Doom (2016) Overview

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It certainly has been quite a while since there has been a new Doom. After more than ten years I really had some concerns about what kind of game the new Doom was going to be. It switched hands and probably got redesigned a few times so it could have potentially become a Duke Nukem Forever, or a Max Payne 3. Thankfully it ended up being the latter and not the former and it was quite a success.

The new Doom seems to have heavily borrowed a lot of elements from Wolfenstein TNO, so if you have played either TNO (The New Order) or TOB (The Old Blood) it will feel quite natural to you. It also borrowed some elements from the Quake series (Quake 3 and Quake 4) which are already in the same vein as other ID Tech games so that wasn’t a surprise at all. It looks like Doom 3 but it doesn’t really feel like it at all. The borrowed elements are quite welcome, but they turn doom into more of a fast-paced action game then the horror survival angle that Doom 3 went for. This Doom feels much more like the classic Doom 1 and 2 games in design. You start off a little bit slow and then it quickly starts getting crazy after a couple of levels.

Each of the missions has a set mission, goal, but every level each has its own special set of challenges and secrets that are optional side quests. These optional challenges will unlock weapon points that allow you to upgrade each of your guns which allows for added versatility and more power. Similar to TNO each of the weapons has a mod (actually 2 mods) that allow the gun to be used in two different kinds of ways depending on your playstyle. Some of the mods add more power to the weapon, some of the mods add scopes for long range, and some of the mods add an explosive or multi shot option.

All of the guns have 2 mods that need to be found and then the mod unlocks a couple of additional perks for that gun. You have to complete a particular set of requirements in order to unlock the perk. Luckily you can switch between the mods whenever you want as long as you have unlocked them. The mods are found scattered around the level and you can pick which weapon you want to unlock the mod for when you find a mod. There are enough mods to unlock all the weapons in the game but it is unlikely you will find all of the mods on your first playthrough. You don’t need to have them to beat the game but they usually make things a lot easier. In every level there were usually one or two mods to be found, the first one was usually pretty easy to find while the other ones could be pretty tricky.

In addition to the weapon mods there are also Armor mods, both of which are a welcome change. The armor mods allow you to upgrade 4 categories in your armor suit which each have their own special set of uses. One category gives you increased exploration perks and allows you to find hidden secrets more easily, another category gives you more perks when messing with powers, a third perk gives you environment resistance upgrades, and the final category increases your speed when doing certain things. These armor upgrades were scattered around the levels in the form of Protean keys that you found on special elite guards. Once again there are enough of these in the game in order for you to be able to fully unlock all of the upgrades but without the exploration perk fully unlocked most likely you won’t find all of the upgrades unless you are extremely good at treasure hunting.

Then there were a third set of upgrades that were scattered around the level which allowed you to further boost your health, armor, and ammo capacity to more or less double what the initial amount was, and they are permanent upgrades. These are glowing red balls of pure argent energy that your suit just seems to love. Like the others there are just enough of them to be able to upgrade all of the skills eventually.

If you are really having trouble locating the upgrades and items the final set of upgrades in the exploration pack set of the armor upgrades will reveal the location of most of the items that are scattered around the various levels and it will tick off what you have already unlocked but unfortunately it isn’t all that good for locating secrets.

There are powers that give temporary bonuses, in a kind of Quake 3/4 reminiscent style you will find them as floating orbs around some of the levels. The powers will be familiar to returning Doom and Quake fans like haste, and berserk mode but they cannot be unlocked they are just bonuses that appear in the levels and will help for the particular area that you are currently facing. Often one of the missions challenges will involve using one of these bonus power-ups, and you will complete certain areas faster or more easily by using the power-up suggested for it.

Lastly there are runes. The runes augment your abilities and unlock special bonuses that give passive boosts once you have completed the optional requirements for them. The runes are usually hidden around the levels and you have to complete a challenge in order to even unlock access to the rune. Once you have beaten the challenge the rune is unlocked in your rune circle and you can select it from the menu. At first you can only have one rune unlocked but eventually you can have up to three runes simultaneously active at any time. Each of the runes has a default set of bonuses, but once you have completed the prerequisite for that particular rune it will unlock a second level with a significantly improved always on passive bonus. Some of them enhance your agility, some of them increase the rates of certain items dropping, some increase your speed it’s a mixed bag really. I preferred increased ammo drop, speedy fatalities, and death be gone one time. Which ones you prefer and select depend greatly on your playstyle.

Once you have damaged an enemy enough they will enter a special flashing fatality mode. You can attack them with melee and you will execute a finishing move on them depending on what angle you are attacking them from. By doing this you will gain large amounts of health and often other bonuses as well. If you do not kill them while they are in this flashing mode they will recover and you will have to fight them again.

The story in the Doom games has never been very deep, and this one isn’t really an exception. Rather predictably someone has managed to open a portal into hell, hell has escaped and it’s basically up to you to stop the demons and close the portal again. There is less of an introduction than there was for Doom 3, this feels much more similar to Doom 1 or Doom 2.

The lore for this Doom is slightly deeper than previous Doom games and there is added information to unlock and further backstory to the Doom marine (particularly) once you arrive in Hell. Sadly the audiologs from Doom 3 didn’t make a reappearance but there is still plenty of things to read about once you have encountered them, and the additional data is discovered in the form of datalogs. You will learn some of the basic backstory to most of the levels and enemies that appear just by playing through the normal game but if you want to fully understand the lore behind that particular item you will have to further unlock datalogs that are found around the levels. There aren’t very many characters you will have to pay attention to so it’s pretty easy to understand the story behind this. Not like story was ever ID Tech’s forte either so I didn’t have high expectations in this department. The story for this Doom is simple and straightforward.

The graphics in this Doom certainly shine. They built off of the already pretty engine for Wolfenstein’s TOB and TNO, but took the look and feel of Doom 3 but gave it a TNO makeover and it looks fantastic. The game scales incredibly well on PC hardware, and maintained 60 FPS comfortably on a 970 gtx and a 3570K. The textures in the game perhaps weren’t quite as detailed as the ones in Wolfenstein were but they were certainly a huge improvement over any of the previous titles in the ID repertoire. I’ve played it on PS4 as well and I can’t honestly say that there is a gigantic difference between the PC settings and the console settings but there are certainly subtle differences, especially in the aftereffects. The recent ID games look extremely good without requiring that strong of hardware to run it on. I remember I ran TNO on my old 8800 GTX/Q6600 and that ran very acceptably, and while it certainly does look vastly better on the 970 it’s not like the Witcher or Crysis where the difference between Medium High and Ultra settings is incredibly obvious, it is rather subtle. I noticed it definitely used a lot more VRAM than any of the previous ID games, but it ran very smooth and fluid.

There is multiplayer in this Doom. It feels rather similar to the Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament. There are a bunch of different maps and modes but most of the content in the multiplayer is locked behind DLC. You have levels that you gain by killing enemies and there are team based maps. I played enough of it to unlock the basic multiplayer trophies but I didn’t play it for very long. It’s pretty neat that you can transform into certain demons and gain unique special abilities. You can also unlock custom pieces of armor for a specific set but the majority of these have to be bought in the DLC. You also unlock special powers for your character based on your level which can make it a bit unbalanced if you are playing against very high level opponents. It honestly doesn’t feel very different from Halo multiplayer or Unreal tournament.

There are plenty of secrets to be found scattered around Doom. You have the data logs which will provide more information for the majority of your enemies and it will also give you background information on the maps and characters. You also have the argent cells which boost your storage capabilities. You also have the keys you pick up off the elite guards which let you upgrade the suits powers. There are runes which increase your passive and active skills. Finally there are also secrets which contain weapons before you would normally get them, and also upgrades that might be useful to you at that particular point. Once you have beaten the game there really isn’t much in the way of post endgame unlockables but you can replay any level with your current set of upgrades and you can work at locating all the collectibles on the map. You do unlock the harder difficulties after beating the first game (nightmare and ultra-nightmare). I find it slightly amusing that they give you a trophy for beating the first level on ultra nightmare but no trophy for beating the entire game on ultra nightmare.

I wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t scrapped it and rebuilt the whole game when Bethesda took over, a friend of mine lamented that the original Doom 4 concepts got tossed out. I too am a little curious to see what the original idea might have looked like versus what the final product ended up being, but at the same time after 10 years hiatus I feel they could have done a lot worse, and I don’t mind the current finish. I remember back when the Doom 3 beta came out and that too ended up being very different than the final finished Doom 3…whether it changed for the better or for the worse I guess we will never find out although i’m very happy with Doom 4 as it is. There was a bit more action and it was faster pace than I was expecting Doom to be but it was a welcome change and they managed to incorporate the game-play pretty well. The scary jumpy factor seems to be pretty much gone (although try playing it on ultra nightmare and you might find yourself getting a feeling reminiscent of playing the original Doom 3 on nightmare mode). If you enjoy other Doom or Wolfenstein games then you will almost certainly enjoy this one.

 

 

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~ by kain243 on May 7, 2017.

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