It’d be easy to recommend jumping into DOOM Eternal, the 2020 sequel to the 2016 reboot that amps up the action to even more insane levels and complicates the gameplay mechanics. Arguably, it’s the better game, and yet I can’t help but think there’s something a little more pure about DOOM 2016. And anyway, they’re both on Game Pass so why not start at the beginning?
Okay, so that’s not accurate. The DOOM franchise has been around since 1993, becoming an icon of gaming. But it took a lengthy break in 2005 after the release of the final expansion pack for DOOM 3, surprising everyone. DOOM 3 had been a big seller, shifting over 3.5-million copies, making it id Software’s biggest release. It resurfaced briefly in 2012 in the form of DOOM 3: BFG Edition which remastered DOOM 3, and then the series dropped back into Hell.
Bringing back something as iconic, something as legendary, as DOOM is no small task. And yet that’s what id Software and Bethesda set out to do, dragging the ripped and torn carcass of the Doom Slayer out of the Hellscape and back into the world where they could rebuild it from the ground up. The original brain is still in there, but the body is a sleek blend of modern technology and muscles, all built around a skeleton made of pure fucking fury. And in that intimidating body Machine Games inserted some small speakers that constantly belt out banging heavy metal music. If heavy metal music could take physical form, it’d be the Doom Slayer.
I could spend a few words explaining the story but that would be about as useful as a condom vending machine in a rabbit warren. Narrative is kept light and in the background so that DOOM 2016 can focus all of your creative energy on annihilating demons using some of the smoothest, juiciest, kick-assiest first-person shooting in videogames. The controls are tighter than the Rock’s ass, the guns more sound more violent than someone reading a love poem in German and the whole thing sprints along at a pace that would make Sonic take a quick breather. There’s no hiding behind cover like a wuss – it’s all about speed, strafing, accuracy and health packs, baby.
There’s a simplicity to DOOM 2016 that I adore. It trusts that its gameplay will keep you hooked and that trust is absolutely earned. It’s a game that feels amazing to play, and the roster of enemies are all distinctive and challenging. The A.I. doesn’t get the praise it fully deserves for making every combat scenario an absolute blast. It’s aggressive, fast and violent. It doesn’t let you catch your breath, turning each fight into a few minutes of raw adrenaline.
DOOM returned with a boom and a shower of blood and torn limbs. And its crazy to think that Microsoft now own some of the biggest names responsible for shaping the FPS genre: DOOM, Wolfenstein, Quake and Halo. Those are legendary franchises that demand respect from anyone who knows anything about videogame history, and while Halo is on the rocks, both DOOM and Wolfenstein are alive and well. Now we just need Quake to make a comeback.
Play DOOM 2016. Bask in the ultra-violence. Revel in the music. Let the gameplay absorb into your very soul. Let the Doom Slayer take you to Hell, baby.