DOOM Eternal wants to turn its bloody single-player into a memorable multiplayer social experience

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From start to finish, I loved 2016’s DOOM single-player campaign, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. It was cartoonishly violent, it played out like a Rob Zombie film if the NRA had been given creative control and the flow of action was utterly sublime. You can’t see it, but I’m totally make the chef’s kiss hand sign right now.

DOOM’s multiplayer on the other severed hand? To say that it was divisive would be a generous statement. At its best, that multiplayer suite was alright. It had shades of Quake 3 Arena in its DNA, the servers did an adequate job of turning pings into regular missed shots and it was an optional extra that most people ignored. In this day and age, alright simply isn’t good enough though and that’s something that id Software wants to avoid with DOOM Eternal.

“So if we come up on each other [in a Doom 2016 multiplayer match] and all the game is relying on from a design perspective is aiming and shooting, well there are going to be people who aim and shoot better than you and there’s pretty much nothing you can do about that,” game director Marty Stratton explained to GI Biz over the missteps of DOOM’s multiplayer.

That made death a frustrating experience because it meant you were just better than me. In this game, I can overcome your incredible twitch skills with teamwork and strategy, which gives me a chance. Then it allows the game to have what 2016 had none of: metas. There’s some real depth to this experience. In [the 2016 game’s] multiplayer, there were probably more things we did wrong than right. Playing as a demon was one of the right things; that felt pretty good, so we knew there was a spark there. And you follow the sparks.

So how will DOOM Eternal manage to make its multiplayer more memorable? By sticking to the core idea of an almighty Doom Slayer taking on the hordes of hell and paving its own path forward. “One of our mantras is lead, don’t follow,” Stratton said.

And at a high level, with the multiplayer of 2016, it felt like we followed; like we picked and chose from a bunch of different games to make something that was a fun multiplayer experience, but not the Doom multiplayer experience people wanted. We didn’t really take from the Doom campaign people loved.

There was no Slayer present in that Doom multiplayer. So really the genesis of Battle Mode is taking the Doom combat, that Slayer vs. Demon combat people know and love from the campaign, and making it a social experience, something you can do with your friends.

Which honestly sounds like a much better plan. Screw balance and trying to cater to a wider market, give me a game that knows what it wants to be and makes an effort to stand out from the crowd. I’d rather have a memorable experience than a similar one that I’ve experienced in countless other games, any day of the week.

Last Updated: September 18, 2019

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