Doom Multiplayer Preview: Bloody Freakin' Good (BFG)

After a weekend spent with the Doom closed multiplayer beta, how does it stack up?

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When the original Doom was released in 1993, worlds were shaken. It was the hefty dose of demon-slaying that so many FPS junkies would later regard as the pinnacle of PC entertainment. They definitely don’t make ‘em like they used to these days, either. Enter 2016's Doom, resurrected by the masterminds at Bethesda for an absolutely absurd good time. It’s balls-to-the-wall, adrenaline-fueled carnage. Just like you remember it -- but better.

With the release of the seminal shooter upon us over the next month or so, we can indulge in an engaging stroll down memory lane swarming with imps and cacodemons...as well as the personality that's become a hallmark for the franchise as a whole. Fear is evolving, but what we know and love about one of the greatest shooters of all time isn't. After spending time with the game's multiplayer beta, the prospect of being transported back to a simpler, gorier time is alive and well, and I'm pleased to say the weekend's closed beta acted as an exciting window into what we can expect to see from the finished version.

The closed beta served up a heaping helping of all things Doom, familiar in ways you may not even have expected. Despite featuring only two game modes and two maps, there was plenty to keep me entertained -- a complete turnaround from my previous time with the game under different circumstances. The first difference I took note of was what seems standard nowadays for any modern shooter: a progression system based on leveling and completing milestones within each multiplayer session.

It seems liks a prerequisite in any first-person these days, and it's a bit odd to see it within the confines of any title carrying the hallowed Doom name, but I found that's part of what drew me in so far, despite my desire to see Doom mired in the classic trappings that made it so memorable from my childhood.

If you're thinking it's a lot like Call of Duty or Battlefield in that way, however, that's where the similarities cease. Doom is a run-and-gun explosive riot that calls for double-jumping, spray and pray tactics that force you to keep your wits about you. You get two weapons, your chosen equipment (frags, teleporters, etc.) as well as special Hack Modules that activate before you spawn in that offer special buffs such as additional armor or X-ray vision to nail the enemies that go away shortly after you enter the match guns blazing as I do. There's help to make sure you don't make too much of a fool of yourself, but the assistance ends there -- you're going to have to be quick on your feet, at the very least quicker than the other guy, who'll likely be firing off rounds from their shotgun quicker than the Low Ammo warning alerts you of your impending death.

Speaking of shotguns, there's an impressive selection of weapons: a Plasma Rifle, Rocket Launcher, Heavy Assault Rifle, Vortex Rifle, Lightning Gun, and Static Rifle, which have main and alternate firing options. Alt-fire capabilities on many of the weapons aren't significant other than allowing you to, say, aim down the sights or use a scope, but for some they can completely change up the way an armament is used. This makes picks that already decimate the competition even deadlier in some cases, such as the Rocket Launcher's switching up to explode rockets in mid-air if you need to track other players down and deliver some swift justice.

Of course, there's a whole lot more to multiplayer than just simple loadouts and run-of-the-mill weaponry. You've also got brilliant anomalies like the Demon Runes, which allow you to transform into a demon. I found myself reveling in rounds that turned me into the Revenant, which was the only demon available during this brief beta, but it was absolutely delightful to pack an extra wallop in terms of health, speed, and absolute carnage.

When you die, however, you drop your Rune, and it's up for grabs for any member of the team that happened to take you out for the first five seconds. It's an interesting tactic that can certainly be exploited in the future, and one I found myself hoping for so I could turn the tides of battle. It remains to be seen how other demon transformations will change up the game for the lucky few who get their hands on these power-ups, but I can imagine they're going to be significantly more souped-up.

Aside from the smattering of weapons, power-ups and other niceties Doom features, there's a whole host of taunts and customizational options to fall back on if the constant back-and-forth of bullets, body parts, and violence starts to grate on you. Really, when playing you'll only want to concern yourself with keeping yourself alive, but they're all a bunch of niceties that you'll be concerned with only when you get the basics of combat down. You won't care too much about doing the Carlton Dance, say, when you're dying every single time you spawn.

All of these things combined gave me hope for this reboot that wasn't always there. Sure, I want to believe it's going to be excellent as a longtime fan, but I left the beta confident that there's good things afoot for fans new and old. You know, as long as I can activate my own sort of personal IDDQD, I think it'll be just fine.

Senior Editor

Fueled by horror, rainbow-sugar-pixel-rushes, and video games, Brittany is a Senior Editor at Shacknews who thrives on surrealism and ultraviolence. Follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake and check out her portfolio for more. Like a fabulous shooter once said, get psyched!

From The Chatty
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    April 5, 2016 8:00 AM

    Brittany Vincent posted a new article, Doom Multiplayer Preview: Bloody Freakin' Good (BFG)

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      April 5, 2016 8:04 AM

      That seems a lot more positive than anything I've read in the chatty lol

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      April 5, 2016 8:15 AM

      In retrospect, one thing that stands out during my time playing the beta: At no point did I feel like I had been cheated by the game. No issues with shooting guys and not having it register, no problems where I suddenly drop dead despite running around the corner.

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        April 5, 2016 7:43 PM

        Thanks for mentioning that, definitely worth noting

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      April 5, 2016 8:47 AM

      Peeling a couple of hundred health off and then glory killing the revenant the first time felt a lot like the first time I scored a goal in Rocket League. I had a lot of fun with it and can't wait for next month.

      That being said, they need to fix the LG effects. It feels super puny and it actually does a ton of damage, and hopefully I get full weapons in Clan Arena.

      There are some changes I'd make, but as long as the game is fun, I'm on board.

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      April 5, 2016 8:50 AM

      Wow that was glowing.

      Its a reskinned Halo matchup.

      But thats okay, my main interest has always been the single player campaign.

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      April 5, 2016 8:50 AM

      We must have played two different games.

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        April 5, 2016 9:02 AM

        did you not like it because it isnt good or because its not like the old Doom games?

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      April 5, 2016 8:57 AM

      My takeaway from this weekend is that if you can let go of the fact "it's not 1992 Doom" and play it for what it is, it's a competent though not ground-breaking multiplayer game. It borrows a bit from Halo and Call of Duty (The lobby system is a carbon copy of BLOPS3 right down to the keybindings and menus) and it's slower than Quake was.

      I think the most glaring problem I saw was simply that the maps were too compressed. It often felt like there was simply no room to move, and the frequency with which rockets were delivered point-blank was too much.

      If I were the designers, I'd speed everything up about 15% and open the maps up a little more.

      But I think I'm going to have some fun with this one.

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        April 5, 2016 9:04 AM

        My biggest issue with it is the two-weapon loadout thing.

        They had a chance to do at least one thing that would be different from the modern FPS kings (Halo and CoD), and they went with basically just a copy of them.

        If this game's MP had weapon placement in the levels and you had to earn them like Quake and Doom and most FPS games pre-Counterstrike, I'd enjoy it a lot more.

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          April 5, 2016 9:09 AM

          I understand and agree with your assessment on the loadout system. I'd have preferred a 3-weapon loadout, and the removal of grenades. Doom/Quake don't need 'nade spam.

          I disagree about weapon and ammo pickups though. One thing I hated about Quake was that very good players could control the map entirely. I was never amazing at Quake, but once I took the lead and got armored up, I could run laps through the maps and control the rocket launchers and rocket ammo, leaving the opponent to be forced into using sub-par weapons. Against popular opinion, I also like the universal ammo system. I guess the game's been developed and marketed to me.

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            April 5, 2016 9:16 AM

            See, that's what I love about Quake. You learn the maps, and you control the match.

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          April 5, 2016 9:10 AM

          Yeah I really hate the two weapon limit thing. I want the ability to carry everything.

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          April 5, 2016 9:12 AM

          I don't mind a loadout but it would have made sense to keep weapon pickups. Best of both worlds really.

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        April 5, 2016 8:02 PM

        I haven't played it, but from what I've seen, this is kinda how I feel. It's not old doom, which is ok, but it feels more like a Frankenstein of other current popular fps with a doom-ish theme -- cramped maps, take downs, load outs, double jumps.

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      April 5, 2016 9:26 AM

      I get the polarizing viewpoints here, but I grew to really enjoy the multiplayer beta.

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      April 5, 2016 9:35 AM

      I thought it was fun, but it felt restrictive to me. The two weapon system and general speed of the game made me want more weapons and more speed, like a Quake 3, but it just felt like the game just held it's hand up and said "no".

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        April 5, 2016 8:03 PM

        If there's a variant mutator with Haste 100% of the time, it fixes that.