Demons and shotguns. When all is said and done, those two things encapsulate the experience of the 1993 video game classic Doom. Sure, there was also the element of speed (even the old Doom is faster than many shooters of today), and some would also say that horror played a big role in their experience. But at the end of the day, it was about getting up close and personal with a monster and blowing it to smithereens.
The new Doom understands that.
There's a story in Doom. Barely. You're a marine on Mars that apparently died but was resurrected but some dark forces that a woman is messing with because she wants to unleash demons on the world ... or something. In all honesty, it doesn't matter, and aside from a few brief moments, the game doesn't even try to make you care about it.
This is in stark contrast to the last game in the series, 2004's Doom 3. That game had a lot of story, much of which was told via audio diaries you would find in the environment (a novel concept at the time that has since become overused in gaming). It took quite a bit of time for the action in Doom 3 to get going, as the designers spent a lot of time trying to build up the atmosphere.
Doom 2016 is different. You select "New Game," your character wakes up, and you go. You're shooting stuff almost immediately, and you pick up the shotgun very quickly. Before you know it you'll be blowing your way through hordes of demonic enemies, sometimes killing them up close with the game's new "glory kill" mechanic, which balances the risk of close quarters combat with the reward of getting extra health and ammo.
(If this sounds violent: It is. But it's a sort of violence that's so ridiculous and over-the-top that it's easy to write off as absurd -- though it's definitely not appropriate for any younger would-be players.)
Check out the gallery below for some then-and-now comparisons of Doom enemies.
There's one movement speed: Fast. So fast, in fact, that it might take some adjusting if all you've ever played is Call of Duty and its ilk. There's also need need to reload your guns, so your ability to survive boils down to your ability to do just two things: Run and shoot.
It helps that you aren't funneled into narrow corridors or linear paths. Each level in Doom provides you with several wide open spaces that serve as combat arenas, and each map is designed in such a way that they don't shove you along a pre-built track. There are tons of nooks and crannies to explore, and your curiosity will be rewarded with lots of secrets and collectibles -- including a bunch of very cool homages to the series' history.
And yes, if you're a fan of the original games, colored keycards play a prominent role in Doom's level design.
This gameplay loop of blazing through levels, jumping around the environment and blasting demons into bloody bits is incredibly cathartic.
Video games aren't always a form of stress relief, especially these days, but this one is. Even when I would fail a challenge or enemy encounter, Doom is so well-designed that I was eager to jump right back in and try again.
The single-player campaign is lengthy enough, easily taking me more than 10 hours to complete (though I was always on the hunt for hidden items, most of which I was able to find). If anyone finds it too easy, they can bump up the difficulty to something tougher, including a very difficult mode in which every time you die, you have to start the entire game over.
For those seeking more longevity, however, there are two more modes: Multiplayer and SnapMap.
The multiplayer is fine. It's an explosive arena shooter that can feel as fast and as hectic as the single-player in some ways -- for instance, everyone has the option of starting with a rocket launcher, meaning things start blowing up immediately. I personally like it quite a bit.
However, it's also a style of multiplayer that has been done by quite a few other games over the years, and while none of them may be done exactly the same way, there's also nothing in Doom's multiplayer that you can point to and say, "Yes! That new feature changes everything and makes Doom stand on the shoulders of giants." It's fine, but it's not revolutionary, and I wonder if it will be able to maintain a solid player base.
I'm much more optimistic about SnapMap. It's an easy-to-use level editor that allows players to create their own Doom content and easily share it online. That means that, in theory, there's a limitless supply of new levels to play for anybody who buys the game, which is an exciting thought.
Doom knows exactly what it wants to do, and it focuses on doing that thing extremely well.
Not only is Doom a fantastic game on its own, it gives hope for the future of Richardson-based Id Software as a developer. Their last game, Rage, had a lot of good going for it (like the technology -- it was a gorgeous-looking game for the time), but it didn't manage to capture the hearts and minds of a sizable audience. By returning to their roots with Doom, Id has made something that's incredibly satisfying to play that, in my experience, a lot of people love talking about.
Doom proves that Id still has enough magic to make a top-notch action game, and it's something that can appeal to both old-school fans and new gamers alike.