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Flaws in Doom 16'

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11 hours ago, DMPhobos said:

I agree with this, not that hell was bad, but it really didn't fell like hell at all, instead it looked more like a barren wasteland. If there was anything that Doom 3 did better than D2016 was that hell really looked like hell, it really looked and sounded evil and despite being too short, it really left a strong impression


They didn't want to inspire fear into the player at all, which is likely why Hell turned out this way, cavernous and swampy as I describe it.


D3 really did justice to the concept of Hell, but that was going to be way, way too much and beyond the scope of D2016.

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I got rather frustrated not being able to find any reviews or editorials actually analyzing D16 more in-depth to see how it actually works and why it falters in many areas, or conversely, game design channels looking at D16's gameplay to explain why it works so well, which you would expect at least one person to do given how much praise this game received. There is a huge shortage on the more technical information surrounding D16 mechanics as well, such as what exactly the difficulty settings change, how exactly current player health affects the amount of health dropped on Glory Kills, when ammo gets dropped on Glory Kills, and so on. So I'm going to give it my best shot at explaining what I find too many people overlooked in D16...


The level design itself saw a dramatic shift compared to the original Doom, with the goal of getting the player to move around. Instead of levels being a linear push forward, you will occasionally get locked into a circular arena, enemies will start spawning around you, and essentially there's no corridors to retreat in so you can't bottleneck all the enemies, and there's no real safe zone during such fights. By taking away all possible avenues of 'cheesing out' fights, the player is subtly encouraged to push forward and take the fight to the enemy instead. Every arena is also arranged like a skatepark, each arena featuring their own arrangement of platforms, high vantage points, points of interest, and so on. They're practically mini-multiplayer maps. So the player is also encouraged to use the high ground to their advantage in order to avoid enemy projectiles, and with a ledge grab it's kind of hard to mess up missing a platform.


While the designers did achieve the goal of getting the player to move, the actual variety in these skateparks themselves is morbidly minimal. As each skatepark is only a different arrangement of platforms (not counting enemy spawn positions) with the occasional power-up item here and there, they do not do that much to change up the flow of combat if they all do the same thing. Enemy behavior does not change significantly with each new skatepark either. As the arena combat in D16 is very free-form, the designers cannot expect where exactly the player might be, how they will behave, and design encounters around the player being in a particular state, so each encounter effectively does the same thing. Wearing the player down over the long-term is not a feasible strategy, since the Glory Kills and Chainsaw ammo refills ensure that the player will always remain in an optimal condition, and inbetween arenas the player is always given the opportunity to restock. Nor is the player being stuck in a tight space a feasible strategy, since in D16 the arenas are very unrestrictive and the player is given tons of freedom of movement and space.


One suggestion which should have inevitably sprung up during the level design process in D16 (or any level design process anywhere for that matter) is the presence of environmental hazards. Since giving the player tons of free space to move around in makes it easy for them to avoid damage, restricting said space should up the ante. And I find it staggering that next to no arena itself tries to harm or restrict the player. Each skatepark itself is very safe to traverse, without having to worry for bottomless pits, crushers, damaging floors (which occurs maybe once in a mini-encounter in Hell where it can be completely disregarded), et cetera. Other objects like jump pads exist to make traversal easier, whereas the only new element that gets added late in the game to the arenas are portals, which are only good for letting you escape with ease if you somehow get cornered, as enemies are incapable of using portals to get around.


And you can tell that id DID experiment with environmental hazards at an early stage. In the area right after you get the double-jump boots you have to traverse a large chasm over some pipeworks, and to progress you'll have to frequently switch pipes to be able to move forward, while being cautious not to slip and fall. Around the mid-way point enemies start spawning Imps in at various positions, some which act as artillery and snipe you and others who directly hunt you down from close up. So you gotta avoid the fireballs from long-range, the Imps trying to slash you, and to not fall to your death, though unfortunately this encounter is not an arena encounter so the amount of enemies placed in this section is small so as to not make the whole fight that much of a challenge. That encounter definitely had potential which could have been realized if it had more enemies as you need to think more about where you are going to move next. Another such example includes the Argent Tower climb, which has you jumping around on small platforms with barely any room to move, but they only throw the bare minimum of enemies at you during that section. You can tell id felt very skittish about environmental hazards and most likely decided to avoid them entirely because playtesters probably didn't enjoy falling to their deaths all the time, so we end up with safe and sterile. The one thing critics ironically praised D16 for not being.


Whereas for the aspect of challenge the original Doom used tricky level geometry and enemy placement to compensate for the simple enemy behavior, D16 is much more reliant on enemy AI to challenge the player. And while the AI is very capable of traversing the environment and hunting down the player (unnecessary taunting aside), they are very much incapable of using the environment against the player. You don't see Hell Razers or Imps climbing to higher spots to harass the player from long range on purpose, you don't see enemies cooperating or performing tag team attacks, you don't see enemies trying to push you towards a more dangerous Mancubus or Baron of Hell. Basically, enemy behavior is or at the very least feels like it's largely random with no concept of strategy.


Though D16 often gets derided for being a Painkiller-clone for its open arena level design, the idea of circular arenas populated by competent AI-driven opponents makes D16 much more identical to the first F.E.A.R., a game I prefer over D16 for many reasons. The AI in F.E.A.R. didn't have much in the way of long-term strategy either, it mostly prioritized plans such as staying alive, moving from cover to cover using the safest path possible, which might involve flanking the player. On top of that, the AI was capable of using the environment much like the player can, and also using the environment against the player through usage of smart objects (vaulting through glass windows to get around faster, vaulting tables to create cover). However, the AI in FEAR behaving intelligently is largely coincidental on the part of the AI, it is the level design which enables the AI to flank the player and deny them from moving around freely. After all, the AI doesn't have many options when the level is just a straight corridor. By crafting levels which both the player and the AI can use against eachother, you can come up with all kinds of crazy situations.


But the problem is that the much-touted verticality of the skateparks in D16 only serves the player, not the AI. The AI is rather ineffective when it comes to chasing down a player who constantly shifts between elevations, and there's no real reason why the player should be afraid from enemies standing on high platforms. Quake already had that covered by placing Ogres high up, whose unpredictable bouncing grenades would pose a larger threat and become more unpredictable when fired from high up. Unfortunately there's nothing quite like that in D16. The elevated platforms only serve to let the player 'escape' from tighter situations on the ground. It's only in the more tighter and more restrictive arenas that things become properly challenging and larger enemies are actually threatening.


It's not only the design of the arenas which makes things to easy by challenging you on limiting your freedom, but the enemies themselves as well. The enemies do not aim to restrict your movement, and because of the copious amounts of free space in the skateparks any attempts at doing so just fall apart. The Cyber-Mancubus is capable of performing an area-denying acid attack which leaves behind a damaging surface of acid, but because the area of the acid itself is limited and the space in the arenas you can move around in is limited, you can just walk around it, no problem. It's such an unnoticeable attack that I never even noticed on my first playthrough that the Cyber-Mancubus was a separate variant from the normal Mancubus. Enemies like the shield zombies and Pinkies are more simply dealt with by firing a rocket slightly off-center so they get hit by splash damage from behind. Aside from the Mancubus, there aren't any enemies which can effectively deny an area, the Mancubus only being capable of doing so because of its high HP and low movement speed preventing it from moving far from its initial spawn point. There's the Barons of Hell, but they often only get spawned in the final waves of an arena fight when there are no other enemies around (until the final levels of the game), which kind of begets the point. I think if enemy projectiles were also focused around slowly swarming you and cutting off your possibilities of escape rather than only sniping you á la a danmaku game, things might have been a lot more interesting.


The designers liken the combat a lot to chess, whereas in reality the chessboard is three-dimensional and most of the cells are empty, the reason also partially being because enemy count is rather limited, ironically because of technical limitations despite the advances in technology. More present enemies at once would have also alleviated this overwhelming amount of free space which allows the player to avoid getting cornered with ease. Now imagine what things would be like if there was no ground to begin with, and if you had to constantly jump between 'islands'.


Anyways, that only covers the arenas of the levels themselves. While at a cursory glance of the automap the levels in D16 appear to be fairly complex, the actual combat where most of the enemies spawn is limited to said arenas. Inbetween all the arenas there's only filler. You just move around from A to B, do some minor platforming, hunt for some secrets, find some resources, and kill the occasional group of enemies. The problem being that the encounters in the filler sections consists of an elementary amount of enemies anyone can defeat with relative ease. These sections are largely devoid of any real challenge, but they do not have the atmosphere of Doom 3 or FEAR to make up for not currently killing demons. And they consist of a very large part of the game too. Basically, it's the exploration of the original Doom without all the tension, because D16 never uses monster closets or ever surprises the player for that matter. The Gore Nests having to be triggered by the player first in order to begin an arena fight should be a clear sign of that. These sections are supposed to break up the monotony of the combat, though there's something wrong with your combat system if it can ever get monotonous in the first place.


In the original Doom exploration and combat were usually inseparable from eachother, in D16 they might as well be two different game modes. It's a massive pace-breaker too, especially for a game which sells itself on being brootal high-octave violence. It doesn't help that exploration largely consists of going off the beaten path for upgrade points or climbing on things. Then there's a dozen upgrades which highlight secrets so you can't possibly miss them. Levels in Doom were also a test of your navigational skills. Progression was usually linear, but the structure of the levels themselves wasn't in order to keep you thinking, so you often found yourself exploring all kinds of side-areas to see what it might bring you. Levels in D16 are rarely that non-linear to warrant this style of exploration, the only notable exception being The Foundry which lets you tackle a bunch of Gore Nests in any order you like. That was probably the only level in the game that had put me in a 'now what' moment as I was struggling to find out where to go next. After that the game drops the pretense of featuring non-linear levels everywhere, and the main path becomes much more linear.


The whole 'exploration' parts are D16 trying to be Doom where it really ought not to be. Another example, the colored keys in D16. Since the game doesn't really test you on your navigational skills past The Foundry, they are effectively pointless here and only present because "it's doom so it should have color keys". And here I thought people complain too much about reboots not being exactly like the originals. Keys are usually handed out as rewards after arenas so you can open the color gate some place earlier, which might as well have been placed in the front rather than the back because it effectively amounts to the same thing. The idea of keyhunting is worthless outside a non-linear context, if it only serves to have me backtrack a little bit without really setting up some surprises on the way back, letting me tackle things in the order I want, or making the navigation challenging, then all it does is waste my time for something that might have as well been linear anyways. The levels in D16 might be less imaginative if they were just arena after arena (which some levels are), but at least they waste less of my time.


Another game called RUINER also features combat which largely takes place in arenas with some walking inbetween, but the pacing in that game is much tighter to make things still feel engaging, whereas in D16 the pacing feels very stop 'n go. Instead, Ruiner features multiple smaller arena fights with some minor space inbetween, which does a lot to keep the pacing brisk as you are constantly on the move. It has very little in the way of exploration and instead focuses primarily on combat. I think if D16 were to just ditch exploration entirely, following this example of multiple smaller arenas would be a better bet.


I don't think that D16 inherently handles exploration poorly, but if it actually wants to do exploration right it needs to abandon the idea of arena combat and focus more on fusing combat with exploration so the former can be less repetitive and the latter more engaging with enemies to worry about. Though I think more people want to see exploration because that's what they're used to from Doom and what they believe constitutes good level design. Titanfall 2 came out the same year in D16 (which I much prefer over D16, both SP and MP) and showcased a whole new philosophy in FPS level design revolving around constantly staying on the move and regularly introducing new mechanics to have the player play around with, whereas D16 remains very even in terms of introducing new mechanics throughout the entire game, though if you ask me the sequel should be looking at how TF2 did things.


That said, outside of keyhunts, exploration in D16 and the like is bound to consist of finding more upgrade points, and if you're like me who detests the idea of upgrade systems in general there's not a whole lot of worth they could put in secret areas beyond collectibles and armor, since Glory Kills and Chainsaw piñatas nullify the concept of long-term resource management entirely. You'd have to rework a lot of systems from the ground up just to enable old-school secret item placement, to the point where I'd rather wish it'd abandon the idea of exploration entirely since it's not like it's a requirement anyways (only an expectation). Other than sticking with upgrade points and creating a relatively balanced upgrade system worth a damn on top of going for more traditional level design, I don't see how it would work. But if I were to look at the current state of exploration in D16, I don't think it really adds anything positive.


Including a lot of the unnecessary exploration aspects, there's just a lot of bloat in D16. Optional challenges for each level! Collectibles! Audio logs! Weapon upgrades! Lore! Portals leading you towards abstract-as-all-hell challenges! Suit upgrades! Lore! Rune upgrades! Cram it, cram it all in! You then end up with three separate upgrade trees with their own currencies and just a lot of shit which distracts the player from the actual meat of the game, all for the sake of making the game appear to have more content than it really does. I don't mind the lore thingies (save for the obnoxious updates on your HUD which pops up whenever you learn about a new subject, I think you can turn them off anyways), but those daily challenges which have you messing about by trying to perform an Anal Suplex Twister Glory Kill on 6 Imps by targeting their pinky toe are just unnecessary, and so are those rune challenges which are just unnecessary minigames (do they add anything meaningful, for that matter?). It's not as if said challenges particularly challenge your mastery of a certain weapon or your movement. I don't have anything against upgrade trees in first-person shooters either, but most of the time they're utterly superfluous and merely exist to create the illusion of progression, D16 being another one of those examples.


In an interview Marty or Hugo stated that their aim with the upgrade system in D16 was to let players play the game how they want to play... which is rather question-mark inducing when they're strongly encouraging, practically forcing the player to be aggressive already, and there's not even that much in the way of various playstyles in D16. It's more of a matter of preference what weapon you feel is best used in a given moment, but you don't really need a whole upgrade system for that. It doesn't help that the upgrade system doesn't allow you to really make large meaningful choices between upgrade A and B, because the point economy is so forgiving that you end up getting all the upgrades you really need towards the mid-end point of the game. The strength of these kind of systems is to allow different playstyles by not giving you access to every single ability, because that just turns you into god and effectively kills replay value if you're going to end up speccing into everything anyways with all these upgrade points you get, like in Fallout 3.


You can get one weapon mod per drone and pick between two for each weapon, but you can end up with both mods for a weapon anyways if you pick up the second one from the next drone. So really, the only choice the system offers you is which upgrade you want first, because you're going to end up with most of everything anyways. There are no upgrades in the game where you need to choose between two options where picking one permanently locks out the other option, like the augmentations in Deus Ex. It'd curb experimentation, sure, but a lot of games let you test out both options to see which one fits you best. The other weapon upgrades which are present are just linear and straightforward. Rather, I get the idea that they nerfed all the weapon mods so they could sell what they nerfed back as upgrades, because all these upgrades are just unimaginative as sin. Bigger area of detonation, shorter cooldown, more explosions, these would have been more interesting if I had to choose between of one of them and consider which one suits my personal playstyle the most. At least the final upgrades challenge your mastery of the weapon somewhat by requiring the player to complete a challenge before being unlocked.


Suit upgrades involve making navigation easier, improving your equipment, making power-ups more useful, upgrading environmental resistances and making you do things like mantling and switching weapons faster. You can tell the designers knew that the dexterity upgrades were the most worthwhile ones, because they prevent you from speccing into that tree until you have found a certain amount of weapons (...the hell?). You only really want the dexterity upgrades and barrel explosion immunity + reduced self-harm upgrades.


There's also a bunch of runes which you find by completing a rune minigame, and these runes can be upgraded again by completing another challenge, much like perks in Modern Warfare 2. Runes lets you do stuff like Glory Killing faster, initiating it from larger ranges, giving you a speed boost after a Glory Kill, giving you more armor and ammo on Glory Kills, and so on. You can only have three equipped at once (but you need to have at least three runes so you can have two equipped at once, and you need to have at least five runes to have three equipped at once, because reasons???), but the limit here isn't important because you can pause the game and switch out your runes at any time, since there's nothing stopping you other than that doing so is inconvenient. It begs the question why all runes can't be active at the same time since you can switch out the runes you need the most at any time. There's no real choice to make here, it's as if you could pause the game at any moment in an RPG to switch between classes.


This whole push for upgrades in order to satisfy the little hamster wheels in everyone's minds also brought with it the cancerous mentality of locking a lot of things behind upgrades which should have been a part of your core moveset. For example, you have practically no mid-air control over your double jumps, which is rather strange given how important movement is to this game, so they give you the ability of mid-air control via a rune. Since I can switch out to the rune at any point in time, why the hell isn't it a part of my core abilities? Since nobody wants to stay in a Glory Kill longer than need be, why isn't the animation speed for Glory Kills with the Faster Glory Kill Rune the default one? Why isn't getting a speed boost for Glory Kills a thing by default, given how interesting it sounds? Same goes for the weapons, why can't they just come with both weapon mods at once from the very beginning and be usable simultaneously? Maybe earn some innovation points for having weapons with more than one alternate firing mode while you're at it. Let players experiment and figure things out for themselves what each firing mode.


All this whole mess does is make it harder for the designers to properly balance an encounter because of all these variables thrown in the mix, it distracts the player with abstract side-challenges in order to obtain upgrades, it makes replays more painful because you have to jump through all these hoops to unlock all the fun parts again, you can mess around with most upgrades in a single playthrough anyways, it constantly breaks the flow by having the player constantly pause the game and trawl through endless menus to check for possible upgrades and their challenge status, and it doesn't even add anything positive. It's a convoluted system which adds nothing but bloat, and just another symptom of AAA-itis. For god's sake, if you are going to sell your game to be pure action, don't throw in all this unnecessary bullshit, especially if you're only going to halfass it. People are more receptive to minimalism for these kind of pure action games. If I wanted to play an RPG, I'd play an RPG. It's like how Wolfenstein: The New Colossus allows stealth playstyles even though its stealth mechanics are barebones as they can be and everybody wants to dual-wield things full frontal anyways. Just cut the fat. Unreal had loads of weapons with alternate firing modes and it didn't need any kind of tutorial or fancy upgrade tree.


Speaking of Unreal, that game did environmental storytelling much better and with more respect towards the player's time than D16 did, telling you a story through the progression of the level setpieces and without using cutscenes, voice acting, and all that, letting the player progress at their own pace. D16 gets a lot of praise for its self-aware narrative poking fun at modern tryhard shooters... which for a good part is done through unskippable first-person cutscenes (or cinematic animations, games nowadays blur the line too much). They're not everywhere, and I'm lenient towards intro and outro sequences, but they're there. Whatever joke there is wears off if you have to lock me in a room for a minute or two delivering exposition I can't be remotely bothered to care about. The developers go on in interviews how you can just ignore all this story stuff, but then they yank you into these sequences you cannot even skip. Which the game does rather frequently, like when you get your first Argent Core upgrade, when you're watching Olivia mess around with some hologram for a minute, when you're locating the Lazarus labs, when you just arrived at the start of The Foundry, when you're in Olivia's personal laboratory and messing with the Helix Stone, the VEGA core sequence, and the whole fucking sequence when you're basically tethered and visiting Hayden's office watching him slowly move about delivering more and more exposition and jesus christ just let me kill people damnit


When people mention the whole 'self-awareness' thing, they're talking about those moments when the Doom Slayer acts like a violent madman not giving a single shit about the voices in his head, and proceeds to take it out on the environment, like in the intro where he throws away the screen or those whatever filters which he carelessly destroys against Hayden's wishes. I liked them, they mirrored my feelings about the game. Incidentally, these only happen near the start of the game. The remainder of the game is very straight-faced and serious when it comes to its story. The whole plot is ridiculous, but apart from the intercom messages no real attempt at humor is even being made, nor do they let you throw a middle finger against this super serious argent energy business anymore. Maybe there's some in one of those lore thingies, but I skipped them because reading is for chumps.


In a video interview with Noclip (I do not have the exact timestamps, sorry), Hugo Martin mentions that at an early stage of the game the intro was all this lengthy exposition with Olivia pacing back and forth, and it was just tremendously boring, until someone rightfully realized that that was a terrible idea. Martin also mentions that they spent a rather 'irresponsible' amount of time on the story, so my theory here is that they only went with this new fun self-aware direction at the very last moment and only managed to change the first few levels without breaking the coherence of the story too much. While their intentions may have reached people's hearts, it just doesn't hold true for the game in its entirety. Hayden rambling about how he's the good guy for supplying the Earth with energy (from Hell) and Olivia rambling about demons or some such shit and VEGA being an utter bore to listen to isn't conducive to either a fun or a good story. People who invested time into learning about the world may feel differently, but from the main story alone I still got the impression that past the initial level they were very much serious about their story, especially when they keep locking me into rooms just so they can spam exposition at me. When you activate some satellite dish, Olivia will start talking to you about things via a telephone, though I just did an 180 and walked out of there, I wasn't interested in hearing what she had to say. If I could have done that for all the story stuff in the game and if the characters would also respond to my indifference, then maybe this post would be a few paragraphs shorter.


The big feature behind D16 is its Glory Kill system. Get an enemy on low health, get close, then press F to perform a canned animation, and some extra health is dropped as a reward. Pretty much everyone thought at first that it would constantly break up the combat, but upon playing the game you'll find they're actually quite brisk. The idea behind it is to stay close so you can execute a Glory Kill, and aggression is then rewarded with more health. On paper this sounds like a pretty good idea, in practice Glory Kills are just a crutch, especially on lower difficulties. But on higher difficulties where enemy attack damage and attack frequency is high, you're often bound to get hit the moment the invincibility frames of your Glory Kill end, and there's nothing you can really do about it other than not performing a Glory Kill. There is this article about this guy who finished the game on Ultra-Nightmare who mentions why you're better off not using it unless you have to:



Somewhat dispiritingly, DraQu dispels the usefulness of one of my favourite features in Doom: the Glory Kills. These gleefully animated finishing moves that pulverise demons into juicy fountains of gore not only look cool, but also reward players with health drops. They additionally function as a form of mild teleportation as you can zip towards a fatigued enemy from quite a distance (especially with the Seek and Destroy rune equipped). Yet DraQu very seldom employs this maneuver. Here's why:


"The thing about Glory Kills is that on Nightmare and Ultra-Nightmare, they don't really give you anything. You might get one health drop, which is barely five HP. And you really don't do anything with that on Nightmare. But the thing with Glory Kills is that it locks you into an animation and during that animation other enemies can swarm around you. So you're left in a really tough situation after you're finished. So I only did it in really rough situations where I pretty much had to."


Especially in a first-person game where enemies are prone to constantly circle around you, performing a takedown move which locks you into place and limits your vision temporarily has you lose track of what's going on around you, which allows Imps to sneak in a fireball shedding off 45 HP off your healthbar, which that puny 5 HP drop really doesn't make up for. And if you need to recover health, you don't even need to perform a Glory Kill to receive health drops, because killed enemies will automatically drop health pick-ups if player health is critical, regardless if they're Glory Killed or not. Basically you don't even need to worry about your health, because the game will take care of your health for you. Just keep killing and you will be fine eventually. It's a strange safety net which makes Glory Kills less useful in hindsight, which is just contradictory (and if Glory Kills would award you speed boosts by default instead of via a rune, then they would at least have their uses in (Ultra-)Nightmare).


Doom VFR actually does something more interesting in this regard, as Glory Kills in that game are performed by simply teleporting into enemies. No animations locking you into place or your time being wasted, with the press of a button your opponent is immediately dead and you immediately have your health pick-ups. That got me thinking as to why Glory Kills couldn't have been performed through some kind of dashing move where you'd finish off enemies by directly ramming into them, instead of watching some animation play out. That way gameplay could have been a lot more smoother and your positional awareness would not be interrupted. You wouldn't be able to market your game on all these brutal animations anymore, but who cares about that junk, what matters is that the gameplay is good. Also, why can't I just get my health if I kill enemies from close-up normally? Should I instead purposefully gimp myself and try to weaken enemies instead of outright killing them so I can Glory Kill them for health? If Glory Kills are really a risk and reward move, why is there a rune which speeds up the entire animation and a rune which increases the initiation range to make Glory Kills safer to perform? Why not hand out free health depending on how close you were to the enemy when you killed it if that's what you are going for? It just feels thoughtless in many aspects.


Since health management now largely comes down to not getting hit too much, id also felt that in order to keep players in the flow and to not worry about such trivial details such as health and ammo management, they also had to trivialize ammo management with the chainsaw, which instantly kills an enemy and refills around half the ammo of all your weapons. The chainsaw is limited by fuel, but inbetween arenas there's always plenty of fuel so you're always stocked for each big fight. You can effectively keep using one or two weapons for the duration of an entire arena fight and occasionally refill your ammo for them with the chainsaw. What I don't understand is why a weapon which acts like a giant ammo pickup also needs to kill something with the press of a button. I don't see why you might not as well press a button for a free ammo coupon, since that's what the chainsaw amounts to anyways. Chainsaw also letting you instantly kill any non-boss enemy type also just feels cheap and unnecessary, and antithetical given how skill-based D16 passes itself off as. Oh no, it's a Baron of He- just chainsaw the fucker. The consequences of ammo management involve being efficient with your shots and not miss, knowing when to use weapons with rarer ammunition, and to think ahead how much ammo a given encounter may cost you. With the chainsaw, long-term ammo management is a thing of the past, and ammo might as well be infinite (there's already a rune which gives you infinte ammo if your armor is over 100 for that matter) since ammo management purely consists of using the chainsaw every now and then. I might have accepted this if performing a Chainsaw kill/restoring a part of your ammo is something very risky and hard to pull off, something like Ki Flux in Nioh which lets you restore stamina with proper timing, but since D16 is a console game, concessions had to be made.


As if one 'press X to kill enemy for free' weapon wasn't enough, id also had to assign the BFG a role in the game, because it is a Doom game after all. What they then did was assign the BFG the function of a smartbomb in a danmaku game, as it shoots a ball which instantly kills every enemy within range, and stuns bosses as well. This thing can clear out an entire room within seconds, and acts as your get-out-of-jail-free card. To top it all off, you can also carry around a maximum of three BFG charges, and some arenas have even more charges present you can pick up as well! You don't actually need to use this weapon, I've completed the game on Nightmare a few times without feeling obliged to use it because I never got cornered. But here it's only a matter of self-restriction, there is no in-game reason why I should not ever use the BFG, whereas shmups would often reward you bonus points if you cleared a stage without using bombs. It's way too powerful of an escape card, as you can reserve them for Barons of Hell and annihilate them with absolutely no effort using the BFG, and there's barely any skill involved in using the BFG. If there was some kind of gameplay reason for why I shouldn't use the BFG, like being able to do more damage depending on how much BFG charges I have remaining, then I could overlook this. But as it stands you end up with two ways of instantly killing enemies with no effort. It's weird how from a visual standpoint this game screams I AM GOING TO TEAR OUT YOUR GUTS AND TURN YOU INTO A LAMPSHADE but it has all these safety nets so even more casual players can beat the game. 


Weapon balance on the whole is also rather questionable. Weapons like the Shotgun, Plasma Rifle feel lacking compared to their power weapon equivalents (Super Shotty, Gauss Rifle) as a result of the aforementioned very generous ammo refills, so you won't be using the aforementioned weapons aside from their weapon mods. The Shotgun range is absolutely pitiful and is only capable of oneshotting Imps at Glory Kill range, but it's outclassed by the Super Shotgun which does even more damage with the same range. There is no real reason why you would use the Shotgun's primary fire over the Shotty's. The Shotgun's weapon mods are also rather useless, the Explosive Shot only mimics the Rocket Launcher, and the Charged Burst only mimics the shotty. Why not use the latter weapons instead? Once you get the shotty, you won't ever be using the Shotgun again.


The Heavy Assault Rifle's hitscan nature makes it quite versatile against smaller fast-moving opponents, and its Scope and Micro Missile mods do give it a niche in your arsenal at first, until your Rocket Launchers defaults as your small fry-killing weapon and the Gauss Rifle becomes more suitable at longer ranges. I'd also like to say that the Chaingun would effectively replace the Assault Rifle, though the Chaingun is rather unwieldy to use, especially on higher difficulties. It takes a relatively long time to spin up and reach its maximum rate of fire, and can be useful against large swarms of smaller opponents, though it's just not as versatile compared to the trinity of SS/RL/GR. One weapon mod lets you spin the barrel pre-emptively, which is not that useful or imaginative, and the second mod turns your Chaingun into a mobile turret which can dish out massive damage, but it slows you down and being slow on Nightmare is a death sentence.


The primary fire of the Plasma Rifle is identical to the HAR, though since it's projectile-based it's somewhat less accurate and doesn't deal more damage to make up for that. It also sounds weak as shit compared to the OG Doom Plasma Rifle. The first mod lets you build up a powerful shockwave around you, but in order to charge one up you need to fire your primary fire, for which there's little reason doing so. The second mod is actually very useful and the only reason why you would ever switch to the Plasma Rifle now and then, as it fires a Stun Bomb which can stop any enemy dead in its tracks and disables shields from shield guys. I'd almost say it's a bit too overpowered given the stun time on enemies when upgraded. The Gauss Rifle on the other hand is especially overpowered with its Siege Mode. In Siege Mode it can deal a ridiculous amount of damage, and not being able to move while charging can be offset if you initiate the charge while mid-air and then double jumping. If upgraded it has ridiculous range, can one shot most small fry, and deals even more damage on headshots. It's a bit ridiculous. I'm not sure why you would ever use the Precision Bolt over Siege Mode.


The Rocket Launcher and its mods are alright, there's reason enough to consider why you would use both mods, though I prefer using Remote Detonation because when upgraded it effectively deals double damage and can take down Pinkies with a single rocket by firing slightly off-angle. The pistol is a meme. That's all there's to be said about it.


There's also a bunch of equipment in the form of Frag Grenades, Siphon Grenades, and Holodukes. Though I mostly forgot about them. Inbetween arenas I'd often tell myself 'next time I'm going to use them!' and I'd just forget about it because you're never really pushed into using them. It doesn't help that said equipment is not limited by ammo but by cooldowns, so it's not like you're ever getting the feeling that you're wasting an opportunity if you constantly said items placed everywhere but you never use them. The Frag Grenade is useless once you get the Rocket Launcher. I hear the Siphon Grenades and Holodukes are often used a lot on Ultra-Nightmare where the dominating of its players seems to be 'I don't wanna die', so using every tool at your disposal can help. Siphon is actually useful for restoring health (and armor!) and the Holoduke is very effective at distracting enemies, though since there's nothing really encouraging you to use them and since the combat is easy (for me, anyways) enough to not call for it, these just feel tacked on.


I'm a bit miffed with how power-ups are utilized in D16, as they are always placed in clearly visible spots in arenas, and just serve to make things even easier. Power-ups in Doom were usually reserved for secrets or seriously-impossible-otherwise areas, but there's nothing quite that seriously impossible in D16. It just feels like they're there to contribute to the power fantasy. The Berserk power-up is the worst offender, as it briefly turns the game into a kangaroo contest of mashing LMB and walking up to enemies in order to automatically lock on to them and kill them with absolutely no effort. The Quad Damage is much more suitable for giving the player a short power boost as you're still required to use your weapons to kill things, with Berserk you just mash LMB and your fists will do the rest, it's not engaging in the slightest.


The enemy designs in terms of their functionality have some good ideas on paper, but I don't think they're all that well realized. The Hell Razer can fire a straight telegraphed beam at you, but he's way too passive and not aggressive enough, on top of his beam being too inaccurate to pose a serious threat. I think it would have been a better idea if his laser beam was fired in a sweeping horizontal motion, forcing the player to play a game of hopscotch so you actually need to pay some attention to enemy attacks. The Cyber-Mancubus is a Mancubus with more HP which can also fire acid balls, but as I mentioned before his area-of-denial attack is sidestepped too easily. The Summoner is too underutilized throughout the game for its enemy respawning function to pose a serious threat, as a summoner-type amongst an already present large pack of enemies should ideally be picked off first, but it's rarely ever used in such a fashion, and rarely ever used at all. Lost Souls also fall into the category of being brutally underutilized, as their new kamikaze-like nature does beg immediate attention. For this reason I would have also loved to see the Pain Elemental appear in D16 to make Lost Souls retroactively more useful, but alas. The Revenant is... what the fuck is the Revenant's role anyways? It's like a tougher Imp which fires inaccurate Micro Missiles, and they don't even hit as hard as Imps. Worst of all they lost their homing missiles from Doom, even though an enemy capable of firing homing projectiles in the wide open arenas of D16 would be a very welcome addition and make for being prioritized, but alas. Cacodemons are also way too underutilized as a result of someone's Imp fetish over at id, even though their flight capability makes them a much more looming and welcome threat to the arenas as they can constantly snipe you from above. Their projectiles even have a blinding effect now, which I think makes them at least stand out more from being flying Imps. The Baron of Hell is as expected an upgraded Hell Knight, but Barons of Hell are often purely reserved at the very final wave of an arena fight when no other enemies are present in the arena at all. It's like E1M8 but with none of the supporting Spectres. It doesn't help that people are most inclined to use the Chainsaw and BFG against such a tough foe, rendering the Baron quickly moot. Such a big angry bulletsponge who aggressively chases you around is best utilized with multiple enemies present at once, but alas. Speaking of Spectres, they also barely appear in their game, even though the Pinkies new frontal armor synergizes quite greatly with the cloak as it makes their hind harder to tell apart. Maybe people wouldn't be complaining so much about the repetitive arenas if some of the enemies were actually used more often in tandem with others...


Though this doesn't mean all the enemies are shit. The Imps are a great addition as they're constantly on the move, are capable of firing while moving and firing charged fireballs which they can lead, and constantly swarming around you. The Possessed Engineers can fire either a small burst of projectiles at you which you need to jump over, or one big energy ball which bursts mid-air and is best dodged by moving closer. Mancubi are nice because they can actually hold down a position and keep you at bay with their groundpound attack if you get too close, being the closest what the game has to an environmental hazard placed by the designers. Hell Knights are delightful in their aggression and their ability to leap towards you, if only they could leap towards you more effectively if you have the high ground. Pinkies and their ramming charge are also a valid threat, though unfortunately a Stun Bomb can freeze them too easily, same goes for the shield guys.


Unfortunately there's not a whole lot of target prioritization going on, though I think it's safer to say it's very uneven. Given your overwhelming amount of free space to move around in, ammo and health management being a joke, the small amount of active enemies at a time and the ease through which you can stun or distract enemies with the Stun Bomb and the Holoduke, and BFG/Chainsaw rendering big enemies moot, you won't often feel compelled to target a particular enemy in a group, you're more or less just going with the flow. Enemies like Pinkies can be a pain if there's no platforms around to jump on so you can escape their charge, and if a Hell Knight is present in a very tight area, but that just doesn't happen that often, and Summoners and Barons of Hell don't appear that often either. It's just another one of the contributing factors that makes D16 feel more mindless than it should.




2016 would also see the release of Devil Daggers, an arena-based FPS about holding out for as long as possible against an infinite onslaught of enemies. Enemies there don't shoot projectiles, but they instead chase you, and one hit in DD means death. Since the game takes place on a flat arena and enemies spawn in from all positions, it's important to hear what's going on around you. For that reason, no music plays in the background, but each enemy type also has a distinct sound which can be told apart even in a busy audio mix. The cackling of some enemies becomes noticeably louder when they get close, when a certain enemy type spawns which needs to be taken out immediately you can hear a persistent skittering sound, hits and picking up gems have very clear sounds to them, and you can actually tell clearly what direction a given sound is coming from. You could almost play the game blind because of how good the sound design is.


Then you have the sound design in D16, which sounds like you're in an aquarium filled with metalhead fish. Enemies don't even have audible footsteps or persistent noises so you can tell by sound where an enemy is at any given moment. The sounds for launched projectiles is also incredibly inaudible, so the moment you hear an incoming projectile is the moment you get hit. The most inexplicable part is that for some reason, the constant screaming of The Possessed, literal cannon fodder enemies which pose no practical threat to any player, has a higher priority in the audio mix than most enemies. And it's the most annoying shit, the moment they appear it's just constant UWEEEEEEEEEEGH and it's too damn noisy. As a result of this terrible audio mixing, Imps can often sneak up on you or snipe you with a fireball, which you might have heard coming had the game had some proper positional sound design. And it's not like id doesn't realize the importance of sound as information, when Lost Souls are about to kamikaze you they emit this loud piercing screaming which dominates every other sound to inform you you're about to get rammed, but for some reason id did not apply this idea to all the other enemies. Though maybe id didn't bother because most console players aren't going to be playing with headphones anyways.


Something which also nagged me is that for all the 'it was a step in the right direction anyways' praise D16 got, none of it was aimed towards the boss fights in the game, because in my opinion, D16 has the least worst boss fights in the entire genre. No seriously, think about it. Try coming up with a good boss fight in a first-person shooter which doesn't involve helicopters, solving an abstract puzzle which has nothing to do with the skills you've learned throughout the game, playing peekaboo, a summoner-type boss which is a big bulletsponge and keeps spawning enemies until it is killed, a series of quick-time events, something you circlestrafe around until it dies, and John Romero's head. If you think about it hard, the answer is that there are no real good FPS boss battles the Metroid Prime games, but since those games deviate far from a traditional FPS I don't really count them.


The bosses in D16 actually test your movement skills and your ability to move and jump, which is a hell of a lot more than can be said about most bosses in any FPS. It's such a simple thing which Japanese developers figured out ages ago, but Western developers often have to play catch-up when it comes to what make a good boss fight, and for some reason id was the first to actually get somewhat close after all these years. The Cyberdemon will send up giant earth walls which restrict your horizontal movement, and then fire wide projectiles at you which you need to either be on the ground for or in the air to dodge, so if you stay in the air for too long after jumping over a low wide projectile you will get hit by the incoming high wide projectile. The Hell Guards will perform a spinning quadruple laser attack which you need to constantly jump over. The Mastermind will perform an attack where he turns the ground into acid and you need to jump on top of platforms to avoid them. I actually wish some of these attacks would also be present among the regular enemies, having something like the wide projectiles you can't circlestrafe around, the Cyberdemon's airstrikes or the spinning laser attack would be incredibly welcome additions for normal combat.


That said, I cannot really consider the boss battles in D16 'good'. For starters, your weapon arsenal is not built around targeting single strong opponents, so what this means is that you will only be using the Gauss Rifle and Rocket Launcher against the bosses since they deal the most damage. The bosses do not actually challenge your aim, they're all quite big and easy to track, nor do they have small weakpoints to make up for their size. The bosses are still too easy, the first phase of the Cyberdemon and Hell Guard fights being wastes of time as for the first phase you just shoot at it until it dies while circlestrafing (which I guess is the joke), and the first phase of the Hell Guard only involves shooting once his shield is down, which gets very repetitive quickly. If you deal a certain percentage of damage to the bosses, they'll also drop loads of health and ammo so you can keep going more. Mate, this is a boss fight and not a long one either, realistically I don't really need all these extra drops. The BFG allows you to stun bosses and deal extra damage, but it feels so cheap to use since the bosses cannot counter the BFG and it again pretty much amounts to free damage. The most unfortunate part that while they do challenge you on your mobility, they don't do so nearly enough. The bosses don't even have that many attacks so they cycle through a handful pretty often, and they're all easily dealt with. Only the Mastermind comes close to being somewhat ok, partially by virtue of being the final boss. A boss fight in a game like this should test more than how well you an jump. I find it rather unfortunate that there are only three boss fights in the game and all of them are locked off to the latter half of the game. There's clearly potential here for good boss fights, but id hasn't quite figured it out yet.


Though we didn't get any additional post-launch singleplayer content, we did get Arcade Mode, which is pretty interesting since you don't often see them in first-person shooters. A scoring system in a game like this could be great, not only would you be pushed to be aggressive, but to be better. A scoring system in a game like D16 should be all about aggression and looking impressive as all hell. This guy called clockner, he made some very impressive gameplay videos of D16 of what it looks like when played by someone really killed. Notice how he has enemy spawning positions down to a T, barely takes damage, and constantly switches between weapons in order to minimize the downtime caused by weapon refire times and optimize DPS. Don't you want to be as cool as this guy? If I were the developer, I'd encourage this behavior of constantly switching weapons. So if you were to design a scoring system for D16, would you then reward players who stun bomb every single enemy and then finish them off with a charged shotgun burst headshot while milking Cacodemons? No? Well, that's what id went for anyways. You can even see some of the issues I mentioned before in that video, like how you can switch out runes at any time with no problem and how mindless Berserk is as a power-up.


Trying to force a scoring system to levels clearly not designed around it requires some concessions. You have a scoring multiplier which is increased by doing damage and killing things, and the bar naturally decreases over time if you don't keep killing. Given the large amount of dead time in levels, you often won't have the opportunity to keep up your multiplier. So just picking up items increases your multiplier, contextual animations pause it, and damaging enemies will also fill it up instead of only being filled up when enemies are killed. This does lead to behavior where you can shoot a Pinky from the front to fill your multiplier all the way up even though it barely deals any damage to the Pinky. The fact that enemies recover some health after being staggered can also be abused to milk enemies to increase your score multiplier even further. Power-ups also increase your score multiplier over time, but power-ups are then mostly picked up before initiating an arena fight so the power-up fills your multiplier all the way to the max so you can enjoy the bonuses once you start actually killing things, though you'll have to end up waiting a lot. Getting hit reduces your score multiplier, but not nearly enough I'd say. One hit should equal to your current tier being lowered. When comparing scores, someone who took less damage should be a better player than someone who took more, but these penalties do not quite accurately reflect that. So you might have this perfect chain going on without taking a single hit, and this other guy manages to have the same score as you despite getting hit more often. That reeks of bullshit.


On top of the score multiplier you also have your medal chain. Whenever you perform a special action, like performing a Glory Kill, killing a demon with a headshot, killing multiple demons at once, or killing from above, you get a medal. This then initiates your medal chain, which increases for each medal you get. A medal chain ends once you don't damage an enemy for too long, so you need to be damaging enemies all the time in order to keep your chain up. Once time runs out, the medal chain is cashed in and you receive a point bonus depending on how many medals you had. In practice, this means keeping some enemies alive inbetween arenas by constantly damaging them until they stagger while moving on, and repeat. It's a very tedious and unfun process. What makes less sense is the medals awarded for some actions, like killing enemies when stunned or killing an enemy with a charged burst or a full lock-on. I don't see why Stun Bombing an enemy or killing an enemy with a charged burst should net you more points. But as a result of how the scoring system works, you have to stun every single demon with the Stun Bomb and then finish them off with a Charged Burst to the head in order to get three medals at once and the most points at once, since this is the most profitable strategy. That's some arbitrary nonsense which doesn't feel remotely natural to do at all, and rather feels like you're cheesing a system. I just want to go fast and kill shit while looking as cool as possible. A scoring system should reward aggression and taking risks, not performing a silly little dance before killing every single enemy.


I think this covers my thoughts on Doom (2016). I think more effort went into making the player feel like a badass than giving the player the opportunity to be a badass. As a result, you don't end up with really deep gameplay, nor is the content at offer that varied to justify the length and time one will spend with the game. It's mindless fun if you ask most people, though for me it was a boring slog through and through with a few moments which showed promise and some others which were more conceptually interesting than anything. I do think that underneath the bloat and sloppy execution there is a solid foundation, which if it didn't ironically play it so safe could have turned out to be much better. I do believe that things can only go upwards from here with a sequel, but I do hope that id takes a closer look at Japanese action games if they really want to take the more action-heavy route, and that they should stop bothering with consoles.


cyan0s1s, Snikle and Catpho like this

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Posted (edited)

Registered just to make one post

You don't say.

E: I will say you made some interesting points here and there, but at the end of the day DOOM is not a Japanese character action game.

Edited by cyan0s1s

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2 hours ago, cyan0s1s said:

E: I will say you made some interesting points here and there, but at the end of the day DOOM is not a Japanese character action game.


It isn't, but that's not the problem. The problem is that it remains in a purgatory between Apogee-esque exploration-focused gameplay and more arcade-y Japanese action game gameplay as a result of keeping its exploration and combat entirely separate, and both end up dragging eachother down without a good balance being struck as the original Doom did. It's like why F.E.A.R. isn't a really scary horror game, because you can clearly tell when you're in the horror part and when you're in the combat part of a level, so you know what to expect. What I wish that D16 did is that it would just make up its mind whether it's a reboot of Doom from a mechanical or spiritual standpoint.


1 hour ago, CARRiON said:

Where is the tl;dr version of this massive block of text?



arena design sux because they don't even throw in any (meaningful) environmental hazards

arena design also sux because it gives you too much free space, alongside enemies not being effective at cutting off your routes of escape, and there not being enough enemies to limit you

enemy AI isn't very effective against using differences in elevation against you

target prioritization is often non-existent when you're given too much free space

health and ammo management is non-existent because of glory kills and chainsaw

upgrade system doesn't add anything and only slows the game down with unnecessary crap

glory kills are useless on higher difficulties because the risk of getting a +5HP bonus is not worth it and you get emergency health without glory kills anyways

centering combat around glory kills which temporarily pauses the action in favor of showing off fancy animations still remains questionable

a lot of enemy types are brutally underutilized or rather poorly

Revenants are a meme

pure first-person platforming sections are lame

BFG and Chainsaw invalidate bulletspongier enemies like Baron of Hell and Hell Knights too easily

positional sound design is practically non-existent, leaving you more vulnerable to flanking attempts than necessary

weapon balance and technically too much ammo invalidates the weapons you get earlier on in favor of the power weapons

boss fights are too simple, in terms of dealing damage to them anyways

game still locks you into rooms for storytime anyways despite billing itself as looking down upon such shit

exploration parts suck because nothing in the game will surprise you, exploration parts are largely devoid of enemies, and past The Foundry/Argent Facility it's mostly linear anyways

arcade mode scoring system involves doing incredibly abstract nonsense with very unnatural risk and reward involved

why can't I have mid-air control by default


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BTW, I will read it all when I have the time. But thanks dude. I agree with some of your points actually.

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16 hours ago, VertigoOne said:

*Wall of text*

You make some valid text about D16, i disagree to a certain extent with the enemies roles, but seriously, your analysis is longer than some of the sherlock holmes short stories 

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Here's a take from a guy who's never played the game (but I've seen and read a lot, in this thread and others).


From everything I've heard so far, there's 2 themes that continue to appear throughout all the discussions:

  1. Performance Management - Preventing you from backtracking, and linear design go hand in hand to limit memory and performance problems. Once you're locked out from going backwards, the game can toss all that map data from the locked out area. Linear design ensures that you will only encounter monsters in a spoon-fed fashion. Disappearing corpses also helps with memory and performance. The game engine is probably jumping through hoops behind the scenes, swapping old data out of cache, and pulling new data in for the area you're about to cover. It's micro-managed and controlled to allow the frame rate to stay up. This will continue to be true for games, until computers and graphics cards become more powerful.
  2. Appeasement vs. Focused Design - From what I've heard and seen, it sounds like the developers tried to appease a lot of people, vs. concentrating on a specific theme and goal. Obviously they wanted to appease the Doom fans somewhat, so they threw a lot of superficial energy to that effect. Instead of making a game that *feels* Doomy, they made the monsters similar looking; they added old Doom levels; they made DoomGuy a badass. It's hard to explain. To me, it feels like they scoured the Doom wiki and Doomworld, looking for ideas. They seemed to take a lot of inspiration from Brutal Doom, because it occurs in a lot of forum searches. It seems like they did this, without actually *being* Doom fans themselves. Instead of actually having their own vision, it seems like they just sprinkled in some of this, and some of that, until they had enough *stuff* to plop into an otherwise generic experience. It's kinda like taking a everything-but-anchovies pizza, adding peanut butter and jelly, hamburger lettuce tomato ketchup, crablegs shrimp mussels, and chocolate and ice cream, and mixing it all up and calling it dinner. (maybe that's a bit too harsh, but I hope I made my point).

Note: These opinions come from what I've read here and in other forums, and from what I've seen from Youtube videos of Doom'16 gameplay. All in all, it's massively impressive. And, it may seem to try to appease a lot of people, but they obviously put a ton of effort into it. It's a masterpiece, despite some flaws here and there.

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35 minutes ago, kb1 said:

Appeasement vs. Focused Design ...


Based on the fact that they completely scrapped the game once, and things that were said in the Noclip interviews, it seems more like they were less interested in appeasing people than they were with making something that they felt could be called Doom. I would presume that classic Doom is a part of many people's background at id.

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