RPS 2016 Advent Calendar, Dec 13th: DOOM

SKULLS AND CHAINSAWS AND SHOTGUNS AND HELLFIRE. Day thirteen of The RPS Advent Calendar, which highlights our favourite games of the year, brings…

It’s the year’s second-best Hell, DOOM [official site]!

Alec: The best kind of good game is an unexpectedly good game. And I sure did not expect Doom to be much good – probably unfair, given how well-done Bethesda’s Wolfenstein do-over was. Whatever else you want to say about that bunch, they seem to have a keen sense of how to make a meaty singleplayer shooter at a time when most everyone else is obsessed with multiplayer hamster wheels.

(Though it was precisely because Doom’s marketing often revolved around humdrum-looking multiplayer that I feared it was going to be lukewarm rather than the roasting fires of hell.)

DOOM is movement. DOOM is violence-as-movement, not movement then violence then movement. DOOM is a gasping roar of overjoyed fury.

DOOM is whack-a-mole off its fucking face on chemicals that haven’t even been invented yet.

DOOM is ur-shooter, free from the awful, creeping nastiness of having to explain why you’re killing other humans. It is you, in a bad place, with monsters. You deserve this party. You don’t need to rationalise it, know why you’re doing it or whether there’s a worthwhile outcome. It is just you, and the dance.

Adam: The way that DOOM forces forward momentum through a combination of demonic AI and melee kills causing health top-ups to appear is brilliant. The way that the music throbs and rumbles in between battles, and reaches wailing shrieking fever pitch during the thick of an onslaught is tremendous. The way that the original game’s weapons and creatures have been updated, visually and in their behaviours, is wonderful.

That such a simple concept – kill demons with guns – is home to such smart design is easy to miss. DOOM is big and loud and it looks like every videogame that ever videogamed, but id have built a ferociously clever game behind the comically exaggerated premise.

I loved Wolfenstein: The New Order – a chunky slab of singleplayer FPS the likes of which I hadn’t played in a good while. DOOM is something entirely different though, purist in its singleminded determination to throw more and bigger demons your way, and more and bigger weapons with which to frag them.

From this site

57 Comments

  1. Vandelay says:

    I haven’t played yet (it is top of my list for Xmas sales, now that I have upgraded,) but I am currently having a great time with Wolfenstein: NO. The opening section in the trenches and the forced stealth that opens the prison level are bad early signs, but when it is good it is glorious. There is some pretty meaty combat and the optional stealth sections offer a nice switch up. I had also forgotten how cracking the soundtrack was.

    If DOOM is as good (and by most accounts, it sounds even better) then I really can’t wait to shotgun blast some Cacodemons.

    • Premium User Badge

      Godwhacker says:

      Doom’s a bit different- stealth doesn’t really come into it for one and it takes itself somewhat less seriously. But they’re both ace.

      • Vandelay says:

        Oh, I am well aware that it is going for a very different pace. I am personally a fan of FPS games that have fast movement (loving Titanfall 2, for example, even though I bought it on PS4 and have to wrestle with a pad,) so I expect DOOM will be even more my thing than W:NO.

        iD seem to be having something of a renaissance as of late. I hope the trend continues with new Quake (although, I am still waiting for their single player sequel to the original.)

  2. DrollRemark says:

    It’s so good, isn’t it? One of my favourite single player FPS games of all time, I think.

    It was the upgrades that made me doubt it at first. Why is there this progression system in the game? Doom isn’t about optimal weapon configurations, it’s about using all the weapons you have to kill all the baddies, simple. Except it turned out that the upgrades system was simple a form of giving you new variations on your weapons, and changing up how you could fight. And it was fantastic. Just like the rest of the game.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      There’s that one upgrade that lets you move freely off of your second jump which is incredibly “Why would anybody NOT use this all the time?”

  3. polecat says:

    Exactly. They are both extremely well designed and satisfying. DOOM has no story to speak of, and I appreciated Wolfenstein’s, but that’s clearly not DOOM is about. Machinegames (common thread to both) are seriously nailing it.

    • welverin says:

      Excuse me if I’m wrong, but Machine Games only made Wolfenstein The New Order. id made DOOM themselves.

  4. Eleven says:

    I gave it the “More Metal Than You” category in the Steam Awards.

    • Premium User Badge

      Godwhacker says:

      What happened to the Steam awards? Who won?

      • Ghostwise says:

        Steam won. Steam always wins.

      • MultiVaC says:

        The game that got the most votes was Deus Ex, but they just gave the award to Donald Trump instead.

        • citrusninja says:

          Wow I had no idea the Steam Awards were using the electoral college /s

      • Premium User Badge

        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        My guess is we’ll see the results during the winter sale. Usually how these things work is whoever gets voted first is offered that position but for a price. If they don’t want to pay, that’s fine but then their competition will get it.

        At least this is how newspapers do it.

  5. tslog says:

    I liked Doom too. Probably my Fav game this year.
    But it has severe repetition issues where combat engagement varity was sorely lacking.
    Throwing A bunch of enemies at you over and over till you survived displayed a real lack of tactical nuance that would have sustained this game for longer. Felt too same-y for too long.

    Discoving upgrade locations was a nice little bit of level design to break up the combat too.
    And nearly all of the mini-games were complete garbage.

    If Doom 2 as the next game wants to improve, it really needs more combat variety, and no, that doesn’t mean stealth has to be anywhere in sight.

    • gnalvl says:

      YES. Honestly, Doom 2016 feels more like AAA Painkiller than real Doom, because they misinterpreted the encounter system.

      When you lazily lock someone in an arena and just randomly spawn enemies out of thin air, you kill the role of level geometry as part of the firefight. Instead of trying to anticipate where enemies will come from and position yourself accordingly, it just becomes about blindly running in circles and shooting till everything’s dead.

      OG Doom was not like this. You wanted to spot likely enemy locations and shoot them before they could get to you. If you couldn’t take them all down immediately, you wanted to funnel them through a smaller place on the map so they were forced into sector of fire.

      You wanted to carefully manage the level geometry so as to avoid being flanked or hit from behind, because you couldn’t just glory kill your way out of every situation. The idea that there’s “no taking cover” in OG Doom is retarded; using map geometry to restrict the enemies’ angle of fire was key to surviving.

      So indeed, OG Doom had “tactical” elements that Doom 2016 is lacking entirely. Consequently Doom 2016 becomes extremely repetitive, because fights are the same regardless of map geometry or what level you’re playing. Whether you’re on level 3 or level 13 of the campaign, or playing a custom map, it’s all the same forgettable horde mode BS.

      • tslog says:

        Agreed.

        No matter the shape of the area you fought in, none of the geometry hardly mattered.
        And all the portals, boost pads weren’t enough. They only existed as a short breathers for same arcady combat set up.
        Same can be said for weapon selection against certain enemies – weapon choice hardly mattered. The Amount of ammo left in a gun was a more important consideration then tactical weapon choice that was more effective against certain enemies.

        Now I like the game. I bought the bloody thing twice. But it’s problems are obvious for those who want better and more.

        Now if you agree with me how bad the Souls games combat is, then we’ll be best friends forever.

        • gnalvl says:

          re: weapon choice, I think part of the problem is Doom ’16 not actually being as much of a fast-paced arena shooter as it pretends to be. The enemy AI is ok for a triple A shooter campaign, but weak compared i.e. UT or CPMA bots. Consequently, you’re never really pressed to make the tough moment-to-moment decisions about rocket vs. rail vs. shotgun or grenade that you do against high-speed opponents in UT or Q3/QL.

          There are equal arguments to remake Doom 94′ either as a survival horror tactical shooter or as a true arena FPS campaign, and Doom ’16 doesn’t satisfy either angle very well.

          Lastly, I don’t like Dark Souls’ combat either. Maybe they’d be ok if combat were a bit faster, but they’ve always felt like a slow, lumbering mess to me. Overall I feel like very few 3D games ever do melee weapons right, besides Soul Calibur.

  6. Steravel says:

    I own it, and enjoy it in small doses. The arcade joy derived from flying around a murder arena on hyper trampolines is not inconsiderable…in small doses. But the narrative about how it’s a satisfying retro throwback is true in all the *worst* ways. At some point around HL1, we began to look to shooters for a more cinematic, narrative-driven experience, and DOOM 2016 does not deliver this.

    Were I at a arcade cabinet purchasing minutes with dropped quarters, DOOM 2016 would be fine. Great even. But I’m not. And it isn’t. In my opinion, a triple A price tag is no longer worthwhile for a game that delivers only minutes of gameplay before someone gets bored.

    It hurts me to say this, but yes, in Doom 2016 I can chainsaw a rampaging demon in the face–what else have you got?

    • Xocrates says:

      “At some point around HL1, we began to look to shooters for a more cinematic, narrative-driven experience, and DOOM 2016 does not deliver this. ”

      Which is precisely what made the game so successful. It realized that, as DOOM, it does not need to and became a better game because of it.

      Not your type of game? Sure, fine. But don’t pretend that the reasons you don’t like it make the game bad.

      • Ghostwise says:

        And as triple-A prices go, right now it’s €28 and it’ll likely be less during Kwanzaa sales.

      • Steravel says:

        Pretty sure I used phrases like “in my opinion”. I’m sorry a dissenting opinion ruffles your feathers, but don’t try and pretend like *I* was pretending that this was anything other than my opinion about a (subjectively) disappointing shooter with limited appeal for a substantial price tag.

        • doodler says:

          Pretty sure you used the phrase “in my opinion” one time in regards to a game not being worthwhile if it bores you in minutes.
          Certainly not when you lumped the rest of us into your “we began to look to shooters for a more cinematic, narrative-driven experience, and DOOM 2016 does not deliver this.”

          So if you want to be a pendantic ass about your “opinion” we can also all have opinions about your blanket statements that you attempt to hide behind as “opinion”.

          The game has been on sale since it less than a month after it came out for 50% or more at times, sorry if you paid full price for a single player game and was disappointed by a rehashed, stripped down version of the narrative from DOOM 3.

          • Steravel says:

            Also, just to flame the fire, the game has been “on sale” so much because plenty of people share my opinion. It’s simply not profitable at the default price point. Games that don’t need to discount, don’t. It has compelling gameplay value neither as a single play game, nor in its pitiful multiplayer form. There is simply no reason for this game to sell at its vanilla price point with far better alternatives in sp and mp.

            Sorry folks, it’s a bad buy. Bethesda will somehow have to muddle through my negative recommendation by tacking on another 5 Pig headlight horse power armor to Fallout 4 to survive the withering onslaught of my “random internet guy” opinion.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            There’s something about the phrase, “just to flame the fire.” Apt.

        • Steravel says:

          To clarify again, I enjoy DOOM 2016 for 5 to 6 minutes at a time. And then again when I take a break for a while and come back to it. If one were to quantify game value based on total time enjoyed, it would put up a reasonable, if not impressive, showing.

          But for 40 to 70 pigs (pigs=international monetary unit on the triple A scale), is that what you want? Sure in the current digital marketplace the game will *eventually* see a bargain price tag that breaks even with time enjoyed, but this is a triple A game. Is momentary diversion what you’re really looking for from a triple A price tag these days, or are you looking for a game that transcends the 90s legacy of a “weekend rental ?”

          I want games that compete for triple A price tag to give me a reason to buy it. Other games released this year, do. Doom 2016, while not without its charms, does not. It’s what we used to refer to as a rental, and now a days refer to as a “wait til under 10 pigs in a digital storefront sale”.

          In short, DOOM 2016 is great, as long as you’re not paying much money for it. This is my opinion as someone who made the mistake of paying full price for the game.

          • Fenixp says:

            “But for 40 to 70 pigs (pigs=international monetary unit on the triple A scale), is that what you want?”
            Tons of enjoyment? Yes.
            You might also consider that it could be just you who only plays the game for 6 minutes at a time.

          • Steravel says:

            @Fenixp

            You might also consider that it could be just you who only plays the game for 6 minutes at a time.

            Oh noez! Another “that’s just like your opinion, man” rebuttal. There’s no coming back from that!

            It is just like my opinion. It is, in fact, indistinguishable from my opinion. But for anyone who has not actually bought into Doom 2016, please read upwards, and determine for yourself who is actually making points.

            Buy DOOM 2016, definitely! It’s a worthwhile diversion when you’ve run out of all the better games over the past couple years to play. But dont pay more than 25% of the base price for it. It’s fun…but not *that* fun. Remember, the reviewers on this site generally get their games for free.

          • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

            The fact that you personally don’t enjoy the game for more than 5 minutes at a time (which is fine by me) doesn’t detract value from the game itself. The production values are there, it has multiple game modes and custom maps, a multiplayer component that may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s there, it’s varied enough and it has been supported with multiple free additions and game modes. Yes. Content wise, it deserves a triple A price tag even if you don’t enjoy it in full.

            And no, “narrative driven experience” is exactly what some people, myself included, did NOT want from DOOM. What I saw was a great shooter with interesting vertical arenas, kinetic combat, well thought out integration of old gameplay elements with modern ones (the way they fused customization and old school exploration is really clever), constant flow and weapon switching and a general attitude of friendly challenge towards the player’s skill. I restarted a few arenas just because I knew I could dance better than that.
            It doesn’t give a shit about narrative and neither do I. It cares about its combat and so do I. It’s a “supremely confident shooter”, as TotalBiscuit called it, a well designed First Person Shooter that cares about it First Person Shooting. I’m ok with that.

          • Fenixp says:

            “Oh noez! Another “that’s just like your opinion, man” rebuttal. There’s no coming back from that!”
            *rolls eyes*
            And here I thought you were posting your opinion to – perhaps – discuss it. Guess not.

            Edit: By the way, “But for 40 to 70 pigs (pigs=international monetary unit on the triple A scale), is that what you want?” was your question, based on your playstyle.

          • Steravel says:

            It doesn’t give a shit about narrative and neither do I.

            Cool, bro. I enjoy space invaders for 5-6 minutes a time too. To each their own. But speaking as someone who paid full price for Doom 2016, I wouldn’t buy Space Invaders at full (40+ pig)price. Once again, I’ll leave it to anyone who has not actually bought DOOM 2016, to decide whether or not I’m being credible here.

            It’s a “supremely confident shooter”, as TotalBiscuit called it, a well designed First Person Shooter that cares about it First Person Shooting.

            Well, Jesus shit. I can’t compete with a Total Biscuit quote. I’ll just have to leave it to anyone with google access to determine whether or not Total Biscuit, based on the things he’s said in the last couple of years, is an asshole or not, and whether anyone who can’t make the case for their own opinion without invoking someone else’s opinion, is worth listening to.

            To anyone else reading this who doesn’t already have a dog in this race, consider my words and make your own decision. There are lots of games released in 2016 that give a big return on investment. DOOM 2016, while not without value, is not one of them. It’s up to you to decide on how important that is or isn’t.

          • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

            “whether anyone who can’t make the case for their own opinion without invoking someone else’s opinion, is worth listening to.”

            Smooth. So a quote that was clearly meant as a summary of my arguments (you know, the two paragraphs about the actual content of the game that you conveniently ignored?) is now invoking someone else’s opinion because I can’t argue my own. That’s downright twisted.

          • Steravel says:

            @Pravin Something

            Smooth.

            Don’t feel bad, bro. You’re simply hamstrung by the fact that you’re wrong here. That would set anyone back in their argumentation. Not wrong about the game being great–that’s your opinion and I have no authority to gainsay it. Simply wrong in that you saw a dissenting opinion, and decided to attack it solely on the basis that you disagreed.

            Also, you committed a tactical error by invoking TB, a notorious douche, to support your opinion. Even if he weren’t a douche (he is), it would still be weakening your argument to invoke someone else to fight your battle for you.

            Even if I’m wrong, I’m gloriously, hilariously, wrong on my own merits. But I’m not. Doom 2016 is a fine rental, back when that term had any meaning, but not worth a full price sale.

          • Premium User Badge

            DelrueOfDetroit says:

            This argument is going nowhere so I propose whoever can say the nicer thing about the other wins.

          • Steravel says:

            @DelrueofDetroit

            Pravin Something (I realize it’s disrespectful not to type the full name, but come on) has a much more clever alias than my own. I’ve always been envious of anyone who really excelled at the whole “clever internet name business”.

            I’m really bad at that. If someone shouted at me to pick an internet alias under pressure, it would be like “Shadow!…DaggerStab , um Bitch..Ownage? Did I say “Shadow” yet?

        • Xocrates says:

          Sadly, the internet it not good at conveying tone. You did not ruffle my feathers in the slightest. The entire point of my post was to highlight that this was, in fact, your opinion and nothing else.

          I disagree with pretty much everything you’ve argued so far. From price point, to game expectations, how long one can enjoy the game for, or how successful the game has been for Bethesda. This does not mean my feathers are rustled, merely that I do not agree with your opinion.

  7. Darth Gangrel says:

    “It’s the year’s second-best Hell, DOOM” Oh, come on, with a line like that you just have to tell us what your pick for the year’s best Hell was.

    • welverin says:

      That left me wondering as well, and I have no idea what other Hells there were in games this year.

    • Fede says:

      Maybe Pony Island? It is kind of hell.

    • mukuste says:

      Devil Daggers, naturally.

      My guess is it it will end up rather high in the calendar.

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        I think Cool Ghosts put it best when they said, “Hell has been done in videogames, many many times, but this— this…is..it.”

    • Premium User Badge

      john_silence says:

      Picked up on that, gave my brain an itch. Now that Duskers is out, and barring a surprise attack from SUPERHOT, Devil Daggers seems like it’s going to be it.

  8. Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

    YES. DOOM. SOMETHING SOMETHING METAL.

  9. SuperJonty says:

    I really enjoyed it. I especially liked the shootybangs and the demon peeps.

  10. Agnosticus says:

    A little overrated it think: I mean the SP is good and all, real fluid, but it gets quite boring and samey towards the end. Maybe that’s inherent to the genre.

    MP not interessting at all. Also 71GB install size…why?

    • Fenixp says:

      Megatextures aren’t called “Mega” for no reason.

    • gnalvl says:

      I agree. The big problem NO ONE talks about with Doom 2016 is the fact that it’s based around a lazy Horde Mode-type encounter system where you’re funneled into an arena and locked in, so the game can spawn waves of enemies out of thin air randomly around you in waves.

      This heavily reduces the role of map geometry in influencing fights. The enemies don’t come at you from places on the map, so trying to anticipate their positions and place yourself according goes out the window as a combat element. Positioning basically becomes entirely irrelevant as long as you are merely always moving – it’s all boiled down to “blindly run in circles shooting and glory killing till everything dead”.

      On the surface, this might sound just like OG Doom combat, but in reality it’s missing what made one firefight feel distinct from the next. Consequently, it’s not much fun to replay Doom 2016’s campaign because no matter which level you’re at, the firefights are the same. This in turn kills the fun of custom maps; the Snapmap community is dead because no matter how many different ways people put the same prefab modules together, the lazy GOW Horde Mode encounter system makes it boring to play.

      • keefybabe says:

        The thing doom 2016 was very good at was making me not care about its shortcomings. I got the carpenter-esque antihero I’ve wanted in games and even though I could see the arenas coming, I had such a bareteethed blast when they did I didn’t care.

  11. Premium User Badge

    kregg says:

    DOOM is ur-shooter, free from the awful, creeping nastiness of having to explain why you’re killing other humans. It is you, in a bad place, with monsters.

    YES! This! This is what has kept me coming back to Doom 2016 and even the 1993 version as well as Doom 2 and Quake. Like, I don’t even feel all that bad about the overly violent executions because it’s made up monsters. After playing GTA V for a bit I was kinda hesitant to give Doom (2016) a spin but oh man I’m so glad I gave it a chance. Absolutely 100% loved the singleplayer campaign.

    Multiplayer s’alright I suppose.

    • Steravel says:

      DOOM is ur-shooter, free from the awful, creeping nastiness of having to explain why you’re killing other humans.

      As if there haven’t have been plenty of other “shooting for the sake of shooting” FPS-es over the last decade. Doom 2016 is certainly regressive, but the question is whether it’s actually a throwwback to a “better” kind of shooter, or simply critical groupthink in opposition to modern CODBLOPS phenomenon, because hipster game bloggers, etc.

      I’m no fan of the latter, but I couldn’t finish Doom 2016. It bored me to tears after I had sloughed off the “you dont need story in your shooter” narrative. Turns out I *do* need story in a shooter, no matter how good the moment to moment AI gameplay is, which in D2015’s case is “good, but not good enough to keep me focused for more than a few minutes at a time”.

      I don’t know precisely when I became such a miserable excuse for a gamer, but it turns out that shooting a demonic body builder in the face with a shotgun over and over really is kind of boring, no matter how good the graphics are.

      • Premium User Badge

        kregg says:

        I don’t think you’re a miserable excuse for a gamer. Sure, I may not agree with you, but I have plenty of friends who do, and many others have voiced the same sentiment.

        I can definitely see how Doom 2016 can get boring – that’s without a doubt as it’s just repetitive *bang* *bang* ur dead ok, but for me the gameplay with the sound and the atmosphere just ticked my brain.

        On the other hand, what did you think about the Titanfall 2 campaign?

      • gnalvl says:

        I agree with you that Doom ’16 is repetitive and boring, but disagree that the solution is necessarily “story”. For example, have you ever enjoyed a multiplayer shooter enough to play for hours without story?

        As one of the many who has played not only 3D shooters, but 2D platformers, puzzle games, and tactical RPG’s for hours on end – purely for the gameplay and not the story, I contend that Doom ’16 is boring and repetitive because the gameplay just isn’t very good.

        IMO the real “story” in a game is what actually happens during gameplay, because that’s what a game is – interaction. The cutscenes employed by modern games to “tell stories” to me is like forcing tennis or chess players to watch clips from an Uve Boll movie in between plays. It’s not good storytelling, and has no relation to the real stories that unfold from any interactive medium.

        Also, your price argument confuses me a bit. Why pay $60 for a cutscene-based game, when you can get better stories from a $15 bluray, $6 paperback or $3 Amazon Prime stream?

        In any case, I think it’s a disservice to game design to assume that adding story is the solution when a title’s gameplay fails to hold up beyond 5 minutes. In truth, Doom 2016’s combat is just shallow – lacking both the tactical survival nuances of OG Doom and the fast-paced intensity of later arena shooters like Quake and UT.

  12. keefybabe says:

    Props should also be added for the great soundtrack.

  13. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Speaking of recreating the feel of classic DOOM, it sure has the “run around the empty level with all demons long dead, trying to find where to go next” part down. That level with endless samey catwalks and pipes over molten lava will haunt my nightmares.

    • Ghostwise says:

      See, if you hadn’t killed everyone you could ask for directions.

      • Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

        You’d think iD would find a way to let them talk to the player, after all these years, but nope.