Doom 64, the often forgotten cousin of Doom is being revived for 2020, and will feature a new chapter. The new content will tie into Doom Eternal’s story and reveal just a bit more of the player character’s background. According to Nightdive Studios’ Samuel Villarreal, the modern version is a labor of love that began with an unofficial hobby attempt at porting the game years ago, which eventually led him to his work on Nightdive’s proprietary engine.
Doom 64 is a free incentive for pre-ordering Doom Eternal, but players shouldn’t think of it as a throwaway port. Serious Doom fans know that the 22-year-old Midway game made for the Nintendo 64 had some seriously good graphics for its time (some say it rivaled or exceeded the original PC version) and sported a few programming tricks, like colored lighting and an upgradeable uber-weapon, The Unmaker, that took the place of the BFG9000.
Bethesda and id Software’s reinvention of Doom was a revelatory experience that turned monster closets into skate parks of death. The sequel, Doom Eternal, looks like it will evolve those largely horizontal combat arenas into acrobatic sky-dances of death. The Doom Slayer’s new toys include a “meat hook” for the super shotgun that propels the player through the air by latching onto meaty demon parts and pulling him towards the target. As demonstrated in the QuakeCon video, that meat hook pull can be combined with maneuvered turns, and by stringing hook targets one after the other, the player becomes an airborne threat. Rocket-jumping is so 2016.
There’s a new Doom movie in the works. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is too busy making better paying video game films to repeat his performance as Sarge from 2005’s schlocky low-budget Doom movie from Universal Pictures, so this time around we’ll get Nina Bergman in a shlocky low-budget Doom movie from Universal 1440 Entertainment. That’s NBC/Universal’s label specializing in “non-theatrical productions directly for distribution” meaning we can expect the movie to come out on some streaming service or maybe released as web episodes someday. Universal has not said who the director or writer of the movie will be, but they’ll be in Bulgaria to begin production soon!
Coincidentally, Dwayne Johnson recently had a good-natured exchange about his star turn in that 2005 flick while celebrating Rampage’s success:
TheRock: Wow! Very cool RAMPAGE news! Not pointing to the scoreboard yet, but it seems we may have finally broken the dreaded video game curse. And remember, I starred in the stinker “Doom” so I have lived thy curse
DOOM: Replying to @TheRock – Dwayne.
Read about our assessment of Doom’s combat arena skate parks of death here.
Tom and I really liked Bethesda and id Software’s 2016 re-imagining of Doom. One of the few wrinkles was it’s bog-standard forgettable multiplayer. It was a weird retro mish-mash of arena shooting with flavorless modern concessions like random unlocks and map pack DLC. Most gamers rejected Doom’s multiplayer quickly moving on to something else once the exquisite single player campaign was done. With Update 6.66 (get it?) the developers hope they can turn the general opinion around on Doom’s multiplayer.
First, the season pass and DLC map packs have been made free for everyone that owns the game. Second, the developer is revamping the progression system. Instead of waiting for random cosmetic unlocks in the old system, players need to achieve clearly defined milestones to unlock specific items. Everyone is being reset to level 0, but vets will have the option of retaining all previously unlocked items. New multiplayer Runes replace the old Hack Modules and are persistent player abilities that are equipped in your loadout. Finally, the HUD and kill cameras have been adjusted to give players more information.
Bethesda is rolling out a temporary price cut to $14.99 during this weekend’s free tryout period.
Zen Studios and Bethesda have partnered on a trio of pinball tables for Zen Pinball. The Bethesda Pinball pack includes virtual tables based on Doom, Fallout, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Ever since pinball tables became dazzling mixed-media productions filled with multi-balls, video graphics, and Dolby audio, Doom has been a logical candidate for being licensed to someone like Bally or Stern. It’s in virtual form, but we’re finally getting an official Doom pinball table! Bonus points for being based on one of the best versions of Doom. The first-person shooter’s dancing, blasting, and chainsawing from demon to demon seems a perfect fit for pinball.
The Bethesda Pinball pack will be available on the Xbox Store, PlayStation Network, and Steam on December 6th, and on mobile platforms December 8th.
What’s scarier than playing the new Doom? How about being forced to play it on an underpowered rig?
In related news, if you haven’t checked out the latest free update to Doom, you should give it a go. Update 4 added an Arcade Mode to the game featuring a score attack system with online leaderboards. Smashing demon heads is the perfect way to spend Halloween!
Doom’s multiplayer has problems. Beyond being a muddled, me-too affair saddled with pointless load-outs and an uninspiring XP grind, there’s rampant cheating and it’s missing features players have come to expect in big-budget releases. The single player game is exquisite, but what to do about that multiplayer? Eurogamer interviewed id Software’s Marty Stratton, and he has answers. While Certain Affinity was hired to work on the multiplayer portion of the game, ongoing support is now an internal function which will allow the developers to address issues more flexibly. First, Stratton assures players that they are working on the cheaters and that they “understand the frustration” players feel. Second, the team will be adjusting the servers to allow private match browsing, hopefully making it easier to connect to friends. Third, free DLC will be coming with the paid bits of season pass content to bolster player engagement. Finally, bots are coming. Bots! The creator of the Fritz Bot from Return to Castle Wolfenstein, currently employed by id as the programmer for SnapMap, worked on bots for Doom that were used for internal testing. These will be made available in standard multiplayer and SnapMap once they’re polished up for public consumption.
“We know that talk will only go so far with players and hope that our actions this year continue to give players across every component of the game – multiplayer, singleplayer and SnapMap – more and more reasons to continue playing and enjoying the game in whatever way they choose.”
These three games want to dominate the first-person shooter market and they’re coming for your dollars. All three games had beta access periods over the weekend and bouncing between them has taught me one thing: May is going to be rough for shooter fans. There’s only so many hours in the day, and Doom, Overwatch, and Battleborn all want your attention. If you want a mix of old-school arena multiplayer mixed with newer Call of Duty sensibilities, then Doom from id Software and Bethesda will have you covered starting on May 13th. If you want Blizzard’s take on Team Fortress 2 before it went hat crazy, Overwatch will give you all the hero class shooting you can handle on May 24th. If you’re craving a mix of Borderlands with a beefy helping of MOBA gameplay, Gearbox’s Battleborn gets an early jump out of the gate on May 3rd. Basically, May is going to be crowded with grinding for levels while shooting at other players.
Buried in that release calendar is poor Homefront: The Revolution. On the 17th of May, Dambuster Studios’ open-world co-op sequel to Homefront squeezes out between these three juggernauts. While the other three games are focused on cartoon story setups, Homefront: The Revolution tries to hit the gritty with North Korea’s future-tech military occupying the United States. The player works to free Philadelphia from the oppressors through the judicious use of guns, a motocross bike, and exploding RC cars. Strike that. It’s just as much of a cartoon as the others.
One of Titanfall’s most popular additions for multiplayer shooters were Burn Cards, limited use power-ups that tied into the game’s progression system. A player could use them to unlock special abilities like a force shield, a better weapon, or faster sprinting until their next death. While they aped the look of collectible card game pieces, Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment wisely resisted making them available for purchase as microtransactions.
DOOM from Bethesda and id Software will have its own version of the concept in Hack Modules – limited use multiplayer power-ups tied to player progression. (Bethesda says they are also not tied to microtransactions.) Think of them as developer-approved cheats. Unlike Titanfall’s implementation, DOOM’s Hack Modules are centered around control, or as id’s Marty Stratton explained, giving a leg up to less experienced players.
Stratton likens Hack Modules to the proverbial “court vision” that the very best athletes seem to innately have. “Think of Hack Modules as an emphasized awareness of your surroundings that may, if you utilize it well, make you more effective,” Stratton says. “Good players ‘see’ these things inherently. But none of these affect the game’s balance by changing how powerful your gun is or anything like that.”
DOOM is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC on May 13th.
For being the first ever event, Bethesda’s pre-E3 briefing was smoothly executed. (You can watch a recording here, if you were busy with the Game of Thrones season finale.) Bethesda showed off some Doom, Dishonored 2, and Fallout 4 as their big announcements. Doom includes monster loot pinatas, the return of the super shotgun, and Snapmap, a map editing system that will come to “all platforms” that Doom releases on. As a console controller editor it appeared to be rather deep, with the ability to cobble together pre-made map sections, place enemies, map details, and scripting links. For Fallout 4, Bethesda revealed that a major feature would be the ability to dynamically build settlements in the wasteland with pre-fab chunks, move in inhabitants, and defend them against enemies with traps and turrets. That dynamic construction will extend to weapon and armor creation as well. In Dishonored 2 the player can take on the role of Emily Kaldwin, or step into Corvo Attano’s spring-heeled shoes once again. This time, the stealthy assassinations take place in Karnaca, a steampunk version of Morocco. Bethesda dropped a surprise in the form of Fallout Shelter, a free-to-play iOS Fallout game available immediately.
Less enthusiastically received by the audience was the news that Bethesda is launching their own game client. Bethesda.net will be the portal for their games beginning shortly. The Doom Snapmap creations, for example, will use Bethesda.net for community sharing. Whether or not Bethesda will break off on their own and leave Steam on the PC remains to be seen.
It’s been twenty years since Doom put players knee-deep in the dead on Mars. Imps, zombie sergeants, Pinky Demons, and the BFG9000 exploded onto gamers’ computers and forever changed the landscape of videogames. Do you remember the first time you stepped into Doomguy’s boots? What about the first time you dragged your PC over to a buddy’s house to play some multiplayer? John Carmack, former guru of id Software, spoke to Wired about Doom’s anniversary. The one tidbit that stands out is this thought from Carmack regarding id’s infamous “when it’s done” motto.
The worst aspect of the continuing pace of game development that we fell into was the longer and longer times between releases. If I could go back in time and change one thing along the trajectory of id Software, it would be, do more things more often. And that was id’s mantra for so long: “It’ll be done when it’s done.” And I recant from that. I no longer think that is the appropriate way to build games. I mean, time matters, and as years go by – if it’s done when it’s done and you’re talking a month or two, fine. But if it’s a year or two, you need to be making a different game.
Trying to imagine an id Software that didn’t work on an extended development cycle all throughout the 90’s up until their buyout by ZeniMax is almost impossible. Waiting for Doom 3 was as much an experience as playing the game.