Last night, during Bethesda‘s E3 presentation, id Software showed us the first look at the latest entry in the legendary FPS series Doom. The new game seems to be a re-imagining of the original 1993 title, but while the graphics were impressively new-gen, the game itself felt anything but.
When the original Doom came out in 1993, it was revolutionary. Aside from Wolfenstein 3D there hadn’t been any First Person Shooter games. Doom helped kick start an entire genre of games, one that is arguably the biggest genre in the industry. But the FPS genre has evolved greatly since then. Games like Bioshock, Halo and even Wolfenstein have proved that FPS games can tell amazing stories with interesting characters, while many others have completely redefined multiplayer. This latest Doom game, however, looked like it was pulled straight from the brain of a 90’s teenager.
Everything in the game demo looked great, aesthetically. The graphics and lighting were impressive, though as with all presentations of this sort, the actual game will probably look noticeably worse. The gameplay itself, however, felt incredibly dated. The Nine Inch Nails-esque soundtrack, the absurdly gratuitous violence, the generic marine protagonist; all of it fit perfectly into the low-res early 90’s games industry, where players had little more than a premise as to explain why they were blasting waves of identical enemies. That style of game died out by the turn of the millennium, and for a reason. Games nowadays are far more sophisticated than just “oooh, look at all this blood!!! Isn’t this awesome?” It may have a shiny coat of paint, but this game doesn’t seem to have learned anything from the past 22 years. It still hearkens back to the days when everything had to be “extreme” and “edgy”.
If the campaign demo seemed generic and dated, the multiplayer side of the game cemented that feeling. Doom was a pioneer for network based multiplayer, but now they are playing catch up with the rest of the industry. The sizzle reel of Doom’s multiplayer looked like literally every other FPS multiplayer mode from the past decade. Strip away the thin aesthetic veneer, and you could be forgiven for mistaking the trailer as being for anything from Call of Duty to Halo.
There was one feature presented that looked intriguing, and that was a mode called Snapmap. Using modular rooms, objects and game triggers, players on all platforms can create and share custom games and game modes. It isn’t exactly an original idea, but if the trailer is anything to go by, it looks more substantial than the like’s of Halo‘s Forge mode.
I sincerely hope ID Software can change my impressions of the game between now and when it is released. The Doom brand is so iconic that it would be a shame for it to languish in backwards mediocrity like this first presentation. As it stands, however, this first look has failed to generate any sort of interest or excitement in me, personally.