The DOOM multiplayer beta is suffering from a serious identity crisis. Developed primarily out of the studio id Software by Certain Affinity, frequently the Halo games multiplayer developer, the DOOM multiplayer feels like a weird amalgamation of several other successful multiplayer games. But none of those games are DOOM. It has the armour, mantling and assassinations from Halo, it has the double jump from Unreal Tournament, it has the weapons from Quake, it has the damage numbers from Borderlands and it has the load out system from Call of Duty. But it doesn’t have much from DOOM. It seems confused. Sure, you move pretty fast, but it’s not ‘DOOM fast’. Sure, there is a Super Shotgun, but at point blank range a direct hit from the Super Shotgun isn’t an instant kill. And what business does a Lightning Gun have in a DOOM game?
The whole thing seems so derivative. When I picture DOOM I picture zipping around a map at breakneck speed, icing fools in one hit with the Super Shotgun, controlling weapon spawn points and using the Rocket Launcher splash damage to kill people by shooting the floor next to them. I don’t imagine 2-weapon load outs, direct hits from Rocket Launchers that (and the Borderlands damage numbers confirmed this) only do half a health bar’s worth of damage, and lowering my weapon to mantle up ledges. It was a gameplay experience that left me disappointed. You’re meant to feel powerful in DOOM. In the multiplayer beta, even when I was nailing targets spot on with my Super Shotgun or Rocket Launcher, I rarely felt powerful.
“Sure, you move pretty fast, but it’s not ‘DOOM fast’”
Now, that’s not to say the DOOM multiplayer beta is all bad. The demon possession mechanic, though underutilized here, seems enjoyable. I wish they had added more demons than just the Revenant, so that when you picked up this supposedly game-changing power up you could maybe get more than a rocket launcher and a bigger health bar, but nevertheless it seems like it could add some pleasant variety to a match. On top of that, the level design is varied and fun. The two levels included in the beta have lots of natural-feeling loops, with plenty of verticality and ‘hidden’ pathways, and enough of a mix of tight corridors and wide open spaces that players of all preferences should get the combat encounters they desire. The UAC Base level is adorned with the all the futuristic pipes, panels and railings that you’d expect from a research base on Mars, and then highlighted with all the candles, pentagrams and bloody demonic altars you’d expect from a demonic incursion into said base. The Hell level has got the deep lava pits and Satanic sigils you’d expect from a battle arena in the depths of Hell, replete with portals and walls and floors dripping with blood. They truly evoke DOOM, and the art design left me excited for the single player. It’s just a shame that the gameplay took a little too much from Halo, and not enough from that seminal first person shooter from 1993, the one that revolutionized PC gaming and popularized the First Person Shooter genre with its awesome level design, powerful weapons and tight gameplay. What was that game called again? Oh yeah, DOOM.
DOOM is set for release on PS4, Xbox One and PC on May 13.