The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

DOOM: Impressions and Reflections After Two Hours

“You must understand, our interest in their world was purely for the benefit of mankind…” —Samuel Hayden

Released back during May, DOOM‘s latest incarnation is built around a campaign that brings back elements from classic DOOM of 1993. Set on a UAC facility on Mars, DOOM follows Doomguy (hitherto known as Doom Slayer) on his quest to destroy all of the dæmons (spelt this way for cool factor) and Possessed that now infest the UAC facility. After an incident where the researchers lost control of the Hell portals, UAC facility manager, Samuel Hayden, enlists the Doom Slayer’s aid in closing the portal and containing the invasion. Two hours into DOOM, I’m done the first three missions, having ripped and torn my way through the infestation to restore function to the UAC facility. Fast-paced and brutal, DOOM draws inspiration from the aspects that made the original DOOM so entertaining and adding on top of this, buttery-smooth controls and sleek graphics. DOOM outright encourages players to adopt a run-and-gun play-style, rushing enemies and rewards risk-taking: there is no regenerating health, reloading or aiming down sights. The end result is a game that plays like it’s from 1993, while looking like it’s for current-generation hardware. Elements from Halo’s PC incarnations also appear, giving the Doom Slayer the ability to utilise melee attacks the same way Master Chief can melee his opponents. Enemies stunned can be finished using Glory Kills, which feature a brutal finishing animation and returns health to players. This combination makes DOOM an absolute visual treat and joy to play, marking a much-welcomed departure from modern military shooters.

Another aspect returning from the original DOOM are the presence of secrets and collectibles. Although these elements often come across as being tacked onto a game, DOOM cleverly incorporates them into the gameplay: discovering secrets can give the Doom Slayer access to powerful weapons mods, upgrade the Praetor Suit’s capabilities or even pick up new weapons that further bolster the Doom Slayer’s arsenal. While the game falls into a very familiar pattern of “enter an area, kill everything moving and advance”, the presence of these secrets allows players to explore the UAC facility more deeply. The prospect of weapon and suit upgrades encourages players to take a look around rather than charging forwards. This is the main element that serves to balance the pacing in DOOM: other aspects, such as the lack of reloading and the ability to carry an entire arsenal, are features that creates a breakneck, exciting pace for the combat sequences. After the first three missions, I’ve unlocked the combat shotgun, heavy assault rifle, plasma rifle and chainsaw: each weapon performs slightly differently, although in the chaos of combat, each weapon sounds and feels powerful.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • All told, DOOM running on my rig at ultra is bottlenecked by neither GPU or CPU, and as such, I’ve been experiencing a phenomenal experience so far. The lighting effects, textures, reflections and particles have been a major treat to look at, but it’s quite clear that DOOM has been well-optimised. Even on my older GPU, I was maintaining a constant 40 FPS on medium settings.

  • The combat shotgun is the first weapon the Doom Slayer finds in the game. Best for close-quarters engagements, it can be outfitted with explosive shots or a triple-shot as its weapon modification. The explosive shot is plainly superior, turning the combat shotgun into a makeshift grenade launcher that can be used to decimate groups of enemies. Ammunition for it is reasonably common, although killed enemies will occasionally drop small amounts of ammunition to help players out.

  • As seen in this screenshot, volumetric lighting in DOOM is impressive. Because DOOM is built off an older style of play, most of the game can be broken up into three different states. The first is wandering the map and looking for one’s next destination while taking out a few enemies, the second is being boxed into an area until all of the stipulated enemies are slain, and the last is exploring the nooks and crannies for secrets after everything’s been cleared. Despite this seeming monotony, excellent level design and high pacing prevents this from ever becoming dull.

  • The chainsaw is one of DOOM‘s signature weapons, and was also the source of controversy amongst more well-known self-proclaimed moral guardians. Said individuals decried DOOM‘s fans as being a variety of unpleasant things and encouraged people not to purchase the game. So, partially in defiance of such people, I’ve not only picked up DOOM, but I’ve also upgraded my GPU so I can enjoy the ultra-violence at its finest. In a twist of irony, I’d also like to thank two of these so-called “moral guardians” for encouraging me to buy DOOM and support the developers.

  • As icing on the cake, here’s a rather messy screenshot of the chainsaw in actual use. This goes beyond brutal, it’s glorious: rendered at the game’s highest settings in 1080p, 60 FPS glory, the chainsaw has a unique mechanic in DOOM that prevents it from being used in the same manner as the 1993 chainsaw. Whereas the original chainsaw was a high-speed melee weapon, the new chainsaw has a powerful mechanic of allowing players to replenish their ammunition stores. Its use is limited by its fuel reserves, and different enemies require different amounts of fuel to take down.

  • This grotesque-looking construct here is a gore nest, a portal to Hell composed of the flesh from sacrificial victims. Relatively unguarded and easily destroyed with a keystroke, destroying them will always result in a swarm of enemies spawning in, leading to high speed combat. I’ve got the pistol here, and so far, it’s proven to be utterly useless (like its predecessor in 1993’s DOOM), eclipsed by every other weapon in the game.

  • Here, I’ve come across a Berserker rune and so, can utilise little more than my fists to pummel opponents into oblivion. DOOM appears to draw some inspiration from the DOOM mod Brutal DOOM, in that the rune allows the Doom Slayer to explode his enemies simply by punching them. Brutal DOOM is perhaps my favourite DOOM mod, adding a variety of fatality animations, weapon mechanics and features.

  • The surface of Mars is far from the visions that Kozue Amano had in mind when she penned Aria. Rather than a peaceful world rich in surface water and miracles, Mars is a desolate desert where the Gates of Hell have opened. The Mars of DOOM is the polar opposite of Aqua, and suffice to say, no Undine would find this world a hospitable one. While we’re on the topic of Aria, I’ve finished making my way through Aria: The Animation and have just begun Aria: The Natural.

  • The plasma rifle can be found in the second level as a secret: it’s a weapon with a larger ammunition pool and, slower muzzle velocity and higher firing rate than the heavy assault rifle, making it more effective as a weapon for general-purpose usage (most engagements occur at close quarters rather than higher distances), handling similarly to a PDW or SMG. Here, I engage Hell Razers from a distances: these dæmons have a directed energy weapon and will prefer to take on players at range.

  • One of the things I’ve found most enjoyable about DOOM is the play of light on the different weapons the Doom Slayer has access to, and here, reflections and water effects are displayed on the ground. Various points in DOOM illustrate the aftermath of the dæmonic  invasion, with shredded bodies found throughout the maps. One particularly nasty security hologram shows a Hell Knight tearing a UAC guard in half with its bare hands.

  • The heavy assault rifle fires .50 calibre FMJ rounds, fulfilling the role of a mid-range weapon in DOOM. Despite the size of its rounds, the weapon is only moderately effective against dæmons, and sustained firing decreases its accuracy. As such, this weapon plays like an average assault rifle, being most effective when tap-fired. Stepping off-topic for a few moments, I note that my site metrics has seen a dramatic increase in searches for Makoto Shinkai’s Kimi no na wa (Your Name), which was released two days ago on August 26. So far, intel on the film and when the home releases are coming out is nonexistent, similar to the case for Girls und Panzer Der Film back during November 2015. My course of action is identical to the one I suggested back then: I will discuss the film once it becomes available and focus my attention on things available in the present, at present.

  • The vast streams of molten slag (probably rock or metal) make the foundry’s interior one that is highly visually pleasing, and I spent a bit of time here looking around after clearing out the dæmons. This weekend was a little more quite than the previous one, but yesterday evening, I had the opportunity to view the finale for the GlobalFest fireworks show. As the sun crept below the horizon, I ordered some mini-doughnuts from the vendors and savoured the piping hot confectionary as a cool wind blew in.

  • The weather had been rather unpleasant, however, by the time the fireworks show started, for it began to rain. I became soaked, but the fireworks show was very impressive, enough to take my mind off the rain and the fact that I was drenched. Back in DOOM, here, I’ve found one of the upgrade stations and opted to pick up the micro-rockets for the heavy assault rifle, adding yet another explosive solution to my arsenal.

  • Today (technically yesterday evening local time) saw the second Girls und Panzer Heartful Tank Carnival at the Pacifico Centre in Yokohama. At the event’s conclusion, the Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter (Girls und Panzer: Saishuushou) was announced. While there’s absolutely no intel on what this final chapter entails or when it’ll come out, the title strongly suggests that this will be the ultimate instalment to Girls und Panzer.

  • The reason why I did not open a separate post for this particular bit of news is simply because with the blackout, there’s little to talk about. There was very little talk on the ‘net leading up to the second Heartful Tank Carnival event, and this announcement comes out of the blue. I leave readers with three screenshots taken from the PV and a remark that this DOOM post will also hold the infamous distinction of having a Girls und Panzer tag. With nothing more on the table pertaining to Girls und Panzer, it’s time to return the flow of discussion to DOOM.

  • Weapon mods can further be bolstered by weapon upgrades, which can alter the properties of a mod to further its usefulness. These upgrades are unlocked by completing mini-assignments and killing everything that exists in a level.

  • Visible on the bottom left-hand side of the screen, just right of the health and armour indicator, are a pair of keycards. Like the original DOOM, keycards are required to unlock areas necessary to move forwards in the game, although in the new DOOM, keycards are taken off bodies rather than lying around on the ground. The HUD in DOOM is unintrusive, and while I like its design, I miss not having Doomguy grin wickedly every time he finds a new weapon.

  • After re-activating the reactor cooling and stabilising things, I suddenly realised that I should make an effort to explore the Foundry level in greater depth. At present, I’m leaning towards the combat shotgun as my preferred weapon, switching to the heavy assault rifle or plasma rifle as required. It appears that there are enough weapon upgrade stations to unlock every weapons mod in the game, but for the time being, I’ll spend most of my points boosting the combat shotgun, given that it’s proven to be an indispensable weapon against the dæmons.

  • So far, I’ve only found and showcased a handful of weapons from DOOM, but there will be more weapons in upcoming levels; I’m completely excited to see what they are capable of doing. Besides weapons upgrades, I’m also on the hunt for Praetor tokens, which are used to upgrade the Doom Slayer’s armour. My priority will be to max out the scanner upgrades first so I can find all of the secrets more readily, then decide what branch I’ll pursue next.

  • My current game plan is to finish DOOM by around Halloween and continue on with my Deus Ex: Mankind Divided adventure. This might be interspersed between some Halo 2, since I found my old copy of Halo 2 installed today. From the looks of things, I reinstalled it after building my rig in 2013, then played some multiplayer before the servers were shut down, and never got around to finishing the campaign. It’s high time I rectify that. On the topic of the upcoming season’s anime, I’ve stopped doing season previews on account of my viewing patterns. With that being said, I have my eyes on Brave Witches and Hibike! Euphonium 2 for certain.

With all of these elements in mind, I am very excited to push onwards into DOOM and see what sort of things await the Doom Slayer. The campaign is clearly the star of DOOM, and I do plan on beating the game twice: once on the standard “Hurt Me Plenty” difficulty and once on “Ultra Violence”. In my previous post about DOOM, I remarked on an interest in picking up the GTX 1070, but the price tag meant I would have second thoughts; in my case, I can’t justify spending that much on a new graphics card when my PC has spent three years in service, and that a new GPU would purely be for gaming. Conversely, when the 6 GB GTX 1060 released, it was well within my budget. It turns out that, with a new GPU, my computer is now more than capable of handling DOOM on ultra settings. I’ve experienced no substantial drops in frame-rates thus far, and the entire game handles incredibly smoothly; it’s conducive towards the gameplay that DOOM encourages. There’s much to look forwards to in DOOM, especially in way of learning bits and pieces of the story as I go. While the narrative is hardly substantial in DOOM, its presence adds to the atmosphere; besides ripping and tearing dæmons apart, it will also be quite fun to listen to dialogues from Samuel Hayden, the AI VEGA and antagonist Olivia Pierce. Perhaps, there might even be a theme that can be discerned for my final reflections talk, once I reach the end of DOOM.

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