Doom – A Game Out of Time in All the Right Ways

Doom 2016Last night I finished up all of the achievements for the base set in DOOM, wrapping up one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had with a game in quite a while. From top to bottom, I think this was the most fun I’ve had with a shooter in years – giving games like Destiny and Call of Duty a run. While it’s still fresh on my mind, I thought I’d put down a couple things that kept popping up as I was playing it.

Maybe more than anything else, I couldn’t help but think that this game is exactly what an FPS game would look like if the advances of the last 10 years or so hadn’t happened. This is what a classic FPS game should look and play like. It’s a direct line of progression from the classic id shooters – taking what has always worked and adding in a couple sprinkles of modernity to foster exploration and completion. I kept thinking that this was exactly what DOOM should be – not trying to shoehorn in a convoluted story, or contrived RPG elements; it’s fast, it’s brutal, it rewards execution and precision and has just enough bells and whistles to keep you looking in all the nooks and crannies. It’s a classic style FPS boiled down to the most important elements, and done so, so well.

That feeling that DOOM thrives on is possible because of how well the game plays. Maybe there were a handful of times I felt like the controls or mechanics didn’t work for me – the only one that jumps out at me is when the mantling didn’t take. You’re rarely in a position where those traversal elements actually factor into a fight though. Instead the combat is built around the foundation of all FPS games – circle-strafing and jumping. No aiming down sights, no thrust packs and sliding – just point, shoot, strafe repeat. The additions that 2016 brings – weapon mods/masteries, Praetor suit upgrades, Hell Runes and Glory Kills – all just add in a couple new layers of depth to the combat. And that combat is as brutal as brutal can get. DOOM certainly earns its M rating, but not through heady themes like drugs or sex – no, this is a pure, blood-caked, innards coated romp through Hell. The Glory Kills in particular are so over the top it’s incredible – there are a handful of animations I found myself chuckling at as my gruff Doomguy ripped and teared. It’s a game that is so self aware without showing it – some games like to give that little wink to the player, this one just knows exactly what it is and goes about its business. It’s challenging, it’s a love letter to the early days of the genre and at the end of the day, it’s a damn fun game. If you have yet to play it, and have any interest at all in FPS games – especially the foundation of the genre – this is the perfect game to get.

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Late to the Party: Doom (2016)

Doom 2016I talked Monday about picking up Overwatch recently, but that wasn’t the only game that I finally took the plunge with. As part of the Bethesda Quakecon sale, Doom (the 2016 version) was marked down pretty well, so I went ahead and picked it up. I’ve been a fan of Doom games going all the way back, so I was excited to see just how this one measured up.

I’m currently through the first three missions in the campaign, and so far, on Ultra Violence the game feels very much like I want a Doom game to. It’s fast, it’s incredibly brutal and the story is engaging enough to keep me invested from one fight to the next.The newer mechanics that Bethesda and id put in work really well with the fast paced action – the mantling means that vertical spaces can be worked into fights; the Glory Kills are brutal as Hell and help encourage aggressive play and the modern changes to weapons and the Praetor suit help encourage you explore and find the collectibles. It manages to strike a pretty perfect balance between the classic FPS gameplay of the original games and still feel like an FPS that belongs in 2016’s landscape. I’m only expecting the game to keep the bar high as I keep playing the campaign.

Beyond the story though, I’ve dabbled a bit with the online modes as well – mainly for the achievements so far. SnapMap is a really powerful tool, while still being really accessible. The tutorials for it are straightforward and they do a great job of outlining the potential for the editor, while still leaving plenty of room for experimentation. Some of the maps on the browser are tailor made for achievement boosting, others show off just how powerful the tools are. It’s a really cool thing to see, I’ve always been a fan of simple, but powerful map editors in games, especially console games. The actual online multiplayer is exactly what I wanted it to be. It’s totally different from pretty much every other FPS on the market these days. It plays super fast, you need to have good map awareness and keep an eye on your health. No more regenerating health here, you had better keep track on your health and armor. Since the Glory Kills still are in the online scene too, it helps keep camping to a bit of a minimum, as the game modes do too. The weapons feel very much like the classic ones – the rocket launcher in particular is just as good a weapon as it ever was back in the hey-day of arena shooters. With the re-emergence of arena shooters over the last couple years – Overwatch, Quake, Battleborn(ish) – the fact that the original king is back and in great form just keeps the style at the forefront. If you have any interest in the history of FPS games, or just want to play a fantastic modern shooter, Doom is absolutely worth your time.

Weekend Gaming Thoughts: A Little Bit of Everything

This past weekend may have been the most exciting weekend we’ve had in quite some time for gaming. Between the new April Update in Destiny, the Falcon Lost Incursion in The Division, and open betas for DOOM and Battleborn there was plenty of new stuff to dive into. And dive I did this weekend, hitting it all except the new Division stuff since I’m still a little cool on that game. I wanted to talk a bit about what I played, even though I already did a little with Destiny and Battleborn.

Battleborn Start Screen

With Battleborn, I played a bunch more story missions – both solo and in full five man groups. I started to try out other characters beyond Marquis as well and I have to say that of the characters I did play, I really liked them a lot. Oscar Mike – the stereotype soldier guy – is a fantastic pure burst damage character. His grenade skill can not only do burst damage with the explosion, but then add in the napalm DoT effect and it’s an incredible trash clearance skill. His ultimate skill is great for doing a massive amount of damage as well, assuming you target the spot right. Rath, who was by far my favorite melee character I played, is a neat character to play. I like his health steal on hit, it helps a offset a little his fragile nature. His skills help out tremendously with crowd control, and his ultimate is lovely for trash clearance and multi-target damage. Plus, he’s voiced by Christopher Sabat AKA Vegeta, so he’s basically the best ever. I was worried a little that melee characters would be a step or two behind in the story missions, but Rath at least did really well. The only part in the two missions where he let me down was in the final phase of the ISIC fight, because he flies all around and was aggroed on our El Dragon during that phase. Assuming that the rest of the story missions have similar engagements, it looks like melee characters will totally be viable choices. Battleborn went from being a game that I was ambivalent towards, to one that I’m very much interested in grabbing.

Doom 2016

With the other beta this weekend, DOOM, I played that a bit less.I only played a couple games, but that’s because I think this is shaping up to be a really really good game. If you’ve played any classic id FPS – DOOM, Wolfenstein or Quake – you’ll be ready from the get go. This was easily the best pure arcade style shooter that I’ve played in years. It felt immediately like the old games, just with a sprinkling of modern trappings. It’s fast, it’s brutal, it rewards thumbskill and twitch shooting. If you come from the modern FPS games, you might have a little learning curve to get used to, but the game does it’s job really well. If this is at all on your radar, this is definitely a good sign. Since the beta was extended to today, if you haven’t tried it yet, give it a shot.

Destiny Taken Guardians

Finally, I got to go through the Challenge of the Elders in the April Update in Destiny. I was worried that I wouldn’t get it in because I wasn’t close to 320 Light yet. And in fact, I’m still not 320 Light. But I was actually able to solo through the Challenge of Elders at 314 Light, which doesn’t exactly sound like much of a Challenge. It wasn’t super simple – the second room took me a good 6 deaths or so to clear. But because Small Arms is the modifier this first week, if you’re a little lower Light, you can easily make it up. I ran with Red Death and Cauterize on my Titan to get health back on kills to help since I’m solo, and it was done in like 40 minutes. Even with Variks taking points away, I was able to score over 40,000 points to earn a weapon from him. I did run it later with a couple buddies, which just further showed that this week in particular, challenge isn’t really the right word I’d use. That said, the actual activity itself is a ton of fun. Soloing it was the most fun I’ve had in PvE in a long time – it’s just total chaos the whole time. The rewards are maybe a little inconsistent, but that is kinda Destiny in a nutshell. It’s really fun, and cements my feeling that the April Update was exactly what the game needed.