With all the recent attention given to the upcoming Call of Duty and Battlefield games, one writer looks at why DOOM could actually be the year’s best first-person shooter.
Whether 2016 is shaping up to be another 1998 or 2007 in gaming remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: it’s definitely looking like a big year for big first-person shooter games. Hate on Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare all you want, but it’s hard to deny that Activision drummed up quite a lot of buzz for its upcoming space shooter. Of course, that was then immediately overshadowed by Battlefield 1‘s stunning reveal trailer – and some developer shade being thrown at Infinite Warfare. But while the gaming world is currently embroiled in an argument over whether Team Call of Duty or Team Battlefield will emerge as the FPS victor this year, I believe that title will go to the a game that’s seemingly slipped under the radar in the midst of all the Infinite Warfare hate: DOOM.
In order to explain why we’re due to a grand return to the fiery depths of hell, we’re going to have to go way back to 2011 when I got my hands on the decidedly-average RAGE. Sure, the story in RAGE was poor and there were a couple of technical issues that dampened the experience, but that was almost all mitigated by just how freaking awesome the shooting and gunplay was. So when it was announced that DOOM was to be id Software’s next game, I got so excited about the idea of incorporating the shooting mechanics of RAGE into id Software’s long-standing series. But of course, this wasn’t meant to be. Not yet, anyway.
Rather than a triumphant return to the granddaddy of shooters, what we got was years of troubled development and news about how DOOM had essentially become Call of Duty set in hell. So when the game was sent back to the drawing board, I had only one thought: can DOOM rise from the ashes and deliver all that promise from years ago? When I saw the E3 2015 gameplay trailer for id Software’s new reboot of DOOM, that answer immediately became a resounding “yes.”
From the moment that helmet was slipped over Doom Guy’s head and that shotgun started blasting away, I felt like I was a kid playing DOOM for the first time all over again. The gameplay was visceral and gory, the graphics were absolutely stunning, I got excited (and a little edgy) whenever the Marine turned a corner, and the fast-paced shooting mechanics looked awesome. With all the fuss that’s kicked up every year over Call of Duty and Battlefield‘s adherence to an established formula, DOOM is a welcome departure to the scripted set-pieces and overly-lavish settings that’s come to define the modern day shooter.
In what some deemed as a “modern old-school shooter,” id Software have struck the perfect balance with DOOM in re-introducing the franchise to the present day gaming landscape: keep all the things that made DOOM special while incorporating all the best aspects of a modern day shooter. But while we can argue all day whether Battlefield 1‘s graphics will triumph over DOOM‘s, or how Call of Duty‘s multiplayer will be better, the key thing that I believe will elevate DOOM above Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1, is the player’s level of control throughout the all-important single-player campaign.
The one big thing that I’ve come to dislike about Call of Duty and Battlefield is the lack of control a player ultimately has over what happens during the level to level proceedings. Modern shooters guide players through a linear path in each level, scripted set-pieces are going to happen to matter what, health will regenerate all the time, and the only level of control a player really has is deciding what gun to use between cutscenes.
Based on what I’ve seen in the recent DOOM single-player campaign preview, id Software has taken an old-school approach to proceedings. While players still have to go from A to B in every level, the maps are set out in such a way that the player can control how the get from A to B. With no scripted scenes (as far as I know), enemies come at you in increasingly creative and random ways, forcing you to adapt to the battle based on the environment and what few guns (and remaining non-regenerating health) you may have.
And finally, shooting things in DOOM just feels more rewarding than any other recent shooter. Sure, you can mow down waves of soldiers in Call of Duty and Battlefield, but neither game offers up anything as empowering – or as fun – as when you blow off a demon’s leg with a shotgun, cleave a Revenant in half with a chainsaw, or rip out a Mancubus’ stomach and stuff it down its own throat.
As for DOOM‘s multiplayer, it will be a little more difficult for the game to stand out in that arena, but having taken part in the both multiplayer beta tests, I can definitely say that there’s a good chance it will get a good portion of the attention. Not only is DOOM‘s multiplayer incredibly fast-paced and full of entertaining carnage, but id Software has managed to bring a few new things to the table with a revamped King of the Hill mode, as well as offer players the chance to play as demons.
But ultimately, DOOM has one X-factor that Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1 can’t match: hell. Compared to space combat, or World War I trench warfare, the stakes are considerably higher with DOOM‘s demonic setting, and there’s far more excitement to be had when you’re fighting for humanity against literal hordes of various different demons from the fiery depths of hell.
All this is not to say that Call of Duty and Battlefield won’t be major successes or the year’s best shooter, and they both very well could be, but DOOM has put up the most convincing case for 2016’s best first-person shooter so far. It seems almost fitting that the best first-person shooter of the year could very well be from the company that gave birth to the whole genre, and Bethesda should have no worries over whether DOOM will “prove itself” to fans – it already has.
DOOM is set to arrive for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on May 13, 2016.