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New Doom Open Beta

Its available on steam right now. It is quite fun though a bit buggy.



    User reviews:
    OVERALL: Mostly Negative (10,459 reviews)

    Steam users are harsh!
  • edited April 2016
    I've put about 5-6 or so hours in to this. Here's my mini-review.

    The elevator pitch is that someone remade Quake 3 in a more modern engine, added in a bunch of blood and viscera, and half-assedly cherry picked customization aspects from Titanfall. In an era of pseudo-realistic FPS games with 30 different weapon variations on "shoots bullets as hitscan", insane numbers of controls and / or convoluted mechanics, this Doom dares to be refreshingly minimalistic. There are perhaps 10 key bindings including WASD. Like a lot of other games these days you have preconfigurable loadouts, but again, with tightly-controlled variety: You get two guns, which don't need to be reloaded, a cooldown-based grenade, and then you get out there and explode some people. (You also pick a Demon form, but more on that later).

    There's a lot of discussion about the "speed" of the game. Some people say it's a twitch crazy mess, and some say it actually feels slow. It will depends on your FPS heritage I suspect. For me, I grew up on Quake and Unreal Tournament, and compared to those series, from which Doom's DNA is clearly sourced, yes, this is slower. If you are coming in to this from Counter-Strike or Battlefield, it may seem to be running at 5x speeds. If you have been playing R6 Siege non-stop you will probably have a heart-attack trying to keep up.

    There is a mechanic involving consumable powerups which you earn each game and can choose to expend for what amounts to a very minor buff. If you played Titanfall, and I know you didn't, they are basically burn cards, but with much less relevance. These are utterly ignorable as a mechanic.

    The big "gimmick" of the game is the Demon Rune mechanic, which is quite fun, but definitely not well tuned. Approximately once every two minutes a Rune spawns on the field and the player who grabs it becomes an iconic Doom-series Demon. While in the beta this is limited to the Revenant, presumably in the full game you can pick from more forms. The Revenant increases your health by 300%, and arms you with the classic shoulder-mounted rocket launchers that will 1-shot players, and gives you a jetpack for amazing mobility. Should you die as the Demon, you will drop the rune and after a brief 3-second lockout, another player can pick it up, becoming a full strength demonic incarnation but with only the time that was remaining to the previous player.

    There are two major issues with the Demon rune mechanic. One: It is too random. There is no pattern to where it spawns on the map, and there is essentially no advance notice; fewer than ten seconds, it seems. This means that its pretty much just down to luck as to which team happens to have a member close by and snags it, as opposed to it providing an opportunity for a meaningful objective-oriented brawl between the teams.

    This would be fine except that the demon is also far too powerful and swingy, as it is lacking in meaningful counter-play. I had one session where I was lucky enough to have the rune spawn almost under me, and upon grabbing it I scored about 12 kills inside of 45 seconds. Given the score limit on a round is 75 kills it is not uncommon for Revenant kills to account for fully 1/3rd or more of a team's score towards victory, which again, would be fine if you had to first achieve something to earn that powerup for your team. As for counter-play: The fact that you can "steal" the rune from the other team does not make up for the reality that you will essentially have to sacrifice half your team or more to the demon to have even a chance to wear it down. Fighting the Revenant alone is utter suicide, and running away is neither all that much fun, nor terribly effective.

    If the Demon were half as powerful and gave 20 seconds or so warning on rune spawn I think it could be a good system. As it stands, it feels too much like an arbitrary injection of one-sided chaos in to a game that doesn't need it. I also don't understand why there would need to be multiple demon forms if this is the power level for which the designers are aiming. The Revenant toolkit is already so powerful, I cannot imagine anything sort of an utterly game-breaking alternative inducing me to switch. Perhaps the Cyberdemon fires rockets which deletes the game from your opponent's Steam library? That's about what it would take.

    Overall I have had a good time, but for me this game is essentially a high-definition remake of the games I played as a teenager. It looks the way my rose-tinted brain remembers Quake looking, way back in the day, and it plays in a way that had me feeling comfortable and at home within 30 minutes. So why are Steam reviews so negative? I suspect the answer comes down not to "This game is bad" but rather "This game doesn't matter", at least where multiplayer is concerned. This game pulls in a whole variety of disparate mechanics and elements from both a bygone era of arena shooters and some more modern conventions (Double jumps, clambering, loadouts) and the end result is a perfectly respectable, enjoyable, arena shooter experience that will in no way, shape, or form, leave a mark on the modern gaming landscape because it neither delivers anything new, nor polishes what already exists to a brilliant shine.

    And maybe that isn't Doom's fault; I don't know if any Arena Shooter has a chance of "mattering" any more. Not many of you played Titanfall, and that is a real shame, because Titanfall was fucking amazing. Easily the best arena-shooter style experience I have had in several gaming generations. It was all-caps FAST in a way that made you feel amazing and kept the adrenaline going. The weapon variety was solid, amazing parkour-mobility for your pilots, your Titans themselves a few hundred tonnes of fun combining the best of feeling like an invincible badass and yet also leaving you feeling strangely visible and exposed. It brought a whole bunch of very well implemented ideas and mechanics and style to the table and executed it all brilliantly. And you know what? It died almost immediately, because no one cared about any of the aspects of the game which I have just extolled. Titanfall was a creation that was just not right for the zeitgeist of the era, it belongs to some parallel universe where the world didn't become convinced that spending twenty fucking minutes last-hitting minions in an isometric lane is the pinnacle of gaming spectacle.

    Well, don't worry Titanfall, Doom will soon be arriving to keep you company in obscurity.
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