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Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: id Software
Release Date: May 13, 2016


PS4/XOne/PC Multiplayer Preview - 'Doom'

by Redmond Carolipio on April 7, 2016 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

DOOM returns as a brutally fun and challenging modern-day shooter experience.

Pre-order Doom

Damn. This is fast.

That was the first thought that rushed through my head during my maiden voyage into the multiplayer beta of Doom, which is being rebooted instead of remastered from id Software after more than a decade away from the FPS populace.

Players old enough to remember what Doom was like during that time could find a welcome return to the kind of gameplay that helped lay the groundwork for many of today's shooters. For the newer Call of Duty-raised generation getting a taste of Doom for the first time:  You might be in for a learning experience.

One way I can describe Doom to the unfamiliar without outlining the series' roughly 20-year history: It's exactly what you'd think a first-person shooter focused on fighting the monsters of Hell before the advent of stealth, cover and health regen would be. It was, and aims to be again, the kind of game that demands you play it with heavy metal in the background.

The original Doom and its successors focused on high-pressure, high-volume shooter action that forced players to act quickly on the move and always push forward. Demonic enemies would appear and attack from all angles, so sitting still or hiding and waiting for the opportune moment to strike rarely bore much fruit. Doom was a war of attrition, and the multiplayer reflects it in both spirit and actual gameplay.

Before jumping into battle, I explored the menu to see what customization options were available. Everyone you'll encounter is in some kind of power armor, so I had a range of standard color and pattern options (honeycomb, baby!) for inner and outer layers of the armor.

Eventually, I found that the more I played and gained experience, different colors, patterns and even pieces of various kinds of armor would be available. I could have a helmet from one type of armor, arms from other kinds, and a chest piece from a third. You can even adjust how torn up and dirty your armor can look, if you want to come across like one of those baseball players with the nasty pine tar-ridden batting helmets. That range of aesthetics extends to your weapons as well, so if you like your assault rifles purple with gold stars, then you've found your game. None of these customization options have any effect on actual weapon power or armor quality, which is fine, since the weapons carried enough punch on their own.

One aspect the game borrows from modern shooters is the concept of pregame loadouts. In the old days, picking up dropped weapons was part of the thrill. The beta provided three basic loadout options: Ambusher, Assault and Sniper. You get two guns and a grenade type in each class, which is all you need. Ambusher outfits you with a heavy assault rifle that fired good old-fashioned hot lead and a double-barreled, break-open shotgun. Assault supplied me with a rocket launcher and a plasma rifle that shot the ever-reliable balls of energy, while Sniper featured the Vortex long-range rifle. For one of the three custom loadout slots, you can pick from the weapons mentioned above along with a "lightning" gun that fires a steady stream of electricity as well as an extremely lethal rail gun some higher-level players enjoyed showing others up close. You can also fit a variety of "hack modules," which are power-ups you can activate when you respawn, like some extra armor or the ability to see and track the person who killed you, which is inevitable.

Team Deathmatch and Warpath were the available multiplayer options, so I figured getting my feet wet (or blown off) in Deathmatch would be a good place to start.

Visually, the battleground I found myself fighting in looked solid, with its glowing lava and hellish decor. I found myself more engrossed in how everything moved, which brings me back to that first thought — it's fast. Very fast. I actually died within 30 seconds after someone ran up from behind me and blew me into chunks with the double-barrel shotgun. Fine, I probably deserve that for standing around. I instantly found more success when I adapted the kind of gun-parkour style of constant motion and firing at anything that moved (and was within range). One thing that surprised me was how fluidly the double-jumping and mantling moved within the context of battle. While Doom is still about as far from a tactical shooter as it gets, these movement elements did add a sense of elusiveness and speed when needed. As others got used to them, some games ended up having a feeling of organic and natural movement and flow — almost like a good game of basketball … except with death. And lots of blood.

Another thing that can take getting used to is picking up power-ups off the ground to boost your armor and attack power and regain health. That's right, "regain" health — as in no regenerating shield or Deadpool healing factor by avoiding fire for a few seconds. Like I said, the game is all about surviving and advancing. The health factor also leads to one of the most satisfying elements of the game: glory kills. These are feral, gruesome melee attacks you can use to finish off an enemy with low health. Necks are snapped, limbs are torn off and the blood flies with these attacks; they remain the best way to exact vengeance upon the ones who killed you with prejudice moments earlier.

Then there's the demon rune, a special power-up with an announced midgame arrival time that pops up in a location on the map. If you get it in the beta, you transform into a jetpack-riding, rocket-firing demon capable of wiping out the level if your demon-piloting skills are solid enough. For the sake of balance, your demon form is not invincible and only lasts for a limited amount of time, so enjoy it while you can — and you will.

One thing that weirded me out about the multiplayer beta were the damage numbers bouncing off opponents whenever I hit them with something — shades of Borderlands or most recently, The Division. It's an odd thing to see for visual reasons, but it also showed me some of the actual damage I was doing (or not doing) with weapons that I thought would be stronger. A rocket blast should not yield 10 or 15 points of damage if you're going the "bouncy hit points" route.

Overall, I had fun with the Doom multplayer beta, which showed off enough to keep me interested in the final product. We've yet to see what the single-player will look like, but the action's pace and intensity carries potential. Fighting like hell isn't just a tagline; it's the Doom way of life. We'll see if it has staying power.

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