Review: DOOM (2016)
At a Glance
|ESRB Rating:||M - Mature Audiences|
|My Rating:||Adults - 18+|
|Genre:||First Person Shooter|
|Review Published On:||January 1st, 2020|
DOOM uses save slots. Within each slot, your progress through the story and the upgrades / equipment you've gathered are kept separate. The main benefit of this is that items you find are recorded as you play, and you can replay levels with new equipment whenever you want. Your progress through the story, however, is only saved at the end of a level.
Per usual for this franchise, there's a LOT of blood and gore, as well as plenty of references to Hell and demons. The new Glory Kill system also makes the combat extremely brutal and violent.
Put simply, DOOM (aka Doom 4 or Doom 2016) is a sequel to Doom II, not Doom 3. Basically, the series is continuing on as if Doom 3 never happened, and everyone seems to be thrilled about that.
Now, the original games didn't focus on their story very much; the majority of their "storytelling" consisted of walls of text that appeared after the player cleared specific levels. DOOM is more in line with modern games in that it leaves bits and pieces of the lore scattered around for the player to find. It also features the occasional cutscene to further flesh out the game's canon. There are some small changes in the series' overall lore, but ultimately, it feels like it affirms the old games more than it retcons them. Most importantly, "Doomguy" has a canon name now: instead of being a nameless Marine, he's the Doom Slayer.
The story is simple enough: unlike the past games where Hell broke loose thanks to the UAC's teleportation experiments, the UAC is actually being somewhat careful with their experiments. This time around, the UAC is just attempting to extract a type of energy from Hell as a sort of alternative energy program. This apparently was working out quite well for the them until just recently, and once again, it's up to the Doom Slayer to clean up their mess.
Doom 4 also introduces several new mechanics that keep the gameplay from growing stale. The biggest change is the introduction of "glory kills"; special attacks that instantly kill the target demon. In addition, killing an enemy using a glory kill causes health restoring powerups to scatter around the victim's body. If you use the chainsaw to glory kill a demon, they'll also drop lots of ammunition for you to grab. This allows you to quickly turn the tide when a fight isn't going well or just simply remove specific targets from combat. Of course, it's very risky to try for a glory kill, as you'll need to be extremely close to the target and the window of opportunity can be rather short.
Ultimately, I'd say that DOOM lives up to the franchise's legacy quite well. It expands on the lore without intruding on the action, and unlike Doom 3, it feels like a game in the Doom series. However, I don't see myself replaying this one as often as the first two games; the intense combat rattles me a bit too much for my liking. But that's just personal preference; it's obvious that fans of the series are loving it.
Points of Interest
Another secret found in each level is a hidden lever. Activating it reveals a hidden area based on a level from Doom or Doom II. Once unlocked, you can play through an updated version of the level by selecting it from the game's main menu.
The simplest way to upgrade a weapon is to just use it enough to gather weapon upgrade points. These unlock various tweaks that can improve the weapon's performance. A more difficult (and thus more rewarding) method of upgrading a weapon is to find a drone carrying weapon mods. These mods drastically change how a weapon functions, and you're free to equip or unequip them whenever you want. To give you an idea of how crazy these weapon mods get, one that you can get early one in the game effectively turns your shotgun into a grenade launcher.
On the other hand, upgrading your armor isn't so easy. Most of the time, you'll upgrade it by spending tokens acquired from fallen soldiers. These soldiers usually climbed someplace out of the way before they slumped against a wall and died, so expect to search for their bodies during early playthroughs.
Additionally, there are also powerful runes that can be discovered and equipped for a number of different effects. The catch here is that finding a rune isn't enough; you'll need to prove you're worthy of the rune's power by completing a special challenge.
If I had to pick an example of a demon that was changed for the better, I'd go with the Imps. Every game in the franchise has featured Imps, but until now, they've been something of a joke. In the original games, their ranged attack could be easily dodged, making them less of a threat than the former humans. Then Doom 3 came out, and they were made the focus of many laughable jump scares. In DOOM though? Imps still throw fireballs at you, but they are truly defined by the way they constantly scurry around the environment like very angry chimpanzees. It's still easy to kill them of course, but they are a lot harder to deal with in large numbers, and if something more dangerous is nearby, then they can become a real threat surprisingly quickly.
DOOM's multiplayer games also feature multiple game options, from the classic deathmatch to capture the flag games.
On an amusing side note, many of the achievements are named after famous memes and fandom references relating to the original Doom games.
Granted, this isn't going to be an issue for everyone. But it was certainly an issue for me, and I'm usually able to navigate my way around stuff like this.
Concerns and Issues
As with the other games in the series, most of the blood and gore is splattered around the environment, as it's what remains of the original UAC staff. Additional gore can be temporarily created by killing demons in various ways, with the worst-case scenarios being the remains of larger demons like a Mancubus or the Spider Mastermind. To be more specific, many demons (Imps in particular) can be dismembered by your standard attacks. However, since bodies quickly vanish, any remains created by killing a monster will disappear in a few moments. Set pieces on the other hand, are permanent fixtures in the level.
There is one last thing that needs to be mentioned under this heading. A new obstacle, called a "gore nest", is a large, somewhat spherical mound of tissue and bone. These act as anchors for the invading demonic forces, so you need to remove them to continue. The Doom Slayer removes a gore nest by ripping a large nodule out of the side of the target nest, causing it to spray blood and shrivel up. Doing this also triggers a large battle as demons will rush in to defend the location.
The basic idea behind glory kills is simple enough: you do something that makes the target stagger, and then before it recovers you rush over and finish it off. The catch here is that the methods Doom Slayer uses are quite brutal and range from snapping a demon's neck to beating a monster to death with one of its own limbs. The most extreme glory kill I witnessed while playing this game involved using the chainsaw to slice off a large demon's leg, and then decapitating the demon by sawing through the back of its mouth. In a word: yikes.
Obviously, playing these modes is optional, but this is the first time in the franchise where demons have been treated as a "good" thing in any context.