Yesterday your friendly neighborhood gaming editor travelled through the rain to Dallas, TX for QuakeCon. It was a totally uneventful trip and nothing dangerous or life shattering happened long the way, no sir. QuakeCon is Bethesda's annual fan convention, where visitors can compete in gaming tournaments, show off their PC case mods, and get some playtime with Bethesda games like The Evil Within and The Elder Scrolls Online.
The largest draw for visitors of this year's QuakeCon was easily the chance to see id's new Doom game (also known as Doom 4) before anyone else! Bethesda showed the game in action during yesterday's welcome ceremony. That gameplay footage is not available online, so most gamers will have to wait until a later date to see Doom in action. Don't worry; Doom looks amazing.
The Doom reveal
To start with, id plays the same Doom teaser trailer that debuted last month. The video features a grim narration describing the basic theme of all Doom games: the unholy union of flesh and metal created by science gone wrong. We see the construction of a Cyberdemon, a towering minotaur-like beast with cybernetic parts and goat legs. The Doom title pops up.
Next Marty Stratton, the executive producer of Doom delivers a presentation on the game. Although many gamers think of the new game as Doom 4, its title is simply Doom. The new Doom will be a reimagining of what made the original games great. He doesn't say it, but the upcoming title appears to draw much more inspiration from the first two Dooms than the third.
The game starts outside of a UAC research facility on Mars. The Union Aerospace Corporation is the military research group whose experiments with teleportation end up unleashing demons from Hell in previous Doom games. The UAC facility is already suffering an invasion from hell when the new game begins.
Stratton tells us that Doom will evolve how first-person shooters look and feel. The most important part of the game is combat. Fighting demons will be relentless, fast, fluid, and brutal. To have fast combat, you also need fast movement. This Doom does not involve taking cover and regenerating health, two common mechanics in modern shooters. No, players will be too busy charging forward, dodging projectiles, and smashing monsters instead.
Doom reveal (no streaming)
The new Doom runs on id's new Id Tech 6 game engine, colloquially referred to as id Tech 666. Although Stratton can't discuss the technology behind the game in detail just yet, he does reveal one important piece of information... Doom is targeted to run in 1080P at 60 frames per second. Presumably that applies to all platforms, including the Xbox One. We'll see!
Next one of the game's producers takes to the stage and plays through two segments of the game. Or pretends to play – you never can tell with these presentations. At last, we catch a genuine glimpse of the new Doom.
The demo starts with the player character putting on the iconic Doom marine helmet in first-person. A slick HUD pops up on the helmet visor. A futuristic door opens, revealing the UAC Energy Complex on Mars. The complex is filled with industrial technology, molten metal flowing beneath the machines and platforms. The place glows orange and yellow.
As our hero looks around, he detects new information about the environment. The data gets archived for later viewing. He reaches a room with a switch that must be activated by hand scan. The marine tries his own hand but the system doesn't accept it. He looks around and finds the body of a dead scientist. That guy won't need his hand anymore, so the marine rips the forearm from the body and uses it to activate the switch. Who says switch puzzles need to be boring?
Soon the protagonist encounters some of the monsters who have decimated the facility. Most of his opponents are zombies and demons. The demons throw fireballs that our hero swiftly dodges. Later he'll fight a mutated creature who wields a laser gun. Enemies often drop health and ammo when killed. The item gets pulled through the air into the player when he gets close to them – a nice effect.
The combat really does look fast and brutal. This Doom features a surprising amount of melee attacks. It seems that any time the marine gets within arm's reach of a monster, he can grab and mutilate it in some way. He kicks them, punches them, and sometimes stomps their heads off. One enemy gets its head smashed to bits against a wall. Another has the misfortune of its entire torso being ripped in half. The Doom marine has been working out!
The Doom weapons have become iconic over the years. Our hero liberates a double-barreled shotgun from a dead soldier, loading it dramatically. The audience cheers. He promptly uses it to blast the torso off of a monster, eliciting a similar reaction from the crowd. Later he acquires a very sexy plasma rifle that rapidly fires blue plasma bolts. The detail that goes into Doom's weapons really impresses.
We see that a door has shut closed on a man's body, killing him, Prometheus-style. Boy Prometheus sucks, but that's neither here nor there. The marine pulls the doors open without sparing the dead dude a second thought. He takes more note of a hologram that pops up, recorded or transmitted by a woman named Jill Traverse. She delivers a cryptic message before vanishing. It looks like Doom will have a bit of a story, although maybe less than the slower-paced Doom 3.
Earlier the hero passed by a glass wall just as a Revenant flew off to parts unknown. The Revenant is a skeleton-like monster clad in battle armor. He finally runs into the Revenant head-on later in the level. Melee attacks work both ways in Doom, it turns out. The Revenant jumps onto the marine, rips his arm off, and beats him to death. Ouch!
A second section of the demo takes place in a different UAC structure, along with several jaunts onto the rocky Martian surface. As the marine enters the surface, an Atmospheric Alert pops up on his HUD. The armor then pressurizes, allowing him to walk safely across the brown and gray land. Back inside the complex, someone has scrawled glowing pentagrams on the ground. Above them hang strips of flesh and guts.
The hero of Doom can now jump, which opens a lot of possibilities in the level design. Sometimes he leaps across ruined walkways. Other times he jumps up and grabs hold of elevated platforms, pulling himself up to their level. Jumping even adds something to the combat. The marine jumps from a box onto an enemy, splattering its head.
When the marine equips a chainsaw, the audience goes crazy. The chainsaw has been a melee weapon mainstay since the original Doom. The new one is even more devastating than previous models. Our hero uses it to slice an enemy straight down the middle. The unlucky monster tries to block the blow with his arms, to no avail.
Later the hero encounters the Mancubus, a fat and bloated demon equipped with guns instead of hands. After nailing it with repeated rocket blasts, the monster is finally stunned. The marine reaches into monster's belly and pulls out its heart. He then shoves it down the thing's mouth, which causes it to explode for some reason. Brutality!
Finally, the hero opens a door to a real boss encounter. Behind it towers the Cyberdemon, a two-story giant. The demo ends, leaving the battle to our imagination.
Doom will come
The QuakeCon audience absolutely loved the Doom reveal. Of course, they are all rabid fans of id and Bethesda games. But Doom really does look like a fantastic update to the series. The pace and combat are much faster than that of Doom 3, a game that leaned more towards horror than previous titles. The melee kills and buckets of gibs make for exciting and varied combat. The foreboding atmosphere and demonic imagery scream classic Doom, yet they look better than ever.
Doom is coming to Xbox One, PC, and Playstation 4 sometime next year. People who preordered Wolfenstein: The New Order will receive access to the Doom beta sometime before launch.
More QuakeCon 2014 coverage coming soon!