Review in Progress: Doom

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Hell hath no fury like a Doomguy scorned

When a review embargo is held until the day of release, potential buyers have a right to be nervous. Bethesda holding review copies of Doom until the day of release seemed damning to more than a few people.

I started playing at about 11 o’ clock last night and played until 2, and I jumped back in for a quick hour before writing this. If what I’ve played so far is indicative of the rest of the campaign, the late embargo is absolutely nothing to be worried about.

Doom(PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: id SoftwarePublisher:BethesdaReleased: May 13, 2016MSRP: $59.99

Look, I love the simplicity of the originalDoom. Grab a gun, shoot demons, pick up a berserk powerup, and go crazy. So when I saw that id Software was adding in weapon mods, upgrade tokens for the suit, runes that give you different abilities, and execution moves that stop the flow of combat, I was hesitant. I like all of those ideas when implemented in other games, but I thought I wanted this new Doom to be kept pure. In the four or so hours I’ve played, I’ve completely turned around on each one of these concepts.

There are two upgradeable weapon mods for each gun and you can switch on the fly. While I was worried about being bogged down by the minutiae of upgrades, each new ability feels impactful so far. Launching an explosive shot from my shotgun and switching over to my pulse rifle (which builds up heat that can be emitted in one powerful blast) just gives me more options, and they all feel great. There’sa theatricality to picking up a new weapon now, which makes for fun pacing, and each one just opens up more possibilities. I’ve yet to find a weapon I don’t enjoy blasting demons with.

As for the moment-to-moment combat, it’s fast. I’m playing on the Xbox One (would have preferred PC because it’s, you know, Doom) so the controller isn’t quite as maneuverable as I’d like, but I’m still darting from enemy to enemy and switching weapons constantly. I’m playing on the normal difficulty for review’s sake, and it’s a meaty little challenge. There’s no regenerating health, so you have to either grab health packs or do a glory kill — the game’s weird name for executions. I thought these would interrupt the flow of combat, but they’re all so quick and punchy that they don’t bother me in the least. I actually enjoy the prioritization of knowing my health is low and that I have to get in close to save myself. Likewise, if you’re running low on ammo, you have to run in for a chainsaw kill. It’s harrowing in the best ways.

The plot so far is delightfully straightforward. The moments when I’ve had to stay still and listen to exposition have been pleasantly short and I can count them on one hand. It looks like id is setting up more backstory for the Doom marine, which could be fun if not done too self-seriously. Speaking of which, there’s a character named Samuel Hayden introduced within the first ten minutes, and I swear if he ends being Satan (Samuel Hayden…S. Hayden….Sayden…Satan) I will love this game forever.

I’ll try to finish this up quick and then dive into multiplayer and SnapMap. So far, though? I’m having one hell of – *falls through a crack into the center of the earth*.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]