DOOM (2016) GAME REVIEW

Length: 6 minutes.

Contains: DOOM is rated M for Mature.

Publisher(s): Bethesda Softworks

Developer(s): id Software

Platform(s): Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

All images courtesy of Bethesda Softworks.

I decided to replay DOOM this year in preparation for its sequel, DOOM Eternal, and had a pretty good time.

Even if you’ve never played a DOOM game before, you probably already know the gist from the franchise’s place in pop culture. You’re the DOOM Marine, a sort of mythical figure who slays demons from Hell. You spend the entire game shooting them and ripping them apart; along the way, you’ll build a massive arsenal of weapons, upgrading them along with your Praetor armor. There’s really not much else to it.

The Numbers

I played DOOM on my mid-range PC on Ultra settings with Vulkan graphics. I got an average of about 120 FPS and never had a single performance dip, although for some reason my framerate was briefly capped to 60 for my conversation with Samuel Hayden. Loading times were mostly short, but a little too long when it came to Rune Trials (which I’ll talk about later). Overall, I was quite happy with the game’s performance.

As for game length, my first playthrough took me about 14 hours. My second playthrough took me 20 hours because I spent more time looking for collectibles and replaying levels to 100% the game.

Both playthroughs were on “Hurt Me Plenty”, the game’s equivalent of Normal difficulty. I tried “Ultra-Violence” (Hard) difficulty, but it was too punishing for my taste. If I were younger, I’d play on “Ultra-Violence” out of some need to prove something; nowadays, I don’t really have the free time or patience to punish myself for something that should be fun.

The multiplayer component never interested me, so I haven’t touched it. From what I can tell, the player base is dead, anyway.

The facilities of the Union Aerospace Corporation, where most of the game takes place.

Tips

  • If you’re a completionist and don’t want to use a guide to find every secret, max out your Exploration suit upgrades first. Then you won’t need the AutoMap on every mission.
  • Upgrade your Ammo capacity first. Some enemies require more Chainsaw fuel to kill than others.
  • Replay missions to earn weapon masteries; the easiest one is the first: “The UAC”.
  • Don’t be afraid to use your Chainsaw and BFG often! The game throws a lot of ammo at you, so use them whenever you’re overwhelmed or just feel like it.

The Good

One thing I love about this game is the atmosphere. The game takes place during the aftermath of a demonic invasion on Mars, where the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) had set up a colony. Walking through the facilities of the UAC, you’ll come across hundreds of dead bodies and demonic artifacts. The environment is macabre, yet fascinating. It really feels like a lived-in world. I found myself sometimes imagining all the stories that took place before the start of the game.

Another thing I love about this game is the hilarious flavor text. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is most obvious in the UAC, which is a parody of corporate culture; messages from the PA system, holograms, and codex entries satirize how modern corporations demand devotion from employees on the level of religious devoutness, all while treating them like they’re disposable.

“God rested on the seventh day. But imagine how much further along we would be if He hadn’t? The UAC is committed to excellence. That’s why we implemented the seven day work week. Now you can achieve greatness alongside your coworkers everyday. Let’s never stop achieving.”

The flavor text is also quite interesting. Reading up on the lore provides a nice break from the constant, high-octane action of the game. My personal favorite entry is the one on VEGA, an AI that helps run the UAC facilities:

“VEGA is an acronym, though the exact meaning has not been revealed by Hayden or the UAC. Once named, it was decided that the AI would need to be given a personality to make interactions more agreeable. A gender was assigned (male), a virtual age was established (50 years old), and a colloquial speech pattern implemented. As such, speaking to VEGA is a calming and pleasant affair. A blind study was conducted with Computer Science students to see if VEGA would pass the Turing test. The students were instructed to ask a series of questions to both VEGA (via sat-link) and a mathematics professor from MIT to see if they could tell which one was the computer. 92% of the students thought they were both human. Only 8% detected that VEGA was a computer.

VEGA also played the professor.”

The Bad

A minor issue I had were a few instances of poor level design. On the mission “VEGA Central Processing”, for example, the final arena has railings everywhere. I found myself getting stuck on them while trying to avoid dozens of powerful enemies. Bumping into them was quite frustrating. Why were they there in the first place? I don’t think any player would question their absence; a company like the UAC wouldn’t care about employee safety anyway. Video game arenas should be designed for fluidity of movement; that should always take precedent over “realism”.

A Revenant is torn apart by the Doom Slayer’s Chain gun.

Another instance of poor level design is that most of the time, you can’t backtrack on missions to find secrets or collectibles that you missed. You’ll often drop down from ledges or hatches that you can’t go back up, so if you miss something, you have to replay the mission. For any completionist, this is rather annoying.

Lastly, I had a few issues with the “Rune Trial” component of the game. If you don’t know, Rune Trials are challenges you can complete to earn special modifiers that make your game easier, such as making enemies drop armor when you Glory Kill them, or even making ammunition infinite as long as your armor stays intact. Some of the hardest Trials take multiple attempts, but when you die, you not only have to go through a loading screen, but must also go through several menus. The wait was mildly irritating.

I also ran into a bug where I didn’t get the achievement for earning all Runes. This apparently happens if you open the developer console by accidentally pressing the Tilde key, or if you don’t find the Runes when you first play through a mission.

Conclusion

All in all, DOOM is a short but sweet experience. It’s got a few flaws, but nothing that ruined my enjoyment. I would recommend getting it while it’s on sale.

A big thanks to Matt for gifting me this game!

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