id Software designer Kevin Cloud and producer Marty Stratton discuss Doom 4, revealing why the long-in-development game was cancelled in favor of the Doom reboot.
It’s hard to deny that 2016’s Doom reboot was a success. Not only did the game earn strong reviews and sales when it released this past May, but it was also one of five games nominated for Game of the Year at The Game Awards. Considering the success of the Doom reboot, it’s hard to imagine the game in any other form, but according to the team at id Software, Doom 4 was once a very different game.
Whereas 2016’s Doom plays like a modernized version of the classic games, Doom 4 was going to have more in common with games like Call of Duty, as revealed by designer Kevin Cloud and producer Marty Stratton in a conversation with Noclip. This approach would have included more scripted sequences, a bigger focus on story, and more characters besides enemies and the player character. The developers at id Software were hoping that this would allow Doom 4 to capitalize on Call of Duty‘s popularity, as well as help players forge a better connection to the game world and its inhabitants.
Ultimately, the team at id Software decided that Doom 4 just didn’t feel like a proper Doom game. In fact, Marty Stratton went as far as to refer to the project as “Call of Doom” and added, “It was a reimagining of Doom in a way that was new. It didn’t feel as much like Doom as I think a lot of us expected it would feel or hoped it would feel.” Since it played more like Call of Duty than Doom, Doom 4 was scrapped after being stuck in development hell for years.
Based on the description by Stratton, id’s not kidding when it claims Doom 4 was different than the typical Doom experience. The 2016 title as well as the past games focus on fast-paced action where players are encouraged to take a “run and gun” approach, killing everything in the level as quickly as possible. Doom 4, meanwhile, would have featured cover-based gameplay, which would have likely resulted in slower, more tactical action.
Another major way Doom 4 would have differentiated from other Doom games was its setting. The Doom reboot, and most games in the series, are set on Mars, but Doom 4 was going to be set on Earth, depicting an invasion by Hell’s forces. This doesn’t sound like a terrible idea on paper, but it definitely would have been a change of pace for fans, and it’s hard to say if they would have been receptive to such a departure from series norms.
Since the Doom reboot earned strong reviews and sales, it’s tough to say whether any of the dramatic changes planned for Doom 4 will ever appear in future sequels. Fans seemed to respond well to the Doom reboot and how it stayed true to its roots, with the game remaining popular enough for id Software to continue supporting it with significant multiplayer updates even six months after its release, so it’s a safe bet that the probable sequel will be more of the same.
Doom 4 was cancelled before it could finish development.