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DOOM Hands-Off Preview – One Hell of an Old-School Rebirth
Post by nachosjustice @ 02:19pm 18/07/14 | Comments
id Software revealed its long-awaited return to DOOM at Quakecon 2014 and AusGamers was among the fortunate crowd for the event-exlcusive demonstration. Read on for our hands-off impressions.

QuakeCon is a veritable mecca for PC gamers around the globe, as thousands of id Software fans turn up each year with computers in tow to experience the latest that the developer – and in more recent years, Bethesda, too – has to offer. It makes a lot of sense that the first look at the upcoming Doom “reimagining” (id’s words) takes place at this holy shrine to the PC elite. Beyond this, as Bethesda unashamedly states, it just couldn’t let another QuakeCon go by without showing off the long-gestating Doom 3 follow-up.

While hardly Duke Nukem Forever in terms of development duration, the next Doom iteration has been officially in development for six years, and was reportedly sent back to the drawing board in 2011. What was shown a mere few hours ago may have been pre-alpha, but it was certainly tailor-made to hit all the right beats for the 3,000+ fans that all packed into the exhibition hall.

Tim Willits, creative director at id Software, had the pleasure of introducing the Doom reveal after he and Pete Hines (vice president of Bethesda Softworks) had the arduous task of running through preceding the QuakeCon 2014 preamble, much to the vocal frustration of the fans eager to see a slice of next-gen hell.

The presentation kicked off with the teaser trailer, which you’ve probably already all seen by now. Everything about the teaser video implies familiarity for Doom fans: iconic sounds, the Mars landscape, a Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) logo and the ultimate reveal of a Cyberdemon. While the narrated description of “an unholy union of flesh and metal” certainly reminded me of the Strogg antics of Doom’s sister series, Quake, it was the perfect starting point for solidifying the implied old-school direction of the teaser.

Doom Teaser Trailer

Executive producer Marty Stratton took to the stage to introduce the live demonstration, and thankfully didn’t waste any time talking about the history of Doom: everyone there clearly already knew it. Alongside the normal first-look catchphrases, Stratton made the bold claim that this Doom origin story is slated to change the future of first-person shooters. What was shown didn’t make good on that pledge, but it did prove that id Software has been paying close attention to the recent FPS trend of splicing old-school gameplay with contemporary mechanics.

Doom is the first id Tech 6-powered game, which the tech required to run it was said to be non-existent during Quake Con 2008, according to ex-id Software legend John Carmack. Seemingly, that hardware exists now, and the Doom demo was played on “a system that’s capable of doing it”, according to Stratton. While the PC component was applauded by the throng of PC enthusiasts, the use of a controller to play through the demo sections was a controversial choice that the crowd, understandably, did not appreciate.

Interestingly, there appeared to be no auto-aim mechanics in play to compensate for the lower accuracy of controller aiming, but the demoer showed how the fast-pace combat could work for controller-loving PC enthusiasts, as well as Xbox One and PlayStation 4 owners. The final pledge before the first section of the gameplay demo was that id Software is committed to having Doom run at 1080p and 60fps across platforms (a reference to new-gen consoles more so than PC). This smoother frame rate was evident throughout the live play-through, except for a couple of rare moments of chug.

The first combat-focused section took place on Mars around a large UAC energy complex, with the only real narrative context being that the game begins on the surface of the Red Planet just prior to Hell’s invasion. Generic Doom Guy slaps a helmet atop his power-armour, which wasn’t nearly as effective at soaking up demonic projectiles as it was at enabling seemingly unlimited sprinting stamina and speedy vaulting. Vaulting was used to conquer simplistic navigation hurdles, but also for gaining a height advantage when caught in the thick of things.

Reports of a double-jump mechanic are partially correct, as it appeared to be more of a suit-assisted jump in a single arc. Much like Crysis, tapping the jump button seemed to offer a normal jump, while holding it afforded a greater height advantage. This was a particularly useful tool in terms of adding simplistic additional navigation options when surrounded. True to the originals, sections of corridor shooting opened up to cramped locales littered with hellish nasties. The familiarity of demon opponents was secondary only to the arsenal of exclusively familiar weapons, all of which can seemingly be carried simultaneously.

Much like Wolfenstein: The New Order, weapons are accessed via a weapon wheel (again, something that’s undoubtedly more relevant to controller wielders than keyboard/mouse aficionados), with the added benefit of slowing gameplay to a crawl when selecting a particular beloved death-dealer. Like the original games, each weapon feeds off its own munitions counter, meaning you don’t have to wait around for clip switches or reload weapons before entering a combat scenario. Almost everything that was shown was played at speed, with the contemporary emphasis on the importance of cover shunned in favour of dodging incoming fire and a firm emphasis on offensive tactics.

Health and ammunition are collected by killing baddies, which solidifies Doom as a run-and-gun shooter. The aiming reticule did feature a light-up hit-registry system, though, but it was questionable as to whether locational damage actually really mattered. While an up-close blast from a shotgun—or, more pertinently, returning fan favourite the super shotgun—was enough to put a demon in a world of hurt and dismemberment was achievable by striking limbs, each hit seemed to be working on the logic of chipping away at an overall health meter, rather than offering higher (or lower) damage scores by hitting specific parts of a foe.

Getting up close and personal has the added benefit of activating contextual melee attacks, though, all of which were brutal and organic to the gory Doom experience. The angle at which you’re approaching a demon, or whether you or it are in the air, ultimately determines the takedown, which dispatches a foe in a one-press kill. Unfortunately, the other demons in the room seemed all too willing to stand around and not fire while these events were happening, and it certainly didn’t help to maintain immersion when God mode kicked in for the demoer whenever health was down to 12 units.

Demo cheats aside, what was impressive was how quickly the demons chipped away at health, meaning light feet and accurate shots are a must. Unfortunately, the hellish horde didn’t appear to be particularly bright in terms of group tactics. Visually, id Tech 6 was pretty, albeit not stunning, with the exception to the latter point being the extreme attention to detail when gibbing enemies. Arms were ripped off, torsos were torn asunder by super-shotgun blasts, hearts were ripped out of chests, and heads disintegrated to bloody particles when introduced to the unforgiving floor at high speed. Then, of course, there was the obligatory unveiling of the chainsaw that didn’t disappoint as certain demons tried to block the spinning chain with their arms, only to have their protective limbs, and everything else, ripped apart.

While details were scant, multiplayer was also announced – which makes sense in light of the Doom beta pre-order bonus for Wolfenstein purchasers – and Stratton implied that it was being forged in-house as it was “already playable in the office”. You can expect the same fast-pace approach witnessed in the campaign to carry over to multiplayer and Stratton confirmed Doom multi will have an emphasis on competitive play.

While the live demo didn’t offer anything particularly novel to the FPS genre, it was refreshing to see Doom steer away from the faux-survival-horror gameplay of Doom 3 and back towards what made it feel awesome to play shooters back in the ’90s. If you’re a fan of the original games or old-school shooter mechanics, the first-look at Doom absolutely ticks the right boxes.

AusGamers flew to Dallas courtesy of Bethesda to preview Doom.

Nathan Lawrence can be found fragging n00bs in a variety of digital battlefields, but most commonly the ones from the franchise with a capital ‘B’. He loves games with a strong narrative component, and believes in a gaming world where cutscenes are no longer necessary. In his lack of spare time, Nathan can be found working on a variety of wacky script ideas, and dreams of freeing cinemagoers from unnecessary sequels and pointless remakes by writing films with never-before-seen twists and turns. But mostly he’s all about the fragging of n00bs.

Recent articles by Nathan:
Find him on Twitter - @nachosjustic PSN - SaintRasputin XBL – NachosJustice and Steam - uber_chimera

Latest Comments
Posted 06:17pm 18/7/14
damn... i was more of a fan of Doom 3 than 1 and 2. I just thought Doom 3 was the game id would of made Doom 1 + 2 if the technology was available in the early 90's. Either way I'm psyched for a new DOOM, whichever way they choose to go.
Posted 07:52pm 18/7/14
How does ID even exist anymore?
Posted 10:03pm 18/7/14
Selling code and collecting patent cheques I guess
Posted 11:34pm 18/7/14
That's interesting, Trex0321, I was under the impression that Doom 3 was less popular with fans. There were certainly hints of some slower, moodier sections, and I doubt it'll be 100% run-and-gun throughout the whole game, as I doubt that will work. This reveal was firmly focused on combat.
Posted 12:28am 19/7/14
Selling code and collecting patent cheques I guess
id have never patented any software; Carmack is famously anti-software patents. (No, he's no longer at id, but to the best of my knowledge while he was there they never patented anything.)
Posted 02:43pm 19/7/14
nachosjustice: sure i was a huge fan of doom 1 +2 back in the early 90's... but i REALLY loved Doom 3. But I'm unusual, most doom fans really dislike doom 3. but i really enjoyed it, esp the bfg edition. Still, i'd love a new Doom with original Doom 1 n 2 gameplay and idtech 6 graphics! i'd play the s*** outta that!
Posted 03:27pm 19/7/14
while doom3 wasn't a big hit with original doom fans (or gamers of any ilk) it still had it's fans. i liked doom3 & resurrection of evil. great single player games imo. so i dunno what they mean when they say "faux-survival-horror" .. how is it any more fake than any other survival horror game out there. one of the best i rekn.
Reverend Evil
Posted 03:55pm 19/7/14
The thing that ruined Doom 3 for me was having to switch from flashlight to weapon so much. I remember a mod coming out so you could have the light taped to every weapon but by then I just couldn't be bothered.
Posted 05:08pm 19/7/14
I hope this is not horribly short with no replay value like Wolfenstein was..finished that in a few hours
Posted 06:18pm 19/7/14
I hope this is not horribly short with no replay value like Wolfenstein was..finished that in a few hours

s*** dude, what did you do, throw it on easy and run as fast as you could through it???

i'm well into 7 hours and I've yet finish, and I plan on playing it again to see the differences if I save the other dude
Posted 06:23pm 19/7/14
That's why i liked the Doom 3 BFG Edition. aside from the graphical enhancements, it had the duct mod included(built in). Which really took away from doom 3 in some sense as the game was designed with pitch black areas where you had to choose between a flash light and a weapon... but never mind.

Toxus: how did u finish an 11 hour game in a few hours? or did u mean the 10+ hour mark? thats pretty decent for a game these days. Esp an FPS. think about it, all those assets and story line pieces etc etc. pretty big dollars to put together anything much longer than that.

And i thought wolfenstein had tremendous replay value, for instance you could go through the whole game and play it a total different way, make all different choices, who to save etc and play stealthily or guns blazing. Plus its packed with secrets galore.
Posted 10:43am 21/7/14
@ demon--By "faux-survival-horror gameplay, I mean that it was trying to emphasise the horror angles more than the run-and-gun history of the Doom series. It had the bulls*** thing where you had to switch between a weapon and a flashlight, which was an artificial difficulty enhancer (I'd compare it to Resident Evil games that didn't let you move and shoot, but I understand that may be controversial), and there was an abundance of ammo. The pace really made it seem like they were targeting a survival-horror feel, but it didn't work in that space, in my opinion.

@ Reverend Evil--Yeah, that was the worst. It's incredible how differently it plays when you can have weapon and flashlight equipped at the same time.

@ Toxus--I call bulls***. You could speedrun in it in around six hours, which is still longer than your average CoD campaign.
Posted 11:32am 21/7/14
I hope this is not horribly short with no replay value like Wolfenstein was..finished that in a few hours

bulls***. took me 14hrs to complete.
Posted 11:46am 21/7/14
I hope this is not horribly short with no replay value like Wolfenstein was..finished that in a few hours

lol wut. I think I'm 4-5 hours in and nowhere near finishing it.


Main Story + Extras:

Average: 14h 39m
Median: 15h
Rushed: 11h 22m
Leisure: 20h 30m
Reverend Evil
Posted 11:47am 21/7/14
Maybe when he says finished he means he didn't like it and was "finished" with it after a few hours?
Posted 11:59am 21/7/14
Some people just speed run eg Half Life in 45 minutes not me,i like to take my time look for Easter eggs and discover how many different ways there are to blow something up eg Far Cry 2.
Posted 03:41am 22/7/14
Without following Blizzard's approach to game design I remain skeptical about this game. I would love for it to be awesome but given 99.9% of the talk about this game so far is about the SP I have low expectations :(
Posted 10:26am 22/7/14
I can't see any future if it (Doom) is just another corridor shooter, there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way games are developed the deterioration in game development is starkly highlighted in the Battle field and Call of duty series where there is 0 re-playability.

When Doom 3, Half Life2 ,and Splinter Cell came out gaming was a challenge with Mr sparkle gpu's and celeron cpu's in fact my computer couldn't get the truck to drive up the hill at the regulator in Far Cry .

While graphics, O'S and other peripherals have move ever onward and upwards ever twirling......games have stagnated eeeh wait a minute a cut scene is,the fun of Easter eggs and really bizarre AI behavior is being removed so that games have become a commodity rather than a work of art not afraid to poke fun at itself.

There are the odd game's like Machinarium,Limbo and Portal that leave the well worn path, every thing else is just unacceptable uninspired slops.
Posted 11:33am 22/7/14
You an almost tell from the trailer the gameplay is going to look nothing like the rendering/motion quality of the trailer. I call bullshot.
Posted 02:35pm 07/8/14
Posted 03:41am 22/7/14
Without following Blizzard's approach to game design I remain skeptical about this game. I would love for it to be awesome but given 99.9% of the talk about this game so far is about the SP I have low expectations :(

I don't get that - what's so good about Blizzard games? Other than rampant fan-base and cartoony graphics? I hope this is as far from a blizzard game as possible.
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