Reviewed by: Joseph Yaden
Story portion by: Jake Beatrice
Available on: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PS4 and Switch
During a time when remakes and reboots are ever present, there are a lot of opportunities for disappointment. When news first broke of a contemporary version of Doom being released, fans reacted with both excitement and reluctance. To our relief, not only did Doom turn out to be an adequate shooter, it turned out to be an impressive re-imagining of the series.
Like its predecessors, Doom is a fast-paced first person shooter. However, unlike many modern day shooters, Doom focuses more on close range combat and letting the player explore close-quarters areas. It’s quite common to get lost in these areas, but with the help of a marker that indicates the destination, this never feels like a glaring issue. Developer Id Software did an amazing job encouraging players to explore by hiding secret items throughout each area. These secrets vary from easter eggs, upgrades, intel, and weapons. Having this much variety makes exploring even more intriguing because I never knew what I was going to get. It's clear the developers worked hard not only on the aesthetic of these environments, but also the player-guiding layout, so it’s nice to see the players rewarded for exploring.
Doom has always been known for its fluid combat, and this entry encapsulates that completely. The feeling of blowing away a demon and watching its guts splatter all over the place is both satisfying and addicting. This is beneficial, considering there’s no auto-health regeneration and killing enemies is necessary to regain health. The auto health regeneration feature is one that has taken over shooters these days and it totally changes the way the games are played. Having to earn health is a welcomed mechanic, making Doom feel more tactical and rewarding. I’m not an advocate for merely making a game more difficult for the sake of it, and challenge most certainly does not make a game better, but in this case having to collect health just adds to the game. All of these features make for a more engaging user experience, keeping an otherwise stale genre fresh.
Aesthetically, Doom is disgusting and I mean that in the most positive way possible. The enemy design is brutal, ranging from gigantic alien demons covered in blood, zombie-like creatures that can fly, and even monsters in jetpacks. It’s hard not to love a game where you get to fight the prince of darkness himself. This gives the game a dark and violent tone, which is expected given the subject matter. An interesting mechanic, Glory Kills, has the player finish off the enemy with a melee attack, resulting in a barbarous animation. What makes this even better is the fact that the animations are varied and somewhat random, incentivizing the player to always try to finish an enemy with a Glory Kill. Additionally, extra health is gained this way, so it’s a good idea to use these finishers.
With the inclusion of a complex upgrade system, the sense of progression is always present while playing Doom. Likewise, the game includes hidden challenges throughout the levels to reward the player with upgrades. These challenges vary in nature, from killing a certain number of enemies, using the environment to get kills, or using specific power-ups to get kills. These challenges are tough, and completing them is the only way to fully level up the character. Speaking of power-ups, these little rewards are scattered about the levels outside of challenges, too. Power-ups are temporary upgrades that give the player more speed, extra health, or even invincibility.
It’s all of these little things that add up to a dense, meaty package. There was never a time while playing Doom where I felt like the game was getting stale or repetitive. Smart level design, enemy variety, hidden items and a complex upgrade system goes a long way, and Doom is proof of that.
"Perhaps the most underrated detail of the new Doom is the way it handles story. To give a brief, spoiler-free rundown, the Doom Marine wakes up in the UAC Mars research station, finds it is swarming with demons, and begins killing them all. Desiring to solve Earth’s energy crisis, Dr. Olivia Pierce had opened a portal to hell in order to obtain “hell energy”, but many demons within traveled into the research station and began a killing spree. The beauty in Doom’s story lies in the way it allows the player to sidestep it entirely. On one hand, there is plenty of lore to dive into, a handful of character bios to read, and tons of unnecessary but interesting information to uncover for story and context-hungry players, but those uninterested will not feel left out. In fact, the Doom Marine himself interacts with other characters with an attitude of unmitigated apathy. Much like the gameplay-focused player, the protagonist is only interested in ruthlessly and efficiently destroying every demon in his path. Why? Because they’re demons - pure evil made manifest. There doesn’t need to be a why."
As if the game didn’t have enough content, there is an entire online multiplayer mode available that accompanies the substantial single player campaign. While the online mode clearly isn’t the focus here, it’s impressive how fleshed out it feels. Unfortunately, the online servers gave me some problems while playing, but when it worked it was fun. The multiplayer mode is akin to old PC arcade style arena shooters. They're fast, and have items littered throughout the maps. It's a fun mode to dive into if you want a break from the heavy offline mode.
In terms of the Switch version of Doom, it’s kind of surreal to be playing it on a Nintendo console. Seeing a game as brutal and violent as this on the Switch is not something I would have ever imagined. Since the Switch is technically inferior to its contemporary counterparts, there is a noticeable difference between them. However, the sheer fact that this game can be played entirely with hardly any hiccups on a handheld definitely makes up for the slight downgrade. Textures may not look as pretty and the framerate is not as smooth, but that’s a small price to pay for Doom on the go.
Doom is an over-the-top, fun experience and I’m so glad it exists, especially on the Switch. The level of polish and the smoothness of the combat stood out to me when I played it in 2016 and still stands out to me in 2017. I hope first person shooters like this are here to stay, because the current standard has gotten old. Let’s hope for a Doom 2 in the near future.
Consider playing if:
- First person shooters interest you, but you are tired of the current trend set by other popular shooters
- The idea of blowing away alien demons sounds fun
- You like dense, close quarter areas to explore with lots of collectibles
Consider skipping if:
- Realism matters to you (I mean, you’re killing alien demons in Hell for crying out loud!)
- Blood and guts make you queasy
- You’re looking for a multiplayer mode to sink hundreds of hours into
- You’re looking for something less linear and open ended
This game is a quality experience and is recommended.