“This isn’t Doom 4. This is actually Doom, straight up, from the beginning.”
That’s part of the introduction to an hour-long walkthrough of DOOM‘s singleplayer campaign. The video divides into three main sections, with the player jumping forward to later levels in order to show various features, and the whole thing has commentary. The combination of that commentary and the video itself has eased my concerns after the disappointment of the multiplayer beta. I want to play this. I’ve explained why below, as well as providing handy links so you can jump to interesting points in the video rather than watching the full thing.
That’s the whole video if you want to start from the beginning and see all that there is to see. It’s worth nothing that you’re going to see maps and monsters that you might not want to have spoiled in a video. I’m not sure how deep into the game they go but the final jump, in particular, isn’t anywhere near the opening hour.
The first thing I noticed – because I am exactly that kind of nerd – was the colourful glows around enemies. How pleasing, then, that they’re immediately explained. The blue glow shows that an enemy has been staggered, meaning you can move close and activate one of those up-close-and-personal glory kills; when you’re close enough to trigger that, the glow becomes orange.
Ugh, you might be thinking. UGH. Well, you can turn all of that off. I’ve grabbed a screenshot of the menu screen that shows most of the HUD options and the commentary itself explains that objective markers, health bars and all the rest can be switched off should you want to play with a clean display (you can fiddle with FOV as well, even on the console build they’re presumably playing with here)
The map is dealt with in a similar fashion. Some secrets will be revealed if you find an automap station – and there’s one near the beginning of each map – but they won’t reveal everything. And you can ignore them if you’d rather fill in the map as you explore.
This first section also has some story beats, delivered through video screens and codex entries. Two important things I noticed regarding the codex entries: there are 36 slots for monsters and there’s a reference to some banal bureaucracy that I decided to read in full, for some reason. I had to pause the video to do that. My reward was a reference to a suggestion form called WAD-E1M4 which must be filled in and submitted to a “Command Controller”. Hey-o!
The most pleasing information in this section is the description of combat area as abstract arenas, “like skateparks” for demon killing. That certainly seems to be the case and even though I’m not entirely convinced by the rapid disintegration of enemies (gibs should be earned, not a default death), the demon count on screen seems healthy, and the fights seem suitably kinetic.
This next section contains discussion of difficulty settings and jumps forward to a later stage in the game.
The main morsel of information here concerns the existence of an ultra-nightmare mode, which is essentially Nightmare difficulty plus ironman. You die, you start over. We’re also told that on a normal difficulty level, the campaign is around 13-15 hours in length.
Progress through the game is described as “climbing a ladder”. Every step you take, finding a bigger gun, the demons throw out something nastier to counter you. Along with new guns, there are suit upgrades, weapon modifications and runes, which provide buffs. There’s some talk about the changes (reloading still not in; jumping in) from the original, along with the upgrade system and ‘challenges’ right around here.
The final part of the video takes us to Hell, or at least a part of it. Hell has areas – ‘fractures’ – presumably with their own environmental features. I hope there’s a civil war happening in Hell and the players gets to drop into the middle of it with a chainsaw. That would be just fine.
All in all, I think this is a damn good showing. It’s fast, bloody and packed with monsters. Those melee kills also seem a lot less intrusive now that I can see how they’re aimed at parts of a monster rather than defaulting to a specific animation. Much less chance of breaking the flow this way, I reckon.
I’m excited again. I want to punch a mancubus in the face.