So, Doom came out of left field for all of us, huh?
Even fans who were blown away by 2015’s E3 gameplay trailer weren’t really expecting it to be this good. Admit it; you liked the trailer, but it was both clearly scripted and inexplicably amateur. The shotgun was underpowered, some of the Glory Kills (because NetherRealm owns the rights to “fatality” or something) were repetitive, and the gameplay was surprisingly slow.
Skip forward a few months to the Multiplayer Beta. It had some great ideas, but some claimed it was trying too hard to ape the style of Halo and not doing enough to bring back to the rapid deathmatch gameplay popularized with Quake and Quake III. I started to worry that Doom 2016 would just be another pathetic cash-in from a company on the verge of becoming a has-been. This doubt was amplified when Id Software decided not to send out reviewer copies ahead of launch. No reviewer copies means no early critiques; a bad omen in the hype-driven games industry. Even after the game’s release people were reluctant to play it. Friends of mine admitted they’d bought a day-one copy but weren’t playing it yet, citing such excuses as ‘wanting to finish off Uncharted 3 first’ and ‘scared as hell that it’ll be awful.’
Days passed, and the silence was broken by a roar of approval- not from the publishers or the critics this time, but from the fans. Word of mouth spread quickly; Doom was back, and good god was it glorious. If I were an optimist, I would almost say this was Id’s intention. Think about it; when was the last time you heard something from the average consumers first and critics second since the days of monthly gaming magazines? It’s almost like HypeTM is a manufactured product birthed from the games industry’s desire to control information and games journalisms’ desperation to remain relevant. But I’m getting off-topic.
Doom did indeed score a coveted hat trick; it’s a solid game with great graphics and modern ease-of-play mechanics that still harkens back to the glory days of simpler (arguably purer) action-shooters, before cover mechanics and regenerating shields, before games like Call of Duty, Gears of War and yes, even Halo turned the FPS into a game of “sit and shoot” rather than “run and gun.” It rewards me for being the kind of combatant I like best in FPS games: the face-first berserker who unleashing enough firepower to mulch almost everything in my way, and whatever’s still standing when I reach it gets force-fed to its own puckered asshole. I was squealing like a little girl full of sugary cereal and murder throughout the entire campaign. I haven’t felt that way since, well, I discovered Brutal Doom, a popular mod for the original Doom that 2016 brilliantly mimicked, even if it didn’t take it to the cartoonish 90’s extreme that Brutal Doom does. But hey, that just means both have a reason to exist, and that’s the kind of fist-bump respect I can get behind.
But that brings me to my current, increasing malaise. I’ve played Doom. I enjoyed it, and I want more. But I can’t have it right now, given how long development times can be, even for something like DLC. Id wisely implemented the Snap Map feature into the game, and while its promise remains, the really good maps have yet to be released. The current selection are rushed and imbalanced.
So while I teach myself to be patient, I’d like to make a list of things I want to see implemented in Doom, either through patches or inevitable DLC’s.
#1: Weapon Glory Kills
Nothing left me more disappointed with a Glory Kill than fighting wearing down a big demon like a Hell Knight, and my reward is to lightly kick him off his feet. It got to where I was ignoring Glory Kill opportunities so I could instead blow his head off with my super shotgun, complete with a Lawrence Boddicker (ala Robocop) taunt of “Ninininini…” as I lined up my shot (if you’ve seen the movie you’ll know what I’m talking about).
So why aren’t Glory Kills with a weapon a thing? I don’t mind firing off one or two rounds from my currently equipped firearm to punctuate how much I hated a particular demon. How amazing would it be to daze a Baron of Hell, shove my shotgun down his throat and pull the trigger, blast his head off his body, and hold it up like a war trophy before it slides off the barrel? Why can’t I land on an imp and unload a few rounds into his head and chest with my machine gun? Or cut a Pinky’s legs out from under him with my chaingun? Or how about pulling the pin on a grenade, shoving it down a Hell Knight’s throat and watching him choke for a second before his upper torso turns into a fine red mist? I’m willing to spend the ammo, Id. Just give us an alternate button so we’re not always wasting ammo.
#2: Scenery Glory Kills
There are a few moments where Doomguy can score a railing kill into some molten slag or smash a demon’s head into a wall, by why not up it a notch? At least in the single-player, it’d be great to see some scenes where you can shove someone head-first into some working machinery, or feed them into an active plasma beam, or maybe toss them screaming into a much larger, immobile demon’s mouth?
#3: More Inter-Demon Warfare
One of the highlights of the original Doom was provoking monsters to fight one another. Some levels were even designed to showcase this. You don’t see much of it in Doom 2016, which is odd considering how well the campaign’s levels are designed. Outside of one or two scraps I don’t recall any instances where making demons fight each other was highlighted. You’d be forgiven for not even realizing it was a feature unless it happened by accident.
#4: The Ending Sucked, Fix That
I’m not going to get into spoiler territory other than to say the game comes to an abrupt end with sequel-bait, and thus feels very watered down. In the original Doom the ending is also abrupt–just text and a single picture–but it does a great job of showing you that this isn’t the end: a seemingly idyllic view of Earth’s countryside and little fluffy rabbits slowly pans over to reveal a city burning to the ground and an unlucky rabbit’s head impaled on a pike.
Doom 2016 ends with the implication that bad things might happen, but it wusses out and ends the game there. Considering how ballsy it’s been with its storytelling (in that Doomguy really wants the plot to stop comlicating itself and interrupting his murder-orgy), the ending feels like said plot gets the last laugh, forcing poor Doomguy to sit still and listen. At the very least have the Doomguy flip off the whole scenario to let them and us know how he’s mutely feeling about it. Or hell, take it all the way to the wall and show us Earth being Doom’ed. We know it’s coming, don’t pull out and blow it now.
#5: Up the Arsenal
Doom returns us to the inventories of old with a rainbow of weapons, all of which are iconic mainstays of Doom and Id Software games in general. You’ve got shotguns, chainguns, rocket launchers, plasma guns, and chainsaws. The problem is that these weapons all just do one thing: maim/kill badguys. You can customize the weapons to kill them better, but there’s not a lot of wiggle room in terms of strategic use or variety. Compare it to another game released in the past decade that embraced old-school a bit of the old-school, Resistance 3. Not only does the main character of that game get a backpack full of guns that shoot and/or explode, he also gets–in the words of Yahtzee Crowshaw–“a freeze ray and a lightning rod and a thing I like to call the Jimmy Hendrix Experience because it makes people puke themselves to death.”
Doom‘s well-crafted combat arenas make the perfect playground for guns that do more than just shoot bullets, and with the game’s emphasis on Glory Kills and brutality, adding whole new flavors of murder to my eye-scream sundae would be welcome. I’d love to smash frozen enemies, or turn them into toxic, infectuious goop. Maybe a barbed-chain bola launcher picked up from Hell? Or a handheld ballista that fires fenceposts to pin enemies to walls or each other like meaty demon-kabobs? You could bring back the Soul Cube for some health-leeching. Maybe a weapon the fires laser tripmines that work like the security room from the Resident Evil movie.
The point is, Doom was a success and it’s got room for improvement. So get to improving! Don’t just hold off for the next sequel, ride this success while it’s still hot and flowing, and maybe I’ll finally stop this terrible sexual innuendo.
And to the owners of Blood and even (god help me) Redneck Rampage; Dad just schooled you. Duke Nukem might have revealed himself to be a delusional, middle-aged premature ejaculator, but you’ve got no excuse now. I would cream myself if Blood got a release like this. Just sayin’.