Well, that was a nice surprise. Everything from its reveal, to the dividing multiplayer beta, to the recently withheld review copies had us feeling slightly sceptical about DOOM. With some degree of pleasure, we can say there was no reason to be - we were wrong.
Finally making good on the promise of next generation hardware, DOOM runs at a gorgeous and buttery-smooth 1080p/60FPS. It handles like a dream.
Instances of combat most commonly occur in waves whilst confined to an arena. Though this might sound incredibly jarring, DOOM avoids that fate by integrating and contextualising them well. It isn’t your average cover shooter, so stay up in the fight or you’ll be mercilessly expunged. On occasion, temporary power-ups that include invincibility, increased speed, quadrupled damage and insta-kill melee attacks can be found to further fulfil your power fantasies and decimate Hell’s horde.
Outside of combat, it’s worth tapping the brakes and taking time to explore the rich environments that hold no shortage of rewards for doing so. Suit upgrades, collectibles, secrets, ammo, health and more await those who stray from the already refreshingly non-linear main path. Perhaps most enjoyably, hidden Runes transport the player to challenging trial excursions that when cleared unlock equippable boons for a further layer of customisation.
Despite its newfangled modern features, DOOM is true to its classic roots in many ways. Coloured keys to open respectively coloured doors, no regenerating health, satanic imagery and a pulsating, heavy rock soundtrack that features motifs from the original all make veterans not only feel right at home, but also like the coolest one there.
A long load screen is all that stands between you and DOOM’s other modes, so let's talk multiplayer. Just like the campaign, it finds a middle ground between old and new, playing as though Quake and Halo had a raucous one night stand. Whether it has legs really depends on how much you yearn for the competitive FPS multiplayer of yore.
With nine maps and six game modes, there’s a decent spread on offer at launch. The problem is that it’s all so forgettable; some tweaked variants of established modes and the ability to transform into an, admittedly badass, demon aren't quite enough to set it apart. The middle ground is a failing one when we’re left with an experience that matches up to none of it’s inspirators, and establishes nothing new of any great worth. Also - where’s free-for-all?
Whilst DOOM’s peripheral modes are a mixed bag, the campaign is pure metal brilliance.
As you level up, cosmetic and loadout customisations become available. Everyone in any given lobby looks unique, with some higher level players even inspiring outfit envy. While tonally strange, there are also emotes that add a touch of fun to proceedings - we don’t mind losing so much when the victor celebrates with a Carlton Dance.
Speaking of seeming out of place, SnapMap already offers some absolutely bonkers levels. A powerful editing tool that’s incredibly simple to use and taught through quick, concise tutorials, SnapMap technically makes DOOM endless.
Whilst DOOM’s peripheral modes are a mixed bag, the campaign is pure metal brilliance. Packed with violent, fluid and fun gameplay, an uncompromising technical performance and gorgeous visuals, Doom is back, and ballsy as ever.
For a second, less scathing, opinion on DOOM’s multiplayer, check out Rob’s thoughts.