So, I played the Doom Beta the other weekend, in a state of drunken disrepair at around 2am. Yes I might be two weeks late to the journo-party here; yes, I might have radically impaired my judgement by playing it only at ungodly hours and intoxicated; yes, what do I even know about shooters anyway.
I had some sort of resolution for that previous paragraph but honestly, it has escaped me. Perhaps I am the worst possible person to say anything about Doom and that’s that. But worst or not, I’ll still say it. Are you still reading?
I find the majority of shooters dull, but name one other than Call of Duty and I’ll probably go ‘yeah I kinda enjoyed that’. I think I’ve cast a disposition upon myself that isn’t actually especially real. I like big dumb fun games just as much as I like the slower paced, more thoughtful side of the spectrum, but the big dumb fun games have to know that’s what they are. CoD takes itself so seriously. So does Battlefield, while both have their feet planted firmly in vomit-culture territory. This is where Doom prevailed for me in my short little cohort with its pre-release dress rehearsal. It was daft, and it knew it; it’s a big ol’, trousers-down, balls-out, stupid shooter, less all the baggage. There is no pretension; it’s classic, fast-paced run-and-gun, tear-and-blare action without wearing a badly sewn-on Counter-Strike mask like its feeble supposed contemporaries.
It felt solid, well built, it felt like the old way done right again. Or at least it did until it decided to give me some sort of power up, a power up I could use a number of times throughout the match on respawns, and that I could swap out and exchange in my load out. I played several matches without ever really knowing what any of these did, haphazardly rocket launching my way to a premature demise every 30 seconds without much of a clue.
Power ups of some description were in the original Doom sure, but I don’t think loadouts were, and it’s these things, the things they jam any which way into every release, that send a shiver down my largely unfeeling spine these days. Perks and powers and special abilities pretty much ruined Call of Duty when it became more about them than your shooting, and it seems now a competitive killing game can’t be made without some sort of PERK system. I’m not saying I hate customisation; I love it, infact, but let me swap my weapons to my style/the map, and make a few cosmetic changes, and let’s get on with doing what we all came here to do. Shoot each other in the face.
I was disappointed to see this sort of mechanic wedged into the new Doom, but, at least during this beta, it didn’t seem to detract from its almost poignant sense of honesty. A run-around shooter without all the insipid military advertising. Brutal, bloody, big, stupid fun. Would I recommend getting it? Off the back of that playthrough, yes. If you’re looking for something simple, I daresay this multiplayer will have you furiously burrowing away your evenings, inadvertently breadcrumbing you from match to match. That said once folk get a hang of the perk system, perhaps it’ll go the same way as the shooters that focused on those before it. i.e. be awful.
The single player I obviously didn’t get to try, but the core mechanics felt satisfying enough to carry a well-written campaign through, should just such a thing surface.
Lastly, it’s probably worth mentioning that I did quite well somehow, which along with the intoxication, also likely served to blunt my judgement. I’ll see you all in court.