DOOM closed beta impressions0 Comments
The DOOM closed beta has come and gone, and the sun has risen on a day when I won't be able to drag myself out of bed and immediately start fighting like hell in the revamped shooter. It's a sad day for sure, but at least I'll be able to get back to a life where I'm not constantly trying to trip people and punch their faces into the dirt. After being initially unsure if I was going to enjoy the beta because of the combination of modern and classic mechanics, I found myself in a groove I was not able to quit.
DOOM feels like an amalgamation of multiple shooters that I have played over the past two decades, and that's really where its strength lies. Many gamers are going to feel really uncomfortable with the controls for their first few matches, but once you realize that you've been spoiled by fancy 21st century shooters with ridiculous concepts such as "reload" and "run," you'll feel right at home.
It's by no means a straight-up back to basics concept though, and you shouldn't let the lack of these small yet pervasive mechanics impact your opinion too heavily: there's a good reason for it. Bethesda and the developers working on DOOM have revamped the first-person shooters of our youth, from the original DOOM, of course, to other classics like Quake III Arena and Perfect Dark. Having just came off a stint of playing Rare Replay, my week with Joanna had prepared me exceptionally well for the coming dark.
The gameplay is still chock-full of mechanics that have only become common in the past decade, but they haven't been shoehorned into a classic control set. The double-jump is perhaps the most apparent addition, which hearkens back to Quake Arena, but feels a lot more like the directional "thrust" jumping from more recent Halo titles or Titanfall. The addition of this small mechanic adds a verticality and maneuverability to the game that has not been seen in DOOM titles before, and the two available levels were clearly built with this in mind. Much like other recent shooters, the gameplay in DOOM is less horizontally focused, and you have to keep your head on a constant swivel to see enemies coming at you from all angles.
They have also changed some core mechanics so that new players wouldn't feel too awkward without common controls: the increased speed of the players is a more-than-acceptable substitute for a run button, and who needs to reload when you can fire 200 bullets continuously? No one, that's who. I'm thoroughly impressed with the hybrid classic-modern mechanics, which I think have been implemented in such a way that will be nostalgic to veterans, and welcoming to newcomers.
Another exceptionally welcome addition was the fairly in depth customization options for both your character and weapons. The combinations of different types of armor pieces, color sets, patterns, and more allowed for you to go into each match feeling like a truly unique operator. We only got a sampling of the different customization options in the beta, and after speaking with other players it seems like everyone got randomly generated colors and equipment pieces. It's customization and unlock systems like this that are one of the key aspects necessary for creating a sustainable multiplayer ecosystem that doesn't stagnate quickly.
The DOOM closed beta was not without its issues, but for the most part they were few and far between once you got into an actual match, and didn't mar the overall experience. Connecting to a server and having that connection remain stable seemed to be the biggest issue holding back the game, but it's hard to complain when the whole point of the beta is to ensure these issues have been dealt with by launch. There were also some issues with party members being dropped from the lobby right before a game started, with only the party leader making it into the match. Switching who was the leader seemed to fix the issue temporarily, but it surfaced several times.
There were also several in-game exploits that I was able to take advantage of, two of which allowed me to bypass the Super Shotgun reload animation. If you shot a player and then immediate melee attacked, or switched weapons, you didn't have to go through the 1 second animation, and could instead use the time to deal more damage. By using the essential Halo shotgun-melee combination, I was able to chain together successive shotgun blasts and CQC attacks until I killed my opponent with barely a split-second interruption in damage output. Then, of course, I'd follow it up by doing Carlton's dance from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air over top of their body.
The taunts in DOOM are hilarious and a ton of fun to pull off in the middle of combat. The only thing missing from them is Tom Jones singing while I enjoy my victory dance. The two players behind me didn't take kindly to my antics in the middle of the battlefield, and soon afterwards I found myself splattered across the wall. The combat and executions are just as visceral as you would hope for in a DOOM game, with the highlight being the Glorious kills that occur when you melee someone at low health. I wasn't even upset when it happened to me, it was generally epic to bear witness to.
You can augment your chances for survival slightly by equipping a Hack Module, which gives you a small buff such as shields, or the ability to see your opponent's health. There are different levels of Hack Modules and you can go into a match with four equipped, each of which will typically last from 30 to 90 seconds. There are also Haste and Gauss Cannon pickups, along with health, shield, and ammo refills littered across the map, which is a nice throwback to the old school arena multiplayer combat.
The chaos got amped up even more when a Demon Rune spawned in the level and players on both teams rushed towards it to be the one that was able to take control of the Revenant, a rocket-launcher firing demon with a jetpack. Becoming a demon gave players the opportunity to tip the scales of battle in their favor, and it was tremendously fun to be able to fly around the map reigning down death upon the battlefield. Demons like the Revenant also add another level of verticality to the gameplay, and I'm excited to see the full offering at launch.
There are definitely some things that I would have liked to see in the DOOM beta, if only to make sure that they are coming in the full game, like the chainsaw, BFG, and perhaps an additional demon or two. I'm sure we've just had our exposure limited so that there are still some surprises left over when the game releases in full on May 13, and overall the beta did have a decent offering of weapons and unlockables.
If Call of Duty has become the supposed "twitch-shooter" of this generation, then we're going to need to come up with a twitchier term to describe the combat in DOOM's multiplayer. The gameplay is some of the most fast-paced and frantic first-person shooter combat I've played in a long time, and I even found myself substantially turning up my sensitivity so that I could whip my camera 180 degrees fast enough to keep up with the chaos unfolding around me at all times. After heading into the beta skeptical about how the game would redefine DOOM's classic multiplayer while managing to stand up to the expectations of gamers in 2016, all I'm concerned about now is how I'm going to spend the next month and a half.