There's Something Not Quite Right About The New DOOM

I hadn't even finished downloading the beta on Friday when the first messages began flooding in. "If the campaign for the new Doom is anywhere near the quality of the multiplayer beta, then that's the franchise over," the most scathing take read.

It wasn't that bad. But after spending some time over the weekend with the two modes and maps available in the new DOOM, it's hard to shake the feeling that something's not quite right.

I've been pretty vocal over the last few years about how happy I am to see the rise and return of the arena shooter. For a little while the closest thing we had to the speed and intensity of Quake 3 was, well, Call of Duty deathmatch. It was that era of forgettable modern military shooters, and if you weren't a fan of Halo or Gears of War, it was a sad time.

But as nice as it is to have progressed from those few years of gun-barrel grey and bogwater brown, there's a uncomfortable reality. Most of the modern takes on arena shooters aren't popular. In fact, they're basically failures.

Dirty Bomb has a few thousand players on average at any one time. Quake Live? Several hundred. The Melbourne-made Reflex? Just enough for a small LAN party. Shootmania Storm has well and truly vanished, and indie efforts such as Toxikk have failed to gain any traction whatsoever.

Inspired by the great shooters of the 90's sounds like a great feature. But so far it hasn't worked. Even the new Unreal Tournament is struggling to find the right formula.

Gamers, it seems, are crying out for something new. Problem is, DOOM doesn't do that.

Borderlands-style damage numbers. Two weapons, plus one item, per class. An entire server of people running around with a rocket launcher -- as a secondary weapon -- that takes at least two or three good shots for a kill. Which doesn't launch people a great height.

The super shotgun feels like a misnomer, too. It's less of a show-stopper and more like the starting shotgun from the original Quake. Good in a pinch, and capable of finishing an opponent off when they're low. But super? Hardly.

That's not to mention the absurdity of the Revenant, the hilariously overpowered Demon With A Jetpack. It's strong enough to one shot everything in sight provided you have some semblance of aim.

And if you can't one shot things, don't worry: there's the Gauss Cannon. It's basically a minigun that fires like a railgun, with the power of a fully charged sniper rifle.

It feels more like Unreal than DOOM.

The same goes for much of the basic elements. It's a godsend that every player can double-jump and climb walls with aplomb, because the default movement speed feels incredibly stodgy. It's not a slow shooter, but it's not that manic combination of speed, shotguns and severed limbs flying off the walls either.

And there's stuff that doesn't quite fit. There's ammo, health and armour strewn throughout the map, but not extra weapons. Except for the Gauss Cannon. And then there's Modern Warfare-esque matchmaking lobbies, which are fine provided there's enough online playing the mode you like.

On PC that was Team Deathmatch, and only Team Deathmatch. I got about two games of Warpath the entire weekend. It's Battlefront all over again: the majority camps in one or two game modes, while the more adventurous gamers die a slow death in the matchmaking queue.

And while I know it's still a beta, DOOM's raw mechanics need a tune-up. I couldn't get the game to consistently run at 60fps, and the advanced video settings being disabled didn't help. The servers weren't fantastic, with 60ms being the best ping I got at any point.

Even something as simple as turning the mouse felt a little off. It's almost like mouse acceleration was hard-coded into the game, or that there was a fraction of input lag. It's possible the below-average frame rate is to blame, although hardly ideal (especially for those playing on consoles).

For people who grew up playing Quake and Counter-Strike, that's unacceptable. It's almost scandalous given how much influence DOOM and Quake had over the standardisation of controls in first-person shooters. Part of their appeal was that the controls were tight and the movement was fast and crisp.

This new DOOM is neither.

But those are elements that can be fixed before release -- or, God forbid, shortly thereafter. And it's not as if iD and Bethesda didn't get the most crucial part right: the game, problems withstanding, is fun.

Shooting someone is still fun. Ramming a rocket up someone's rear and watching their remains colour the walls is still fun. Double-jumping into the air and climbing up a wall before pumping someone in the back of the head with a super shotgun is still fun.

But the biggest problem is that none of this feels like a DOOM game, or an iD game. A friend of mine was right when he warned that the game feels -- and plays -- like one of those indie shooters "inspired by the greats of the 1990's".

So far, this DOOM doesn't feel like one of the greats. It feels like a pretender. And with just over a month until release, I'm crossing my fingers in the hope that there's something I haven't seen that changes that.


Comments

    My understanding is that the arena-shooter multiplayer and the campaign are going to be completely separate from another, but honestly what you've described doesn't really mesh with how I remember quake or unreal tournament either. I don't really care about the multiplayer, though I am disappointed I COMPLETELY forgot about it since I've been waiting since we bought Wolfenstein: The New Order which was supposed to include access. :(

      Wasn't that just supposed to be for the Alpha? I remember playing the Alpha and thought that was because I got the Wolfenstein code.

        Beats me, I beat the game once, my wife twice then we put it away to wait for news of the beta or alpha that never came.

    That's what I said when I saw the trailer. But I'd rather it turn out to be good than to be right :P

    really if you want fast paced arena death match you best stick to serious sam 3 or UT 2004 and quake 3 arena

    it's Halo with demons and more blood.
    What'd you expect, something innovative?

      For my first round of the beta I thought this too. I enjoyed the gore for a bit, but Halo has better weapon balance and map design.

      At least it will be the first Halo game we'll be getting in 6 years.

      I'd be happy enough just to be able to carry all the weapons like they did back in 1992. :/

    Ugh no no no Lalalala

    I really want this to be great. I want this to be Quake5 (or 6 or whatever it's up to) with a great single player campaign.

    They need to make it slow and simple for the benefit of the console market. Or at least, what the console market is perceived to be.

    As for those other games... Honestly I think the new UT is the best of the lot and would be doing a lot better with more advertising. I routinely encounter people who were fans of the franchise for years but had no idea there was a new one they could play right now.

    Tribes: Ascend was doing quite well until the devs made a string of community-hurting decisions and then abandoned the game. It's actually somewhat alive again now though thanks to the recent attention.

    But the big problem with modern arena shooter attempts is that they don't do anything new. People don't exactly just want to play Quake 3 again. They want to play a game with certain attributes of Quake 3, but it needs to bring actual new ideas and gameplay to the table to make it feel fresh and exciting.

    And no, a two weapon limit and slowed down pace for thumbstick aim aren't the right direction.

      Great post, sums it up nicely.

      Quake 3 remains tied with Goldeneye (for different reasons) as my favourite shooter of all time, with Q1 and 2 not far behind.

      I’m a console gamer nowadays though, and I would never even consider trying to play an ID shooter online with a gamepad. Movement in those games was an art that is impossible to replicate with two analogue sticks.

      IMO they’re FAR better off tailoring the game for PC players and just telling console folk to suck it up. Let’s be honest here- console players don’t want to play a fast pace twitch shooter with a lot of verticality in the maps. They’re going to play for a day or two and then go back to the slow, flat movement of the bro-tastic military shooters.

      They can make a shit shooter that console players play for a few days and the PC players hate.
      They can make a hybrid that nobody likes.
      Or they can make a great PC shooter that frustrates console players.

      I know what I’d do.

    I have a beta code, but not for the right console. I thought about posting around the internet to find someone willing to trade a PS4 beta code for my Xbone code, but then I took a nap.

    Also I still need to get multiplayer achievements in Doom 1-3 on 360. In Doom 1 and 2 it's just 200 kills, but in Doom 3 I think all I need is the multikill achievement with a rocket launcher.

    Honestly, I think gamers don't know what they want

      It's simple. We want something that's brand new and innovative but exactly the same as what we had in the 90s. Easy!

      I think gamers know exactly what they want, that's why some games score very highly and others don't.

      In my case I don't want a halo clone with a stupid 2 weapon system. I wan't a game called Doom to play like the original game called Doom but with modern graphics more interesting level design and lots of weapon variety.

    From all the footage I've seen, this looks like a blast. A lot of comments have been coming out saying that while it feels odd, it's still fun. So, that sounds like an endorsement to me.

    I liked how doom 3 had huge horror elements, this new doom doesn't seem to have any of it.

      Doom 3's Horror Elements were a new feature. Doom 4 is much more in line with the original Doom games which weren't about the horror or terror of being alone and hunted, but simply about racking up that body count and getting bigger and badder guns.

        I did play the original dooms as a child so I'm aware of this, they were also a product of their time. The new doom isn't going to suceed by going back to its roots, I can't think of any decent FPS horror shooters from the recent years. I can appreciate how it might please some people but I think they'd have a better game keeping it in line with doom 3.. hopefully its awesome and I'm wrong

    I played for a few hours on PC yesterday. It ran fine, no issues. I actually quite enjoyed it but once I maxed the demo out there was diminishing returns.

    For me, it was just like UT, but not as cool. Jumps weren't as big, the double jumps weren't as powerful as they should be. I hate to say this, but it kind of felt like it needed movement more like Black Ops 3, wall strafing and so forth.

    The weapons were also a bit... I miss a rocket launcher that can fire a spread of missiles like UT. The splash damage was so low on the rockets that it was annoying. A lot of shooting was just pray and spray. Which may also be due to the lag from clearly playing with people in different countries.

    I reckon i'll get the game, but the main thing it made me want to play was UT.

    People only ever playing 2 game modes has always been a problem, esp for PC. When I used to play BF3/4, non-hardcore team deathmatch was always the most popular. There was only ever really 2 HC servers that had people, and you only got in because someone left from the (severely) losing team.

    Have to say this article surprised me as my general impression was that people enjoyed the beta. I played for about 10 hours total over the weekend on PS4 and had an absolute blast. Felt like a great mix of old and new to me. My friend and I couldn't get a match on the straight "Warpath" playlist, but after choosing the "Random" playlist which rotated the two game types we got a satisfying mix. I primarily ran with a Static Rifle + Super Shotgun Combo with Siphon grenade and had great success. Each to their own I suppose but I am looking forward to the full release.

    If Bethesda can fix the textures, gun audio, environmental audio, armour customisation, voice over guy, controls, interface and lag - they may just end up with an average shooter and a 6/10 on Metacritic.

    "The super shotgun feels like a misnomer, too. It’s less of a show-stopper and more like the starting shotgun from the original Quake. Good in a pinch, and capable of finishing an opponent off when they’re low. But super? Hardly."

    *Proceeds to show .gif where he takes out 70% of someones health*

    Umm, okay, your POV just became a lot less credible to me.

    I didn't play it so I won't comment on the Beta itself, but in regards to bringing back old franchises, I'd imagine it's very very hard to create a new old game that people like.
    People essentially want exactly what they used to have, they want to feel exactly what they used to feel, they want to be able to relive the memories they have of the old game. The problem is that the world has moved on, life has moved on and the gaming industry has moved on.

    If Dev team X create an exact replica of Old game, but on a new engine with new graphics, people don't want it, it's just a remake of a game they already bought 15-20 years ago and could just go back and play that if they want. This is proven all the time when Indie devs release a game that 'pays homage' to Old Game (meaning it plays and feels very similar but with non patented versions of things), and the game gets no traction or real popularity. So big budget devs don't do this, with indie titles proving this doesn't work, why would they? Instead they try to create a game that pays respect to the old game, but is different. Problem here is trying to find that balance, creating a title that looks and feels enough like the old version that it reminds people of Old game, but also brings a bunch of modernisation and new things to the table so it gives people a reason to want to play it. Maybe the key problem with this particular title is that whilst people love their old memories of Doom, they don't actually want to play another arena shooter, they moved on from them years ago.

    the tl:dr is that I can't help but feel like people don't want a new Old game, what they want is their old fond memories back, only they have matured and progressed and don't play games like any more. So how the hell do you make a game that brings peoples memories back, without them realising that?

    So what can arena shooters do that is considered new? I honestly can't think of anything. Half the time they're never popular is because they're F2P or are just not advertised at all.

      All the weapons are modified fish, and you need to submerge them regularly to keep them alive.

      Every time a player dies teams are randomly reshuffled.

      Unfortunately, I agree completely. Pretty much every mechanic, game mode, power up, gimic and weapon has been done, again and again and again.

      The usual trick is to make up for that by arcing up the gore or shock factor.

      The problem being that arena shooters have no story, so live or die on their bling.

      The closest thing I've seen to a new arena shooter - or any shooter for that matter - is Splatoon.

        - Super OP weapon is included in every stage, but you need to complete a medium-level sudoku to access it
        - Certain enemies have shields that are indestructible unless you and your team mates find the exact right combination of weapons fired simultaneously
        - Certain enemies have shields that are indestructible unless you sing the exact right note into your headset
        - Modern Pac Mac: one team is underpowered and must avoid the enemy until they randomly turn blue and become OP af death machines
        - Stage idea: Hall. Of. Mirrors.
        - Remote view powerup: you hack the enemies helmet cam so you can screencheat
        - Remote view powerup countermeasure: you detect the enemies hack and send bogus information instead
        - Gravity randomly stops working
        - Your controller randomly stops working
        - The lights randomly turn off for all but one, unarmed team member who must direct their team mates to the enemy via chat
        - Stage idea: Hogwarts Entrance hall, all moving staircases and s**t
        - Timeslower powerup: once activated time slows for all characters, so the game temporarily relies purely on accuracy and not on twitch reflexes
        - Occasionally players are killed by the giant foot out of Monty Python

    Got to play the beta on PC over the weekend. This was my first hands-on, as I was away from home on the closed alpha weekend some months back.

    As an unnamed DudeBro 2016 shooter, it's just OK. The balance is fine, the gunplay is fine, the graphics are fine. It felt like the odd sound was missing or something, but whatever, it's a beta. It's just fine. A solid 6/10.

    As a DOOM game? That well-respected name of names from the history of PC gaming? No way man. It felt to me like a new multiplayer FPS with a handful of token Doom-inspired assets thrown in. No way this thing deserves the Doom name.

    They really can't win. Last Doom they tried something different and got slammed for it, now they're trying to go back to what made it good... and getting slammed for it.

    I can't imagine it woudl be easy for them to recreate that magic from the older games

      Doom 3 had magic... I still love that game to pieces. I was never that much into Doom in multi-player, so all I had was the single-player to go off, and I loved it as a follow-up.

      Secretly, I think I loved the OG Xbox port more, though. It wasn't as pretty, but it was pretty enough, especially for/at the time. It streamlined some of the more open areas of the PC version, which I think worked in it's favour. Brilliant port.

        I loved Doom 3, it was an awesome game! Running around having to switch between weapons and flashlight just so you can see what to shoot was intense, still one of the scarier games I played.

        Am very curious as to what the singple player will be like for thsi actually

    With regard to playlists:
    Why doesn't a game launch with one playlist?
    Randomise TDM, Domination, Checkpoint, CTF gametypes and maps in that playlist...

    The arena shooter is pretty much dead because it's a relic of gaming past. Online arena shooters tend to be dominated by people who sit there perfecting their skills leaving most newer entrants at a significant disadvantage, to the point where people simply won't play. Thus the game ends up dying. People in general don't want to play arena shooter deathmatch games, otherwise there'd be a glut of them. Ever since Team Fortress and Counter-Strike, Team DM has dominated as well as objective-style games. The arena shooter has been on the decline since the late 90s. People dominate particular maps/modes in every game, I don't know why this is any different.

    Also MP is only half of the equation with a new Doom. A lot of people forget that Doom wasn't continuous action - it was in fact a very well paced game which wasn't wall-to-wall demons but actually spaced out fights and gave players a break. The conception of Doom being constant action like Serious Sam has only come about because of speedrunners and high end DM gameplay. The modern interpretation of "Doom" is actually pretty far off the mark as a result.

    But the biggest problem is that none of this feels like a DOOM game, or an iD game.
    As a huge fan of the originals, this has been my biggest fear since we first saw gameplay.

    I didn't think it would be particularly hard to replicate Doom. Run fast, have a variety of enemies, fun weapons and clever level design; that's all you really need. And while we haven't seen nearly any of the actual campaign yet (which, 6 weeks to go, should ring some alarm bells in itself) , the multiplayer should showcase enough of what is right and wrong.

    I hate that they didn't call it Doom 4. Doom 3 was a reboot, they called that Doom 3. Doom 4 is a reboot, they called it Doom. They've relegated the classic, the important, the original Doom to "Doom (1994)" or "Doom 1" (or if my fears are correct "good Doom").

    On the subject of 4th paragraphs, I can't think of a natural way to bring up the fact that none of the people who made the originals - those who made the game the cultural icon it is - work at iD anymore. IIRC Carmack was the last one to leave, and that was back at the end of 2013. (Upon researching this, it seems that Kevin Cloud - an artist for Doom - is still working at iD as executive producer/co-owner so I guess that's something.

    I thought of another thing to be mad about: that outside of the Snapmap thing they're not planning on any sort of map editor or mod support, and that really throws me. Without mod support, I couldn't launch Doomseeker and join a game any time I wanted; without mod support we wouldn't see some crazy next level shit like this upcoming Alien mod; without mod support I'd be surprised if Doom 4's community outlasts Doom's community.
    They didn't exactly do a great job of selling Snapmap (to me), either.

    But hey, if you're looking forward to Doom 4, by all means write this comment off as "ramblings of a cynical pessimist", because that's all it is!

    The speed was a problem for me, I found myself trying to hit a run button like I'm used to using in the original doom games but of course, it's non existent. The field of view was also a pain in the ass, I felt like I was playing in a little bubble. I do hope they add the option of cranking that up.

    Apart from that the game was pretty fun on the whole, I'm looking forward to the single player campaign as well as what comes of the level editor. I did like the double jumping and climbing mechanics.

    As to whether it feels like a Doom game..... not sure at this stage, on the surface, not really, it has the plastic look of Doom3 (which I was never a massive fan of), just far better, actually this game visually looks pretty damn good to me, the mechanics/movement feel a little out of whack, the weapons whilst having trademark doom weapons, this is perhaps where could just stick to the classics and but perhaps add in one new addition to the arsenal (this is where they could get creative with a new idea) rather than pulling weapons out of other games like a lightning gun or a sniper riffle / rail gun. I actually didn't play the game with sound but I read somewhere they've added a commentator?

    Take a game like Serious Sam for example, the last Serious Sam game, SS3 played like the original in terms of speed and movement so regardless of an upgrade in visuals, or the cartoon wackiness of SS2, they mechanically still felt like a Serious Sam game to play.

    Just give me a solid single player campaign with good level design and plenty of demons to smash through!

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