First Impressions: DOOM (2016)

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So coming right out of the gate here, I am going to admit that I did not like DOOM much. In fact, I had such a bad time with it that 2 hours into the game I began to worry and opted to take a refund. As such, I am not going to provide a full and detailed review of the game, but I did want to give my first impressions and explain the reasoning behind my refund a bit.

Doom 2016

Doom 2016 is the next big game in the Doom series, following up the mediocre Doom 3 from 2004.  While that game sought to turn the DOOM experience into a survival horror game with fancy graphics, this new game does the opposite and goes back to the series’ roots. Once again we take control of the Doomguy and the game pulls a funny one early on where a support NPC starts an exposition dump, whereupon your avatar tosses the monitor aside and gets on with the Demon killing. This was especially entertaining coming from Doom 3, which was bogged down by unskippable cutscenes and lame characters talking to you all the time.

While DOOM still can’t resist putting you in some story segments and having people chat at you via earpiece and monitors, storytelling is kept mostly in the background and only interrupts gameplay for short bursts. Gameplay, meanwhile, harkens back to the glory days of old; it’s a fast-paced FPS where you have lots of room to move around in and can dodge enemy projectiles while blasting them with shotguns, plasma guns, and explosions. When this game allows you to go wild with it, it really does feel like a worthy successor to the legendary title it shares its name with.

Doom Demons

Still, while DOOM did avoid the modern game design sin of putting in a bland, overbearing story, other modern game mechanics do sneak their way into the game and it’s these that annoyed me the greatest. The collectibles may have been a fun inclusion, but their presence absolutely haunted me. In two hours time, I barely got to level 3 because I wouldn’t continue on with the game until I collected every collectible I could see. These are dastardly well hidden and make you feel smart for finding them, but the process of getting to them was absolutely tedious. I spent forever exploring empty areas, going in circles, only to eventually find a small vent somewhere that lead me to the collectible.

Most of these goodies give you upgrade points, which again is a modern thing that just really takes away from the DOOM experience for me. You now have to mod your weapons in various different ways and most of these upgrades just seemed really useless to me. At the same time, I feared not getting these upgrades would somehow come back to bite me much later, so I just went with it. The further I went the more it felt like the laundry list got larger. You gotta get your Doomguy figurines, find the elite marines, find the shields, find the drones, and then some dude also asked me to go out and find these special upgrade items that let me upgrade my health, power, and armor. All of which is time taken away from running & gunning, just to make sure I checked absolutely every corner for hidden paths.

Doomguy

The game was also a little over-reliant on its glory kills. DOOM has this weird mechanic where you shoot demons until they start to glow, then press a button to charge at them and perform a special kill. Some of these were cool to see and they give you health back, which especially on my difficulty depleted fast. But this just added an obnoxious, extra step to killing demons and when you need to deal with hundreds of the buggers, the animations lose their novelty fast. I’d really, rather just get on with it and kill these guys, but no, I gotta rush in and watch the animations or I am not getting my health back.

There were a few other frustrations, like the absolutely horrible map that was a chore to use or the load times. It’s not even that the game loads for particularly long, it’s just that I got to see the load screen so often because I was playing on the highest difficulty available. I was having a blast with it too, but eventually had to knock it down a level because I got so tired of waiting between every try.

Eventually, I got to the Foundry level where I had to load even more because I kept falling into the lava while trying to platform around the stage. Here all the frustrations I had just piled up when I got lost in the layout, couldn’t make sense of the map, and I went for a good 20 minutes without seeing any demons. At that point, I started to dread the idea of playing anymore DOOM so much that a refund seemed like the best course of action. It was a fun game when it let me loose and enjoy the fast-paced FPS gameplay, but it got bogged down by poor layouts, collectible hunts, and so much loading.

A sad way to conclude our coverage of the Doom series, but I doubt a venture into the movie adaptation would make this all any better.

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