Anyone who’s ever talked to me about video games for more than, say, fifteen minutes has likely heard me mention how much I love the entire DOOM franchise. The original PC games, the N64 sequel (that technically finishes off the ‘story’), the various ports, remakes, and mods (such as the brilliant Brutal DOOM, which this game…actually borrows a lot from)…hell, I even love DOOM 3, a game that most people remember as “the shitty one with the flashlight.” So out of all the amazing announcements at E3, I think I can safely say that the one I was probably happiest to see was footage of id’s new DOOM. (It was a tossup between this, Shenmue III, and the Platinum-developed Transformers Devastation).
As happy as I was to see that the now-John-Carmack-less id Software can still make games and seems to know what they’re doing, what kind of Internet Video Game Fan would I be without a list of demands that must be met before I deem their product acceptable?! (Okay, that’s a bit harsh.) Presented below are the things I hope, expect, and would like to see in the new DOOM!
All Your Guns At Once
The first two things I usually judge a first-person shooter on are how many guns you can carry at once, and how your health is refilled – you might not be surprised to learn I find a lot of modern shooters left wanting as a result. DOOM seems pretty close on both of these, but I’d like to know more about their weapon mechanics. Changing weapons in the demo brought up a console-styled pinwheel of selectable firearms, but the demo didn’t indicate too strongly how many guns you could carry at once. id’s previous game RAGE got pretty close by letting you pick from a few guns at a time by putting them in an active inventory, which was good for them, but for DOOM I’d better be able to pick up and keep every gun I find along the way. What good are firearms if you’re not able to take 8 of them with you at once? (Also, at no point did I see anyone have to reload a gun during the demo. This is good. I want this to continue.)
Speed and Verticality
To this day, the biggest thing that sets DOOM apart from shooters of any era is the speed with which it all happens. Before everyone suddenly developed regenerating health, shooters forced you to rely on your speed and agility to just not get shot in the first place, and while it looks like the new DOOM is getting back to that (even including jumping and climbing!) I worry that it might not be integrated into the levels too well. I’m not asking for Half-Life style jumping puzzles (the last 1/3rd of that game is a nightmare these days), but some kind of cohesion between the level design and your marine’s movability would go a long way.
Appropriate Enemy AI:
This one is a little tricky, and hard to judge until the game itself is out. DOOM‘s monsters are dumb, violent, loud, and single-minded. They want to kill and eat you, sometimes they want to kill and eat each other…look, the point is, for DOOM to really feel like DOOM, the enemies can’t be too ‘tactical’. The AI in RAGE struck a good balance between “know when to duck for cover” and “run screaming at the player like a lunatic,” and while it would be best to skew it a bit in that second direction, the id of the modern day indicates that they know how to craft interesting enemy AI that isn’t trying so hard to be “tactical” like other shooters. Also, please make sure I can trick the monsters into fighting each other. More games need to have that, but it’s hard to justify when every single shooter has you fighting terrorists.
A Non-Obtrusive Story
This one might just be sour grapes, but bear with me. DOOM 3 was pretty damn good, but it fell into that post-Half-Life 2 trap of being kinda scripted and hand-hold-y at times. I get it, most shooters by virtue of what they are these days have to have a super linear roller coaster/haunted house progression to the levels, but that’s not what DOOM is. Maybe it’s just a pipe dream, but I’d even welcome a return back to the Quake II days of sprawling levels with clearly defined objectives that don’t have someone squawking over your headset to tell you right where to go every single time. The little ‘holo-disk’ thing in the trailer looked like a fun, interactive equivalent to the ubiquitous PDAs of DOOM 3, and the fact it still leaves you to figure things out on your own is encouraging. I just hope it’s like that through the whole game.
Maybe all of these will come true. Maybe none of them will. Maybe I’m just a bitter old crank who can’t accept what video games are like these days (this part is true regardless of how DOOM turns out). But the fact DOOM exists in today’s game landscape is encouraging enough, and I know I’ll be playing the hell (HEH, GET IT) out of the beta when it starts. You didn’t think I just bought Wolfenstein: The New Order for fun, did you?