Doom Multiplayer Beta Impressions

This is Not Your Typical First-Person Shooter

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*WARNING: This game’s content is rated M for Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, and strong language)

Wait. Christians play Doom?

That game with the pentagrams, guns, gore, and demons galore!?

Yes.

Why? Well, that’s a loaded subject for another time (psst, have you checked out our Facebook group? We’ve wrestled with that subject before in our discussion threads and probably will again). For now, let’s get to some firsthand impressions.

After a mere taste of the rebirth of one of gaming’s pioneer first-person shooter franchises, here’s what I thought of my hands-on time with the recent closed and open betas on PS4:

CONCEPT

DOOM Beta_20160331234358
I made Bumblebee from Transformers!

Through the eyes (and itchy trigger fingers) of a space marine, shoot other player-controlled space marines in their colorful, customized armor as you all race each other to become the demon and totally wreck the opposition in one of two modes: Classic Team Deathmatch and Warpath – a frantic, moving zone, capture mode.

SETTING

Two maps:

1) Heatwave – A dangerous, lava-filled foundry with huge, steel hallways, walkways, vents, platforms, and corridors that make attacks from any side a constant threat.

DOOM Beta_20160331221309
Map #1 – Caution: lava is hot!

2) Infernal – A winding underground cavern decked out with skulls, demonic runes, blood fountains, and webs of tunnels perfect for ambushes.

DOOM Beta_20160331222050
Map #2 – Don’t worry, the real Hell isn’t in this game…right?

GRAPHICS

A masterful mix of high-resolution textures, dynamic lighting, film grain, motion blur, and gorgeous particle effects bring the old pixilated Doom of yesteryear into the modern generation of gaming.

SOUND

Cold, dispassionate digital sounds juxtapose, yet somehow harmonize, with the sound of bullets, blows, and blasted flesh. The pitter-patter of your footsteps, the blast of your shotgun shells, casings hitting the floor, and the crunch of that close-up melee “glory kill” – it all never got old to me. Then there are those other-worldly sounds of the Revenant, one of Doom’s demons. Shrieks, growls, and evil cackles echo mischievously as you quickly lumber toward your next victim so that you can blow him away with your shoulder-mounted rockets.

The music is classic yet up-to-date, as fans might expect. The old familiar metal theme is more of a slow burn, for better or worse, depending on your tastes. The signature metal tunes are given the synthesizer treatment that this generation of gamers would expect. It gets you amped to score as many kill streaks as possible. The cold announcer robot voice informs you of updates as you go. The sound is well done and of course, location-based – something headset users will no doubt appreciate.

GAMEPLAY

Unique and varied shooting, fluid and even vertical locomotion, and three wildly different throwables make Doom’s multiplayer surprisingly simple yet multi-layered. While I play the occasional triple-A online run-and-gun “if it moves, kill it” game, I found myself refreshed by the throwback to the old-school gunplay of this reborn classic. The lack of iron sights reminded me of classics like Goldeneye, but another unexpected monkey wrench is the fact that you don’t reload (there is no reload function). It lends itself to fast and furious gunplay that doesn’t get tiresome, especially given the fact that you can change up your weapon loadout and hack modules (modifiers that can give you an edge) between respawns. Shoot, kill, throw, jump, get more pickups, repeat is the basic gameplay loop, but so much can happen during and between those actions. Especially when you hear those teasing words: “Demon rune spawned.” Or, in other words, “If you pick this up, you’ll be the bringer of death.”

Yeah, I’ll just let some of my captures do the talking here:

What sets Doom apart from other shooters?

1) The franchise history

Fans of the old school Quake games–where you need to keep moving, shooting and getting the best pickups–will have a blast with this. Likewise, newcomers who want something fresh to mix up their online shooting fantasies will find something special here. Though this is a small sampling of the full game’s mechanics, I see a rare and successful blend of old meets new that deserves credit.

2) The lack of iron sights & reloading

This doesn’t mean you don’t have to have skills to dominate, you do! If you must be a marksman, there are the scoped offerings a la the vortex rifle, static rifle and fully automatic heavy assault rifle. Just keep picking up those yellow ammo boxes so you don’t run dry!

3) The emphasis on locomotion

Your health does not regenerate. You need to keep moving. You need to grab all the armor, health, and ammo you can find…constantly. There is literally never a dull moment. And if you slow down to take in the sights, don’t be surprised if you get blown to bits – whether by a running gunner from behind or a jetpack-boosting demon from above!

Want to learn more? Check out Bethesda’s full breakdown on both the single-player campaign and multiplayer from last year’s E3 showcase.

Also, here’s the official website, where you can pre-order the game to get bonus content.

Doom releases on May 13. But be warned: this is not a game for the squeemish or timid! I’ll leave you with a full, uncut round of team deathmatch for an extended look:

GG & amen.

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