DOOM was easily the best shooter of last year, with a fun and fast single player campaign that didn’t just hearken back to the old days, but brought the feeling of those titles into the 21st century with a vengeance. The gameplay was fluid, with levels that perfectly mixed speed and destruction, and a kick-ass metal score to boot. Fans of the originals rejoiced and it’s done well for itself both critically and commercially.
That’s the single player though. Any review always attaches that caveat, and that’s largely because the other side of DOOM, the multiplayer, just wasn’t that good. Only two weapons at any time, COD-esque load-outs, and unnecessary and garish customization options soured a lot of players to the multiplayer modes, a shame since so many people enjoyed the multiplayer action of the original Doom games. Worse was the announcement that all of DOOM‘s DLC packs were multiplayer related, with exclusive weapons, maps, customizations, and power-ups locked behind the paywalls of three DLC packs. Recently, to commemorate the one year anniversary, Bethesda announced the DOOM 6.66 patch, which among other things made all the DLC free forever and packaged into the base game. Is it enough to save the multiplayer mode, or is this them admitting it wasn’t a great idea after all.
First lets look at the new customization options on offer. There are a few new weapons to play around with now, such as the grenade launcher, super pistol, and a demon-infused, laser-shotgun type weapon. None of these feel all that special, with the grenade launcher being the standout in terms of gameplay use and effectiveness, and the base game weapons all seem to outperform any of the new additions. These also bring in a host of new weapon customization options like pattern sprays for a bit of weapon personalization. There’s also a few new demons such as the specter Pinky Cacodemon, and Harvester, but like the new weapons, none of them seemed all that different from the vanilla lineup. Both are fun to try out, but unless you really like them you’ll likely default back to classic weapons like the super-shotgun or rocket launcher pretty quickly.
There’s also a bevy of new armor choices, if that’s something you truly desired for some reason. There’s really not a lot to say about this, since the idea of customizing armor in a completely first person game already seemed silly, especially in a Doom title. The armors range from the knight-like templar outfit to the hellish looking cyberdemon set, with several different color and pattern options that you’ll never see outside of match end screens. There’s also more dancing options, and I can’t inject enough detached apathy into that sentence.
Finally, the major draw of the update is the new maps. This is hands down the best new addition, and the maps are all up to the quality level you’d expect. Each one mixes open areas, closed corridors, and instant-death traps in equal measure. The real stars are the maps that change up the gameplay, with maps adding low gravity or hell portals being the highlights. Even the worst maps get the job done and there’s plenty of fun no matter which level is chosen.
Besides the new weapons and maps the patch also makes a few tweaks to the game. First: hackmods are out and runes are in. Runes work similarly to hackmods, but are constant and never run out, making them way more useful and letting you customize your build a lot more. Next is changes to the player death screen, which now gives you stats on how you died and who killed you, letting you decide how best to seek revenge. There’s also a host of bug fixes, as well as a complete multiplayer level wipe to make way for the new changes.
Overall, while the new content is a nice addition, the multiplayer still just isn’t that fun outside of short bursts. The obvious issues that held back multiplayer a year ago are still present. Weapons still feel underpowered, the limited selection still feels unnecessary, and any game mode that isn’t just deathmatch or TDM isn’t that enjoyable, with freeze tag being abysmally boring. It’s worth it if you’re looking for something decidedly faster than COD or Battlefield, but most players will likely tap out after just a few hours. Regardless the single player remains amazingly enjoyable, and while it’s nothing close to the mods of the old games there’s a lot of fun to be had in Snapmap. It’s just a shame there’s no single player DLC, although with this patch showing Bethesda is still interested in DOOM there may yet be hope.