If you told me a few years ago that Bethesda would be the saviour of first-person shooters, I probably would have laughed at you. Fast-forward to today and Bethesda managed to wow me not once but twice this generation. Wolfenstein: The New Order is one of the best games I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing and the new Doom may even top that. Doom is a return to form for id software and one of the best looking and performing games on both PS4 and Xbox One.
When Doom was first shown off at E3 last year, I was impressed. Actually being able to play it and rip through the campaign in little over 13 hours made me want to drop everything and just explore and play more of Doom’s fantastic single-player campaign. The final product is a perfect blend of fast-paced action and actual thought put into level design from the original with some of the best parts of modern shooters. This ain’t no dumbed down corridor shooter.
Doom has a story but it takes a backseat to the fast-paced action. If you’re used to the loop of a few minutes of shooting before a cutscene, Doom will be a wake up call and this is how great shooters play. Doom has charm. This is evident right from the opening few minutes. There’s no wasting time and the tone is set for the rest of the game here. Doom needs you to move continuously and quickly as you shoot down demons and try and hunt for secrets in every level.
One of the best bits of the levels here is the verticality. Even the first few levels have more depth than most shooters do in their complete campaigns. Keycards are also present and you can’t cheat your way out this time with ‘IDKFA’. You are encouraged to explore and there are boss fights. The only time I felt the campaign got a little monotonous was towards the end. Things stay fresh throughout before the latter sections of the campaign.
Secrets in Doom range from upgrades to easter eggs that let you access classic Doom levels with their old-school visuals. You heard that right. Doom has upgrades, but they are very simple and don’t have you wasting too much time. You can upgrade your weapons and switch upgrades on the fly and also upgrade your suit with a variety of boosts. The final type of secret, so to speak, is in the form of rune challenges that ask you to complete a variety of tasks to gain certain upgrades. The best part about upgrades in Doom is that they aren’t necessary. They reward exploration but you can still get through levels by just blasting through tons of demons.
Performance in a shooter is of utmost importance, especially in one as fast-paced as Doom. id did a fantastic job across both consoles, delivering a rock solid 60 fps. There were only a few noticeable drops on Xbox One. The resolution is dynamic, but the AA implementation is great so things just look a bit softer on Xbox One compared to the 1080p at almost all times on the PS4. There’s also an FOV slider and motion blur settings that don’t impact the performance. I pushed the FOV all the way up and turned off motion blur in my playthrough.
The visuals too are fantastic. id Tech 6 is a monster of an engine and dare I say it is the only engine that comes close to DICE’s Frostbite engine for visuals and performance. Environments in Doom are detailed and even shadows on your gun look great. Glory kills are gruesome and awesome. If you (like me) enjoyed X-ray moves in Mortal Kombat, the new Doom will blow your mind. Enemy designs are incredible and it is nice to see how classic Doom enemies like cacodemons and mancubi look in a modern Doom.
Another highlight is Mick Gordon’s soundtrack. The original Doom had a memorable midi soundtrack that used various elements from popular songs played differently. Mick took the best bits of the original and brought them to a modern audience. Imagine if Meshuggah collaborated with Trent Reznor – you’d get the new Doom soundtrack. It is also dynamic and changes based on which area you’re in and how you’re playing. The sound design and the visuals create a jaw-dropping atmosphere that I still cannot believe a shooter in 2016 has.
As an overall package, Doom isn’t perfect. The multiplayer, which most people disliked in the closed beta, is fairly pedestrian and lacks the punch and charm found in the campaign. It wasn’t done by id and that’s very evident. There’s no lack of modes, but why bother with a multiplayer mode that isn’t fun, and when other games offer more depth? The only bit of fun I had in the multiplayer was when I picked up a rune that let me transform into a demon and go berserk.
The third bit of the Doom package is Doom SnapMap. This lets you create detailed levels with a lot of depth for both solo and co-op experiences and share them with the world across all platforms. The community has already rendered faithful recreations of classic Doom levels and this will add to the experience for players months after launch to make up for the multiplayer.
Doom is a fantastic shooter and essential for anyone looking for some depth in a world of generic reskinned war shooters. Doom intertwines the best of modern and old-school with a heavy as hell soundtrack to give you the best campaign in years. You owe it to yourself to buy Doom today and if you’ve been there from the start, there’s some great throwbacks to the first two Doom games.