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DOOM Multiplayer Review: Raising Hell Like There's No Tomorrow

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id Software has taken a modernized approach to the multiplayer aspect of DOOM, with weapon loadouts, character levels and unlocks. As a fan of the old-school arena shooters, for example Quake III Arena, I didn’t particularly like the modernized approach in my Beta Preview.

Although the game doesn’t feel like DOOM it is still one of the most addictive and satisfying gaming experiences I have had in recent memory. DOOM’s isn’t perfect and there are some aspects that I will discuss in this review that really shouldn’t be in the game. However, for every annoying mechanic the game delivers countless moments of intense, gore filled goodness you shouldn't miss out on. 

Raising hell in a multiplayer match hasn’t been this fun in a long time.

Unleashing the pain

Even coming out of serious surgery last week, I managed to put in over 20 hours of multiplayer matches; and I would play another 100 or more without so much as a second thought while still in immense pain. That’s how much fun I had playing the new DOOM.

There is nothing more satisfying than doing a 180 degree turn and hitting someone right in the face with a Super Shotgun or landing a near-impossible air rocket and watching your enemy explode.

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The game is very fast-paced, which leads to some heart-pounding action that kept me playing for hours on end. The maps are varied, well designed and balanced. I never felt like one team had an advantage over the other due to their starting spawn points. Further, some maps feel like jungle-gyms, where you can climb and double jump your way to a shortcut and surprise your foes.

After a while, I knew all the maps inside and out, which resulted in me getting the jump on my enemies and grabbing armour / health pickups with ease. For example, Perdition is a brownish, reddish map where your jumping skills will be put to the test and skilful movement is key to success.

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Helix is one of my favourite maps. Shiny blue floors couple with blood spatters makes for a sight to behold. Narrow corridors and a well-placed demon rune (where both teams can contest equally well) is about as good as it gets. DOOM offers a wide variety of game modes with an exceptional line-up of well-designed maps.

Unfortunately, most of my time was spent killing opponents in Team Deathmatch. Searching for other game modes do take a lot longer than expected for a recently released game. The only modes that gets a lot of attention is Team Deathmatch and Soul Harvest (basically Team Deathmatch with the addition of souls to collect when you kill someone), which can become a little repetitive after a couple of hundred games.

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The other modes, for example Soul Harvest, where you kill players to collect their souls takes quite a while to fill up. Same goes for Freeze Tag, Warpath and Dominion game modes. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not the developer’s fault, but rather the community’s for not playing the other modes as much. However, id Software can try to remedy this situation by doing something like a “double XP” weekend on a certain mode.

Even though I enjoyed my time with DOOM’s multiplayer immensely, I did notice quite a few glaring flaws in the game’s core mechanics.

Not so glorious

When I first saw the “Glory Kills” in a DOOM gameplay trailer, it looked amazing. In the singleplayer, the Glory Kill mechanic fits in perfectly; but it has no place in multiplayer. As much fun as I had in the multiplayer, glory kills only produce frustration. Gone are the days of duking it out in close-ranged combat with both opponents on low health, dodging rockets until that one satisfying hit ends a worthy duel.

Now, as soon as your health drops low, someone teleports from five meters away and instantly kills you by pressing their melee button. When you press melee on a low health target, your character snaps onto the enemy and you are guaranteed a kill; this one mechanic takes away so much from close-quarter combat. Unfortunately, Glory Kills are not the only aspect that instantly kills and is in my opinion completely broken.The same goes for the Chainsaw, which is a guaranteed instant kill.

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You can do nothing to avoid a Chainsaw kill

On some maps, there is a Gauss Cannon, which is basically an instant killing Railgun with 100% damage penetration. To make matters worse, you only need to aim at the general location of an enemy to vaporize them and when you use the weapon’s secondary function, you gain a wallhack that reveals enemy locations.

As cool as a player becoming a powerful demon sounds in practice, it is by far the most overpowered power-up possible. Most of the time, when a team trailing behind in a match pick up one demon rune, it turns the tide of battle almost instantly. The demons are simply too strong, from the unstoppable Barron of Hell with its melee attacks and ground stomp to the Prowler demon who lunges at you from across the map and instantly kills you, smacking your lifeless corpse against a wall.

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 The Prowler Demon bringing the pain

The final mechanic that I think has no place in DOOM is the “Hack Modules”. Basically, they are additions to your character that reward you with a bonus when you die. Some of the rewards are small, for example an increase in armour or a speed boost, while others can completely change the game, for example a sound notification you when an enemy is nearby.

There is literally a sub-section in the “Hack Modules” tab that are called “Wallhacks”. It rewards players for dying and puts someone who just killed their opponent on the back foot.

Graphics, performance and latency

Let’s get one thing straight, DOOM is a technical marvel. It looks spectacular and runs perfectly on my modest gaming rig: a constant 60fps without any dips in frame rate on my GeForce 970, Intel Skylake i5 processor at 3.6ghz and 16gb of RAM (which is slightly above the recommended specifications for 1080p). Every part of the game is solid and I experienced absolutely no bugs, glitches or crashes during roughly 25 hours of multiplayer matches.

The mix of satanic and industrial themed maps just don’t get old; every game I found myself staring at some beautiful part of a map, stunned with awe at the little “60” showing my frame-rate.

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Unfortunately for local players, one of the worst things about DOOM is something you can do absolutely nothing about. Unless you move to Europe or America. The latency feels horrible at times, where I saw a lot of rubber-banding of enemies and team mates. There were a few instances where the latency felt really good, however, those where few and far between.

Further, there isn’t a server browser so you can at least select the international server with the lowest latency. All you can do is click “find match” and hope for the best. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not impossible to play or even compete with the high latency, but it just doesn’t feel good enough for serious competitive gaming.

SnapMap could save the day

SnapMap is the powerful map creating and editing tool which comes with the game on all platforms. The community created maps are shared across platforms, so a PC gamer can play a map created on a PlayStation 4, which is an amazing way to unite the community. SnapMap works wonderfully well and is astoundingly easy to use. I managed to create a couple of basic maps in mere minutes.

Although it is easy to use, SnapMap still offers a lot of depth and complexity. Further, the tool comes with built-in tutorials for those who don’t want to figure it out for themselves. With the tool, anyone can create some awesome maps, which could just save DOOM’s multiplayer from itself. I mentioned earlier in this review that there isn’t one-on-one deathmatch or capture the flag game modes included in the game’s base multiplayer.

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A small map I created and published in less than five minutes

However, SnapMap has these modes and even offers a search function so you can find opponents and play the best user-created maps with the click of a button. The only problem is; it takes quite a while to find an opponent. Further, co-op maps are already starting to pop up, for example Call of DOOM, a survival type map that features waves of enemies you play in co-op mode with a couple of friends, inspired by the Call of Duty zombie mode. E1M2, also known as Ultimate DOOM’s mission two of episode one.

Each map has a leaderboard for players to compete with other’s high scores to further bring a competitive element into the game. It is still early days, but at the rate the community is pushing out new maps and removing elements such as weapon loadouts in deathmatch, there is no doubt in my mind DOOM can only get better.

The Verdict

Even though there are quite a few things I named about DOOM’s multiplayer that do not sit well with me, it is still an excellent game. DOOM’s multiplayer is frustratingly close to being spectacular but falls just short of greatness with some hellish additions that really weren’t needed, for example unstoppable melee kills and overpowered demons.

There is definitely room for improvement, which can and very likely will happen through community made maps via SnapMap. DOOM is still in an infant state, but with time and community effort it could become the perfect FPS; sky’s the limit with the flexible, powerful and easy to use map creator. If you are looking for a Quake III Arena or DOOM 3 style multiplayer experience, I simply cannot recommend the game. DOOM’s multiplayer isn’t what many people wanted.

It isn’t the old-school fast-paced arena shooter so many gamers where hoping for. However, it is still the most fun and exhilarating multiplayer experiences I have had since quake live; even with the high latency. The game’s multiplayer is admittedly awesome, it’s just not DOOM.  

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