Doom Beta Impressions: Hell Yes!

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The Doom franchise has spent the last decade going through Hell, but the recent Closed Beta for Doom has given me hope that a heavenly ascent is just around the corner. The game’s multiplayer battles are fast-paced and filled with wall-to-wall action. And being able to turn into a demon is just the kind of twist that all modern shooters need.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One (Version Played)
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: id Software
Genre: Doom Clone Reboot
Release Date: May 13, 2016
ESRB Rating: Mature

For three days, beta participants were able to compete in two of Doom’s multiplayer modes: Team Deathmatch and the King-of-the-Hill-like Warpath. The Doom franchise practically invented Team Deathmatch, so it’s inclusion here isn’t a surprise, but Warpath provided plenty of surprises. Instead of a stationary capture point, Warpath puts the scoring zone on a track that circles the entire map, forcing players to always be on the move. To spice things up even further, a Demon Rune (a pickup that temporarily turns a player into one of the game’s famed demons) moves through the map on an opposite track.

The only demon available in the beta was the Revenant, a towering monster with a rocket launcher and a jetpack, though several others will be included in the full game. A demon’s appearance can instantly change the course of a match and some of the most fun I had in the beta was taking down my opponents with his rocket launchers before jetting away to cause more carnage elsewhere. Alternately, going toe-to-toe with a Revenant as a human is thrilling because sometimes you manage to slay the beast… though you’ll likely be turned into a fine mist within seconds.

Thankfully, the Demon Rune isn’t the only pickup I found littered around Doom’s two maps. The industrial Heatwave and the hellish Infernal were both littered with ammo boxes, Armor Shards, invisibility, Quad Damage (perfect for Revenant hunting), and speed-granting Haste orbs. Players will also be able to pack an extra punch with Hack Modules, single-use items (similar to TitanFall‘s Burn Cards) that provide bonus abilities like item-sensing or extra armor.

While it’s usually not very fun to battle overpowered opponents, Doom makes it work because every player is overpowered in their own way. Both mutliplayer modes are designed for 6v6 play, so a crowded map makes death a common occurrence. But the game moves so fast (especially thanks to the new-to-Doom jump and double jump abilities) that being fragged at regular intervals becomes part of the process. I’m reminded a bit of last May’s cinematic throwback blockbuster: “I live, I die, I live again!”

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Like most modern shooters, Doom’s multiplayer mode will have a wealth of customization options and RPG-like leveling. Players were able to mix and match the armor set for their Doomguy with a number of different Helmets, Torsos, Arms, and Legs. Additional color options and patterns for both armor and weapons were also included.

While painting smiley faces all over my Super Shotgun was good for a laugh, a handul of little touches from the Doom beta also put a smile on my actual face. Everyone knows that Doomguy has 100 Hit Points to start, and a Borderlands-style visual representation of how many Hit Points your opponent lost will appear above their head every time you connect with an attack. I also liked that a Revenant’s presence will morph the map, adding pentagrams to the floor and ceiling whenever he’s around. It’s silly, but it’s also perfectly in keeping with Doom’s roots.

However, Doom’s pre-built weapon loadouts and Hack Modules mean that players hoping for a multiplayer experience that’s truly authentic to 1994 will be a bit disappointed. You won’t start out empty-handed and have to make a mad dash for the rocket launcher because everyone will already have a rocket launcher… and a Super Shotgun… and Frag Grenades. While I’d love to see an option to play a classic-style deathmatch, Doom’s concessions to how people play shooters in 2016 worked for me.

I plan to spend most of my time in Doom’s 13-hour single-player campaign, but the Closed Beta has shown me that its multiplayer options will definitely be worth exploring as well. Doom is a little over five weeks away and will be released for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One on May 13.

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John Scalzo is Warp Zoned's Editor-In-Chief and resident retro gaming expert. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at john AT warpzoned DOT com.

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