Not what you might have expected.
Doom’s multiplayer beta has just come to an end offering excited fans two different game modes to play on two different maps. With the game due out next month, the beta was a great way to see what the multiplayer side of the game has to offer players; and while the beta certainly provided some fast-paced fun, the whole experience feels all too familiar.
The beta introduced players to the game modes Team Deathmatch and Warpath, which were both playable on the maps Heatwave and Infernal. While Team Deathmatch is pretty self-explanatory, Warpath had each team trying to control a capture point that was constantly moving around the map. The first team to reach a set number of points wins the game. Of course, with this being Doom there had to be some sort of demonic element in it and that came in the form of the Demon Rune.
The Demon Rune would randomly appear in both game modes at random stages throughout the game, granting the first player to reach it the ability to transform into a powerful Revenant Demon. As a Revenant Demon, you’ll find yourself equipped with a jetpack for easy traversal of the world, and shoulder-mounted rocket launchers as your means of firepower.
Becoming a demon was one of the most enjoyable parts of Doom’s beta. Flying around and raining down fire on the opposing team could see you quickly racking up a ton of kills and, with the demon’s increased health bar, you didn’t have to worry as much about incoming fire when defending control points in Warpath. Of course, all good things have to come to an end and your power-up is limited to a 60-second timer counting down at the bottom of the screen.
id Software is onto something with its implementation of this mechanic in objective-based multiplayer modes as it adds a strategic layer to an otherwise chaotic bloodbath. There were a number of instances during my time with Doom where I found myself running away from an objective to try and get the Demon Rune. It’s appearance instantly resulted in me analyzing the situation to establish which was more important: the necessity to control the capture point at that moment, or the benefit the power-up could give my team in capturing/ defending the control point.
In terms of enjoyability, however, Team Deathmatch was the better experience, in the beta at least. The constantly moving capture point of warpath doesn’t fit the linearity of the two maps on offer in the beta. The small capture zone just makes the defending team ridiculously susceptible to incoming rocket fire which is all too common because everyone has it from the start. All in all, it felt like a lack of thought has been put into the maps chosen to show off the Warpath game mode. With the lack of an objective other than to shoot every enemy you see in Team Deathmatch, this game mode didn’t seem quite as hindered by the maps, and so felt more natural. When id Software releases the full game complete with a level creator and more maps to choose from, Warpath may come more into its own.
While I found myself enjoying moments in Doom’s multiplayer, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d done this all too many times before. This isn’t the arena shooter that some fans may have been hoping for. The inclusion of inventories, hack modules (think Titanfall’s burn cards), and weapon loadouts is a definite shift away from the traditional arena shooter. These features make the game feel like a modern FPS with a Doom skin over the top. It’s not going to click with long-term fans hoping for the next Quake, and for many FPS veterans, there isn’t much to phone home about.
In fact, aside from the inclusion of the Demon Rune power-up occasionally appearing on the map, it’s difficult to work out what Doom offers that’s new. The gameplay felt very similar to everything else I’ve played recently. Character customization felt near-identical to that of a Halo game, and the hack modules, as previously mentioned, were essentially Titanfall’s Burn Cards. The inclusion of power-ups, power-weapons, crates of ammo, health, and armor lying around to be collected felt like a faint nod to the Arena shooter many were hoping for, but weapon loadouts ultimately meant a lot of players resorted to using similar weaponry. This becomes especially true due to the rocket launcher being available to all players from the beginning. It is far more powerful than anything else to choose from in Doom, leaving little reason to use another weapon.
The feel of weapons available in the beta didn’t really do Doom much good either. When firing each of the weapons, there was very little difference in the way that each weapon handled. Firing a rocket launcher felt far too light. In fact, it felt just the same as firing the super shotgun, which felt the same as firing the plasma rifle. A slight increase of vibration coming from my DualShock 4 was about all as much of a difference as I noticed from each weapon.
When you got right into the heat of the action, Doom was enjoyable. Flying around as a Demon and going on a rampage with your rocket launchers was incredibly satisfying and getting involved in a heated battle for a capture point was enjoyable, up until someone threw a grenade in. Doom’s strength is its fast-paced action, but this strength is hindered by attempts to be a clone of what’s already popular in the market.
I can’t really give a strong argument for why any FPS fan who already plays Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Star Wars Battlefront should make the transition to Doom. Had id Software looked at its popular Quake franchise and based a multiplayer experience on that, then it all could have been so different. Unfortunately, in its current state, Doom’s multiplayer mode doesn’t feel like it does enough to stand above the crowd of FPS’s that surround it, and is unlikely to keep players coming back long after release.