Doom 2016 is a reboot of the iconic Doom franchise that has us back to square one on Mars awaiting the start of the demon onslaught once again. Unlike the original game that has us be a normal space marine with nothing more than a pistol and the will to live we now start in a giant coffin as some kind of prophesied chosen one. We are then immediately given a robotic suit very similar to the Master Chief’s armor from Halo. From waking up from cryogenic sleep to the enemy with the energy shield this whole game feels a lot to Halo with a dash of Painkiller more so than Doom. The levels are not intricate mazes with key card hunting, there is little real enemy placement as they just spawn out of thin air and the secrets are now for collectibles and upgrades instead of vital resources. It’s not a critic but something I feel fans of the first two Dooms should be aware of since those games were not arena shooters such as this.
Your first weapon will be the pistol which is as useless as ever though what rather surprised me is how fast you are thrown into the action. Within the first moments of being able to move you are already shooting down foes which is rather unheard of these days. Story is kept to a minimum thankfully and there are no cut scenes though the game will take away control of your character making you listen to characters blather on about uninteresting stuff on occasion. It is rare enough to be a non-issue but when it does happen it is annoying and stops the game dead in its tracks while General Grievous explains backstory to why they opened the portal in the first place and the need to keep it open. Characters are bland, the story is completely predictable and honestly the Codex pages you find scattered around the levels would have been more than enough context to the invasion without slightly damaging the quality of the campaign.
Luckily it has a far heavier focus on pure gameplay where you are given little room to keep the adrenaline down as another wave of demons awaits your every step. It’s the closest a Triple A game has been to the fast paced, balls to the walls action of yesteryear in a very long time. There is no hiding behind cover or hit-scan projectiles here instead you will always be on the move and surrounded on all sides while mowing down enemies with absurdly impractical yet glorious weaponry. Add to that the ability to double jump and very good AI and you have a recipe for a good time. All the Doom enemies minus the Elemental and the Arachnotron are back and ready to rip and tear you to pieces. Many of the monsters are pretty much unrecognizable from their previous appearances like the Summoner that represents the Arch-vile in this game and the Imp looking like a fleshy Halo Promethean. It’s cool to see how they are redesigned into the modern age and now appear far more threatening than their counterparts of the 90’s.
They don’t just appear more threatening but the enemies like the Imps and Pinkys are now far more capable of killing you than ever before. Imps are very agile and cling to walls while flinging projectiles while Pinkys are now the true tanks they were meant to be and an enemy you really don’t want to face head on. The Barons of Hell are the stars of the show being giant charging beasts capable of sending you sailing across the sky by just punching the ground near you and throwing fast moving projectiles from a distance. There is just a ton of variety between the monsters and seeing how your childhood foes now fight with the power brought to you by over 20 years of technical progress is just amazing. One thing that bothered me was your movement speed being a bit too slow making it a bit harder to deal with shielded enemies among other things.
In single player you can carry all weapons at once meaning you always have the right tools for the job taking the luck out of carrying the right weapon at the right time very common in modern FPS games. There is no reloading either which really helps with the flow of combat since no one wants the needless realism of waiting for your gun to reload in game about killing demons with a chainsaw on Mars. All of your weapons have two alt fires you can switch between that really spice up the variety in your already vast arsenal of weapons. They are pretty wacky as well like an Assault Rifle firing mini rockets at your enemies and charging up your shotgun to fire three consecutive blasts to annihilate your foes. Causing your opponents to gib is a bloody satisfying feeling in this title.
Levels themselves have a ton of secrets scattered around the place and are pretty well hidden. You can easily go from arena to arena in a linear fashion but branching off the beaten path gets you some pretty nice rewards such as an orb that increases your overall health, armor or ammo limit to entire retro levels of the original Doom in all its low res’d texture goodness. It’s an interesting process to finding the retro levels, first you must pull a random lever hidden somewhere in the level which in turn opens up a wall somewhere else. You can play these levels from the campaign menu though they feature Doom 2016 enemies, weapons and gameplay so these are mostly one of nostalgia extras. There are also challenge stones hidden about that unlock single player perks such as more control while in air but to unlock them is a challenge as you are always given a very short time limit to do whatever they ask of you.
Glory kills is in my opinion the greatest flaw in the combat. Killing wounded enemies in that matter makes them drop health for you which is weird but I can live with but the way it is implemented is terrible. When you shoot an enemy enough they have a very good chance of being stunned which in itself doesn’t sound too bad but imagine being swarmed by enemies and shooting one point blank with a shotgun only for it to stagger a bit while you do the same to another enemy but that one explodes into bloody pieces. It feels very inconsistent and not killing them in time will have them recover to full health. So you either waste some more ammo to kill the stunned enemy or enter a cheesy animation that is far too zoomed in on the enemy making it very hard to see what’s going on in the battlefield while manhandling that demon for a few seconds.
Snapmap is ID’s replacement for proper modding and allows you to make preset rooms and place enemies as well as edit gameplay options such as movement speed, damage and game mode rules. You’ll see stuff like survival modes, playing as demons and a weird Harvest Moon clone to name a few of the creative things you can do. It’s pretty easy to use and maps are all shared between PS4, Xbx1 and PC which is going to lead to a massive amount of options for the fanbase. It is a double edged sword though. Since maps have to be playable on the hardware of the consoles there is a pretty small limit to the amount you can add to the maps. You and up to three strangers can play on multiplayer supported Snap maps. Multiplayer is where Doom 2016 falls on it’s face. Perks, small uninteresting maps and taunts like a dudebro teabagging option make this portion of the game feel run of the mill. Not to mention the two weapon limit, loadouts where you can start with any weapon you want and the season pass that focuses entirely on multiplayer and will most likely split up the playerbase. It’s only unique mode is freeze tag where when you die you can’t respawn until a teammate thaws you out of the ice and whichever team has remaining players wins. Team Deathmatch’s only unique feature is the ability to play as a demon. It’s a pretty annoying feature that has a rune randomly spawn on the map with a few seconds of warning. It would have been better to announce it far ahead of its spawn arrival to cause players to fight over that area instead of blind luck to have it. Even then it still feels cheap as you can easily annihilate the other players with the overwhelming power of a demon instead of skill. When all is said and done Doom 2016’s is a flawed yet fun overall package but its campaign is one of the best the FPS genre has had to offer in a very long time and one I’m itching to replay time and time again.