Some Thoughts on Doom (2016)
The new Doom game was on sale recently. I picked it up because I’d heard from a few sources that it was, contrary to everybody’s expectations, a very good game, and a very true Doom game. I was quickly enraptured and beat it in a couple of days. I wanted to write down a few of my thoughts on it, so here we are.
For context, I love the Doom games very very much. I am also very fond of the Quake games. When they announced that they were making another Doom game, I ignored it. Doom 3 was a pretty good game, and a fantastic tech demo, but it wasn’t a very good Doom game. Rage was a good tech demo, but by all accounts a very flawed game. And then John Carmack left id. The stage wasn’t exactly set for them to come good, at least not in the eyes of people like me.
But the new Doom game is absolutely fucking fantastic.
It’s fast. That’s the main thing. It’s so fucking fast. They set it up so that you can run and double jump around like crazy while you try dodge enemies that are charging at you or firing projectiles at you. You have to move, or you die. There is no taking cover, plinking at other dudes who are taking cover.
Your health does not recharge.
There are medkits, but they aren’t the main way you will regain your health.
You regain health by enacting glory kills, and you have to be in melee range to perform a glory kill.
So you run, and you jump, and you dodge. You will probably take a few hits and need to recover. But instead of running away, you are forced to stun an enemy and charge at it. The best defense is offense.
This basic gameplay loop leads to combat that feels like nothing else I’ve played. I remember hearing about the glory kills before the game came out, and thinking they were just QTEs that would get old quickly, but they’re varied enough, and have a satisfying enough gameplay outcome, that they end up gluing the whole experience together.
In fact, there is one game that combat does remind me of. I used to love playing Olaf in League of Legends. He had a mechanic where he could steal health from characters he attacked, and the lower his own health was, the faster he attacked. This lead to knife edge situations where you can see your own health going down, but your only option is to push forwards, knowing that if you stop attacking you’ll stop healing yourself; but if you keep attacking you’ll do even more damage and either sustain your health, or die trying.
Doom (2016) isn’t a story driven game, but it does do a good job of world building in a way that reminds me heavily of System Shock. You pick up data logs that you can read in your own time, or ignore completely. Ditto for the digital ghosts, that show you the history of the environments you are moving through. You are forced into none of this, but to look at even a bit of it makes the game feel a lot richer.
The soundtrack by Mick Gordon is fantastic. There’s no point me describing it, just listen.
Doom (2016) was a really fun ten or so hours. These are just some of the things about it that I think it did well. I feel bad for dismissing it before ever having played it, but when it comes to games from big studios, I increasingly feel like you should assume everything is garbage nowadays and then just be pleasantly surprised when things aren’t.
Playing Doom (2016) got me in the mood to go back to the originals. That and I recently read Masters of Doom. Would you believe I’ve never beaten Doom 2? So I’m playing that now and might move on to the Final Doom .wads soon. I’ve come across some interesting stuff on the original games and might be posting something about them soon, so watch this space/follow me if you wanna know when I post it.