Finally! After a 12 year long wait, we get our hands on the renowned FPS shooter that is DOOM. Launch date is coming faster than we think, due out Friday the 13th of May 2016, and in anticipation of said launch id Software gave some of us an exclusive look with their closed beta. Servers went live on Thursday at 10pm EST and were up until Sunday at midnight. NCAA basketball and The Walking Dead aside, I plunged in head first with my first look at this upcoming game that I’ve been DYING to play.
Now before writing this, I had the displeasure of reading another publication’s take on the beta. Honestly, I wasn’t compelled to write much after playing as I came away BLOWN AWAY and I was just genuinely in love with a freaking beta (I’m talking two maps and two game modes, and I got lost for HOURS at a shot). Well these folks had issues with just about everything in the game saying the following: “if the campaign for the new Doom is anywhere near the quality of the multiplayer beta, then this franchise is over” and other notable gems like “feels more like unreal than doom”…………dude….really? So with all this stuff now brewing over in my internal hate pot, I’m gonna dish it out and call it like I see it.
Addressing said first comment about the “campaign” being compared to the “multiplayer”, I can honestly tell you that they will be two different beasts. The very first thing I noticed in the beta: you almost never reload. Your standard FPS games internally hardwire your brain so you constantly hit “Square” on PS4 (or “X” on X1), and you just do so without thinking. However, with the majority of weapons at your disposal in Doom, you won’t have to worry about it. Super Shotgun is shoot/fire/reload (only two rounds in the chamber, so each time you fire you reload automatically), Rocket Launcher is the same (only one round in the chamber, automatic reload), and the majority of the rest of the weapons (Assault Rifle, Plasma Rifle, Lighting Gun) you just fire until you’re out. That being said there are still two other things I should mention: you can reload your sniper rifles, and there are ammo boxes throughout the world for when you run out for any gun. Now just to point out the obvious: in the single player campaign, yes of course you reload. I’ve seen plenty of footage to justify this, and I know that they changed this for multiplayer due to some aspects I’ll address throughout this article. Let’s talk more about guns first though ☺
The weapons feel different, yet balanced. I played with a bit of each weapon to just kinda get a feel for them, and each one seems to have their advantages and disadvantages based upon your playstyle. I’m a run and gun, in yo face, kinda gamer when it comes to FPS. Give me a powerful gun or two, and let me bum rush you. Thus my two main weapons were the super shotgun and rocket launcher. Some people are already saying “well the super shotgun doesn’t feel super”. Way to go Einstein, are you using it properly then? I lost track of the times I would turn the corner or jump to a higher area, and shoot someone in the face or back to have them liquefy in front of me. It’s a shotgun; you can’t use it across the map folks. Which is why, when at a distance, I would switch to my good ole rocket launcher. Get your shots on point, and you can take down almost anyone at range. There’s some splash damage too so if someone is moving around all nibbly bimbly, aim for the toes! I’ve gotten a few good kills across the map too with some nicely timed shots and of course at the occasional camper. Don’t worry though, I’m not forgetting about the other weapons here. The assault rifle and plasma rifle both felt nice, worked well at medium to close range, and I could squeeze off a ton of rounds each life/ammo box. My aim isn’t quite what it used to be, but when aiming down those sights and staying on target, oh yeah you can own someone with those two as well. The lightning gun is a definite close range health sucker, and I lost track of enemies that got the drop on me with that one. Sniper Rifles did work at a distance, but typically everyone is moving so fast that you don’t have time to sit and wait. Fun fact though: I got plenty of campers from behind (you can’t camp in this game and get away with it), and I got shot from a sniper across the map as well; they can work effectively, but also put you at a disadvantage if you sit still too long. I’ll also add that each weapon has a primary and secondary ability. For example: The Plasma Rifle mainly fires off rounds like an automatic, but its secondary shoots a huge ball of energy that can have a larger area of damage if shot correctly. Mix and match weapons to your choosing. There were, plenty of interesting combos I came up with and saw in action.
There were also three different types of throwables/grenades to choose from: frag grenades (throw and forget), siphon grenades (throw em and they suck up enemy health which goes back to you), and teleporter pads (neat!). I started off with frags for the first few hours, and graduated to these siphon/health grenades. A lot of times I would get a few shots, take a few hits, and then chuck a grenade; that sliver or so of health I lost came right back to me, which was nice. Teleporter pads were cool, but took some getting used to. Some players used them for traversal, some used them for combat; choice is yours. Just be careful! I used them a few times incorrectly and ended up killing myself more than helping myself out in the arena.
So far I’ve mentioned: mostly no reloading (the rest of the controls are your standard FPS, point/shoot/etc.), weapons (different strokes for different folks); so let’s talk about a few other things: melee finishers, power-ups, and Demons. Melee finishers you can execute when an enemy flashes yellow after you do enough damage. Hit your melee button when you’re close and you might: snap a neck or destroy someone’s face in an oh so bloody mess. I’ll let you guys and gals see how glorious that is with your own eyes then 😉 It feels SO GOOD to get the drop on someone and see that carnage unfold on your screen. Power-ups are spread throughout the arena: see Quad Damage, Gauss Cannon (super weapon), Frantic (super speed), and Super Armor/Health. They’re scarce enough that finding one is like “oooooo”, but they regenerate quickly enough to grab them during a round (if another player doesn’t beat you too it first). Last but not least, are: Demons. There are several demons in the final version of the game, but only The Revenant was the one accessible for the beta. That’s the one with the two missile launchers on its back, boosters to help fly/levitate, and arms that can dismember you like a kid playing with playdoh. They spawn pretty frequently, and one minor complaint is that people would wait at the spawn point to grab it when it was available, but of course if it’s not a teammate you could always get the drop on them and then take it for yourself. AND, if you’re able to kill an enemy demon, you can always pick up their dropped power-up as well (if there’s still time left on it).
Going back to the original negative comments I had read: “It feels more like Unreal than Doom”. Yeah let’s get to this one next. It’s an “Arena Style Shooter” when it comes to the multiplayer aspect of it, which in my opinion is great! Console gamers need more games like this, where they can jump in and just go nuts. I’m not talking like the twitch style aspect of COD either, I mean more like: run, go fast, keep moving, shoot like crazy, kill or be killed. When it comes to COD it’s more of: who scopes faster, who camps across the map, who can “wall run” the best (ugh). I’m super thankful that we finally have a game that is shedding what the last few years of FPS games have done to us. There is a bit of a double jump in Doom, but it’s not super crazy nor can it propel you across the map. It’s all about balance. You can still move fast, get to higher areas, and jump distances; just time your jumps properly. I had several situations where I was able to flank successfully or jump at the right time to get an advantage…and even a time or two where my jump wasn’t on point and I fell to my death. Along with the speed and moving quickly, your health does not regenerate. This means: more health pickups and armor pickups! Oh how I’ve missed these. I’ll constantly engage an enemy or several, get a few kills, but as I’d run through the arena I’d pick up blue vials and green shards to restore what I had lost. Since you can’t just cower in a corner and wait till you have more health, you pick your engagements more carefully…or of course just wait till you respawn. To be fair to our COD counterparts, I’m excluding modes like Hardcore when making this health comparison….but again, you can’t pick up health or armor in those modes/games either, so there is that.
The only two game modes available were: Team Deathmatch and Warpath. TDM is pretty standard, so I’ll gloss over that: it’s fun, simple, and of course you still have your power-ups. Warpath is kinda like King of the Hill, but a bit different. Imagine a pool of water that constantly moves (not warps! Constantly moves.) Arrows point you to the pool and arrows point which direction it’s heading, so at any time on the map you have a good idea of where to head. Points for capturing, points for defending; you get the gist. This can make for some intense firefights when a group of people is holding it down, or when a group rolls together to capture it; and of course, you throw a demon in there and all hell can break loose. I found it to be a refreshing take on KotH, and when we can party up with friends this will be a ton of fun. I can’t wait to see what other game modes they’ve got in store.
Reloading seems a lot less important by this point doesn’t it? The main point I’m trying to get across is that this game is: fast, violent, fun, and crazy. When you have a demon screaming and flying above your head blasting others with missiles, you’re cutting corners while blasting fools in the face with a shotgun, and you’re grabbing ammo boxes/health vials/armor shards while switching weapons when trying to capture the objective; hitting square was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t even mention things like: customization (of characters and weapons, but mostly cosmetic), taunts (which they have a ton of), upgrades/unlocks (you get a ton just by playing), awards/medals. This list goes on! For a beta, and as a Doom fan, I came away extremely happy.
Friday the 13th needs to hurry up and get the hell here. I’ve got demon slaying to do!