DOOM (2016) PC Review

Doom 2016 is a true return to form and a masterful collage and celebration of the first-person shooter genre.

By LG18, Posted 20 Jul 2020

The developers of Doom 2016 didn’t have an easy task on their hands when they embarked on the development of the game.  As is often the case with other iconic franchises such as Rock Star’s Grand Theft Auto and Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers series, the sequel’s to these iconic franchises remain in the difficult position of being compared to their critically acclaimed predecessors.  Moreover, coming at a time when the industry was saturated by the prevalence of lackluster series ‘re-boot’s’ splitting at the seams with micro-transactions; it’s no wonder many were skeptical of this self-titled return to the series.  


DOOM 2016, PC, Review, Screenshots, Gameplay
 

The game’s tone is immediately apparent as it begins, and makes a decidedly good first impression.  The visceral and brutal violence the series is characteristic of returns and is suitably increased, with the fantastic lighting and texture quality of the Id Tech 6 engine being showcased exquisitely as the Doom slayer awakens from his slumber; mercilessly tearing his foes apart in gritty detail within the first minute of the game.  Upon shortly afterward donning your ‘predator’ power armor suit and locating a shotgun, you see the return of old-school health and armor bars, before being immediately thrust into the action.  Very apparent from the first ten minutes of the game is the developers' awareness and commitment to the identity of Doom as a franchise, which only continues as the game progresses.  

You quickly learn the mechanics of the game which are quite different from the other modern shooters on the market. The game has a strong emphasis on strategy; a ‘dance’ if you will, that you’ll be required to learn and master if you wish to succeed. While shooting everything that moves is most certainly your main prerogative, reducing an enemy’s health to near death provides you with the key opportunity to perform a ‘glory kill’. These are brutally cinematic melee finishing take-down’s which also cause the unfortunate demon to drop health and ammo. This adds a level of depth to this iteration of the franchise that’s as crucial to the gameplay as it is fun. Glory kills are often your best shot at recovering your health and ammo in the midst of a fight, forcing you into tense, close-quarters encounters.  

As such, movement is also highly important. Standing still is almost certain death, and the ability to quickly scale ledges, survive huge falls and propel yourself through the air with the aid of your suit provide the opportunity for fluid, fast-paced yet strategic gameplay; augmented of course, by the Doom Slayer’s arsenal. 


DOOM 2016, PC, Review, Screenshots, Gameplay
 

The shotgun, super shotgun, plasma rifle, rocket launcher, chain gun, and BFG all make a re-appearance; alongside a plethora of new weapons with unique characteristics best left unspoiled.  All operate with the level of devastation to be expected from a Doom game, and the satisfaction of blowing apart demon after demon with the diverse weapon roster is absolute. Doom also offers a rich and extensive upgrade system for these weapons, too. Collecting upgrade tokens through completing pre-determined challenges enables you to unlock upgrade trees for each weapon; each having their own set of challenges for unlocking subsequent upgrades which ultimately culminate in unlocking the ‘mastery’ upgrade which quite drastically increases the effectiveness of the weapon. You’re able to pick from two paths for each weapon, each offering their own respective skill trees with subsequent new strategies and ways to play. You can also similarly upgrade your suit, with the game enabling bodily augmentation of sorts that give you the ability to change the way you traverse and react to your environment. Add this to the impressive array of collectibles and secrets there are to find and the replayability factor is very high. 

There’s no shortage in the variety of enemies, either, the majority of which return from the previous games but modernized in superbly horrifying detail.  Originating from the depths of hell, enemies are very tough, with cleverly implemented AI attributes. Imp’s fling fireballs behind them even as they run away, for example, and all enemies have multiple modes of attack as well as different weak points. Doom’s gameplay is fast and ferocious, and aside from a few boss fights, you’ll mostly be going from place to place clearing out waves of demons systematically. 

It’s simple, but highly refined, with the difficulty scaling in a parallel fashion to your increasing arsenal and increasing skill. The game doesn’t get easier the better weapons you attain as the tougher enemies you face further into the game counter the extra firepower. It strikes a great balance between feeling overpowered and facing an impossible challenge, and for the most part, the system works brilliantly. 

The wave type gameplay can come apart a little bit based on where the checkpoints are, however. It can be frustrating at times to die and have to relive several waves of enemies at a, particularly difficult part in the game, though the addictiveness of the gameplay often lessens this annoyance most of the time. The boss battles, as brilliantly rendered and impressively animated as they are, often don’t match the depth of strategy the regular enemies provide. While not the case for all bosses, defeating some boils down to “shoot it ‘till it dies” as one aptly titled achievement denotes.  


DOOM 2016, PC, Review, Screenshots, Gameplay
 

As previously stated, the graphics are brilliant, particularly if you have the hardware to realize the engines full potential. Using an RTX 2070 Super, the game could be played at 4K on Ultra without breaking a sweat, and it looks superb.  Enemies look excellent but the real stand out is the environments. The high-tech industrial corridors of the UAC facility juxtapose the plan escapes of hell; and you’ll go back and forth between both area types as the game progresses. The texture work on the environments is exceptionally detailed with the skyboxes being almost cinematic CGI level quality. Aside from a recurring glitch in the animations when dying which hampers, the immersion occasionally, the series has once again set the precedent for graphical prowess in video games; standing toe-to-toe with the most graphically impressive games of the year.  

The proverbial cherry atop his deeply atmospheric world is the soundtrack. Scoring your every action is Mick Gordon’s hellish mixture of chilling metal riffs and growling soviet synthesizers, which truly complete the tone of the game. The game is unequivocally stylish from start to finish, and it knows it. But what about the narrative? The series is infamous for its dismissal of the importance of story in a game, though times have changed considerably since 1993 when the original Doom released. This iteration of the series approaches story by cleverly offering a deep narrative if you want it, but one you can also largely ignore it if you just want to focus on the gameplay.  

As has been commonplace with FPS games like Half Life, everything is delivered in-engine with no cutscenes to take you out of the action. Plot points are either delivered through the use of in-game video-graphic holograms that give exposition, or dialogue delivered through your suit. The game is even self-aware of the controversy of the story within the series, with the Slayer (who remains silent throughout the game) destructively dismissing the chattering of other characters that are preventing him from pummeling demons. 

If you wish to delve into the story further, a wealth of information can be obtained and read at your leisure; which pertains to the world around you and the surprisingly rich lore the game is grounded in. The story covers the corporate corruption and devastation you might imagine is associated with humanity getting their hands on a renewable, infinitely powerful energy source.  The result of the developer’s approach is undoubtedly the most balanced approach to the story in a Doom game that there’s ever been, and if you want to immerse yourself more in the world, it definitely has some interesting concepts.  


DOOM 2016, PC, Review, Screenshots, Gameplay
 

The single-player campaign isn’t all the game offers, either. Due to the old school mechanics of the game, the multiplayer plays a lot like the arena shooters of old such as Quake and Unreal. It’s mostly a standard affair offering classic game modes such as team deathmatch, king of the hill, and the last man standing (albeit with more demonic names), and compared to the brilliantly implemented campaign, the multiplayer does come off as an afterthought. There are some interesting new weapons, though, alongside some cool maps and the novel ability to play as the demons in some game modes. There’s also the ‘Snap map’ feature which offers players a supposedly intuitive way to put together your own maps. It doesn’t offer a massive amount of creativity, but that hasn’t stopped players coming up with interesting maps using the tool despite its limitations. 

The multiplayer leaves something to be desired, but that certainly doesn’t take away from the stellar single player. The developers managed to achieve that which so many others have failed when rebooting a series. They’ve taken what made the original so addictive and reinvented it for a modern audience without stripping the series of its identity.  As the FPS genre was approaching severe staleness, Doom 2016 came at the perfect time to shake up the genre; to show after all these years, those age-old FPS mechanics the franchise birthed can still be as fun as they were all those years ago. Doom 2016 is a true return to form and a masterful collage and celebration of the first-person shooter genre. 


Linden Garcia
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Doom

80/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Bethesda
Developer(s): id Software
Genres: First Person Shooter
Themes: Horror, Action, Fantasy, Science-Fiction
Release Date: 2016-05-13

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