It’s not often that a game comes along that is so simple in concept, but looking at the action unfold is enough to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside as a gamer that is usually reserved for those euphoric moments, like the first time you downed the Lich King in World of Warcraft, or when you and your companion finally completed your Journey.
But if there’s one game during E3 this year that evoked that feeling, it’s Doom Eternal. Sure, the likes of Cyberpunk 2077 offered up some juicy details (and of course, Keanu Reeves) that will hype any RPG fan, and Halo Infinite is already shaping up to be an epic continuation of a legendary franchise, but they did enough to whet the appetite without a direct showing of exactly what the player is going to experience.
There’s something about the purity of a gameplay video where you simply take some guns, find some alien scum and blow them to smithereens that is hard to find in modern first-person shooters. There is always an agenda that you have to complete or an objective that requires your attention.
For those games, it works fine, but the problem comes when they try to mix this approach with straight-shooting gallery segments. There’s an inescapable feeling that what you’re doing simply delaying the inevitable objective completion. It’s a way to artificially make the game feel longer when it could simply integrate it’s objective based nature more efficiently and make progress feel more, well, progressive.
Take The Division 2 for example. The gunplay is enjoyable, but the game requires you to follow a mission objective structure in a constructed area that requires you to pass through specific areas that have clearly been crafted to have enemies come out and delay your progress just that little bit longer. There’s about three shooting galleries worth of enemies before you finally reach an objective. That’s not to say this doesn’t work for some players, but it means that the shooting is not the sole focus of the gameplay. Ultimately, the mission is.
Doom works differently. Aside from Doom 3, which had more of a survival element to it, the franchise has always been about one thing: shooting every alien in the face with any guns you can find. This feeling of picking up a gun and blowing off an alien’s head combined with the pace at which the game moves, akin to old school PC shooters, is quintessential Doom, and it’s been why the fans fell in love with the games from the very beginning. The games have a straightforward story premise, but id Tech knows that it isn’t why people play the game, and they never take themselves seriously as a result.
Doom’s reboot released in 2016 rekindled that visceral experience. For years, first-person games have been almost anything aside from Doom’s ethos, from military shooters to puzzle games, and parkour to walking simulators. Because of this, the simplicity of giving the player some guns, several aliens of all shapes and sizes that need taking care of, and a vast playground with which do can you bidding is such that despite being one of the oldest tricks in the book felt like an ultimately refreshing experience. And while the multiplayer at first didn’t resemble the Doom of past, post-launch work by id Tech brought this closer to its former glory too.
It took all of three minutes of in-game footage to see that with Doom Eternal, it will be more of the same, and it will work for the same reason that Doom 2 worked just a year after the original. Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best one: more of the same. Doom Eternal nails this.
If you have yet to play 2016’s Doom, you absolutely should before Eternal’s release in November. If you can escape the notion that a first-person shooter requires direction to be a captivating experience, Doom will take you on a ride to hell that you won’t forget in a hurry. Doom Eternal will be a healthy second serving, and we cannot wait.