There are a few other issues too. By and large, Doom does an excellent job of stripping the narrative to its bare-bones, there are several moments where the momentum stalls because of an overlong dialogue sequence. There’s also a ridiculous amount of written lore crammed into your Codex, explaining things nobody wanted to know in microscopic detail, like how the Mancubus got its bazooka arms (they’re chitinous growths, apparently), or the history of the Super Shotgun. Do yourself a favour and don’t read any of it. The world needs Doom lore in the same way it needs climate-change deniers.
Finally, while the campaign is largely excellent, it is stretched a little too thin. The game stops introducing new weapons and non-boss opponents about two-thirds in. The lack of new enemies is perhaps the most damaging, because the few that Doom does add, such as the Summoner (who spawns new enemies until killed) really helps mix up the combat, and I think including a couple of extra surprises toward the end would help maintain the momentum. The bosses, by the way, are decent. Id clearly attended the Dark Souls summer camp of boss fight design, as they sport a broad range of attacks that force you to adapt your movement, and they evolve in surprising challenging ways as the fight progresses.
All told, Doom’s single-player is excellent – a thoroughly entertaining, gleefully over-the-top blend of old and new ideas. The same can’t be said for the multiplayer, however. I find it difficult to put my finger on why the multiplayer falls so flat, but there are a couple of issues I’ve identified. The rather uninspired environment design isn’t so much of a problem in the single-player because you’re constantly evading the attacks of a dozen different demons, but in the multiplayer the drab, nondescript arenas really do pale in comparison to the designs of games like Battlefield and Call of Duty, or even classic FPS’ like Quake III and UT. Similarly, killing slightly different variations of the Doomguy simply isn’t as much fun as punching a hole through an Imp’s chest.
It’s all just a bit flat and staid. The arenas are devoid of atmosphere, there’s weirdly little satisfaction in getting a kill, or much of a sense of camaraderie between teams. Even the announcer, who is also the “Vega” AI in the single-player, seems bored by the proceedings. The only personality the multiplayer has is in the bro-tastically obnoxious “taunts” that players can do at the end of a match. The “Demon-Rune” mechanic is a half-decent idea, but it has a tendency to result in lopsided matches if a particularly skilled player gets their hands on this astonishingly powerful ability.
It isn’t completely terrible, but even at its best Doom’s multiplayer offers nothing that hasn’t been done far better elsewhere. That said, there’s hope in the form of the “SnapMap” mode, which allows players to create, export, and play custom Doom maps, either alone or in cooperative or competitive multiplayer. The SnapMap itself is easy to use and fun to tinker with, but it’s the potentially limitless offering of Doom maps to play that is the real draw here. The quality is inevitably all over the place, but already there are a few gems, such as a remake of E1M2, or the stupidly ambitious “Harvest Doom” map, which essentially turns Doom into Minecraft. It’s vaguely reminiscent of the Half-Life mod Sven-Coop, an eclectic collection of user-made missions which range from silly fun to professional quality.
Mainly though, it’s the single-player that revives Doom’s fortunes, which makes for a refreshing reversal of the norm for FPS’ these days. Even thinking about it as I write this gives me a little buzz of adrenaline, such is its incredible intensity and pace. There are mistakes, and I wish it brought a little more that was new to the fore. Nevertheless, the quality of Doom’s core combat is undeniable, and I doubt there’s a beating heart in the land that will remain steady when the portals of Hell open this time around.