Will the Doom Eternal multiplayer solve Doom 2016’s issues?

It’s a shame that 2016’s iteration of Doom got so much flak for its generic but functional deathmatch options. Still, anyone who dove in found some fun in transforming into demons and traversing a set of hellish landscapes. When people say that Doom didn’t need multiplayer, it feels sacrilegious given that the first game invented deathmatch. Just throwing in the towel doesn’t seem like an option, which is why the Doom Eternal multiplayer will be quite different from its last iteration. Dubbed Battlemode, this entirely new brand of PvP wasn’t the focus at E3, but there are a few details floating around that could point towards its chances at success.

Doom 2016’s basic deathmatch suite

Doom Deathmatch Multiplayer

To understand what Battlemode has to accomplish, you first have to really get what Doom 2016’s multiplayer suite got right and what it flubbed. Known for its work on Halo and Call of Duty, developer Certain Affinity’s multiplayer felt like it was developed outside of id because it was. The gameplay differs greatly between single-player and multiplayer as there were unique weapons, unique demons and a slower overall pace to the combat. Basically, you’ve got a bonus game on top of the campaign rather than a real extension of what makes Doom so great.

If you could get past its shortcomings, you’d find a pretty novel spin on deathmatch with some demonic flavoring with a slight Halo twist. You’ve got King of the Hill and Territories representation, as well as some precision weapons to back up your Super Shotgun. The gameplay is all about securing power weapons, whether they’re a BFG or a “demon rune” that lets you possess one of Hell’s powerful, signature monsters, which was the obvious highlight of any round. This made matches stand out from the average shooter, and it makes sense why that’s one of the aspects that id is carrying over to Doom Eternal.

What is the Doom Eternal multiplayer?

The Doom Eternal multiplayer has to shake things up and that is where Battlemode comes in. This new mode takes the form of a two-on-one asymmetrical experience, advertised as strategy versus skill. One player possesses Doomguy, complete with all the weapons and abilities you can gather in the campaign. The team of two take over big demon enemies, but they have to work smart to take out the legendary slayer. After all, id wants this to feel just like the campaign, so the armies of hell are inherently at a disadvantage.

As you can see in the mode’s trailer, demons have an array of unique abilities that you’d expect. The Mancubus shoots streams of flames while the Revenant hovers above and belches rockets forward. Demons can also summon in more help, although it’s not clear whether that’s an ability or something you can do on certain areas of the map. Either way, this may be where the strategy comes into play. You’ll need to overwhelm the slayer with sheer force rather than facing him one on one.

id Software’s Battlemode gambit

doom eternal multiplayer

It’s an interesting concept to be sure, born out of id’s clear desire to translate the Doom experience to multiplayer. You can see the developers stating this in interviews, they want to make sure that they avoid the perceived failings of Doom‘s multiplayer.

However, is this drive towards authenticity really the key to getting Doom in the multiplayer conversation? The original deathmatch back in 1993 was not a carbon copy of campaign gameplay. Despite having the same guns, the act of putting so many players on one map changed things up. That mode was so popular that it became standard for FPS games for decades afterward.

Although, like deathmatch in the original Doom, Battlemode is new. Controlling the demons was the best part of the last multiplayer mode, so making it the focus here is smart, but it’s not exclusive to Battlemode. There’s already confirmation that you’ll be able to “invade” other players games as a demon, Dark Souls-style.

That sounds like the ultimate realization of this concept, but it throws the necessity of Battlemode into question just a bit. If the invasion angle works out, it could be like a slightly tweaked variation that you launch from a separate menu. But perhaps the campaign invasions will serve as a taster or tutorial for its online mode, which could work out in the game’s favor. It would serve as the bridge and fuse the two modes in a more cohesive way.

As much fun as Doom‘s deathmatch was, it was clear that something had to change. This drastic shift to Battlemode could be the answer as it aims to emulate the campaign’s success, or it could be another weird side road to nowhere like SnapMap. Looking at Xbox achievement statistics, less than 2% of players ended up creating a map in Doom‘s level editor, and a similar amount even bothered to look at the tutorials. People clearly come to Doom primarily for a campaign, and it’s possible that no one mode can change that. But this does seem completely different than what has come before while channeling the strengths of the campaign. This could be the best alternative, given that there are other games like Quake Champions that satisfy that classic id deathmatch feel.