DOOM open beta impressions
Explosions, gore, demons… that chainsaw. At surface level, DOOM has it all, but after a weekend with the open beta, I think there might be trouble in paradise.
I've been nervous for a while about DOOM, ever since I saw the first reveal. It’s because all of these things were just window dressing wrapped around the original’s core gameplay tenet: momentum. For me, DOOM is Sonic with a super-shotgun, a blood-soaked fun-run that propels you through door after door in search of escape.It’s about speed. You’re a shark, you keep moving or you die.
That flow has been missing from everything I've seen of the game so far, and sadly, from what I've played, it's missing from the beta too. Play feels slow, methodical. As a result, the DOOM beta just isn't very fun.
It's not that I didn't enjoy some of the blasting, I even cracked a grin when I got an unexpected triple kill with series newcomer the lightning gun. It's just, well, DOOM 3 broke my heart when it made me fiddle around in a dark room with my flashlight, forcing me to stop and smell the carcasses. It's not that I hate DOOM because of DOOM 3, but rather that game and this beta both seem to have confused ideas about why the original DOOM was so much fun.
Moving around is zippy, but kills are slow and take time, direct rocket hits only taking half of your adversary's health bar, shots from an assault rifle or even a super shotgun don't offer much more in the way of killing potential. Your only reward is numbers sloughing off the top of the enemies head, telling you that the splash damage from the rocket you exploded in mid-air near their head has done 40 damage. Gold star. Congratulations.
There's also melee takedowns, something I didn't manage to work out how to do with my two days of play, but I still loathed. DOOM used to resent the times when you stopped moving and it's painful to look at enemy characters in absolute stillness as they take me down in a flashy pre-rendered melee attack.
You can also collect a specific rune to become a demon. Don't get me started on the whole "Now I have become a demon" part, which allows players to control a demon and lay waste to everyone for several minutes. It is spectacularly destructive, and the demons are nigh unstoppable killing machines that acts as a middle finger straight up at every player not controlling them. The Revenant has dual rocket launchers and a jetpack, moving faster than you and doing more damage.
It takes all of the boxes in terms of look and feel. The ultraviolence from the original DOOM is present and correct here, but despite DOOM being a violent game, it wasn't about violence. Many modern shooters that try to recapture the fun of their earlier iterations have always made a big deal of bringing us the violence and outlandish weapons of their 90's counterparts, take a bow Shadow Warrior, but the violence in DOOM was incidental, a by-product of the great design that held up the game's foundation.
Lots of games from the era gave us gore-soaked action: Blood, Duke Nukem and even the Wolfenstein that came before, but none of it quite captured the series urgency: the empty research labs and military bases formed racing lines during you could drift around, looking for the next threat as you searched for your goal: ammo, keys, the exit.