To Live and Die in Space Hell: Doom Beta Impressions

written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)

It’s been over a decade since we’ve gotten a DOOM game, and I mean a proper game in the series (DOOM 3 back in 2004) and not a re-release/remaster/spin-off title. Hoping to jumpstart a new series, the fourth core DOOM title is simply called that… DOOM.

I got a chance to play through the multiplayer beta, figured it would make for some good content to talk about my experiences.

Hopping in, I’m immediately thrown into a familiar environment. From the designs of the Space Marines to the demons, this was unapologetically DOOM. Visually, it didn’t strike me as impressive as I hoped, I’ll mostly chalk this up to being a beta build, but the game’s graphics didn’t really pop out at me. The character models were passable and the demon designs felt familiar, but aside from that it wasn’t really anything to write home about.

Personally, I won’t write it off for that… it would be a shame if I wrote it off completely just because it didn’t look pretty…

Getting into the gameplay, the mechanics felt solid through much of my run. My biggest gripe was how floaty movement felt, making navigating the map feel slightly unnatural. Running around the battlefield felt like my heavily armored Space Marine lacked any sort of weight. Comparing this to another notoriously floaty shooter (Halo) your character in DOOM felt even floatier than Master Chief if you’d believe that!

Gunplay was arguably the strongest part of the package in my opinion. From standard guns to more imaginative death dealers, unloading shot after shot into an opponents face with a big freaking shotgun felt incredibly satisfying. Combat was your standard FPS fare, run around the map and kill things, but it’s in how DOOM sets itself apart that the package truly shines.

Execution moves give this mode a satisfying bit of visceral “in-your-face.” Sure you can melee someone to death… or you can execute them in deliciously satisfying violence. While mostly aesthetic, the addition of execution moves sets DOOM apart from the myriad of Call of Duty and Halo games.

An interesting point I’d like to touch on is the reliance on health-packs. Rather than allowing your health to regenerate, you must replenish your health with health packs littered around map. This ends up changing the typical FPS player’s tactic a bit. Rather than attempting to play overly cautious, trying to pop off a few shots before regenerating, you must go all in and take out your opponent before they take you out.

Personally, I don’t know how I feel yet about the regenerating health… while as a gamer I grew up in the era of health-packs in shooter games, I realize there is a whole generation of young gamers who don’t remember what it was like to frantically search for a health-pack while redlining on your last sliver of health. Depending on how the final game organizes these health-packs and their drop/regen rate, this can be refreshingly retro or annoyingly dated.

Summoning demons plays a major role in multiplayer skirmishes. At certain points in the game, a summoning point will begin and the player that holds that spot gets to summon a demon to fight on their behalf. Transferring the point of view from a random Space Marine to one of the game’s demons allows the player to rain down all kinds of death and destruction on an opposing team.

While I didn’t spend too much time with the beta, the time I did spend with it left me feeling hopefully optimistic. DOOM is a major part of video game history, this is a series that belongs among the pantheon of gaming’s greats. Keep your finger’s crossed Space Marine, here’s hoping this reboot is a good one.