The fun of video games has been lost. The joy of picking up a controller is mired in a swamp of high-end graphics, sweeping stories, and pesky micro transactions.
Doom is a pixelized middle finger to all of that.
On paper, Doom sounds as dull as every other shooter in the market. A linear FPS, with little story, and a silent protagonist. However, it proved that the devil really is in the details.
5. A Tale As Old As Time
Most fiction stems from seven basic plots. The same can be said of first person shooters. Here’s the age old setup. The player is armed to the teeth, surrounded by baddies, and speaks as often as Luke Skywalker did in the The Force Awakens.
Games put a lot of focus on story. They hire celebrity voice actors, create vast lore, and dedicate themselves to being “cinematic.”
Doom says “to hell with that.”
John Carmack once said, “Story in a game, is like a story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.”
This thinking is key to the philosophy of Doom.
There’s no backstory, dull cut-scene setups, or un-interesting quicktime events. The Marine wakes up, naked, surrounded by demons. Why are there demons? How did they get here? Who cares?
Early on, there is a small screen stating, “Demonic presence at unacceptable levels.” Immediately the player knows that it’s his job to make those levels acceptable again.
The lesson isn’t that story is unimportant, it’s that it should be as important it needs to be.
4. Silent Movie
The silent protagonist is meant to be a vessel for the player. It’s a trope heavily used in the FPS genre. Doom follows this trope, but also takes advantage of it.
A silent protagonist is not a characterless protagonist.
The Marine’s actions speak louder than words. He’s a blunt instrument, unconcerned about anything other than killing. He’s also got a sense of humor. He disobeys orders, flagrantly destroys property, best of all, he really enjoys killing demons.
His actions speak for what every player is thinking, “I don’t care, let’s shoot more demons.”
He’s silent, but his personality ain’t.
3. No More Riddles
Nothing grinds a fast-paced action game to a halt more than tedious puzzles.
Doom bucks this trend, sticking to what it knows best, killing. Focus is rarely divided away from the gunplay, creating an addictive pace, lacking in modern shooters.
When was it made a requirement that every action game has to force you to do the digital equivalent of busy work?
Puzzles are fun, when they’re actually puzzles. Most of the time, developers make them lame memorization games, that only require a grasp on object permanence.
Puzzles stop the player. If you stop in Doom, you die.
2. Regenerate This
Anyone who’s endured a Call Of Duty campaign on veteran will tell you what it boils down to. Pop up, shoot, take damage, wait, heal, pop up, die, break controller, cry, repeat.
Waiting sucks. Waiting for fun sucks even more. Doom’s health system waits for no-one.
When a player’s health bar reaches critical, they aren’t forced to duck behind some dry wall to wait five seconds. Player’s regain health by killing more demons. This system encourages gameplay, rather than forcing the player to postpone it until they’re all better.
This also fosters tactical behavior. Few things are as tense as running from a horde of hell knights to reach the lone staggered imp on the other side of the map.
The old school healing system compliments the core mechanics of the game, making modern FPSs look out-of-date by comparison.
1. Make Games Fun Again
The most important thing to take away from Doom, is that it’s fun. There’s no realism, no annoying constraints, just pure, circle strafing, fun.
People play games for enjoyment. When was that forgotten?
Entering a room vastly outnumbered is fun. Dodging and planning around varying types of enemies is fun. Desperately cycling through weapons to find one that has the most ammunition is fun.
When encounters are over, the player isn’t interested in what happens next in the story. After the bullets stop, and the last demon turns to ash, the player is left with one thought, “Damn I’m good.”
Doom let’s players have fun again.
Simple, gory, fun.