While Doom 2016 was near universally gushed over, the creators of the beloved reboot, id Software, weren’t 100 percent happy with how it turned out. In a recent roundtable discussion with executive producer Marty Stratton and creative director Hugo Martin, the duo didn’t pull Glory Kill punches when it came to the shortcomings of the demon-slaying hit.
“One of our own criticisms of [Doom] 2016 was that the second half of the game really needed a shot of demon variety, so that’s really what we’re trying to address [in Doom Eternal],” says Stratton.
“One of the primary criticisms I had with [Doom] 2016 is there were only two main locations: Mars and Hell,” says Martin. “If you have an expanded universe, that means you’re going to different places, it means we’ll do more than just Mars and Hell, and that’s a promise.”
id also seems to be paying close attention to expanding the gameplay loop beyond dish out damage. Close the gap. Perform Glory Kill. Repeat. Doom Eternal will still embrace the patented “push-forward combat” philosophy, but not everything is about getting up close and personal.
“It depends on the enemy types,” explains Martin, when asked about whether Doom Eternal is constantly forcing you into close-quarters battles. “Like, can you sit there and long-range guys in Doom? It’s pretty hard because we have all different types that will push the player off their platform. The Imp, for example, the way we spawn enemy types, we’re very conscious of that.
“We don’t want you constantly going point blank, because that gets repetitive. Sometimes, opportunistically, hanging back, using the scope, and popping a head can add that kind of variety to the combat dance.
“We use our chess pieces to move the player around and get them off those ledges and don’t let them kite enemies. The way we design levels, we try to really avoid those type of spots where you can, throughout the entire combat encounter, just pick apart demons because you found this little corner in the level that they can’t get to. The AI helps with that tremendously.”
This critical mindset also extends to the revamping of familiar things, like a retooled Plasma Rifle, what Martin calls “Praetor Suit 2.0,” and even the hellish hordes themselves. “Any of the originals [demons] that were in 2016 and are returning are completely updated,” says Martin. “There’s really nothing left untouched.”
Doom Eternal isn’t all about revamping the new-old, either; it’ll also reintroduce rebooted takes on the old-old. “We have some classics we’re bringing back to the fold, like the Arachnotron or the Pain Elemental,” says Stratton. “Then we have totally new ones, in fact quite a few that we haven’t talked about and haven’t even shown concept of.”
The new demon-destructibility system has tactical applications, too, in that id is toying around with disabling enemy weapons. “It’s not a hard and fast rule that you can do it to every guy,” says Martin. “But in what you saw in the heavies, for example, one of the destructible parts on the Arachnotron is the turret, which is his primary attack.
“If you put a sticky bomb or you use the scope and you blow that off, you will effectively disable his primary attack and he will have to resort to only his secondary attacks and his melee swipe.” According to Martin, that “sticky bomb” is one of the new mods for the Combat Shotgun.
It can be used against a variety of enemies, old and new, the latter of which includes Grunts armed with jetpacks to combat the Doom Slayer’s enhanced verticality. Stratton mentioned that id “jacked up the health” of the Grunts because they’re so fun to kill. They reportedly mutter among themselves and are part of demon in-fighting.
This in-fighting peaks with the all-new Doom Hunter who’s reportedly from a demonic faction that his Beelzebub brothers loathe. The Doom Hunter presents a palpable threat, even in concept-art form. Imagine a cybernetically enhanced demon who’s on a fully armed rocket sled whose ordnance is more intended for a hellish Arnold Schwarzenegger than a demonic Saint Nick. The Doom Hunter’s AI is reportedly tough, too, but its horrific visage pales in comparison to the axe-swinging, Super Shotgun-firing Marauder.
This demonic dude is wearing armour that’s very reminiscent of Doom Slayer and Martin seems happy to tease a link between Marauder and Slayer. Perhaps this is where the Doom multiverse fan theory receives more evidence that it’s canon and the Marauder is a previous protagonist of a Doom game. Time will tell.
There’s a chance that players will get to jump into the boots of the Marauder and Slayer as part of Doom Eternal’s Invasion mode. “As demons, you can team up and invade the Slayer’s game,” says Stratton. “We just teased it so that people knew that making Doom [Eternal] a social experience is important to us. We’re already developing it all internally, we also have a PvP component that we’re building.
“Those are really, really important factors. Once we start talking about that, people are going to be really excited about the mechanics of playing as a demon. It’s just a totally new way to play, but it is the experience you know.
“When you jump into one of our demons, you’ll at least, even though there are other mechanics tied to it, know how that demon behaves. You’ll know his general mechanics and how he shoots and how he fires and all that kind of stuff. There’s not a lot of new stuff to learn. It’s new stuff to master, which is the fun part.
“You also know how the Slayer behaves because you spend a lot of time playing as the Slayer. You can predict what he’s doing now fighting against him. Again, that’s new stuff to master.”
With new multiplayer, greater demon variety, and new ways to slay them, Doom Eternal looks to be evolving the familiar formula in interesting and exciting ways.