The id Software of today is not the id that released Doom in 1993. Founded in 1991 by John and Adrian Carmack, Tom Hall, and John Romero, today’s id is a different beast. Shortly after Rage‘s middling reception and John Carmack’s departure, id Software seemed to lose their way. There was every reason to believe 2016’s Doom reboot would disappoint. Yet, despite everything going against it, id Software showed they still have stakes in the genre. Doom 2016 proved modern-day id could successfully reinvent a classic franchise without butchering its legacy. With Rage 2‘s announcement and E3 just around the corner, what could we possibly want from Doom 2?
What to Change
Even though I personally found a decent amount of enjoyment from Doom‘s multiplayer, I recognize how far-removed it is from the single-player experience. While Doom‘s single player envisioned classic Doom as if it were made for the first time today, its multiplayer chased contemporary design trends. Despite power weapons and upgrades spawning on the map, the general gameplay loop doesn’t distinguish itself from the competition.
This stands in stark contrast to single player, which apes the modern shooter design ethos. Think back to the major shooters of the past fifteen years. With rare exceptions, most are slow-paced “stop and pop” experiences. In spite of most first-person shooters lacking cover systems, the core gameplay loop doesn’t deviate too far from Gears of War. You’ll enter the fray of battle, then quickly retreat to safety until your health regenerates. Once the coast has cleared, it’s time to re-enter battle.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a more methodical approach to combat, which requires hanging back and playing defensively. Unfortunately, it grows tiresome when every single shooter in the market adopts that mindset. Doom‘s single player was refreshing precisely because it rejected those principles. Designed entirely around momentum, Doom is a brilliant revitalization of old-school circle strafing, crowd-controlling shooters.
The multiplayer portion, outsourced to another studio, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of id’s approach to rebooting Doom. Rather than going against the grain, it rides along with it. Doom 2 has two options here:
- Cut out the multiplayer completely
- Retool multiplayer, bringing it back to the basics
While it would be easy to dismiss multiplayer’s return so that id Software can focus entirely on single player, Doom was a popular LAN game in its day. Hell, Doom coined the term “deathmatch” of all things. With such a storied history, it’d be a shame to let go of a possible reinvention. In-house development is the only possible way to salvage the last game’s online remains. If it wants to buck the trend, it needs to be simple. Fuck loadouts and fuck progression. In addition, increase movement speed and maybe mess around with more inventive map design, and Doom 2 does for multiplayer what Doom did for single player.
It may be a pipe dream, but I have high hopes for Doom 2. I’d argue its single-player approach needs little change. Rather, it requires minor alterations. More open-ended level design with less enclosed arenas, closer in principle to the first two games would be interesting, though I’m not asking for a completely different experience. What Doom 2 really needs to categorically blow its predecessor out of the water is stripped-back and refined multiplayer; One which emphasizes map knowledge and skill-based movement.
Although this exploit didn’t materialize until the Quake days, encourage bunny-hopping with map design and pick-ups. Maybe reaching the Quad-kill power-up requires extreme dexterity; A level of control the average player won’t have. Skill-gaps existing purely based on the end-user’s ability to engage with the game’s core movement systems and understanding of various weapons’ properties rather than objectively superior unlocks as a result of time spent playing is the best triumph id Software could hope for. Also, get rid of those obnoxious perk cards. Users must be on a level playing field. Everyone begins the match with the same weapons. Everything past that should be order chaos.