How To Make The Doom 4 We All Want And Need

How To Make The Doom 4 We All Want And Need

For a time, years, whenever a person talked about a first-person shooter they called it a Doom Clone. Such was the power, the influence of one of the first, first-person shooters, the proto-FPS.

But in establishing an entire genre, Doom also planted itself firmly in history, becoming a game that even its savvy creators seem to struggle to make meaningful in an age when first-person shooters are ever evolving and flooding the video game market.

Consider Doom 3, a game of light and shadows, that while delivering big scares and high scores, still felt like a dated game fighting to stay true to its roots.

In writing up my review of the game for the Rocky Mountain News, I said that “I wanted to be surprised and astounded. I wanted something that wasn’t just a new look at a great game but a new take on that game.

Instead of bland graphics wrapped around an original concept, Doom 3 is a vivid world of monstrous creations laboriously detailed (down to their blood-spattered chests) in a tired concept all too familiar to a new generation of gamers brought up on first-person shooters.

When you strip away the eye candy, what you’re left with is more of a virtual haunted house than the immersive experiences most of today’s computer and video games have become.”

As we approach another Quakecon and another chance for id Software to give us our first glimpse of Doom 4, I wonder what they might deliver, can deliver that would satisfy today’s gamers without moving so far from the game’s nexus that it becomes Quake, or Rage or any of the other popular shooters now flooding the market.

We don’t know a lot about Doom 4, but based on what we do know, this is what I hope the game could deliver.

A Compelling Story

The Doom series has never been one to dwell much on plot and character growth. Doom 3 did try to correct that, and to some extent succeeded, but it was still fairly unsurprising stuff. So why do I think Doom 4 will be any different? Graham Joyce.

Brought in by id Software to “develop the story” for Doom 4, Joyce’s surreal approach to science fiction, horror and fantasy could lend itself well to a story that already blends the occult with heavily-armed marines. Joyce’s writing style, and personal beliefs, approaches the supernatural from a less antagonist point of view, with characters learning to deal with, rather than fight against that which they don’t understand. Some have called it as a form of Magic Realism. Imagine a Doom 4 that is more Pan’s Labyrinth then Brother in Arms in Hell.

High Tech, Id Tech Atmosphere

We know that Doom 4 is going to be using id Tech 5, the same graphics engine that built the impressive, wide-ranging Rage. That means it has the potential to do a lot of different things, in a lot of different settings very well. But what I hope id does instead is to narrow the focus of Doom 4, resisting the temptation to drop in vehicles, and big, open-world maps, instead using their tech to deliver small, labyrinthine settings thick with atmosphere.

When I think of Doom, I think of corridors, maze-like levels and lots of dark settings. Doom 3 beefed up the atmosphere, but did it in such a hand-holding way that it ended up shrinking the scope of the game. I want Doom 4 to deliver that same sense of dread in a place that lets me run and run and run, and hide.

Multitudes of Monstrous Monsters

Given the choice between a few sky-scraping demons bearing down on me and a room packed with low level demons, I’d take the multitude any day. I want the game’s sense of scale to be more focused on the numbers than the size. If I’m fighting against the hordes of hell I want there to be hordes.

I also would love to see that amazing graphics engine used to deliver the sort of macabre, frightening, unnerving creatures we expect from id Software. That means taking a new, id Tech 5 pass at their demons, Barons of Hell, Pain Elementals. And there had better be a grotesque Spiderdemon or two in the game.

Take Back Online

How did Doom go from being the chief online game of its era to an afterthought of online play with Doom 3? Shortly after the original Doom’s release the game had become so popular on work computer networks that companies like Intel, and Microsoft had specific policies against playing the game. There was even a program, of a sort, written specifically to detect and stop the game when it was found running on networks.

But when Doom 3 hit in 2004 it brought with it support for just four-player gameplay and four modes. Sure, the always-skilled mod community went back in and built in up to 16 players, but why wasn’t id on top of that? This time around I hope to see a robust, fully supported online portion to the game, one rich with modes, options and mod support.

Doom 4 doesn’t need to reinvent itself, it shouldn’t. Instead id should look at what they’ve created over the years, and with the help of id Tech 5, create the best of Doom delivered with a graphics engine that we know can blow us away.

Of course, this is all just my opinion. What do you want from Doom 4?


  • I actually preferred Doom 3’s style a lot more. I like action combined with scares (even if they are cheap scares). It keeps you on your toes because even when you thought you finally could tell when shit would jump out at you, it would change and come from somewhere else.

    I’m not too sure about the idea of “learning to deal with, rather than fight against that which they don’t understand” being good for Doom either. It’s supernatural action, not supernatural drama.

    I also find Brian’s views a bit confusing. He wants new ideas and changes but he doesn’t want Doom to reinvent itself either??

    • Could’nt agree more.

      Doom 3’s gameplay was astounding, I could not get enough of it. I think this article is forgetting that he’s looking at the game from today’s perspectives, and what gamers expect to be put in games today. When Doom 3 came out, it was excellent and very immersive..I felt like I was the marine, wary of every shadow hiding a demon or zombie. Nowadays, we would call it a corridor shooter, given the endless point A to B style of Doom from old.

  • It would be great to see DooM come bak as id’s top-dog competitive FPS. Unfortunately, after 15 years of Quake MP, QuakeLive is a pretty hard act to follow!

  • I’d like to see a claustrophobic metroidvania style Doom. The original Doom had fairly non-linear levels, and I’d like to see a return to that.

  • iD have always created some amazing atmospheric environments. That’d be at the top of my list of priorities in the game.
    In terms of MP, I don’t see them making any sort of dent unless they take on the RPG aspects that have made CoD/etc so popular.

  • I hope that id ditches multiplayer.
    Doom is a horror/action FPS, and multiplayer does not lend itself to that concept at all.

    leave multiplayer to multiplayer games.

    • I call bullshit.
      Much fun was orginally had in Co-Op with my mate over a null modem cable, until we started our own home lan parties using coax, which would eventually devolve into a race of who could end the level first with less deaths, after the first accidental double barreled shotgun blast.

      Was an awesome introduction to the heady days of early deathmatch games.

        • Can’t read buddy!

          Never played Arena, Multiplayer for the sake of Multiplayer bores the shit outta me.

          I prefer to have the IP and some sort of story/setting for my immersive fun. Not just oh here is a new engine, have at it. What else is new oh nothing.

          In Doom you could switch from CO-OP to Deathmatch mid level/game-play no extra loading, no dragged out team select process just add some “friendly” fire and thats the trigger point for some extra out of the box fun.

          It was akin to changing an outdoor game on the fly as kids in the backyard.

          How many games have the freedom to do that today ?

          You spend your 40-80 bucks and you are locked in to 2 separate stylings, in some cases only one. You either play single or you play multiplayer deathmatch you can’t mix the 2.
          Original Doom allowed you to mix it up.

          A race to the end of the level, killing the most enemies and occasionally your co-op team mate should he be in your sights ?

          Or did Play IQ seriously drop in the last 20 years that everyone has to play the way they are told ?

        • ummmm Quake 3 Arena wasnt released when Doom was.

          Some people actually played these sort of games well before 2000.

  • I’m going to have to agree with the idea of de-emphasizing multiplayer.

    If Doom wants to be scary it should focus on Single Player.

    I would prefer a slightly more ‘survival horror’ style of game. Fewer but tougher enemies, ammo conservation.

    Ditch the monster closets. Use horror elements besides jump-scares.

    An important element is to VARY THE PACING. Doom 3, like Dead Space, had constant pacing. This allowed the player to get comfortable with the rhythm of the game. This is bad; comfortable players aren’t scared. If you keep the game at the same pace, it becomes monotonous and less effective.

    To vary the pace, you have some sections (long ones!) with basically no combat but lots of threat (glimpsing them out of the corner of your eyes, etc). Then some sections with hordes of enemies. Do them in an irregular order, not a pattern.

    Finally, yes, you’re playing a space marine. But don’t make him like Marcus Fenix. Don’t give him Chris Redfield-size biceps. Make him a rookie or something, and if he’s in a cutscene, make him act in a relatable way. Have him show fear. Have him make mistakes. The point is that you don’t want the player to feel powerful; you want the player to feel weak and defenseless.

    This is another reason to vary the pacing; if the player can’t anticipate the next sequence accurately, they feel less prepared and thus more scared.

    Monster placement is a tricky manner; scripted spawns can be used to great effect. However, they can be predictable and lessen the impact of subsequent playthroughs. Find a balance between scripted spawns for effect, and putting monsters on varying patrol routes. Again, you want to keep players guessing.

    Sequences where the player cannot fight back and is forced to flee may have use, but they have to be done in a non-frustrating way.

    Finally, a cliche fire-and-brimstone straight-out-of-Dante version of Hell is cliche. Something a little more novel would be interesting. Look at Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser” mythos; that’s a disturbingly-twisted version of hell that isn’t Yet Another Lake Of Fire. Hence; Try Something New.

    Also, try to keep a sense of mystery about things. Obviously Evil characters like Malcom Bertruger (“Bertruger” being German for ‘betrayer’ or something like that) don’t cultivate a sense of mystery.

    • I disagree with most of what you said.
      For me, doom is all about feeling like you are some strong fearless badass, with more ammo than you need spraying bullets at shit everywhere.
      Thats what made the first doom games awesome – heaps of enemies you just ran through shooting, or charged at with a chainsaw.

      You sound like you want a fps resident evil, featuring only Jill Valentine.

      What doom 4 needs is more enemies, weirder enemies, and some that simply exist to drain your ammo.
      This could mean some giant ass slow monster that takes 8 clips to kill (and bleeds like a bitch from every shot), or some really fast creatures with the ability to pass through walls and objects around you (Think the chozo ghosts in metroid prime). That can keep ammo low sometimes.

      More scares can be good. I remember playing doom 3, getting a little nervous when the lights went out. Doom 3 worked with the dark (unlike deadspace, which made it dark… waited… turned the lights back on, nothing happens).

      What makes some moments horror filled is not being able to defend yourself. Have fast vicious creatures popping up around you, and chasing you, when you dont have a weapon to fight them with. (Kind of like that game… amnesia? the dark decent)

      So no to your weak rookie marine, and no to your non doom like version of hell.

      To be honest, i’m not looking for too much from doom 4. Primarily, i want amazing graphics – i want doom 4 to make crysis look like Goldeneye 64.
      Other than that i want the story of whats happening to be discoverable – like doom 3, finding pda’s and computer logs – each one giving some idea of whats happening.
      I want new weapons, and new monsters. Maybe some really fucked up montsers, but i’m happy with dooms more cool demon look. (Doom 3’s Barons of hell looked sweet).

      Oh, and i want a final boss level where i just need to shoot the shit out of the boss – like the old doom games. I dont want to have to activate some stupid machine, and hope the monster is in the right place, so that it gets hurt a little, and repeat… I want a large area, with shit loads of ammo, and a huge motherfucker with a minigun and rocketlauncher – pissing dead souls and blood and i unleash 487447 bullets into him, before attacking his legs with a chainsaw!

      And yes, heads and limbs MUST be able to be shot off with a shotgun.

  • I hope it has no Regen Health. I hope you play as a Marine and I hope we don’t have to talk to a bunch of people and just get right into the action. I don’t want to have to take cover every moment like in DNF..

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