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.