Id Software surprised Doom fans at this year’s QuakeCon in Dallas, Texas, when it revealed that it would be letting attendees be the first to try out the multiplayer for the new game. I got the chance to play through a couple of rounds of 6v6 team deathmatch, and while the game is still at least half a year from release, the brief glimpse I saw looked very promising.
After first being led through a line that felt like I was about to get on a roller coaster, I sat down at a computer and was immediately told that I had the solemn responsibility of hitting “Start Game.” I was warned several times not to hit start until I was told to do so, otherwise I would be escorted outside and shot. Maybe they didn’t say the last part, but it was strongly implied.
From the setup screen, I could choose from a few pre-made weapon loadouts like Assault, Sniper, and so on, or I could select my own custom loadout. I chose a rocket launcher because I can’t aim.
Once everyone had selected Ready Up, I was told that my button pushing destiny had arrived and it was time to start the game.
After a quick countdown, the action started and did not stop until the round ended. The multiplayer was as hectic as you would want a team deathmatch to be, but it was rarely confusing, even as a first time player.The level was crisscrossed by multiple possible paths to take, both up and down, so there was little opportunity for sitting still.
The new Doom is all about movement, and with double jumps, gravity lifts, and portals, you have plenty of opportunities to outflank your enemies. But with everyone constantly moving, finding the other team can be a bit of a challenge, and usually a fight would start with two players suddenly bumping into each other and then running around in circles firing at each other until one of them is dead. Or until one of them walks off a platform and into the lava, which is generally what happened to me.
The gameplay is certainly solid, and the combat feels fast and fluid. Most of what I saw was your standard shooter fare: Shoot dudes, pick up health and ammo, and don’t die. One feature that did add something interesting to the game — whether good or bad — is the addition of demon runes that allow one player to turn into a virtually unstoppable Revenant for a limited amount of time.
While you might think that the revenant player becomes an instant target, the opposite seemed to be true, and as soon as someone obtained a rune, the other team would scurry like rats and avoid him at all costs. This was certainly exciting, but it also sometimes felt a bit unfair and random.
Overall, the small peek I saw was very exciting, and if the rest of the game can maintain the pace and excitement of the multiplayer demo, then Doom has a good chance of reclaiming its place on the FPS throne.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures of the game being played, so here is an artist’s rendition of how multiplayer looked from the spectator screens.