Between Dark Souls 3 and the new Ratchet and Clank gamers are kind of tied up this week. For everyone else there was the Doom open beta this weekend. Described as a return to the classic Doom in a perfect 1080 package. I kind of get the same fear in my gut as when Duke Nukem: Forever was near release. A great classic getting a current gen reboot sounds great but after so many years it may be better to leave it be. As everyone should know Duke Nukem: Forever was a terrible mess that probably destroyed the franchise. A confusing, awkward game that couldn’t decide what tone it wanted to set and tried to do everything it thought the fans would like at one time. Instead it turned into a disaster that could only appeal to the bottom line… i.e. Trump supporters. Doom is in a similar position, being one of the earliest great first person shooter games. Starting a formula used so often these days it might as well be renamed ‘cut and paste’.
Doom does pay respect to its ancestor and follows the classic formula very closely. Namely, everyone gets ridiculous weapons and the goal is to see how many people you can blow up in a shower of blood before they get you. Multi-level arenas are inventive and make use of the double jump mechanic. Picks up for ammo, health and demon tokens are plentiful. There is also a lot of freedom with weapons, like having a rocket launcher as a main weapon. A true return to arena style multiplayer combat, much like the original GoldenEye 007. A new entertaining feature is the ability to do special melee finishers for everyone to see. I personally enjoy back handing opponents to death after shot-gunning them.
While there is a lot of good here and a true return to the classic it’s kind of boring and bland. While it feels odd to complain about it the characters are all very standard. There are a lot of ways to customize but they all feel identical and are barely noticeable in a fight either way. Even the overpowered monster players can turn into feels kind of standard. Using different colors is probably the only noticeable change but is irrelevant when everyone in the lobby is either red or blue. The beta only has two maps and they are both the same dark, grim, brown colored wholes. One just starts with more blood than the other. The beta only provides two generic game types, Team Deathmatch and Zone Capture. Of course that last bit will be expanded upon but I don’t see players fighting in a brightly lit meadow anytime soon.
Players can’t run but characters move so fast it isn’t really necessary, which is good because enemies already have ample time to escape any attack. For a game legendary for its use of overt blood and violence, weapons do very little damage. Players can take multiple hits from a rocket launcher before finally going down. The only standard weapon that does any good is the extreme shotgun or demon weapons which are difficult to use but guarantee a kill. During the beta I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing; like some feature from the single player or some other part of the multiplayer. In the end the beta seemed like a very incomplete look at the actual multiplayer. While an exciting return to the basics it is hard to judge an incomplete picture. Of course, at the same time it could suggest the developers don’t trust their own work yet… a bad omen with the release date looming.