Here’s to a Helluva Good Time: Doom Reveal Impressions
Thanks to my travelling man stint courtesy of my job, I happened to get access to the closed-door reveal event for id Software’s Doom revival held at the 19th annual Quakecon. Yeah, they showed the game in action. Cutting straight to the point with a spinning chainsaw blade, the footage was absolutely fucking killer. I’ve never been so excited for Doom.
The presentation began with some foreplay – precursory details about the game that set the tone for where id is heading with this quasi-reboot. Namely, we’re going back to Mars, a setting the dev team felt Doom belonged (which all but squashes the originally proposed Earth backdrop). Though it’s unlikely you need any more preamble past “demons and shotgun,” the story revolves around a research institute called UAC experimenting on Hell’s denizens, combining machine and monster because… there’s nothing else to shoot on Mars?
id scrapped the “Doom 4” moniker in favor of just “Doom” for a reason. It’s not a remake so much as it’s an homage to everything about the series that’s been lauded and beloved by fans over it’s nearly twenty year lifespan. It was stressed that this game doesn’t fall in step with the modern day FPS convention of “cover-shooting” that forces you to wait behind barricades while your health regenerates. As in days of yore, this Doom has you running and gunning, dodging flying projectiles and getting in your enemy’s face for the kill. What was shown off was fast-paced, almost reckless gunplay that called back to the genre’s formative years.
The footage had our helmeted space marine navigating a darkly atmospheric environment that resembled a cross between Aliens’ LV-426 and Hellraiser’s torture-scapes. The levels aren’t one-dimensional planes, either. More than a few times, our marine dabbled in light platforming to get up and above; he’s even got himself a short jet-pack burst that serves as a sort of double jump.
Stopping and smelling the Martian roses became a secondary endeavor, however, once demons started spilling onto the scene. This… this is where I felt a yawning maw of a craving for this game and it’s because of a new combat mechanic that, honestly, every FPS might gladly rip-off once Doom drops. In the gorey heat of battle, you’ll sometimes notice a pulsing glow envelop enemies you weaken with gunfire. That gives you the ability to launch into an instant kill finisher that literally tears demons apart. We saw chest cavities caved in, heads knocked clean off, and things happen to jaws that shouldn’t happen to jaws.
The moves are contextually sensitive, meaning that if you’re near a wall, well of course your Doom Guy will bash a demon’s skull into it. Are they down on the ground? You’re mashing skulls like you’re making wine. Happen to be mid-air? Imagine the real world result of Mario descending boots first upon a Goomba. It adds a layer of moment-to-moment choice where the result is you mincing up a room of enemies in the most horrifically pleasing way possible.
And because you’re looking to revive your health instead of regenerate it, the dev’s cleverly have demons drop healing pick-up’s, encouraging you to blast and mash away in order to chain kills and keep your energy from falling. Instead of feeling like a holdover from FPS days of yore, it actually adds this frantic, kinetic feel to the combat that just makes me salivate.
The game plans on throwing the entire hordes of Hell and its next-door neighbors at you. Some fights escalated to rooms packed with a mixed-bag of enemy types. Fireballs and claws filled the player’s vision. Luckily, a new weapon radial allows you to pause the action Mass Effect-style and choose the best killin’ instrument to make sweet music with. And, man, do the weapons look awesome. There’s an automatic shotgun equipped with rapid-fire, an intensely accurate plasma rifle, the classic overpowered double-barrel, a friggin’ rocket launcher and – though conventional – a good ol’ fashioned chainsaw that provided the demo’s most gruesomely satisfying moments of bifurcation.
Multiplayer was confirmed, though only insomuch as to confirm it existed. Beyond that, 1080p and a silky 60fps were guaranteed for the next-gen title (yes, it being Quakecon, any mention of consoles was met with immediate and resounding “Boo’s”).
The footage killed it for the crowd, ovations and loudness ensuing. For me… It made a crater of an impression. What was shown doesn’t just seem like an evolution for this series but the potential push the entire FPS genre needs to break away from tired ideas introduced last-generation. It looks fast, bloody, and incredibly fun. id definitely has something big on their hands here. Bigger than a BFG.