A new DOOM launches this May. The shooter will launch on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One with a full single-player mode. Lately though, id Software’s marketing push for the game has focused primarily on its multiplayer.
The latest entry in the classic FPS series and the first new game from id Software since Rage in 2011, DOOM’s multiplayer has big shoes to fill. Some of my greatest shooter memories come from marathon sessions of Quake III Arena or the similarly paced Unreal Tournament series. There haven’t been many fast-paced shooters in recent years and I am looking forward to what DOOM will offer.
The shooter genre has changed drastically since the last DOOM. Every shooter now pretends to be the next big eSports title. Should the newest DOOM follow suit? I think not and this is why:
DOOM, Heir to the Quake III: Arena Throne
Shooters like Call of Duty, Halo, and Counter-Strike have been in charge for more than a decade now. All three of these brands have similar slow-paced gameplay in common. Before they became the eSports franchises they are today, there was an alternative kind of FPS for players to master in online multiplayer.
Games like Unreal Tournament and Quake III: Arena focused on a much faster-paced kind of shooter. Instead of taking cover or regenerating health, these games often focused on smaller arenas in which players fought over power-ups and powerful weapons. The Quake series has remained dormant since a niche port of Quake III to browsers, but Unreal Tournament has a sequel being built in the Unreal 4 engine currently. Either way, the world hasn’t seen too many similarly styled shooters since these two juggernauts took over most PCs in the late-90’s/early-2000’s.
DOOM appears to be picking up the torch left behind by these arena-based, fast-paced FPS titles. While those kinds of games were always competitive, the skill barrier alone is enough. Adding an eSports focus on top of that would just alienate even more players. DOOM can rely on its classic, twitch-based gameplay, and nothing more should be needed to make sure it’s a fun, competitive game.
Map Packs are Less Important with Built-In Map Making Tools
Most eSports games thrive on a constant supply of paid content. The publisher gets paid, the developer continues to work, and rabid fans have a steady stream of things to do, things to unlock, or can look forward to regular balance changes.
DOOM will launch with SnapMap. Billed as a tool set that can be used on any of DOOM’s three platforms, SnapMap gives players the ability to make their own arenas or tailor gameplay to their liking. Players will have enough fine-tuned control that they can create all new modes to play, as well as the arenas to play them in.
ESports live and die by their competitive balancing, but by having a focus on easy-to-use modding tools, DOOM will have its fair share of poorly thought out modes or imbalanced maps. That’s part of the point of modding tools though. Giving players control means giving them more authority to design the gameplay they most want to see. Whether it is competitive enough to be tournament-worthy or not, DOOM’s SnapMap tool set will give the means to players to play the game they want to, the way they want to, with whomever they want to.
With a focus on player-created content, there will be less need for developers to parent the game and keep it balanced enough for the tournament scene.
We need a FPS with Fun Modes, not Competitive Ones.
With the exception of Heroes of the Storm, most eSports titles focus on rather bland, straight-forward game modes. They do so to maximize fairness and make matches more competitive. After seeing the modes DOOM plans on launching with, I don’t think id’s new FPS will suffer from boredom.
Here are a few examples of the fun modes DOOM will have at launch:
- Freeze Tag – Players don’t die, they freeze. Standing near teammates defrosts them. Teams win be freezing the entire opposing team. Oh, and frozen players can be pushed around through gunfire.
- Warpath – It is King of the Hill, but instead of a Hill in a set location, the Hill travels around the map. Players have to keep up with it and keep others out of it.
- Soul Harvest – Players drop souls when they die. Collect enemy souls for points or collect ally souls to deny the enemy points.
In addition, DOOM will also launch with the standard kinds of match types. I look forward to them all, including the zanier objective-based modes. I think moving away from straight forward death matches or overly restricted objective-based modes will help keep the game accessible for more people. Doing so should keep DOOM focused on being fun more than being a showcase for high skill caps.
Bring the player, not the player rank.
Blizzard once turned the entire design philosophy of World of Warcraft’s endgame raiding around with a single phrase: bring the player, not the class. I do not advocate a similar shifts for all games, but I do believe it is time more games embrace a similar approach, especially shooters. Instead of bringing the skill sets of certain players, more games should try and bring the players themselves into the fray.
If that sounds too new age for you, then hear me out. Anytime I have ever played a MOBA or other eSports title with a friend, it has been miserable. I am often middle-of-the-pack when it comes to skill, so I tend to always have friends who are both better and worse than me around. Rarely do I have them on at the same time, and even rarer can I keep them all playing together with me before a meltdown takes place over a failed play or bad loss.
I am a competitive person by nature and I try to play games competitively, but there’s more to playing games than ‘getting better and/or crushing noobs.’ Sometimes I just want to relax or have fun with my friends. Far too often, titles focused on being an eSport, or game’s with communities that are too competitive create a toxic environment. In those environments it can be difficult to play games even with people you know without passive or intentional harassment. I just want a shooter that tries and minimize some of that behavior.Related: Bethesda, Doom, eSports, FPS, Shooter