For many older gamers, the Doom franchise is synonymous with gaming and holds a near legendary cult status with those gamers, even to this day. The original Doom came out back in 1993(I was 3 years old) and was being passed around on floppy disks by PC gaming nerds. It was a pioneer in many ways, but perhaps its biggest contribution was the popularization of the first person shooter genre, which has grown to become one of the most dominant video game genres. 1994’s Doom II had a huge pair of shoes to fill, but it has as nearly a fervent following as the original title.
2004’s Doom 3 was the first reboot for the franchise and it took the series into a more horror-focused direction. While the game was released to critical acclaim and found an audience, it was divisive among longtime series fans. The drawn-out, suspense building broke up and slowed down the action of a game franchise well remembered for its frenetic pace and gunplay. The movie didn’t do the series any favors either…
After Id Software released their post-apocalyptic title, Rage, the company started working on Doom 4. Id Software formalized this with an announcement in 2008 and the game would soon enter a hellish development cycle. From the time of that announcement, a new Doom wouldn’t be released for a whopping 8 years. Why did the development take so long? That’s because Doom(2016) was a very different game at the start of Id’s development. The now-canceled Doom 4 was originally envisioned to be a retelling of Doom II, in which Earth finds itself the focus of a demonic invasion. Id had previously done something similar with Doom 3 reimagining the story of the original game.
During development, the dev team started to critically look at the game they were developing and questioned if it would satisfy long time Doom fans. In Doom 4, you played a human who joins the Resistance in fighting off the demonic hordes in a post-apocalyptic world. By all reports, the game had a very cinematic feel with an emphasis on scripted set pieces which led to terms like “Call of Doom” being thrown around when talking about the game.
In 2011, word spread that Id would be taking a different approach to their marquee franchise and scrapped their Doom 4 project. Rage had split the company’s focus and when Rage didn’t put up the numbers the company had been hoping for, Id decided to dedicate its time almost exclusively to the new Doom. From the ashes rose yet another reboot and the game we now know as Doom(2016).
To be honest, I didn’t have much hope for the game. There was just too much scuttlebutt about a tenuous development and when I finally got my hands on the multiplayer beta prior to the game’s launch, I had resigned to the title’s mediocrity. However, I was wrong. Through reviews and word of mouth, I found out that the game was a “Game of the Year” contender. I didn’t pick it up immediately, but when I saw they were selling a version of the game with all the DLC included for $15, it was time to pick it up.
Doom(2016) is that rare reboot that remains true to its history while also adding enough new features to make it outshine its storied past. For the entirety of my time with the single-player campaign, I had the biggest shit-eating grin. Its brutal and frenetic combat awoke something feral in me while also capturing the pacing of previous games. Its arena style combat feels fresh in an age where games have largely ditched that style of gameplay. The art design and soundtrack satisfied both the horror fan and metalhead in me.
Snapmap is a great tool for players to create their own mission types for the Doom fans and fosters a sense of community in a franchise that has a long history of doing so. I don’t know what the multiplayer looked like before Patch 6.66, but it’s clear that Id improved on what was already there in the beta. It actually saddens me that the multiplayer is more or less dead now because it was very true to the Doom experience with a dash of Quake for good measure. I think if the DLC had been free from the beginning, it might have improved its longevity, but as it stands, Doom(2016) remains a shining example of how to approach a reboot in any medium.