We just got done posting about the background of Apogee Software and its role in the formation of id Software. And not a minute too soon, because id Software just dropped Doom Eternal via its new publisher Bethesda. Albeit, this game is a modern First-Person Shooter (FPS) that bears almost no resemblance to its original DOS-native 1990s release. The game uses the id Tech 7 engine, that latest in id Software’s true-3D engine series which it’s been running since the Quake days.
Still, Doom! Can you believe we’re playing Doom in the year 2020? Just to get the first impression out of the way, here’s one YouTuber very hyped up to start plowing through demons:
As you can see, it’s an update over Doom 2016, with hyper-real environments and graphics, gargantuan levels and even enemies, and updated versions of our old familiar enemies right down to the classic Cacodemon and Arch-vile.
Here’s a shorter video showing off the new Battlemode:
It’s like a quick deathmatch in a small map against AI opponents.
Here is an actual review for the single-player campaign mode:
First impression take-aways: Doom, Quake, and most of the FPSs spawned from the tradition, are all about the “run and gun” “dumb fun” of the FPS environment. They’re a quick fix of adrenaline-pumped action, full of sight and sound. They’re the perfect sense-saturating escapist games when you don’t want to think too hard and let your animal instincts take the wheel for awhile. Doom Eternal sticks close to the id Software brand of giving you just that, in a glitzy package.
Several reviewers point out that this isn’t the game to bring on deep, dramatized story-telling. There’s some text to scroll through if you just gotta, but it’s an afterthought. That’s fine with most players. You want drama, go play Final Fantasy. This game is about killing stuff. Oh, and it’s also about watching the shower of gloppy gibs spray into a beautiful fountain after you kill stuff. And then kill more stuff.
The reviewers also note the panoply of weapons, environmental features, strategic combat improvements, and fun side quests to solve the secrets. The gameplay itself is far deeper than previous Doom iterations, giving it considerable replay value because even if you survive a level, you can always go back to see if you could have done so in better form.
The Legacy of Doom
As we noted in the Apogee Software post, the advent of First-Person Shooters revolutionized the game industry to the point where other gaming genres struggled to keep up. Id Software led with Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake. Apogee rebranded as 3D Realms and answered with Duke Nukem 3D. Soon every other game maker jumped on the bandwagon.
Here’s a nice compilation of the evolution of the 3D FPS:
You can clearly see the progress of game engines around the constant: You are always in first-person perspective with a weapon in frame, moving through a 3D environment gunning down enemies. Everything around that premise has had generations of improvements: Better 3D environments, better graphics and sound, more detailed weapon action, improved AI of enemies, and so on. But the roots of the genre remain the same.
The FPS formula is one we’ll apparently never tire of, even though we’ve long since figured out how to make other kinds of games in an immersive 3D world.
Minecraft is a prime example: You can run around shooting enemies with a bow and arrow at least, but you can also build stuff, rearrange and interact with the environment, and enjoy one of the most expansive open world sandboxes ever made. Grand Theft Auto is part FPS (well-SPS) but also a 3D sandbox world that lets you steal cars and drive them. We mentioned Myst before, also from a first-person perspective in a 3D environment, but devoted to solving cryptic puzzles with a significant lack of combat. Even The Elder Scrolls series has featured a 3D engine with first-person gameplay, but in an RPG context.
The continued popularity of the FPS in the face of all these options forces us to confront the question:
What is it about the First-Person Shooter that makes it so enduring?
There is a weird comfort in playing FPSs. They immerse you more completely than almost any other kind of game, stripping away your awareness of the controls until you’re just cruising directly on autopilot. Drop into a 3D FPS and watch a few hours just disappear. It’s a Zen experience, refilling your dopamine reservoir with no tax on your other resources. First-person shooters are one genre of game where mere text and words aren’t even needed. Just put a gun in the players’ hands, drop them in a maze, add a couple monsters, and the rest is obvious.
There’s never going to be a time when we consider an FPS to be great art or highbrow entertainment, and that’s a shame, because this genre is consistently under-recognized. Indeed, FPSs are still under attack in the mainstream media. Even now, after three decades of FPSs, we’re still constantly told that they’re bad for us and will turn us into slobbering homicidal idiots.
“Even participants that do not play violent video games themselves reported more aggression when their social network consists of individuals who do play violent video games.”
Yeah, move over second-hand smoke, we have second-hand effects of violent video games now!
The poster child for “violent video game panic” is this deranged fruitbat:
That is Jack Thompson, a lunatic finally disbarred from his attorney practice and mercifully shut up ever since. But modern generations should not forget him, because he embodied everything in the maniacal conservative busy-body crusade against everything fun and good in this world. While Jack Thompson held a JD, no video game maker or even musician was safe. He is single-handedly responsible for decades of misinformation spread in the media about these supposed harmful effects, all banked on him lining his pocket with fees from class-action lawsuits he launched faster than studios could release titles.
Sorry, we veteran gamers still have PTSD from the Jack Thompson years. Twitch twitch, haha, I’m FINE, really!
Anyway, modern research has finally begun to reluctantly admit that playing 3D FPSs might actually have some benefits!
We leave you with this glimpse of multiplayer fragmatch in Doom Eternal:
Why just listen! They’re all trash-talking and bickering just like a ’90s Quake deathmatch LAN party. Just look the good old days! Perhaps this is just the medicine we could all use right now – a break from reality to immerse ourselves once again in an environment where all your problems can be solved by a well-aimed shotgun blast.