Sometimes you need to go backwards to go forwards. A puzzling idiom, I know, but one that is being smartly applied to the latest Doom. Developer id Software showed the title to attendees at this year's QuakeCon in Texas, and the gameplay very much demonstrates a return to Doom's hyper-gory past. In fact, everything about the reveal suggests a full-blooded return to a time when Hell Knights and Cacodemons ruled gaming.
However, just because Doom is invoking the ideas and themes that made it a breakthrough FPS back in 1993, this doesn't mean it's 'old-school'. Far from it. Speaking to PC Gamer, executive producer Marty Stratton explains that the game will be running on id Tech 6--the company's latest, insanely powerful engine--so it'll come with all the trappings of a proper, new-gen shooter. It'll feel modern while retaining the design philosophies of 1993 Doom.
That's why id has chosen to simply call the new game 'Doom'. It's also why Mars is the primary setting, and why action is all about fast-paced demon-fragging, rather than exploration and survival horror. Early gameplay footage is incredibly brutal, with overwhelming hordes of monsters making life difficult for the player. Interestingly, verticality plays a big role, as players can use jet-packs and double-jumps to navigate the map--usually running away from a bunch of toothy hell-beasts. See, modern, yet also well in keeping with Doom's ultra-violent mantra.
In fact, the violence is being increased. The early demos show a series of savage melee finishing moves that see players weakening enemies with weaponry before finishing them by hand. Some of the delights on offer are full-on skull stomps, heart-rips, and jaw-removals. Sure, melee finishers are de rigeur in modern action games, but Doom was very much at the forefront of up-close-and-personal combat. Thinking back to the original games, it's stuff like the chainsaw, the double-barrelled shotgun, and the rage-fists that really stand out to me. New Doom is updating that face-to-face bloodlust for 2014/15.
Hell, even the sound-effects are reminiscent of the original games. Watch the teaser trailer and you'll recognise little details that evoke fond, horrified memories. The electrical whoosh of a door opening. The clunk of a weapon being primed to fire. Even the gurgling roar of the demon in the trailer evokes the scratchier-sounding, more guttural past of Doom. Weapons are all set to be chunkier (very much in-line with what we see in Wolfenstein: New Order), and you can bet they'll be as noisy as they are devastating.
It all points to a proper Doom game. I wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be a spiritual remake of the original, and I'd be shocked if some of the Easter Eggs from the first couple of games didn't appear somewhere along the way. Remember the nightmare mode in Wolfenstein? Come on! If you can't play the original Doom somewhere in this new game I'll eat my bloody hat (I call it 'a hat'--it's actually just a Mars Bar that I sometimes put on my head).
There's bound to be more news on the game in the coming months, and GamesCom is just around the corner. The fact that it was revealed exclusively to QuakeCon attendees is--yawn--yet another example of how id is laser-targeting Doom at fans of the original games. For now, just content yourself that a promising new shooter is on the way, and it's drawing inspiration from one of the best games ever made.