For 25 years, Dustin has been ripping and tearing his way through one of the most beloved franchises in the history of gaming and now, he reflects on the series on both a personal and professional level. Let’s Rip and Tear.
It’s almost hard to even think it’s been 25 years since I first began to “Rip and Tear” my way through the forces of Hell as the events in DOOM would unfold before me. Since the first time I ever heard that iconic sound of the trademark pistol shooting as I navigated my way through the menus in order to start the game or that infamous theme “M1E1 – DOOM’s Gate” ever play in those opening seconds.
But here we are, 25 Years of DOOM and still going strong. We’ve seen numerous games, mods, wads, console releases and even some of the greatest graphics engines come from the team at id Software come to life. Over the decades, they have defined and redefined what DOOM can be while remaining on its key elements at its very core. Whether it’s the blasting our way through iconic enemies such as the Imps, Revenants or the always-terrifying Barons of Hell – id Software has never lost focus on what makes this very franchise stand out among the rest.
They would try different approaches to the series we know. They would develop amazing console ports for SNES, PlayStation, and every console after without hesitation. They would push the capabilities of both PC and console hardware to ensure they could and can deliver the best experiences possible, but you may be wondering, how does this series affect me as a person, how does one series have so much influence on me as both a gamer and a writer? Let’s take a retrospective look at the series as a whole.
Entering Doom’s Gates in 1993
Deemed as the Godfather of the FPS Genre, DOOM at its time, was revolutionary due to its unique approach to shooter games. At the time, no one had really done what id Software was already hard at work doing. Even on its release date, December 10, 1993, I still remember the handful of 3.5” floppy disks my father had brought home from Toys R Us for our MS-DOS computer, one powered through Windows OS and ended up filling a good portion of our microscopic HDD space in compared to modernized tech.
The godfather of the FPS genre, DOOM was a revolution in the absolute truest sense of the word when it released on a handful of 3.5” floppy disks for MS-DOS powered PC systems on December 10, 1993. It was the first time we’d ever taken control of a rugged and pissed off space marine, one tossed into a Hellish situation where the UAC Martian moonbase had been overrun by demon’s galore.
It was that very game that would set us down the path we were on, one we would discover the raging hard-on the Doom Guy would have for blowing big f**kin holes into his demonic foes, punching them so hard their insides turned out and eventually finding bigger, meaner things to devastate the Icon of Sins forces with as they seek to turn our world into a demonically controlled hellhole none of us would want to call home.
But that was the charm behind our first dive into one of the most violent games of its time. DOOM, back then, was a game where shooting your enemies wasn’t just about seeing bloody gibs go across the screen, it was about enjoying what we were given by a few men we’d barely known about at the time. DOOM was glorious, it’s demon-slaying antics were almost obligatory at the time.
It wasn’t just a game that had a penchant for being a stylish first-person slaughterfest, but one that was also very distinct in its design. It was one well renowned for its superb level and objective-based designs. Go to this room, blow a hole the size of Jupiter through a demon’s chest, grab the keycard and the biggest f’ing gun in the room and then make haste to the door you’d previously been unable to enter due to some demonic asshat hiding the key.
Before this very experience, we’d only had id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D – the very shooter that gave DOOM the life it has. While the Nazi-punching romp itself was an absolute blast, it didn’t stand out the way DOOM was going to do not much later. While many – if not all the elements from its predecessor were there – DOOM would evolve this very approach, taking things one step further.
Maps would grow darker, more demonic, a mephistophelian nightmare if you will. It took everything we’d known from horror films, horror books and pieces of art. If you didn’t notice the subtle nods to horror franchises of yesteryear. Not sure what I mean? You really need to go check out films such as Night of the Living Dead, Hellraiser and even Scared to Death (am I the ONLY one that thinks the Imps look inspired by that film?).
But the real terror of it all was the Doomguy, a force more powerful than anything Hell’s armies had ever seen. He was the true terror of them all. If I wasn’t sure he was doing things in the name of good, I’d almost be sure we were the bad guy in all of this. A first in gaming history if you were to ask me.
Then there was multiplayer. A feature we’d not seen in many games before. Before the dawn of games like Halo, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Fortnite – id Software was well ahead of the curve working hard to dominate the multiplayer landscape of the 90s. They were already paving the way to the way we play FPS games today. They were all about the thrills of sneaking about a map, blasting a group of pals with shotguns, rocket launchers and hacking them apart with chainsaws at your every whim if you weren’t already powered up from random pick-ups placed around the map.
If you were wondering where the term “frag” (not to be confused with the military term) and “gibbing” comes from, look no further. Of course, this wasn’t possible without the music. Who can forget that DOOM wasn’t standing out among its peers just because of its ultra-violent appeal, but also, a soundtrack we’d never once before heard?
Whether it was the quick and heavy pacing of At Doom’s Gates or the low-beat, but very clearly metal touches to Hell Keep, the soundtrack itself stood out and would shape the industry as a whole moving forward. Don’t be surprised when you hear it coming from an ATM, a Smart Fridge or a Graphing Calculator; DOOM has been ported to almost everything imagine just outside of a potato.
Knee Deep in Hell in 1994
Only a year later, id Software was already on fire since the release of their critically-acclaimed entry title to the franchise. Even with the release of DOOM II, id Software didn’t introduce many new features at all. Instead, they upgraded the game through minor visual and performance enhancements, making it so that their engine – id Tech 1 – would require slightly more powerful hardware as new enthusiast style gaming-focused hardware entered the market.
As an enhancement to the overall system, DOOM II would grow bigger, meaner and much more devious than before. The team already knew what they needed to do. They needed to expand on the success of their previous game. They needed to add more secrets, new enemies, new weapons, and let us carry on with our tasks from before.
Chief among these features were new monsters, new guns, and secret levels that tossed back to our days of Wolfenstein 3D – a generous nod towards the progenitor to the FPS genre itself. We would once more take on Hell’s forces as we blew our way through the Revenant, Arch-Vile, Pain Elemental and the fan favorite – the Arachnotron; all of which are set to once more make their next-gen debut in 2019’s DOOM Eternal.
But you may be wondering, is this a bad thing that DOOM II was basically a mega-wad that could have been realized for DOOM II at any time? Nope, not really. You’re talking about one of the greatest shooters in the history of the genre. DOOM II is still renowned for its introduction of the iconic Super Shotgun, the terrifying level designs that brought their fiendish hellscapes to life.
But not everything was as smooth as one would expect moving forward.
DOOM III was a unique approach to the series – but it wasn’t what the fans wanted nor needed at the time
While id Software had already been hard at work getting titles such as Quake IV under wraps, DOOM III was already well underway for a new era of gamers. These gamers are already being spoonfed horror games left and right. With the success of games like Fatal Frame, Silent Hill and Resident Evil already well underway, it was only time before someone else would enter the fray.
After nearly a decade since the release if DOOM II, we’d finally see the graphically ground-breaking title developed on the id Tech 4 engine release. Unfortunately, it was met with mixed opinions about the game. Sure, the fully 3D environments where you could loop up, down, and all around were enticing. They, in short, were a first for the DOOM franchise at any point in time.
Character models were highly detailed, shadow mapping was some of the best on the market, particle and lighting effects were unlike anything we’d really seen at the time. To put it bluntly – DOOM III was horrific due to how far graphics had actually gone over a decade since its predecessor’s release. But underneath it all, DOOM III lost what made the series unique. NPCs were added in, a fleshed out story was scripted, audio logs, recordings, cutscenes, and video logs were all implemented in a way we’d never seen id Software do.
Underneath it all, DOOM was there, but it wasn’t that furious run ‘n’ gun design we’d come to know and love over the years. It took off that very precious mechanic we’d come to know and love, but somehow, remained the same as far as its artistic nature went. You still had secrets, hellscapes to explore and even more fearsome-than-ever foes to face down against. Id Software’s magnum opus was somehow lost in this regard.
Compared to games like Quake IV, which would release only years later, would once more bring back the appreciation we had for id Software’s creative nature. But the wait would once more continue. Mega wads, wads, mods such as zDoom would release, allowing fans to live on through the classics, awaiting a return to DOOM in its truest form.
Let’s rip and f**king tear – 2016
2016. Who else could forget the moment that id Software decided that DOOM 4 no longer existed, it was scrapped, and DOOM itself would serve as a reboot to the (then) 23-year-old series? id Software had decided to re-introduce everything we loved about the 1993 classic to an entirely new generation of gamers as a whole.
For those of you that have somehow been living under a rock and are scared of the words “reboot” and “entirely new generation” then let me make this clear: id Software showed the world what the term reboot should be. It remains faithful to the source material it drew inspiration from, bringing everything we loved from those pixelated days to modern graphics, allowing even more contemporary audiences to enjoy the very things they’d loved all those years before.
DOOM III had never happened in the eyes of many. While some loved its cutscenes and unique approach for its time – DOOM did it better. It was moody, it was ‘metal’ to its very core and it oozed everything we’d loved about its predecessors – from its very core. It was fast, it was brutal, and it never once held back a single punch. It was heavy, bloody, dark, and filled to the brim with graphical and gameplay enhancements across the board.
id Software didn’t hold back in any way. They even delivered a way for fans to construct their very own levels with the SnapMap feature – something that’ll be absent in the upcoming sequel – and would allow fans to create levels however they once again wanted, allowing them to forge their own maps for cooperative or multiplayer modes.
It was – rather is – the perfect reboot the series needed. Through some of the best looking visuals, sounds, and artistic designs to date – DOOM should serve as a shining example as to how a franchise can be saved from its previous endeavors had they gone wrong.
DOOM is Eternal – it’s back and it’s not in black
Set to release in 2019, fans are already beginning to prepare themselves for the next big demon-slaying fest with DOOM Eternal. With faith in the series once more restored, fans are already coming together in droves as they polish off their super shotguns and Praetor suits together.
Already set to be bigger, better, faster, meaner, and stronger than its predecessor; DOOM Eternal already has the makings of what made DOOM II: Hell on Earth one of the greatest titles in the history of the FPS genre. Whether it’s modifying your shotgun to shoot out meathooks, setting up your assault rifle to fire rockets or your suit to allow you to double jump across platforms around you – DOOM Eternal is going to be faster than we’d ever seen the series before.
Hell, we’d never even seen the level of demonic destruction that id Software has in the works with the new modifications implemented to their id Tech engine with id Tech 7. Even with the fact that SnapMap Mode will be gone, we have no reason to be concerned as id Software is already promising a generous and healthy amount of post-release content along with asymmetrical multiplayer content such as the “Invasion” mode and traditional multiplayer fragfests you already know and love.
It’s already been clear that DOOM isn’t done even after the release of DOOM Eternal. At QuakeCon 2018, Tim Willits and Hugo Martin made it very clear they want to go past what we already know. They don’t want to just build a single game, but rather, they want to build a universe starting with DOOM Eternal.
They don’t want to just build encapsulated worlds, limiting us to the corridor and arena-focused shootouts we’ve come accustomed to, but rather, they want to build worlds – universes even – for us to explore, to expand our adventures upon moving forward. But getting there, that’s a new story of its own and we have very little idea of just how quickly this will unfold post-DOOM Eternal.
Until then, let the Year of DOOM begin by Ripping and Tearing your hearts away.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.