom map fighting off enemies, collecting items and interacting with the environment, to versus maps where you fight each other as you progress throughout the map. That’s what I meant by ‘one is technically part of another’. Snapmap can be used to create maps and share them online with the world to see and play through, and it can also be used to play through the various stages and levels created by other players. I didn’t delve too far into this, only playing a handful of maps and doing one small bit of the tutorial on how to make maps. But the designing aspect of Snapmap seems pretty in depth and fleshed out, even if it perhaps has some limitations. But then again, limitations breed some pretty interesting work arounds. One map I played was a music room where the various sound effects had been attached to certain objects that could be interacted with to make music together. Just take a look around and explore the various maps, you won’t regret it. Anyways, you can use this mode to play through campaign-like maps that lead you through a whole level worth of exploring and killing enemies with your friends, so you can get the coop you desire even if it’s not exactly as you would imagine.
DOOM’s multiplayer versus mode has 6 very different game modes along with 9 different maps. Players can pick up power ups within these modes to give them an edge, along with choosing a loadout to go into each map with. Players can customize their own Doom Marine with various armor pieces and color schemes, as well as use in game currency to buy new armor and colorations as they level up. This same thing can also be applied to the Snapmap characters as well, I just want to point out. I’m not going to expand upon the different multiplayer maps or modes but there are plenty and more to come in future updates by the sounds of it. If you want to read more about the multiplayer modes please head to Bethesda Multiplayer Modes.
Having never played the original Doom games, I feel I got way more than I bargained for. I’m very glad that I jumped on this one, as it was a real treat from start to finish. The game feels tight and fast-paced, with non-stop action and pumping music. The visuals are absolutely stunning and the monsters look grotesque and scary as hell. But Doomguy isn’t afraid of them, and neither should you. Even though they are scary looking and able to kill you very easily if you don’t keep moving and keep blasting, this isn’t a horror game and you’re the real demon here. Sporting much more than just a typical first-person shooter does these days, the game really makes you feel like it wants to you keep on fighting since your health doesn’t recover on it’s own. You’ll have to get armor and health from around the area or from glory killing enemies. Many weapons and mods abound, so be on the lookout for secrets so that you can get enough upgrade points to get all the power you can muster. The multiplayer modes, including the Snapmap mode, are very appealing and interesting. And while you can’t do the campaign with a buddy, those multiplayer modes should satisfy you just fine with endless rounds of versus matches or endless player created maps. I really do wish I had played the original Doom games now, as I feel the nostalgia trip from this game would probably be amazing. Sadly, this is my first Doom game. And I certainly hope it’s not the last one we get. This DOOM review was very fun to make, and I hope that the next one is even better than the last. You can trust that I’ll be looking forward to it.
Genre: First-Person Shooter, Action, First-Person Platformer
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed: Playstation 4
Released: May 13, 2016 Worldwide
Size: About 45GB
Retail: $59.99 or regional equivelant
DOOM was reviewed with a retail copy of the game purchased in physical format from a local game store.
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