Doom History: Part 4
Doom 64 and Doom 3 were integral to the continual evolution of the franchise. While both titles hit specific highs for the series, fans responded to the lows of each. Id Software took the fan dedication and feedback to heart as they scrapped the disastrous Doom 4 project and forged ahead with the clean slate before them.
Long-time id Software designer and co-founder John Carmack departed the studio in 2013 to work with Oculus VR. Marty Stratton, an id Software employee since 1997, and Hugo Martin took over the mantle of co-directors for the Doom reboot. This time around, the team sought to bring everything back to the series’s roots. The goal was to reimagine the original Doom for a new generation.
Rock n’ roll. That was kind of like our inspiration for everything.
As Martin and Stratton’s team began work on the early concepts of the rebooted Doom, they knew from the get-go that they wanted to infuse what attracted players to Doom and Doom II in a modern interpretation. With the decision to scrap Doom 4 and move forward with their new plans, Stratton and Martin understood that this direction might not have been taken lightly by id Software’s parent company, Bethesda. Much to their surprise, Bethesda was fully supportive of the decision. In an interview with Polygon, Stratton talked at length about how pleased he was with Bethesda’s support.
“It was a hard reboot and a big commitment,” Stratton affirmed. “There are a lot of other executives who wouldn’t have the trust in us and the brand after the reboot. I don’t know if there are a lot of big publishers who would allow their teams to push the way they do.”
Those that have played the Doom reboot feel the hellish themes of everything from level design and character models all the way down to the heavy metal riffs and soundtrack. In a video feature with Game Informer, Stratton shared that at the beginning of the game’s development they begged the question, “What are we going to be inspired by?” Martin made the basis of Doom’s inspiration clear. “Rock n’ roll,” Martin stated. “That was kind of like our inspiration for everything.”
Personality is king.
Stratton shared that the original Doom creatures were known for exuding character. He said, “It looks like the kind of stuff that some 15-year-old would draw on the back of his notebook during math class.” This is the sort of design his team pursued because, as Stratton eloquently acknowledged, “personality is king.”
The directors’ vision for the game was fully realized with fast-paced run-and-gun mechanics, gnarly-looking enemies, surreal and fantasy-like locales on Mars and in hell, and a heavy metal musical composition to boot. The colors were deep and saturated, and the gameplay was fluid. For all intents and purposes, the Doom reboot is a brilliant and beautifully realized game.
The mythology remains somewhat a mystery, which adds to the character of this entry in the franchise. The protagonist, known only as the Doom Slayer, was actually imprisoned by hell’s acolytes for reigning terror upon their kind. UAC head, Samuel Hayden, actually releases the Doom Slayer from his stasis in an ancient sarcophagus to beat back the forces of hell as they invade his facility.
Not only did the game’s designers revere the originals for the landmark titles that they were, but they also displayed that reverence in the game with Easter eggs and secrets galore that called back to Doom’s roots. A classic, pixelated level can be unlocked in each of the Doom reboot’s stages. This game was surely made with Doom’s earliest fans in mind. And the development team and publisher didn’t stop there. They ensured that all fans could embark on this journey to hell, as they sought to bring the entire experience to the Nintendo Switch. Despite the lesser capabilities of Nintendo’s hardware compared to other current-gen consoles on the market, the team didn’t cut any corners.
Doom Eternal was announced at the Bethesda E3 conference in June 2018. In August, gameplay was shown at QuakeCon, thrilling fans clamoring for more. The gameplay was as visceral and beautiful as we’ve come to expect. However, the studio heads left us wanting more. Smartly, they teased more concerning the sequel’s narrative.
The sequel’s narrative is following that of the original series’s second entry, Doom II, with the idea that hell invades Earth. The Doom Slayer clearly has his work cut out for him. However, the directors stated they hope to enrich the lore of the Doom universe with this entry. During the presentation, Stratton stated, “We’re not just making a Doom game anymore — we’re building a Doom universe.” Several new demons were teased, but one among them stood out. A new burly demon equipped with a massive battle axe and the makings of what appears to be Doom Slayer armor was highlighted by the developers. Apparently, there’s a reason behind why this demon shares a visual connection with the Doom Slayer.
Furthermore, new locales were teased, including one that suspiciously feels like it might be… heaven? Another more major addition announced was that of a grappling attachment for the shotgun and a wrist blade for more up close and personal kills. The grappling attachment clearly was designed to keep the momentum of intense battles going. Demons out of reach? No problem — just bring them to you. It also can help zip the player from one point to the next.
We’re not just making a Doom game anymore — we’re building a Doom universe.
Aside from competitive multiplayer, the developers are also bringing players the ability to invade other players’ story campaigns as demonic forces. Additionally, friends can join forces to invade other campaigns. This feature is all new to the world of Doom and can prove to add a sense of thrill and unpredictability to the campaign that might heighten single-player replayability.
These teases will certainly keep fans anxious for the game’s eventual release. I know that I am counting the days. Doom Eternal is priming players for raw power and the feel of navigating and destroying Doom’s world like a true badass. While the Doom franchise endured a few missteps over the years, my hope is that the franchise will continue for years to come providing future generations with their own chance at defeating the forces of Hell.
That wraps up our look at the legacy and impact of one of gaming’s most daring franchises. But, let’s keep the discussion going! How has Doom impacted your time as a gamer? Do you have a favorite memory of the Doom franchise? What aspects of the Doom Eternal gameplay thrill you the most? Do you have any hopes or wishes for the upcoming sequel or the series’s future in general? We’d love to hear what you have to say about all things Doom in the comments below!