Surprise, DOOM's Campaign Is Actually Fun

Remember how I complained a few weeks ago that the closed beta of DOOM didn't really feel like a DOOM game at all?

The singleplayer doesn't have that problem.

Someone asked me last week what I was hoping for in purchasing the new DOOM, even though I'd aired several concerns about the multiplayer. The movement speed was atrociously slow. The inclusion of loadouts felt out of place. Weapons had a lack of weight. Dedicated servers were replaced by automated matchmaking lobbies. And the Revenant ... well, the less said about that the better.

But the worst part? The game didn't feel like DOOM. It felt like a Halo or Call of Duty knock-off, something taking inspiration from franchises other than its own. The logic to that seems even more sound when you consider the history of Certain Affinity, the studio that co-developed DOOM's multiplayer with id.

Multiplayer DLC for Halo Reach. Multiplayer DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops. Co-development on Halo 4. The Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. Multiplayer and DLC for Call of Duty: Ghosts. Multiplayer and DLC for Call of Duty: World at War.

Not the kind of titles you want to appear in the same sentence or paragraph as DOOM. I want visceral, gory, glorious fun — but above all else, I want it to be dumb.

And then the game opens up with you awakening from the remnants of a shrine. To yourself.

Here's a list of dumb, delightful things that id straight up nailed about DOOM's singleplayer:

  • You're in an elevator listening to cyborg Samuel Hayden talk to you about how the hordes of Hell has invaded Mars courtesy of a portal opened by one of his employees. But Hayden's talking too long, so The Doom Guy smashes the voice panel. Cue late title card.
  • The Berzerk power-up swaps out your current weapon for a pair of fists — and the ability to automatically execute any enemy in sight. It's got auto-aim as well, so if you're in a large fight all you have to do is turn about a fraction of an inch and press the fire button for an absurdly gory string of glory kills. It's sensational.
  • Maps are huge. Not open-world, Borderlands-type huge, but they're proper-sized DOOM levels. And you'll have the opportunity to backtrack over a couple throughout the course of the campaign. You can even reload and replay an older map with your current suite of weapons and abilities — neat for the starting few when you don't have access to a double jump.
  • There's a rune you can equip halfway through the game that lets you launch into the glory kill animation from much, much further away. It helps because the default running speed still isn't that great. Surprisingly, that doesn't matter so much when you can press a button and vaulting into a demon's face at 100 kilometres an hour.
  • The soundtrack is metal as fuck. Nothing more needs to be said.
  • Executing demons grants you some health and, later on, armour. It encourages you to execute every demon in history, which is handy because you're invulnerable during the kill animation and the dash beforehand. On higher difficulties, it means you can leave some enemies stunned for a period as a brief escape mechanism — if a Hell Guard or something else is charging your way, you can vault through them or their projectiles to safety.
  • I found myself deliberately aiming at demons' limbs or just trying to hit them with a few shotgun pellets so I didn't accidentally blow them to pieces. You can't glory kill something that's splattered against the wall, after all.
  • Big fights, especially on the ultra violence (or higher, if you've completed the game) difficulty are still tough. The variety of enemies means you'll be dodging rockets, beasts charging your way, imps flinging fireballs from weird locations, demons with shields, explosive barrels, teleporting witches and other annoyances — although not entirely at once, since enemies spawn in a series of waves.
  • You're literally required to pick up yellow, red and blue keycards from corpses. Later on the keycards become skulls.
  • Speaking of things you pick up, secret collectibles are little Doom Guy miniatures. They almost look like Pop! Vinyl creatures, and you can hear a compressed version of the original DOOM riff playing when you find them.
  • You get additional points to improve your weapons by completing challenges — such as killing multiple demons with a single shotgun blast, stomping x amount of enemies in the face, hitting multiple enemies with mini-missiles within a certain time frame, and so on. You know, the kind of thing you'd automatically do in DOOM to amuse yourself.

But perhaps the best part of it was the thought that entered my mind upon slaughtering the last boss. The final scene actually sets the stage perfectly for id and Bethesda to release more content down the road.

You'd have to be insane to buy the season pass at this stage, of course. But it did get me thinking: what if you took the new DOOM, and then broke it up into multiple single-player only episodes? A little like the original DOOM, with the shareware episodes and expansion packs.

That's something I could get behind. And that's probably the triumph of the new DOOM — that I'm excited for even more demon slaying, despite the mediocrity of the multiplayer.

Good job, id.


Comments

    Not surprised, not after Wolfenstein, just god damned happy

    Last edited 18/05/16 2:11 pm

    I haven't tried the multiplayer yet, but I'm genuinely enjoying the campaign. It's goofy and funny and knows just the right buttons to push, and how hard to push them (note: it smashes them, as that's the only setting the Doomguy has).

    I am absolutely loving it, i hope id makes a couple single player expansions or at least are starting Doom II.

    No spoilers but it did leave itself open to a sequel.

    I wasn't surprised at all. Just glad my faith was well placed!
    By the way I know its not a big deal but how awesome is the box art when you swap the cover around from the default Doom marine? :P

      I honestly didn't even look at the box, will have to check it out at home

      I honestly thought I would hate the DoomGuy on the cover, but it wasn't as off putting as I thought.

      I did swap it though. Couldn't go past the classic style.

      The Current JB HiFi STACK Mag has that as a poster and some postcards

      Dug out the original 1993 Doom box and took a pic of it next to the 2016 one.

      23 years...

      Last edited 18/05/16 4:06 pm

    Absolutely loved the single player experience. Beat the game on "Hurt me plenty" in about 8-9 hours. Tried the multiplayer and walked away absolutely disgusted with it, it's that bad. The constant level ups, load outs, random consumables and other "modern" elements were awful. Worse than that though is that the weapons feel absolutely weak and the game has no impact. The movement is slow, the sounds all suck and it just.... I'd rather play Halo 4 MP and I hated that enough to quit Halo for good.

    There is also the added bonus for PC people that the engine is optimised to buggery. Not exactly running the greatest (i5 2500k) but on my R9 390 and the latest AMD drivers I can max it on ultra settings for everything and it powers at 1080p. It's just a cracking engine that performs brilliantly. Vulkan should make this a super accessible game for people on low-med hardware when that drops.

      That's flippin' great news. I'm running a 970 4gb, AMD fx-8370, 16gb ram, win10. My approximate setup seems to be getting between 60 - 80 fps with people. So goddamn happy seeing that happen across setups :D

        Yeah, I must say with my out of date processor(Phenom II 955 @stock 3.2Ghz) with my 16GB DDR3 1600 RAM and R9 290X, I am doing borderline windowed at 1080 and still high 50s.i think it defaulted to medium settings, but I am impressed. The most depressing part is that I bought my key from G2A for AUD$59 but I just came out of hospital after having a Pilonidal Sinus operated on so I am only able to do 10 minute sessions comfortably

        Last edited 18/05/16 6:49 pm

          If you haven't do so yet try updating to the 16.5.2.1 Crimson drivers. They addressed performance quite a lot and you if you haven't you may see quite a large speed increase from running them.

      I was a little worried at first. 780 and 4790k but it runs like a dream was very surprised.

    My fave quirky bit was when you collect the doomguy doll in the same colour scheme as your character he poses it n gives it a fist bump. Very cute for game about eviscerating demons.

      The little explosion he makes after the fist bump makes me laugh every damned time. There is also an icon of sin Easter egg....

    Start small rant: Steam is selling this game for a "not unreasonable" $79.95 USD, however converted it's $109.78 Australian Pesos!!! Am I missing something here or is this a downright rip off when JBHifi has the physical hard copy for $89?

      Welcome to Steam and the Australia Tax :(

      On a side note, I'm holding off buying this until the new Nvidia and AMD cards are available. I think I can bear a couple months wait to run it at 4k with one of these beasts.

        Nah in this case that's just Steam being greedy in general. The Sales price in America is 59.99. The sales tax in Australia is not in any way 30%. That's just Steam and Bethesda double and triple dipping.

          Steam doesn't set the prices the publisher does - steam just has a hard % cut.

            Information everyone knows. Steam still takes a cut, this is the same as saying "We hold absolutely no responsibility we just provide the platform!"

            The fact, and it is a fact, is that if they wanted, Valve very well could actually enter the fray and have a say to some degree but they choose not to because it's easier to just sit back and take no responsibility, which is why it's so popular with publishers, it's easy to abuse the system (see: Activision with COD prices staying so damn high).

            Last edited 18/05/16 7:06 pm

              Valve would just be shooting themselves in the foot if they took a stance against regional pricing - publishers would push hard against that, possibly moving to a rival platform (origin for example). It's pretty clear that valve haven't really wanted regional pricing as they themselves have never had a regionally priced title (to my knowledge) and it's implementation was most likely entirely at the demands of the publishers.

              Regardless it is entirely in the publishers hands - it's up to them if they have regional pricing or not.

              Last edited 18/05/16 9:43 pm

      Steam. Who remembers when you could actually gets deals on the damn thing? Those days are long gone, unless it's a sale. I haven't bought a non-sale steam game in... oh before you were born (it feels like).

        Even then, the sales are pretty shit these days. Actual genuine Steam sales are a thing of the past too alas :(

      That's steam for ya. I specifically went to G2A for my key.

      Same shit with PSN.
      My friends in the US get games for $60 USD while it's $90 AUD for me.

    If this surprises you, it's because life started for you with EA, Treyarch and Infinity Ward. These companies cannot author a campaign, and you thought this was normal.

      In fairness id last brought us the directionless grind that was Rage 5 years ago and the last major title with a campaign before that was Doom 3 which I feel was received fairly tepidly by the market. I definitely wasn't a fan. While 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order and the follow up The Old Blood were pretty great, those weren't developed internally by id. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have doubts about a Doom reboot until I played it.

        And Quake 4. Bit better than Doom 3.

          Quake 4 was a collab with another dev, Raven, just like Wolfenstein:TNO/TOB was primarily developed by Machine Games. That said, I didn't play Quake 4 so I can't attest to its quality.

        I didn't imply that they were developers with a perfect record, I'm saying that they haven't been bettered.

    Actually not suprised at all, there was a lot of hate for the game because people were judging it from the MP beta

    Game is bloody brilliant! Levels are massive and secrets are really well done, and the gameplay is just plain old fun! Actually takes me back to the old doom days, which I was not expecting at all

    And please no, do not split it up into episodic releases, they are just stupid and I'd hate for them to take the Hitman path. The DLC planned at the moment is MP only too, so I think they're setting it up for another game down the track :)

    Last edited 18/05/16 6:23 pm

      I would have loved it to bits if they went grass roots and made the first chapter shareware though

    I'm wondering if any of the original id guys worked on this? I thought they all would have moved on by now?? I'm really surprised how much they've nailed the DOOM play style.

    I haven't been excited to get home after work and play a campaign game in a long time.

    Eyyy you did it! After a long day of study, I plop myself down at the computer, open Kotaku and think "When is Alex gonna write on Doom? IS Alex gonna write on Doom?" Then I scrolled down...

    Glad to hear the campaign is good. Total Biscuit liked it, which was a good sign, and then my Doom superfan friend loved the hell out of it, which was also promising.

    I'll have to pick it up, one day...

      Would have been sooner, but only came back from annual leave today. Funnily enough, I spent a large chunk of that playing DOOM anyway (plus some Star Wars Rebellion with my better half and doing odds and ends).

    Why "iD"; why capitalise the d?

      Fantastic question. For some reason I had it in my head that id was always small i, capital D, and for the life of me I can't figure out why. It doesn't match up with documentation I can find -- something ingrained from playing Wolf 3D and DOOM as a kid, but buggered if I know where it came from. Maybe something in a magazine as a kid?

      Either way, I've fixed it up. Thanks for pointing it out.

        You're not alone, I always thought it was like that too.

        Maybe it's another Berenstein/stain Bears situation, and iD Software has been retrospectively altered to id Software for our universe which only a small number of us still remember.

    Still not entirely sure why it's a surprise. Oh right, because the internet worked itself up into a stupid shitstorm over a multiplayer beta and lack of advance review copies of the game. Somehow this was proof the game was going to be awful and was doomed. (SEEWUTIDIDTHAR?!?!?)

    Anyway, I've been having a ball. Finished it over the weekend, and have spent the week scouring the game for secrets and collectibles, and upgrading my weapons. It's just so dang fun. Sometimes I go into a level looking for secrets and just forget halfway through and before I know it, I've just finished the level. The game just lends itself perfectly to that flow of carnage. Glory kills just enhance that for me.

    Last edited 19/05/16 8:16 am

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