Unfortunately I was only able to poke my head into the Bethesda E3 Launch briefly, but I was there long enough to catch the entirety of the Doom segment, and I’ve got this to say:
When they’ve emphasized “we want this to feel like Doom” it really does seem to.
Full disclosure: I haven’t played Doom since booting up Doom 3 in some bygone era (2003), and deciding that sneaking through corridors with imps slithering out of pipes wasn’t what I was in the mood for. I’m sure it was a nice game and all, but sneaking? In Doom?
Thankfully, Bethesda seems to have taken Doom back to a speed game. Speed run, strafing, this franchise started it. Hell, as recently as last year, players were still shaving 22 seconds off the Doom 2 records, and the best advice you could probably give to newbies was “don’t get hit”.
I was always mildly terrible at that.
Doom Wasn’t Horror
Look, okay, there were demons running around munching on your face, and bunnies with their heads skewered, but there were the moments of hilarity watching Arch-Viles take on Cyberdemons, and downed marines, and, well, the bunny was kinda funny.
Doom 3, on the other hand, just seemed to take itself waaaaaayyyyy too seriously. The fun was gone for me.
The other part of the “feel” that they would need to capture though was looming, triggered, threat. Doors were closed, but you knew there was a room full of imps waiting on the other side. This was on your terms though. You opened that door. You triggered that trap – there was threat, but there was also agency.
This new Doom does seem to capture that. With Gore.
Look, when we’re saying gore, this isn’t tiny little gibs, or the elegant stippling of a blood opera. I’d even go so far to say that the latest trailer (below) doesn’t have the half of the impact that the actual-play trailer does. Let me give some examples from the extended trailer we saw.
- Each monster appeared to have a wide variety of slaughter animations. Imps had their jaws, limbs and heads ripped off with your bare hands. Some of them seemed to be able to teleport, but even that doesn’t save them from your tearing hands, or the sharp bite of the chainsaw. Decapitations? Sure, but why not rip out the powerpack and shoving it down their throats instead?
- Switches and Keys. Remember how it seemed stupid that a monster couldn’t open a blue door? Turns out that it’s a palm scanner. And when it’s locked? Well, that dead marine lying over there won’t need his arm anyway.
- Acquiring weapons (and maybe armour?). There was always that soldier propped near a discarded weapon, as if guarding it for you? Well, now you’re ripping that chainsaw out of his chest. Yeah.
You’re not the only only thing in there that’s solving problems with violence.
- Echo devices provide foreshadowing clues about solutions to puzzles – the one we saw had a soldier being dragged off by a monster (it was presumably his hand that was keyed to the door we used later), his bones cracking and tearing.
- Your own death is no peaceful fade to black, but instead your helmet is cracked and then there’s some rather squishy, meaty sounds
- Enemies seem to still be antagonistic to their own when shot, thank go-..the martian marine core.
But is it too over the top?
I guess it’s going to be up to the censors to decide, and nearly impossible to tell from just a trailer.
It (presumably) doesn’t have any sex to push it into that unholy trinity of Interactivity + Violence + Sex that so frequently gets games banned. Its antagonists aren’t human, which is good (it’s okay to kill zombies, nazies, robots, aliens, and demons).
If it does have a metric ton of blasphemous iconography then it might get slapped with a freedom of religion clause, but it’d probably have to really try. Welcome To Hell, despite appearing quite squishy and techno-organic, didn’t seem to have inverted crosses or religious satire, so it may skirt through on the “Hell is another dimension” loophole.
AKA – things it’s safe to shoot.
As mentioned in other articles, we’ve seen imps, mancubi, pinkies, cyberdemons and revenants, at least. Some of the screenshots seem to have cacodemons, though they may be pain elementals.
The Revenant definitely used its rockets to fly/jump in one instance, and I swear that the player was chasing some form of teleporting imp (if it was an arch-vile, it went down faaaar too easily) so they seem to have at least some new tricks up their sleeve. Oh, and some seemed to have shields. Jerks.
There were also some brown blimps drifting around in the sky of Hell. They could have been cacodemons, as I didn’t see any lost souls around, but they really didn’t seem to care about our faithful protagonist.
Oh, and I did see barrels chain-explode, which is important. And they make the classic sound, or something close to it.
AKA – things not to get shot with
Fist – No longer the will fist bouts seem like they should have the Benny Hill music playing in the background, the fist seems visceral, wince-inducing and induced the most sympathetic groans from the Sydney E3 crowd. Getting killed by a fist seems like getting killed a Mortal Kombat Fatality. Yup, that bad.
Chainsaw – you pull this out of a marine’s body with a sickening crunch. Then again, why should this weapon be anything special?
Super Shotgun – Seems pretty useful again – and either it was the player’s favourite weapon, or just the one that they reliably had the most ammo for.
Machine Gun – This thing’s clip loading pickup took forever. I hope I never grab one in a firefight.
Rocket Launcher – Definitely there. Pretty sure I saw some rocket jumps.
Plasma Rifle – Yeah, it did its thing? Ran out of ammo quickly.
BFG – Referenced in the introductory speech, and I’m pretty sure it was picked up at one point.
There did seem to be a eight-slot wheel array used for switching weapons, which put the world in slow-mo while you selected. Nice way of keeping up the pressure without making players fumble through weapon changes, and presumably fist/chainsaw is a toggle.
I didn’t see a pistol or a chaingun. I guess you don’t need a pistol if you can rip things apart with your bare hands, but I did always like the chaingun. There’s eight slots, with something quite snipey-looking between what looks to be the BFG and the Chainsaw. Also, a grenade or grenade launcher might be handy in…
All I can say is height matters. The phrases “arena-style multiplayer” and a heavy emphasis on the word “vertical” may mean that the multiplayer plays a bit closer to the Quake series than Doom. That’s not a bad thing IMO.
Mantling may mean that cover becomes a bit of an interesting concept, and hopefully you can drop back or interrupt it.
There’s also been made mention that there will be Domination, Freeze Tag and Clan Arena.
One important thing I did notice was the player grabbing a powerup which transformed them into a Revenant, growing in height and getting a new HUD. Presumably there’ll be some sort of Monsters mode built in by default, but that doesn’t matter because…
…if there’s not, you can put it in. On any platform.
Seriously, the level designer looks so easy that you’ll be building your very one techno-organic vistas of squiggly writhing flesh-stuff in no time.
Also, there seems like a set of pre-programmed game styles (like a money-per-kill mercenary-style mode, and the Revenant mode we mentioned before). One would assume that you couldn’t share contents between different platforms, with multi-platform support being compared to Fallout 4, but with products like Ubisoft’s Unity login and Xbox One’s Window 10 interactions out there, who’s to say?
Doom’s the latest in a long franchise, so its unlikely to stimulate a fresh round of faceless marines with variant helmet/armour colours, but what it might do is up the gore factor on those existing cosplays.
Halo Master-chiefs are often pretty clean, so maybe a host of zombie-marines will show up to challenge them, or deadboys with chainsaws sticking out of their chests.
The monsters might be tricky, as their often not your traditional bipedal shape, but I guess you could probably try for a Cyber-demon or maybe an imp? Let us know if you’re thinking of trying one of these
Edit: Since this article was written the Eight Minutes of Gameplay, and Five Minutes of Hell campaign have been released, so you can check out the videos below. I’d suggest watching only if you’re over the age of 18.