I have a soft spot for Doom. Whether it be the discovery of the walking through walls cheat and finding the decapitated head of John Romero, or simply the nightmares had of Imps and the flying head things (a pain elemental for those Id fans out there), Doom kept me playing all the way through the 90s. Now, a mere few weeks from its fourth major release (and the first since 2004’s much beloved Doom 3), players who pre-ordered the new game, or kept their in game instructions from Wolfenstein The New Order all those years back, had a chance to play the game this weekend. So how does it play? Well, it’s a promising start.
In terms of Betas this one seems more intent on testing out the server capabilities than it is on actually selling the game. With the game’s release looming ever so closely, there isn’t much time for radical change, so the developers can be respected for trying to keep a lot of their multiplayer component hidden. It should not surprise many to find only two maps and two modes; a far cry from the introductory Betas found in the more recent Titanfall and Uncharted 4. But as soon as the game loaded up (which I must say showed an impressively fast matchmaking time), I was pleasantly surprised to see the game move with the pace and intensity of multiplayer shooter Quake.
Anyone who played Quake Arena or the Unreal Tournament franchise will know the speed of which I am talking. This is intense, blink-and-miss-it action, with the primary goal of exploding your opponents in all directions. The two areas provided – ‘Infernal’ and ‘Heatwave’ – are relatively medium sized maps that show off the 8v8 gameplay well, but the two modes available didn’t quite satisfy my needs to keep playing. You see, the major element of an explosive game such as your Quakes and Unreal Tournaments is the free-for-all carnage. So having only the standard team deathmatch and the team Warpath (a moving zone around the map that must be held by a team for points), left me hanging for that all out carnage that will no doubt be hiding within the full retail release next month.
So what makes Doom a worthy addition to the ever growing online FPS markets? Well, to be honest, not a whole lot. Picking up health vials is a nice throwback, as is the bright colours that aren’t found on online shooters of recent years. But the major addition comes with Hell Demon transformations. You see that large demon adorning the front cover of the game and all the poster material? Well, my dear reader, that can be you! And man does that make you feel invincible, with super rocket launchers coming out from either shoulder or a handy flying jetpack, you truly feel as if you have the ‘god’ mode on. In saying that though, the balance is fair. The demon is overpowered but not truly invincible. A good team can take it down if they work together, as I discovered first hand when we delightfully ghostbuster-ed one from all corners.
As for the actual core reason to keep playing, the traditional leveling up system with increasing perks and weapons are shown in the Beta. I did like the speed of leveling up found in the Beta and it kept me going ’til I hit the double digits, but I can’t help think that this was sped up just for this weekend. I find multiplayer games need to keep giving you incentives to keep playing, and the speed of leveling up can decide whether you are a ‘Call of Duty’ contender or a slow slog ‘Star Wars Battlefront’ player. If it keeps to the Beta speed it’s at however it could be the former.
Thanks to Dan Black for donating the Xbox One Beta Code – Ed.