To nearly everyone’s surprise, the new Doom has emerged to a rapturous reception, and over on PC Gamer Supergiant’s Greg Kasavin has analysed why the reboot of the seminal shooter is such a breath of fresh air.
Writing in a lengthy op-ed, Kasavin, who worked as a writer and designer on critically-acclaimed titles Bastion and Transistor, explains that Id Software’s remake of the devilish FPS isn’t afraid to question the game design of modern shooters – and then head completely in the opposite direction.
“It’s interesting to look at how shooters evolved in response to Doom,” Kasavin recalls. “At first, most shooters were like Doom. Then, shooters started asking questions. They weren’t always deep questions, but still, what if you had to stop and reload your weapons from time to time? Then you couldn’t keep firing nonstop and would have to choose your moments to engage. What if you had to take advantage of cover? Then there’d be more to combat than just running and dodging. What if you had very limited health? Combat could feel more dangerous as well it ought. What if there was a story? And so on.
“Some very good shooters were born of these questions. And now, it’s taken more than 20 years for those re-examined assumptions to become the cookie-cutter standard of today, so now it’s Doom presenting the alternative to the trend.”
He goes on to highlight specific aspects of the original Doom that were staples of shooter design in the 1990s, only to be phased out by trends of the 2000s, such as the omission of reloading, player movement and health mechanics. Re-introducing these mechanics in a modern form is key to the new Doom’s success as a boundary-pushing shooter, Kasavin says.
“Today it’s Doom asking the hard-hitting questions about reloading, about cover, about health, and story, and so on,” he states. “With boldness and restraint, it even asks such questions of the original Doom’s design: What if you could jump and climb as quickly as you could run? What if your enemies could navigate the environments about as effortlessly as you yourself? What if you had ways of replenishing your health and ammo on the spot? What if you got Quake II’s railgun?
"Again, these aren’t deep questions. But they have everything to do with the experience of playing the new Doom, and when you’re in the heat of the moment in the game, you’re not there to think deep thoughts.”
Summarising his argument, Kasavin simply observes: “The new Doom’s promise is to remind people like me of why we fell in love with this style of game to begin with.”