Once More Unto The Breach – DOOM (Full Review)

Doom has a legacy. It popularized first-person shooters in the early ’90s, paving the way for every FPS that we have had to date. Games like Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Doom. That being said, making a game under the Doom name carries a lot of weight. It has to be done right. Now we’re in 2016, FPS games have evolved far beyond the simple nature of the early titles, so creating a modern Doom that can contend with the current style while still staying true to what made the game so popular and successful in its earliest days… that’s no easy task. How do you blend a classic ’90s shooter into the modern formula without destroying that legacy? Well luckily id Software and Bethesda found a way and they absolutely nailed it.

I have fond memories of Doom from when I was a kid. I would get home from school and some days it was all I wanted to do. So, after doing my homework (sometimes before…shhh!) I would insert whichever one of the many floppy discs of the game I was on at that point and boot it up. I’d spend hours playing the same levels over and over, trying my best to find every last secret, kill every enemy, and finish as quickly as possible. At the time and at my age, Doom was pretty frightening too…but it was a sense of fright that I liked and craved. It was addicting. Those memories and those feelings have stuck with me to this day. The classic Doom experience is something unique and it’s safe to say that the folks behind its latest incarnation how important that really is.

*** NOTE: Before we get started, I should mention that there MAY be some spoilers in here. Whether major or minor, this is your warning. Turn back now if you don’t want the game ruined for you! ***


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The classic Doom story is pretty simple. A company called the UAC (Union Aerospace Corporation) has set up a base of operations on Mars and accidentally opened an inter-dimensional portal to Hell itself. The demons, carnage, and horror flows through, consuming everything and everyone…except you. You are a lone Marine left to fend off and push back the demonic horde into the wretched hole from whence they came, essentially saving mankind from a Doomed existence. (Ha!)

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This 2016 modern rendition of Doom follows that same formula, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. The actual connection to the original games’ canon & universe is somewhat unclear, but it appears to be something of an origin story and/or an alternate universe reboot of the series’ storytelling. Either way, it’s pretty clear from the get-go that the UAC is up to the same tricks again.

A UAC outpost is established on Mars in order to extract “Argent Plasma” from a transdimensional fracture between our universe and Hell. This plasma is manipulated by processes perfected by the UAC to produce Argent Energy, now an invaluable resource to humanity as the primary source of power across Earth, with the UAC solely benefiting from the profits. A separate classified division of the UAC operates alongside the energy production arm to research and explore other ways of benefiting from this exclusive opportunity, a direct link to Hell – this is, in a manner of speaking, how the player character is brought into the story. You’ll have to play it for yourself to find out more as it would be a shame to spoil a well-crafted story driven by not only a thrilling and chaotic gameplay experience, but a twisting web of mystery, discovery and uncertain motives…

Doom pays homage to its origins through rewarding exploration and initiative also. Throughout the game, you’ll often find secret areas, hidden by subtle tunnels, vents and all manner of clever trickery. These areas usually include things like armor, health, and ammo however they occasionally include things like Argent Energy shards (which allow you to upgrade your health, armor, or ammo capacity), Praetor suit upgrades (tokens to upgrade different aspects of your suit), and… little Doom Marine plush dolls! These adorable little guys are collectibles and as you find them they unlock in one of the campaign menus, each also in turn allowing you to get an up close look at some of the in-game models of the characters and weapons!

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Within the game, you’ll also find Rune Trial markers. Once activated, these markers present you with a challenge to complete and upon a successful run, will grant you a specific rune. Runes are essentially modifiers that further augment your abilities such as increased ammo pick-up radius and increased stagger time on demons. Each rune has a specific goal assigned to it, by completing these goals the rune becomes even more powerful. You can also replay any Rune Trials that you discover at any time through the Campaign menu, even if you don’t complete it or are too hooked to even attempt it. You can always try later!

It’s clear as you progress through the game, the developers really wanted to make sure that there was always something new for the player to achieve, another challenge to complete. In yet another way to upgrade your level of total badassery, you can also modify your weapons. Most weapons come with two different attachment slots which can be swapped at the press of a button on-the-fly, allowing the player to further react to new scenarios and enemy types beyond swapping entire weapons. By finding the hovering scout drones throughout the game, you can select a weapon mod to unlock. Once unlocked, you then have the option to upgrade these mods as well. You do this by obtaining weapon mod tokens, which are acquired through normal play. Kill enough demons and do it with style, and you will be rewarded. Oh, and did I mention that you can also upgrade these mods even further afterwards by completing yet even more challenges? It’s like the upgrades never stop around here!

Augment yourself enough throughout the story and by the end, you’ll no longer fear the demons…they will fear you.
As they should.

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There is also an in-game “Codex” that gives players access to more lore, backstory, and general information about the Doom universe. Environments, characters, enemies, weapons, tutorials, and general information is all found here and unlocks as the player progresses throughout the game. Some entries are unlocked due to normal in-game progression, such as meeting a particular enemy or boss for the first time, but many have to be discovered by means of UAC data chips and other artifacts found throughout the game. These data chips can be fairly difficult to spot, but they do show up on the in-game map if you happen to pass by one or if you discover the full map located somewhere within each mission. The information the Codex provides helps to round out the story and offers more depth as to what is going on around the player. Reading each entry is something I highly recommend to both new and old Doom players alike, as they offer some truly fascinating insight into enemies and weapons you may think you already know everything about.

In case there wasn’t enough exploring and hunting around to do, there is also a hidden lever in each mission that opens a secret door somewhere elsewhere in the mission, some closer than others to the lever. Once you’ve found both the lever AND then the door, you’ll be greeted with a room from a classic Doom level. Inside the room you will find a handful of handy supplies, but more importantly you will unlock the full level to play later on, via the Campaign menu. Complete with the old textures and all whilst featuring a little of the updated assets, such as the new weapons, this is a literal throwback to the games that started it all and something all Doom fans can truly appreciate.

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Overall, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of love went into this campaign. Somehow the developers managed to honor that original hellish FPS that we all remember, but were still able to make a game that can keep up with today’s fast-paced and high-octane experiences. This game FEELS like Doom and it’s a Hell of a lot of fun -which is what truly matters. As a fan, I couldn’t be happier with the campaign for this game. If you’ve played it and have a different opinion, then I want to hear it! Be sure to let me know in the comments!


MULTIPLAYER

Now, before I dive into this, I should comment on the verticality that was added in this game.
Yes, you can jump and clamber onto ledges in this game. No, you couldn’t do so in the original Doom.
Back in the early ’90s, the technology was limited. Now it’s 2016 and the ability to jump in an FPS has been around for a very long time. It’s essential and adds far more depth to the gameplay that is needed in the modern era.

Now, I can say that I have enjoyed quite a bit of the Doom multiplayer experience. I was granted access to both the closed alpha and the beta tests that preceded the release of the full game. In fact, Greenskull has a few videos on the Ready Up Live YouTube channel featuring both campaign and multiplayer content. You can find a healthy dose of multiplayer beta gameplay here, or a mix of campaign and MP gameplay here!

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The question remains for me if this multiplayer suite will hold up against the newer FPS gameplay formulae. There is no doubt that it is a lot of fun and is certainly unique in many ways, but with games like Halo 5, Call of Duty, and Battlefield in the mix, can Doom stand on its own as a popular competitive shooter? I have my doubts.

That’s not to say that the multiplayer is lacking in terms of content, however. There are plenty of game modes, maps, and customization to keep players entertained. In fact, the customization alone is as addictive as many other FPS games of this generation. There are so many different armor pieces, colors, taunts, patterns, and combinations of all these things, that they alone could keep me playing for hours…and they have.

Unfortunately, there are some reporting exceptionally poor matchmaking search times, including at least one RUL staff member we can verify this report through. Our experiences on the whole appear to be positive with search times, so it’s potentially a regional issue, and even then this issue appears to be happening on-and-off, so it’s likely it will be resolved in good time via a patch. On a positive note about connections, the multiplayer element of Doom is hosted on dedicated servers, which is an absolute pleasure to see more and more of in new shooters.

Check out this video that I’ve uploaded. It’s a full game of Warpath, Doom‘s take on King of the Hill, with a single capture zone that moves along a marked route around the map.
Be sure to watch it closely and let me know what you think! Is this multiplayer something that can stand the test of time or will it fade away like so many others?


MUSIC (feat. Tyler)

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Hi all, your friendly and frankly irritating neighbourhood editor Tyler here – Dustin kindly allowed me a brief segment here in which to gush in all my nerdy glory about the absolutely marvelous work done by Mick Gordon and his team to bring the music of Doom to life.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of checking out the classic games, one of the most immediate things to (hopefully) stand out in your memory, as it does mine, is the rather unique soundtrack. Rather than the often forgettable music featured in many shooters both past and present, Doom‘s soundtrack has never been afraid to make itself known. The enormously in-your-face guitar riffs, electronic mixes and energetic beats have always had a huge impact on the tone and energy of Doom‘s renowned gameplay experience, and this new entry is no exception.

To produce the soundtrack, Gordon looked to the past for inspiration, and with some serious pieces of equipment and apparently a LOT of cables, managed to absolutely recapture the feel of a classic soundtrack in a way that will appeal to a modern audience of both Doom veterans and newcomers. There are a range of entirely new tracks featured in the game to complement the pleasant return of some easily recognizable pieces of music from the classic titles. Each and every track in the game has been produced with the game’s slightly more serious and modern tone in mind, with arcade-esque riffs swapped out for down-tuned electric guitars, heavy electronic beats and a metric ton of bass. It’s safe to say none of this work has been wasted thanks to the expert implementation of the soundtrack. Whilst the momentary periods of safety are backed with ominous music, the hectic onslaughts are accompanied with tracks that will turn the chaos up to 11 – fully immersing the player in the experience, and making them wonder why real life never seems to have a soundtrack this badass.

If you want a taster of the excellent work of Mick Gordon and his team, or want to check out the process behind the magic, be sure to check out this behind-the-scenes video!


SNAPMAP

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I should also bring to your attention the excellent new SnapMap mode, which is essentially a map builder and game mode creator for Doom multiplayer maps. It even allows for co-op custom games and survival modes, the possibilities are virtually limitless! Plus, if you’re a total map-building scrub or just plain lazy like Tyler, you’ll be pleased to know there is a LOT of functionality to make map design as simple and painless as could possibly be – happy building!
It’s a truly amazing tool and you should give it a look – Greenskull has a couple videos of that as well which you can enjoy here and here!


This new Doom was given a lot of love by those that know it best. id Software hit it on head with this game and it feels like a true successor to the FPS that started it all. The graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is solid, the content is lengthy, and above all…it’s a Hell of a good time. The game is just…fun. Which is what it’s all about, in the end. There are plans for more content and continued support for the game as well, so we should expect to see much more Doom in our future. Will there be another full game any time soon? That remains to be seen. If there is, can it maintain the quality that this game achieved?

All in all, I believe this game is absolutely worth the $60 price tag. Especially if you’re an old man like me and hold a special place in your demonic soul… errr, I mean, heart… for Doom.

Last but not least:

GO TO HELL.
LIVE LIKE HELL.
FIGHT LIKE HELL.