There are thousands of video games out there; some classics, some obscure, and others new to me and maybe new to you too. I’m going to take a little time to highlight what’s great about games that I love and want to share; games that are worth your time, along with some tips to get you started. Today I am talking about DOOM.
Doom, aka Doom 2016, is, frankly, awesome. The sequel, Doom Eternal, is also excellent. There is almost nothing wrong with either of these games, and that’s rare. The storytelling is done at a nearly flawless level, the action is fast, and the challenge is fair. Also, punching a demon in the face just feels so great and it makes me, the player, feel just so satisfied.
You play as the Doom Slayer. There is a plot, sure, and you can explore it if you want, or feel free to ignore it. It’s mostly about how humans need energy, so they start using energy from Hell itself and found you in a coffin in Hell and brought you to Mars and now demons are on the loose. If you care, go nuts, but if you don’t, you wake up naked on a slab and the action just starts with your smashing in the skull of a clearly evil monster.
At one point the plot is explained to you on a terminal, and your character just pushes the monitor aside because this is not the kind of game where you’re going to be beaten with a 2x4 of plot exposition. There are demons, go murder them, it’s what you exist to do.
Even the concept of how Doom plays is novel now. I gave Mass Effect: Andromeda a try the other day. I like playing on a higher difficulty and you lose shields quickly playing that like, meaning I’d have to stop and wait for them to recharge. Shoot, get to cover, shoot, get to cover. Rinse and repeat. Just like Call of Duty or Battlefield, shoot, get to cover.
None of that will work in Doom; you want health, go and get it. Killing monsters is fun and rewards you with health, armor, and ammo thus you are incentivized when something is killing you, to kill it first so it stops killing you and you get rewarded with more stuff to kill more monsters. I know, it sounds obvious, but it’s something the game industry forgot along the way. When you injure an enemy enough, any enemy, they flash a color and stagger around, this allows you to attack them with a melee kill; a gloriously violent attack that gets you even more bonuses. Yikes! Note: I really tried to find a tame glory kill, I did, but I am not sure if we can show the level of cathartic violence in this game, so here is a flashing enemy about to get its skull ripped open like a 7-year-old tears into Halloween candy.
The A.I. in these games is fun, smart, and diverse. There are imps that climb around and jump about hitting you with fireballs and try to get behind you, there are Hell Knights that get up in your face with melee attacks, there are rocket powered missile launching skeletons that attack you from above, and the pathetic zombie guys that shamble about. They don’t just charge in mindlessly; they think and try to take you down with tactics; it’s so refreshing to play something that feels like every fight is a battle without being a slog or a hassle. The art has a level of polish that makes killing demons exciting too.
There are a few downsides, but they are few and far between. When there is storytelling, it’s a little ham-fisted, but always done in a way where there is a lot to see and poke around with and it’s mostly done in an efficient sort of way to get back into the action. While it certainly takes a pause in the action, it’s not a cut scene, you’re still in control to look at weird stuff in robot guy’s office. This is more pronounced in Doom Eternal where they start tossing in lore, but for the most part, it’s not oppressive.
There are a few too many options for mayhem in Doom Eternal. You have a flamethrower, an ice grenade, a regular grenade, a chainsaw, a laser sword, a blood punch, and they all have cooldown timers. Juggling these powers can be a bit much but are needed on higher difficulties. It does give you more variety for destruction, but it can make you think more than be active as Doom is a game where if you’re not doing something in a fight, you’re going to die. To quote Vasquez from Aliens, “Whatever you’re gonna do, do it fast.”
Guns are fun and ammo is just right for what you need. I never feel like I don’t use my guns because of a lack of ammo, but some guns are more effective at certain monsters, especially in Doom Eternal. Guns are fun to use and there really isn’t one where I feel like “ugh, THIS one, boo” when I use it. Scattered around the levels are upgrade points where you can make your guns stronger and little dolls to give you other kinds of enhancements.
There is a hidden lever in each level that opens a secret area that also allows you to play a level of classic doom in this new engine. Cool! There is the mind-blowing amount of player creation in map making and level design where you can make, share, and play maps in multiplayer, or just on your own. There is just so much in DOOM that I’m impressed by the scope alone. Doom, seriously, is fantastic.
1: You need to keep moving in battle. Enemies will not attack you one at a time. They’re scared of you, you’re the slayer of demons and they know it and take you as a serious threat. The more time you give them to stack up on you, the worse off you’ll be.
2: The basic shotgun is a versatile weapon. Early on you can upgrade the shotgun to also be a grenade launcher and this is very effective, especially before you get rockets. There is no reloading on any gun, so just shoot and shoot and shoot.
3: Do melee kills whenever you can, that’s the most effective way to regain health as health you mind in med-kits laying around will stay forever, but health or ammo dropped by enemies will disappear over time.
4: There is a jump button. It comes up a lot as this Doom is more vertical than the classic 90’s versions. This will help you keep moving, usually out of the way of monsters, but it’s good to get a little practice with it early.