Back to Hell
So Doom is finally out. And, as we hoped for the longest time, Doom is brilliant. But whether you’re a returning fan of the original games, or a new enthusiast wanting to get in on all of this lighting-fast, skull-shakingly kinetic demon slaughter for the first time, there are things you need to know. You see, Doom is a very different game to pretty much anything else out there right now. In both campaign and multiplayer, it’s a unique proposition that requires you to relearn the book on FPS, whoever you are.
So it’s time to impart the knowledge. Ahead, you’ll find 11 key tips and approaches for rampaging your way through to Hell and back, and then nine more for effectively murdering your fellow Doomguys online upon your return. Doom is much more than ‘circle-strafe FTW’, and so there is much to learn. So let’s get started, shall we?
SINGLE PLAYER: For God’s sake, move
The first, second, third, fourth, and last thing you need to do in Doom is move. It comes before shooting, it comes before those skull-cracking Glory Kills, and it comes before even thinking about chainsawing anything in half. Because movement is the thing that facilitates your ability to do any of the above effectively.
Hold still, and Doom’s demons – whether high-flying rocket-slingers or ground-based melee specialists – are going to swarm you like wasps made of brimstone, lava and eternal torment (so wasps, then). You’ll get boxed in, you’ll get shot to pieces, and then you’ll die. Constant movement is your greatest weapon. Run, strafe, shimmy and leap. As long as you’re constantly shifting your position, you’ll keep Hell’s forces (just) at bay, and maintain an upper-hand of ever-changing firing angles and opportunities required to optimise your use of different weapons. This is how you do it. At its core, this is how you play Doom.
Don’t worry about focusing too much on one enemy
Leading off from that point, it will often be tempting to focus your aggression on the biggest enemy on the field until it’s dead. But that is not always wise. In fact, it is often the opposite. If you have that Hell Knight or Mancubus pinned down in a relatively secluded corner of the fight, by all means hammer it for a moment, but always remember that this strategy should be the exception, not the rule. If you’re holding a localised position, everything else on the battlefield is closing in on you. I promise you. It’s happening. And you don’t want that.
Instead, hit-and-run is your best bet. Of course, you should do as much damage to the big guys as is safe to do so at any given moment – weapon-switching is your friend in this respect – but you should always be doing so while constantly roving of the fight area, hitting everything you can with whatever’s response is most appropriate. You’ll be much safer evading something dangerous than you will concentrating too long on killing it, and you’ll do much greater damage to the overall demon forces by spreading the pain around. Soften them up, and you’ll be amazed by how fast those big threats drop, all at the same time, toward the end of the battle. But there is an exception to this rule…
Identify any key players and take them out first
Many fights have a priority enemy that just has to go down as quickly as possible. But these aren’t always the biggest, most obvious monsters. Doom’s demons complement each other beautifully in terms of their abilities, and so, depending on the situation, the presence of almost any monster can massively amplify the threat of the overall opposition. The right demon in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world, and you need to be aware of which one that is at any given moment.
A Summoner – which will spawn in more demons for as long as it’s alive – is an obvious target, but the rest will depend on what’s happening. If you’re in a wide, tall arena, then long range, air-to-ground fire from Revenants and Cacodemons will cause you big problems if you try to ignore it. In tighter, more intricate areas, the fast, powerful melee hits of Pinky demons and Hell Knights will shut you down really fast if you don’t get drop them as a matter of priority. Even a large number of Imps can screw you up if enough of them get to high vantage points and start lobbing down fireballs. The only hard-and-fast rule rule concerns the overall approach you should take. Appraise, contextualise, and then respond. But do it quickly. And as a side note…
Leave the grunts alone
The lowest-level demons – Unwilling zombies, Possessed Engineers, and (depending on the situation) Imps – will often intimidate with their numbers, but they’re rarely an immediate threat. What they are is a resource. When the fight escalates and things get hectic (and both of these things will happen; what you immediately see is rarely all you get in Doom), you’ll be very, very glad of some quick-to-kill meatbags to set up for Glory Kills and the health boosts that come with them. Unless they’re causing big movement problems, treat the grunts less like monsters and more like supply crates. Supply crates you open not with a crowbar, but with your fists and feet, and a lot of twisting.
And stepping back to some bigger-picture strategy…
Don’t grab the power-ups straight away. You don’t need them yet
But you will. Because things are going to get crazier. Any arena fight you find in Doom will go through several stages of escalation, so while it’s tempting to nab that Quad Damage or Berserk – it’s always tempting to grab that Berserk – and mulch through those zombies and Imps in a couple of seconds, you’re only screwing over future-you.
In a few minutes, Hell’s big guns are going to arrive, and, especially in the later stages of the campaign, you’re going to wish you had a nuclear option. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Armour plating on fire off the shoulder of Doomguy. I watched Revenant beams glitter in the dark near the Yellow Key Gate. Trust me, by the time you’re dealing with several of EVERYTHING at the same time, the fact that he didn’t squander the ability to punch the head off a Baron of Hell is going make past-you the coolest person ever. And similarly…
Don’t panic. Don’t blow your ‘best’ weapons too early
Ie. ‘Do not piss away all of your rockets and BFG ammo at the first sign of a Pinky’. The reasons are partly the same as when it comes to power-ups, but there’s also the important matter of weapon suitability to take into account. Because not every gun is created equal, and the ones that pack the biggest immediate punch are not necessarily the most powerful. Again, it all comes down to situation and tactical context.
Got a Gauss Rifle? Nice. It’ll murder anything you point it at pretty damn quick. But you really want to hang onto it for when the Cacodemons arrive. Its charged shot will kill them faster than anything. Rockets? Save those for slowing down distant – but rapidly incoming – Knights, and for setting off explosions behind the soft flanks of Pinkies if you have the remote detonator unlocked. But if those two get close, you’ll do better by ducking and weaving with a shotgun. Just as importantly, some guns are just too powerful to use in certain situations. Fire a rocket into the middle of that mob of zombies, and they’ll be in soggy, charred bits long before you have a chance for a Glory Kill. Doom’s combat is a marathon, not a sprint. Sustained – and sustainable – combat is the key to dominance.
Upgrade your health and armour first
Getting into the meta-game, you need to prioritise the right upgrades. In terms of your Praetor Suit – which can be upgraded with Argent caches hidden around Mars and Hell – you want to hit health and armour first, in that order, and then move on to ammo capacity. Keep cycling through the trio like that, and every three caches you’ll find will send everything up a level, all nice and evenly. You need push none of them any faster than that.
It’s worth keeping them in balance rather than boosting one and having to play catch-up with the others later on, but doing so in this order will make sure that your survivability rating is always up to par with the current situation regardless. Ammo is a lesser priority, because the chainsaw’s bullet-spewing kills will ensure that even if your maximum load is a bit lower, you can remain topped up at all times.
Think about your gun upgrades. They’re game-changers
When you find the service bots that install new gun mods, take a moment to properly investigate each one, including its upgrade path. Do not just buy one on a whim because it sounds superficially cool. All of these things expand your tactical options in fundamental ways, so you really need to acquire and upgrade them in the order that’s going to give you the most benefit and the most fun, based on how you play.
The combat shotgun’s grenade launcher, for instance, allows you to clear space at medium range at the same time as beating the hell out of anything close up, letting you make the free time to engage in prolonged buckshot battles without getting (too) mobbed. Its rapid-fire salvo, meanwhile, doubles (in fact triples) down on its prowess for up-close assault, and eventually gives you damage bonuses, meaning that it will tear through a small group like wet paper. Similarly, the plasma rifle’s two options allow you to either fire a large stun-shot to temporarily lock down certain enemies, or charge up a localised, area-of-effect heat burst through continual fire. You can unlock all of these things in one campaign run if you explore properly, but you’re bound to find some more important than others. Think about that when you upgrade.
Explore, in every direction
As for finding all the stuff you need in order to power up, exploration is king. Doom is frequently a very non-linear game, and you need to accept and embrace that right away. In between fights, you should be checking your (constantly updating) map. Get used to swirling it around, zooming in and out, and changing viewing angles in order to decode every potential secret path and hidden-in-plain-sight platforming route around you. Because there will be a lot. And remember: Just because you can see a tantalisingly out-of-reach area, that doesn’t mean you should expect the way in to be nearby.
Sometimes it is, of course, but sometimes you’ll find that the route to it loops back around from much further in the level. Or that a switch later on will open a door appearing earlier on your path. And always, always be ready to look up and down. Don’t assume that because you’re looking at a locked door then unlocking that door is the right thing to do. You’ll often find routes in via the ceiling or floor, and not necessarily direct ones either. Basically, just keep spinning your map, deciphering what you can – you can upgrade its detail as you go - and reverse-engineer a logical route between any secret that pings up and your current position. Even if there doesn’t seem to be a way to immediately navigate it. Because there will be, somewhere.
If you really can’t find a hidden route, step back and look at the bigger picture
And if none of that works out for you, step away and stop scrutinising. I wasn’t joking about that ‘hidden-in-plain-sight’ thing. Doom is brilliant at that. Its level design frequently lays secret routes out right in front of you, just waiting for you to recognise the right platform or narrow ledge as being exactly what it is.
All it takes is the right perspective, and perhaps a little distance, to see the flow of the platforming run ahead. So if you remain stumped by something you’re sure you should be able to get to, walk away a little and get a different view of it. And don’t underestimate how many things Doomguy is agile enough to get on top of. ‘Most things’ is the answer.
Don’t hold back. Don’t overthink or be too careful. Get stuck in and conquer
As a general philosophy, this is the most Doom thing you can know while playing Doom. Doom rewards action. Doom rewards exploration. Doom rewards those who do things, and grab hold of opportunities, and interact with everything in every way they can. Experiment with combat strategies. Mix up your guns on a whim. Run over there and jump on that thing and then shoot something while you’re jumping across to that other thing, just because it’ll look cool. I guarantee something brilliant will happen as a result.
And climb that crate. Tightrope walk that fence. See if you can squeeze out onto that four-inch ledge, and when you find out that you can, see where it will take you. Things will work out. Things have a habit of working out in Doom. Because Doom has a habit of knowing what looks fun, and provides all kinds of good stuff to those who like to investigate fun-looking things.
MULTIPLAYER: Keep moving
This is the most important thing to know in Doom. If you’re moving, you’re dangerous. You’re also as safe as you’re ever realistically going to be, and you’ll keep your mind in exactly the right active, improvisational state it needs to be in order to do well. If you stop moving? Well, you’ll die almost immediately. Get used to thinking like a hovercraft rather than a tank. Making rapid, unpredictable, lateral shifts is, defensively, far more important than moving backward or forward.
A lot of Doom’s weapons can do good damage at range, so you want to stop anyone getting a straight line on you. Avoid direct, frontal attacks and keep mixing up your position in any duel. And make sure that you’re always ready to move back out of any engagement with precisely zero notice. Because…
Running away makes you more of a threat
With no health regeneration, you’ll have to drastically rethink your approach to close-range battles. There’s no chance of ducking briefly around a corner in order to come back into the fight stronger. If you try to sustain any engagement in Doom for too long, you’ll just come back dead. Most face-offs are fast bouts of strategic one-upmanship, not drawn-out duels.
In order to do well out of that, you need to always, always keep an eye on your health, and be constantly aware of just how much damage you can put out in the next few seconds versus how much you can take. Personally, I won’t go hunting unless I have at least 90%. If someone engages you when you’re at 70 - 80% or less, and you can’t safely take them down fast, just get the hell out of there and heal up. And if you get hit by multiple attackers in that sort of health range, forget it. There’s no incentive in taking on that battle. As much as its fast, smart gunplay, Doom is all about weighing up wider tactical advantages on the fly. And with so many routes through each map, disappearing to heal before coming back at a surprise angle can be a really powerful technique.
And as for healing up…
Know where the health is
Map knowledge is king in Doom. If you don’t know the map, then you don’t know where the health packs are, and if you don’t know where the health packs are, you’re not going to last long. Fortunately, there are a lot of them on each map, and they respawn very quickly. You’ll learn their availability in any given area pretty quickly if you get out there and explore fast. This is yet another reason that movement is absolutely key in Doom. If you’re not constantly manoeuvring and discovering, then you just will not earn the environmental knowledge needed to really succeed.
Basically, as well as managing your position, evasive options, and health levels, you also need to keep your mind on your possible escape routes and your fastest, safest path to a health pack stash. Know them, use them, and combine them with the previous tips in order to stay alive. Unlike in most shooters, thinking about your enemy is a secondary consideration here. Maintaining your ability to stay in the fight is everything, even if that means temporarily leaving the fight. In Doom, the meta-game is the game. I cannot emphasise that enough. Okay, the crucial business of staying alive covered, let’s move on to the killing...
Know your weapon combinations
Doom has a lot of very cool, very interesting guns, all of which have specific effects and purposes. There’s no sifting through 80 variants of the same scope here. Each weapon you try out is going to be radically different from the last. That’s a lot more fun, but it also means you’re going to have to think harder about the load-outs you take into the map with you. Not only do you have to understand what each gun does, you need to think about exactly how it interacts with the others you might be carrying. Effective combat in Doom isn’t about using any one weapon, it’s about creating overall weapons systems through combinations of effects.
You’ll work out your favourite death-delivery tools as you experiment and discover your own style, but given how dynamic Dooms’ shifting skirmishes are – things can and will transform utterly in a matter of seconds – and how quickly gaps can be closed and expanded, it’s a good idea to start with a long-range weapon sitting alongside a close-up solution. Then you can start working out what compliments what. I favour the Plasma Rifle for medium-range spam, followed by its gooey area-of-effect shot when moving in, then the Super Shotgun to clean up, but there are dozens of other possibilities. A charged Static Cannon shot to soften up from range, followed by a volley of grenades. A Vortex Rifle sniper shot across the map, before raining in a barrage of rockets to blanket-bomb the victim. But whatever you use, you need to make sure all the parts fit together for maximum effectiveness.
Don't ignore the Equipment slot in your load-out. While not as fundamental as your guns, the secondary gear you take in can absolutely turn things around in certain situations. The Frag Grenade, for instance, only triggers its detonation timer on impact, making it a great impromptu landmine against incoming attackers if dropped at close range. And the vampiric Siphon Grenade is an utter game-changer once you learn how to use it properly. Sucking health from its targets and delivering it directly to the user, it can actually turn seemingly overwhelming enemy numbers into an advantage if used deftly enough. Double and triple kills are not unusual in choke-points.
You won't score lucky kills in Doom by wildly throwing grenades around, like in some other FPS, but use them smartly as close-to-medium range tools, and they'll add a powerful extra dimension to your offence.
Give chase (within reason)
Without visible enemy health bars (unless you're using the temporary Vital Signs perk), it can be tough to gauge the disparity in vitality between you and your opponents. Obviously you should always be around 100% going into any fight - see the entries on health management to find out exactly why and how - but not everyone plays that way. And besides, the odds can shift several times over during the course of a single face-off. Pro-tip: If someone is retreating from a fight, go straight after them. They're not backing off to regen, because there is no regen in Doom. They're in trouble, and have no course of action to immediately fix it.
Their tactical backpedal is an emergency flare telling you that their health is low, so if yours is respectable, run them down. Just make sure that you only give chase if you can finish them off quickly, in the nearby vicinity. If they lead you on a chase to a room full of health packs, they'll turn the tables on you horrifically. I know, because I've done it so many times before. A general rule of thumb is to disengage if they break line of sight or widen the gap past shotgun range.
Don’t go Ahab on the demon
Seriously. If you’re playing Team Deathmatch, and someone on the opposing team grabs the demon rune and transforms into a fittingly unpleasant, hellspawn beast, do not feel you are obligated to take it down. It will go away eventually, by way of either your teammates grinding it down, or the duration of the rune timing out. In the meantime, you can make yourself useful in ways other than throwing yourself repeatedly into the grinder.
If you get hold of the ultra-powered Gauss Cannon – which appears on the map on a timer – then by all means have a go from afar. That’s a worthy pursuit. But otherwise, you can do your team – and your score – a great service by staying the hell out of the way. Not only will you be excluded from the demon-furnished bodycount added to the opposing team’s scoreboard, but by keeping your distance you’ll have an increased chance of picking off enemy players as both teams inevitably clash around the demon. You can quietly tip the scales in your favour by quite some way while everyone else is distracted by the main event.
Use the Demon Rune wisely
Being a nine-foot, rocket-slinging demon is great. But you know what's even better? Being a team player. While it's easy to score a huge pile of kills with the Revenant on your own, you can empower your team several times over if you first use it to tool them up as well. If the Gauss Cannon and/or Quad Damage is on the map, use the demon to immediately reach it and then camp it. None of the opposition will be able to get near the prize, and your own team can get hold of all the power-ups on the map at the same time. A friend and I previously won an entire game like this, and prompted more rage-quits than is at all dignified. We were the only players on our team.
Don’t get greedy
Reiterating all of my previous points, seriously, do not over-estimate your ability to finish a fight. Over-confidence in your own safety will put you down fast. Dark Souls players know what I’m talking about. Doing well in Doom is the result of remaining aware of a great many things at the same time, and using all of that shifting knowledge to understand exactly how great your advantage – or disadvantage – is at any given time. Be intelligent, be perceptive, think constantly, and do not ever get cocky. If going after that extra kill feels like it’ll be a close-run thing, then in reality it’s probably going to be much tougher than you think. Do not do it. Stay alive. Move on. Kill many more people because you’re still alive to do so. That’s how you score the big points, and that’s how you win games.