Having grown up playing Doom back in the days of shareware and VGA monitors, I was looking forward to the reveal of the latest sequel at E3 as much as anybody. While the single player stuff definitely intrigued me (repetitive death animations aside), it was the multiplayer footage that got me really excited. I love a good arena shooter, with being one of my favorites. The fast, explosive, and chaotic action therein activates a side of me that most games–including shooters–rarely do. I’m not the most competitive player out there, but give me a frag grenade, a plasma rifle, and the ability to double jump, and I almost become a different person. I saw many of the same things that I love about Quake 3 in the multiplayer footage of from E3, but now that I’ve experienced it first hand at QuakeCon, I’m happy to report that it doesn’t disappoint. There was only one map and one game mode to play with, but I kept lining up to play it again and again.
The demo’s single map was typical of the series: a heady mix of industrial structures and conveniently placed pits of lava. The arena was replete with tight corridors, typically dotted with health and ammo pickups, necessities if you hope to survive for an extended period of time. These hallways snake around a central chamber where the aforementioned lava awaited sloppy or anxious combatants, gulping them up in a matter of seconds. Counting the dangerous platforms that surround the lava, there are three levels on the map. Launch pads and double jumps will help you take the high ground, but if there’s an enemy waiting for you, you may find yourself scrambling for safety only to land feet first in a boiling cauldron of death.
That’s not to say that a crafty player can’t find their way back to safety, even if they’re falling towards the lava pit. One of the sub-weapons that you can choose in the demo is the teleporter, with the other being the traditional frag grenade. Tossing the teleporter and then hitting the same button again at a later time will instantly teleport you to wherever it was placed. While it may be too difficult to deploy the teleporter while you’re falling, you can preemptively place one in a safe room, just in case you find yourself either falling into lava or stuck in a sticky situation where you’re surrounded by enemies.
Choosing a loadout that suits your playstyle is paramount in Doom, but it’s equally important to keep your eyes open for power ups that appear during matches as they can turn any player into a super powered killing machine. Quad damage and invisibility are back, but the new revenant power up is by far the most valuable asset that you can acquire.
When the revenant icon–a pentagram–appears on the map, it turns the tide of battle as everyone rushes to pick it up. Even if you don’t get it, so long as someone on your team does, things quickly turn in your favor. Whoever picks it up becomes a flying, rocket-spewing demon with increased health, and it’s nearly impossible for a single soldier to take it down. Where a match, pre-revenant, is about individual performance from moment-to-moment, once someone transforms, it’s all about teamwork. With the revenant on your side, your team gains a wall of destruction that can be used to your advantage. But when the enemy gets this powerful demon on their side, coordination as a team becomes the most important thing. Becoming the revenant is also super empowering. Where you perhaps felt fragile on foot with standard weapons, transforming into the revenant grants you the freedom to let loose and throw caution to the wind. Yes, a team can take you down, but any time spent as the revenant typically results in multiple kills for your team, not to mention the rush of being the most powerful player in the match.
My experience playing Doom’s multiplayer mode was everything I’d hoped for, but there’s still so much to see in the future. New modes and maps will hopefully play to the game’s strengths in different ways, but we’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, with an Alpha demo looming on the horizon, I can’t wait to jump back into battle. In some ways, it feels like I’ve leapt back in time, but with things like the revenant and the teleporter on hand, Doom’s multiplayer feels distinct. I may go back and try my hand at Quake Arena for the hell of it, but once the Doom Alpha goes live, it’s time to say goodbye to the memories of old and embrace a new, if not slightly familiar, breed of demonic, multiplayer mayhem.