DOOM Is Successful at Being Nostalgic While Reinvigorating the Series

In 1994 I played my first PC game: Doom. I might have only been eight years old at the time, but I recognized its greatness immediately. My transition from Super Mario Bros. to Doom was violent and fun, and as just about everyone else can attest to, it was a game well ahead of its time. Most importantly, it had a memorable single-player campaign, something equally as uncommon today as it was in the early 90's.

As with many other great IPs of the 90's, Doom faded into obscurity for a long period of time. It was to a point where, even though Doom (2016) looked great in pre-release media, I didn't give it the attention it may have deserved. Its launch was just another 'pass' for me.

That was, until I played it.

During the past several days I've been playing through the campaign of Doom (2016), and it's been a wild ride. I walked in expecting the status quo; a shooter that lets you shoot thousands of enemies with an assortment of weapons inside a variety of locations. After all, that's just about all that most modern FPS campaigns entail.

What I was greeted with was something excellently composed. Gunplay is remarkably smooth in Doom (2016), which is particularly surprising given the high detail of the game's visuals and its fast paced nature. Running between enemies and spraying them down with firepower, and punching them to finish them off, is much more fun than it sounds.​ The weapons are diverse and have great feedback. Each has several modes of attack, and due to limited ammunition it's a necessity to swap between them often, resulting in some dexterity-requiring juggling.



 

As you might expect if you're a Doom fan, the story is nothing to write home about, but that's made up for with great level design. Levels become perfect battlefields for the many wars between space marine and demon, with gorgeous backdrops to provide grandiose context to its futuristic locales. The levels are also open-ended, providing reason for exploration, and combating the monotonous linearity of many competing FPS games.

The level design is further taken advantage of with an armada of hidden secrets Some of these secrets are easter eggs referencing other noteworthy games, such as Commander Keen and Fallout. A large number of these are collectibles that provide upgrades, such as stronger weapons and a higher health pool. But there are also hidden locations in each of the game's 13 chapters. These hidden locations lead to playable classic levels from the early Doom game, a nostalgic prize for those willing to pay attention to their surroundings.

These nostalgic levels pair very well with Doom (2016)'s finely crafted references to past games. You use weapons derived from the original games, and even kill hordes of demons that are built just like they were more than 20 years ago. But the game takes large steps to introduce flavor of its own. Most enemies aren't necessarily from past games, and those who are behave in a much more complex and visually spectacular manner. The same can be said of weapons.

Doom also substantiates its $60 price tag with more than just a single-player campaign. While you are unlikely to spend any great deal of time in multiplayer, SnapMap is a level editor that has already resulted in the creation of dozens of user-made levels worth playing. The tools for creation are as powerful as they are intuitive. This will help Doom remain in the spotlight for a much greater duration of time than most single-player oriented games.

Doom (2016) is a game that is superbly fun to play both for Doom fans as well as newcomers who simply enjoy FPS games. And really, that's exactly what the franchise needed. id Software has revitalized one of gaming's most treasured IPs, and few people were expecting that. Bravo.