It isn’t too often that you can look someone in the eye and say, “this game is so simple, it’s amazing,” but that’s exactly where I find myself with Doom’s multiplayer (click here to see our thoughts on Doom’s single player campaign). Bethesda has outdone themselves in this area, as they’ve crafted a retro experience with a graphical overhaul that anyone can appreciate. From the moment you step foot into the arena, you’ll be reminded of how much fun you had in the original Doom games and other FPS titles of yore.
Each starting loadout allows you to choose two weapons and one auxiliary item such as your choice of several grenades, or something a little more advanced like a hologram generator. While you can only choose from a couple of pre-set loadouts to start, it really only takes a few hours to unlock the majority of the selections including custom loadouts, so you’re on an even playing field pretty much from round one. Other than weapons, the other things you can unlock through competition are vanity armor pieces and colors, hack mods and demons (which I will get into later).
Hack mods give you small, timed perks that activate upon each respawn throughout the match. They can do anything from giving you shared experience from other people’s kills, to starting you off with some armor, to displaying enemy health. None of them give you that much of an advantage, and all of them can either be set manually or automatically depending on the level of customization you desire.
One of the most interesting aspects of Doom is the lack of aiming and reloading. I had my doubts about how that would translate to multiplayer, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. For starters, it takes some of the guesswork out of the fighting. You don’t have to worry that X gun has less ammunition than Y gun before jumping into a specific fight at a specific spawn point. Likewise, you’ll never find yourself choosing between scopes depending on what map you’re playing. Just pick your favorite guns and start shooting.
Weapon kickback and bullet spread aren’t an issue, either. Every gun feels silky smooth, even the double-barreled shotgun. You can unload your plasma rifle to your heart’s content and never have to worry about standard fare like overheating, accuracy degradation and things like that. Plus, ammunition will never be a problem since there are ample ammo caches littering every map. This leads to non-stop action if you’re able to survive several fights and go on unstoppable killing sprees. I had a nice kill streak on a Warpath match that was only able to continue because I didn’t have to reload. There were enemies coming in bunches from an approaching hallway (in Warpath, the capture node moves) and a chamber from behind. Being able to unload on everyone and mixing in a couple of secondary charges was incredibly satisfying, especially since the TTK (time to kill) in Doom is fairly high.
Not every system is perfect, however. The inability to aim really comes into play in mid-range fighting. If you enter a room and see an enemy coming in from the other side, the lack of precision sometimes feels ridiculous. Since hunkering down and picking your shots isn’t an option, you just have to run at each other and duke it out. That’s all part of the Doom charm, I know, but it becomes problematic, especially when you’re playing zone control and need to take out one or two guys on a node with time running out. The other thing is that grenades are on a timer in multiplayer just like they are in the campaign. Yes, it eliminates grenade spam, but it feels like you should have a certain number on you at any given time, especially since weapon precision isn’t really a factor.
The four main powerups you’ll find on every map are armor shards, health pickups, invisibility and haste. All four are very self-explanatory, and none of them feel imbalanced. Invisibility is probably my favorite status-altering effect. Nothing beats seeing people spin around while spamming bullets in your general direction. Haste is nice, especially if you have a shotgun equipped or you’re trying to strafe or flee from a demon.
You may also come across two of the most iconic weapons in Doom history while on your murderous rampages; the BFG and the chainsaw. The BFG hits incredibly hard and has an impressive area of effect, while the chainsaw gets you some gory one-hit kills. Between the two, my favorite is the chainsaw. There is nothing more satisfying than sawing someone in half. On top of that, the generous devs at Id Software and Bethesda blessed the chainsaw with a slight vacuum effect, letting you close in on your kills from short distances. Perhaps one of my most thrilling kills was when I was rushing for a demon rune behind an enemy. We were nearly to it, and I was able to close the gap with a chainsaw, killing him and netting me a transformation.
The addition of demons to Doom’s multiplayer really reminded me of the Alien vs. Predator games of the early 2000’s, where playing as a Xenomorph could give you the opportunity to transform into the queen. It’s much the same in Doom, except you need to find the demon rune when it spawns. Then, depending on your loadout, you transform into either the Revenant, Baron of Hell, Mancubus or Prowler (starting with the first, and then unlocking the others at levels 5, 9 and 17 respectively).
The Revenant has relatively low HP and comes equipped with dual rocket launchers and a jet pack that can be targeted. My personal favorite, the Baron of Hell, has some good foot speed and can either rip someone apart or open the ground up in a damaging frontal cone. It’s always funny seeing people try to kite you as the Baron. They think they’ll get away, but your long reach and powerful claws will always win the day, as you can see in the screenshot below.
The Mancubus has the most HP of the four and shoots long-range missiles as its primary attack, while relying on an AoE ground-pound for targets that are up close. The Prowler has the least HP of the four but makes up for it in speed, its ability to cling to surfaces, and its head-smashing, one-hit kills.
While you can rack up an impressive kill count as a demon, they’re far from overpowered. I’ve seen Prowlers go down in a matter of seconds, and it’s pretty easy to surround a Mancubus. But the more I play Doom, the more the demons seem gimmicky. They’re fun, but often times I find that I get more kills outside of demon mode.
Doom will forever hold a special place in many gamers’ hearts. Along with Wolfenstein and Duke Nukem, it was one of the trailblazer FPS games that opened the door for many of our current favorites. Here we are in 2016, and Doom is still revitalizing itself and staying relevant all while staying true to its retro, run-and-gun roots. If you’re looking for an FPS multiplayer experience that you can jump in and out of without feeling like you need to practice to improve, Doom is the game for you.