Will DOOM meet expectations in May?
It has almost been 12 years since the last installment in the DOOM franchise. With the release of the long-awaited reboot just two months away, there is plenty of excitement. As excited as I may be for the new title, I can't help but wonder, will this new game deliver on its promise of returning to the series' roots?
What are the roots?
To understand what the roots in the series are we need to take a look at the original game, DOOM, released in 1993. DOOM is a fast-paced over-the-top FPS, developed by (at that point little) Id Software. At the time, it contained never-before-seen graphics, violence, and gameplay.
It is easy to see while playing the game that the gameplay, level design, and the atmosphere was the primary focus of Id Software when developing DOOM. The storyline to the game is as minimal as it gets and revolves around a Marine killing demons and entering Hell to stop them.
Despite the action being the major aspect of the game, DOOM contains an incredible amount of atmosphere with its soundtrack and level design. Even with its adrenaline-pumping gameplay, the game still has horror elements and sights which give the player chills. The horror comes from various gruesome sights -- fellow Marines laying dead on the ground or impaled on a metal rod while still alive, plus some satanic imagery.
Of course, I have not yet included the monsters themselves which come in all shapes and sizes. From the red skinned Cacodemon to the gigantic rocket launcher wielding Cyberdemon to the metallic legged plasma gun wielding Spiderdemon. All the monsters are as equally ferocious and horrifying as each other. Each demon is unique in its way making each and every one of them memorable.
DOOM is very much a game which is all about the fast-paced over-the-top action, big guns and horrifying demonic entities but it was not without its atmosphere both from music and level design. As I stated in my review of the game, everything mixed creates an experience unlike any other.
We have been here before
DOOM (2016) is not the first time the series has received a reboot. Despite its title, DOOM 3 was in fact, a reboot, just as the upcoming title is. DOOM 3 took advantage of John Carmack's groundbreaking Id Tech 4 engine and took a slightly different direction with the game.
Due to the engine's never-before-seen lighting effects, it was decided to create more of a horror shooter as opposed to the fast-paced over-the-top action that was the first title. The result was a good game with an outstanding atmosphere and lighting that stood true to the DOOM universe, but the gameplay suffered.
With the game focusing more on the horror elements, the gameplay was slower paced. It was also far more story-driven this time around, slowing the gameplay down a bit more. Often players had to read e-mails and listen to audio logs from PDAs that they picked up to receive background story. That doesn't include having to get the codes to unlock almost every supply locker in the game.
Despite being a commercial success and overall a pretty good game that caused brown trouser time for millions of players, it wasn't the adrenaline pumping DOOM the fans wanted. In most cases, players would complete DOOM 3 once, and maybe a second time, before returning to DOOM or DOOM 2. It had little replayability, as it gave everything it had to offer on the first playthrough.
Where could DOOM go wrong?
DOOM 3 excelled in graphics, atmosphere, and horror -- but suffered slow, bland, and repetitive gameplay. Judging from gameplay trailers, the upcoming reboot is focusing primarily on the gameplay. But in doing so, I fear the atmosphere and horror elements may be lacking. As mentioned above, even in the over-the-top action shooter of DOOM in 1993, there is plenty of atmosphere and horror to experience.
On the game's Wikipedia page, it states:
"According to Hugo Martin, the game's creative director, the game was inspired by rock and roll. The team intended to create a personality for the game by adding lots of over-the-top skulls. The team did not put lots of emphasis on the game's story, as they believed that it is not an important feature of the franchise."
Every detail mentioned about the upcoming DOOM game revolves around the over-the-top fast-paced action, violence, gore, and rock and roll inspiration. There is no mention of focusing on atmosphere or level design. I fear, for all of DOOM's old school action, violence, gore, graphics, and new features of double jump and manteling, we could end up with nothing more than an average shooter with tons of blood and violence.
Without an atmosphere, you have no living world. Without the horror elements of Hell, you don't have that pure sense of being in one. Without either of them, you are missing half of what the entire experience of DOOM is. We could end up getting the complete opposite of what DOOM 3 was.
With none of the original team remaining within Id Software, the last to leave being John Carmack in 2015, there is no development experience left from that of the original game. Those working on the title have only their experience of playing the first DOOM game to guide them into creating what made the original special.
I do hope that my fears of the upcoming DOOM game being an average shooter won't become a reality. I am very much excited about the game as are many others but until otherwise proven, I will continue to have my fears for the game.
What do you think about the upcoming DOOM title? Are you excited? Will you be playing it upon release? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.
DOOM (2016) Image Source: Gamerevolution