Doom (the fourth game in the blockbuster series, despite not having a number by its name) is a lot of things. The game, being developed in Richardson by Id Software, is oldschool, it's fast and it's really brutal. This much was evident by the gameplay they've shown so far (first at last year's QuakeCon, then more publicly at E3 last month), but it's one thing to see somebody play a video game. It's another to play it for yourself.
So the biggest announcement at this year's QuakeCon, happening now at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, was not a new game, it was the fact that Doom's multiplayer is playable here at the convention. It's the first time that the general public has had a chance to go hands-on with the game, and it's the first time the multiplayer has been shown off anywhere in the world.
I played a bunch of matches this morning before the show opened to general attendees. Some I won, some I lost, but in all of them I can easily say that I had fun.
Id Software is only showing off one map: A lava-filled complex with a lot of tight spaces and hidden nooks and crannies to find. We only played one mode, Team Deathmatch, in six vs. six games that lasted six minutes.
Because 6, 6, 6. Because Doom. Demons. Get it?
It took me a couple minutes to get in the groove. I honestly don't play multiplayer shooters on a regular basis, and it's been awhile since I've played one like this. Because it's not much at all like Call of Duty or Titanfall, though it may look like it at first. You do choose a weapon loadout (the defaults of which are named like classes in other shooters) during the match, but at least in this QuakeCon demo, your loadout options are basically, "Do you want this explosive weapon or this one?"
Let me put it this way: My default primary weapon -- the gun I started with -- in most of the matches I played was a rocket launcher, not a puny pistol or some standard machine gun. So right off the bat, things start blowing up. When everybody can start with rockets, grenades and powerful shotguns things get hectic fast.
And it's beautiful. In that chaotic, "Holy crap I can't distinguish my teammates from my enemies right this second but screw it everything in front of me must die" kind of way.
Reloading? Pshh. Why would you need to do that? Just shoot until you run out of ammo (or don't, if you're smart about grabbing ammo pickups on the map), then switch to another gun. The button that would be "reload" in other games is just the button that will let you respawn after you die, getting you right back into the action.
There are a few other "modern" shooter conventions that have made their way into the new Doom, like a melee attack, but they don't take away from the old-school feeling. It's a game of running fast, double jumping to grab some extra armor over a lava pit and shooting a rocket at a guy who's below you before you land. You know. Simple, easy-going stuff like that.
Not explosive enough? At various points throughout the match an item spawns that will turn whatever player picks it up into a Revenant -- a big, powerful demon with rocket launchers on its shoulders and a jetpack you can fly around with. It doesn't last forever, but the player who becomes the Revenant can wreak some serious havoc to the other team.
In some ways Doom actually feels quite a bit like Id Software's other well-known, FPS, Quake -- and that's not a bad thing. Quake was always the series that attracted the bigger multiplayer audience for a reason, so the thought of that sort of gameplay with a Doom skin over it is appealing.
I swapped between using an Xbox One controller and mouse and keyboard controls, both of which worked great. Whether you end up playing Doom on PC or a console, you should be comfortable.
Frankly, this tiny taste of Doom wasn't enough for me. I had a blast playing, but with only one map, one mode and no look at the game's single-player (which we know very little about) it's hard to know for sure if the game will hold up during longer sessions. Still, I'm very encouraged by what I've seen so far, and I'm excited to play the full game with it releases in the spring of 2016.