Doom is one of the most legendary franchises in video games. It first debuted in 1993, and its latest incarnation just launched on May 13th. It’s a modern throwback to the good ol’ days of FPS gaming, with unlimited weapon-carrying capacity, no reloading, and giant enemies from hell who need to be put down with extreme prejudice.
Whether you’re new to the franchise or a BFG MVP, let’s indulge in some history and fun facts. Here’s 12 Things You Need To Know About Doom.
The original Doom was released in 1993 by Id Software, as a successor to Wolfenstein 3D. Developed by just a handful of programmers and artists, Doom’s original release model was as a mail-order product, and was unavailable in stores until the 1995 release of Final Doom, a full year after the commercial release of Doom II: Hell on Earth. Doom was notable for its then-stunning levels of violence, as well as its tight and addictive gunplay and thrilling level design, which was fraught with puzzles, traps, and unique architecture. The “garage band” style of the early days at Id were chronicled in the novel, Masters of Doom, by David Kushner.
While many people worked on Doom (though far fewer than the gargantuan undertakings of today’s triple-A titles), the two men considered to be the masterminds are Id co-founders John Carmack and John Romero. Romero left Id in 1996 and went on to develop the ill-fated Daikatana, as well as the cult PS2/Xbox shooter, Area 51. Carmack stayed with Id through to 2013. He worked on Doom 3, Doom RPG, and was lead designer on Doom 2016 until his resignation. Carmack is currently serving as Chief Technology Officer for Oculus, and is a major proponent of the Virtual Reality revolution.
After the runaway success of Doom and its sequel and subsequent map packs, a slew of shooting games flooded the marketplace. Before the term “First Person Shooter” came to be used to describe the genre, many of these games were justifiably referred to as “Doom Clones.” Notable Doom Clones of the ’90s included Duke Nukem 3D, Star Wars: Dark Forces, and Shadow Warrior. Eventually, the first-person shooter genre evolved past faux-3D graphics and two-dimensional character sprites and embraced full 3D worlds with titles such as Goldeneye 007, Half-Life, and Id’s own Doom-successor, Quake, which took the multiplayer blueprint laid down by Doom and ran with it, to phenomenal success.
Through all this, however, the original Doom maintained a degree of prominence in the FPS world, as its own multiplayer remained relevant at home and in the workplace with an endless amount of user-generated content. Doom was released as a shareware title, and its internal architecture was easy for modders to dissect and experiment with, creating their own levels for single-player and multiplayer Deathmatch.
Doom, like its sequel, was one of the first games which could be played online over the internet, back in the days of dial-up. Ask old-school Doom players what their telephone bill was in 1995, and they’d surely have horror stories to tell. Literally every map from Doom and Doom II could be played online, though the more labyrinthine stages were decidedly less conducive to two-player deathmatch.
More recently, Doom and Doom II were included in Doom 3: BFG edition. Both classic games come equipped with four-player split-screen deathmatch and co-op, and it’s every bit as addictive as it was twenty years ago. Racing against friends in a mad scramble to the Super Shotgun and using it to reduce opponents to bloody 2D piles of bones and guts will never, ever, lose its luster. While Doom 3: BFG Edition is the easiest way to enjoy classic Doom Deathmatch, there are plenty of ways to experience Doom online on PC. And with practically any computer, as the specs to run the game are hilariously low; seriously, your grandmother’s desktop can run Doom exceptionally well, guaranteed.
Doom II: Hell on Earth
Doom II released in 1994, and delivered more of the same, but bigger and better in every way. It’s to the credit of the precise control and user-friendly shooting mechanics that Doom II holds up as well as it truly does. Whereas Doom introduced many of the core concepts, Doom II is where the “heavy metal” image of the ’90s FPS was truly born.
Among introducing a couple of new enemies and tile sets, Doom II is remembered mainly for two things: first, its incredible level design, which slowly ratchets up the difficulty and complexity of its stages until the player is juggling keys and hunting for secret doors like a heavily-armed madman with OCD; secondly, Doom II introduced the world to the greatest videogame weapon of all time, the Super Shotgun, a double-barreled monster which is an immensely powerful and satisfying implement of righteous destruction. It’s such an iconic weapon, it’s easy to forget that the Super Shotgun didn’t even appear in the original Doom, which had only the slightly less destructive single-barreled variant.
After Doom II, it would be a full ten years before the next numbered entry, Doom 3. However, Doom still remained popular, due to its never-ending stream of fan-made levels. In addition, ports of Doom made their way to such consoles as the Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, Atari Jaguar, and even Super Nintendo, albeit in heavily censored form. Ports of Doom and Doom II even made their way to Game Boy Advance, and were surprisingly playable.
In addition to these re-releases, a handful of Doom spin-offs saw release in the intervening years between Doom II and Doom 3, the most notable of these being the exceptional Doom 64. Despite still featuring the chaotic action Doom was known for, Doom 64 offered a much darker version of the aesthetic. Seriously, the lighting was so dim, it was often hard to see what was happening, which was a shame, because the character and weapon sprites in the game were all unique to Doom 64, taking inspiration from the original titles but updated to a more survival-horror tone. Also, the music eschewed the heavy metal elements of Doom II in favor of more low key and atmospheric tunes. For all intents and purposes, Doom 64 bridges the gap between Doom II’s kinetic action and Doom 3’s more deliberate pacing and horror aspects. If one can find it, it’s well worth checking out, for its historical value, as well as its own merits as a solid shooter.
On April 20th, 1999, two teenagers at Columbine High School in Colorado shot and killed 13 people and injured 21 others, before committing suicide. It was a tragic event which closed the book on the 20th century in morbid fashion.
In the ensuing media frenzy, in which so-called experts tried to explain the incomprehensible actions of two seemingly-innocuous teenagers, it came to light that the two youths were avid video game players, who particularly enjoyed titles like Duke Nukem 3D and, indeed, Doom. In fact, one of the killers even created his own levels for the game in his spare time. This tidbit of information was quickly blown out of proportion, with allegations that the violence in the game, as well as its satanic imagery, was an influence on the perpetrators of the tragedy at Columbine High.
No link was ever established between Doom and the school shooting, but an urban myth quickly sprung up, indicating that the Doom levels the killer had made were, in fact, based on his school, and that they would run through the levels as practice for their pending massacre. In truth, the levels had no discernible relationship to the incident, but the rampant speculation and unfounded accusations were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the media firestorm which followed the event. Even as the frequency of school shootings continues to rise in the 21st century, the Columbine Tragedy still sticks in our mind as one of the most relevant events in recent American history.
In 2004, a full ten years after Doom II first released, and seven years after Doom 64, Id returned with Doom 3, one of the most polarizing games of all time. Upon release, it was praised for its gorgeous graphics and haunting atmosphere, as well as its survivor-horror retelling of the original Doom’s non-story. On the other hand, it was ridiculed for its bad voice acting and lack of Doom’s classic and beloved balls-to-the-wall action and explosions. For the most part, only the last hour of the game, which is set in a stunning interpretation of Hell, is unanimously appreciated, as the game goes back to its roots and is full of the straight-up run-and-gun gameplay Doom was famous for.
Whichever side of the fence one may fall, there’s no denying that every Doom game is a historical event, and we can’t fault Id for trying something new with their attempt at a horror story with updated versions of Doom’s legendary monsters, and even more legendary weapons. The Doom 3 version of the Plasma Gun, in particular, felt downright perfect in the hands of this game’s version of the iconic nameless hero, dubbed “Doomguy” by fans.
The Flashlight Debate
One of the most divisive aspects of Doom 3 was its oppressive and pervasive darkness. While the game’s lighting and shadows were an impressive technical achievement at the time (and the game still looks great today, as the BFG Edition can attest), many players were disappointed that they couldn’t see anything half the time and couldn’t equip a gun and their flashlight simultaneously. Id insisted the inability to use their flashlight in conjunction with a weapon was a deliberate design choice for balance and ambiance, but gamers didn’t buy it.
Indeed, one of the first modifications made for the game was “The Duct Tape Mod,” which attached the flashlight to Doomguy’s gun. Many players appreciated the mod, though others felt it detracted from the horror atmosphere of the game. In 2012, with the release of the BFG Edition, Id relented, and one of the most publicized features of the re-release was that the player character would be equipped with an armor-mounted flashlight, which he could activate independently on whatever guns or chainsaws he was carrying.
Naturally, most fans were pleased, though some die-hard Doom 3 fans felt that the game was simplified and stripped of its horror elements by the addition of a persistent light source, though Id tried to balance it out by having the rechargeable batteries run out of juice exceptionally fast, forcing the player to use it sparingly.
They say a videogame isn’t truly successful until Hollywood ruins it with a terrible movie. In its defense, there are many far worse videogame-based films than 2005’s Doom, starring Karl Urban (Dredd), Dwayne Johnson (back when he was still credited as The Rock), and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl).
The film takes the game’s premise of a portal to hell opening up and the ensuing demon-killing blood orgy, and replaces it with a overly science-y explanation about genetic markers for good and evil…or something. The movie gets the tone wrong, but the production design is quite impressive, and the script does, actually, have its moments of cleverness, especially in the final act.
These days, however, the film is remembered more for its First-Person-Shooter sequence. Indeed, a full decade before Hardcore Henry, Doom featured a lengthy scene shown from the point of view of Karl Urban’s character while he goes on a rampage armed with big guns and, yes indeed, a chainsaw.
Doom 4 (Cancelled)
Doom 4 was announced in 2008, but that game is not the same Doom which just released last week. The original vision of Doom 4 was to see release on the PS3 and Xbox 360, as well as PCs, and would reimagine the scenario of Doom II: Hell on Earth the way Doom 3 was a reimagining of the original title. It has been said that the original version of Doom 4 was heavily influenced by Call of Duty and was rife with scripted sequences. While they would have surely been entertaining, it was ultimately not Doom enough for Id.
Id being purchased by ZeniMax Media surely had an effect on the development on Doom 4, as well as the announcement of the PS4 and Xbox One. While Wolfenstein: The New Order saw release on both last-gen and current-gen consoles, Doom is exclusive to current-gen (and PC, of course). After Doom 4’s first public announcement in 2008, it is said that development was halted and restarted at least one more time before the game eventually evolved into Doom 2016.
It’s been twelve years since Doom 3 first released, and now it’s time to take on the legions of hell, again! Whereas Doom 3 was a tense and atmospheric remake of the original title, Doom 2016 aims to replicate the heavy metal excitement and frantic pace of classic Doom with modern graphics and some slightly updated sensibilities. There is no reloading in Doom; you can fire any of your weapons until they run dry, and movement speed is refreshingly fast.
Doom has been blamed for many acts of real-life violence over the years, and wears the fear it inspires as a badge of honor. Doom 2016 aims to shock the more squeamish among us with its copious levels of blood and guts, as well as a new feature, Glory Kills. After bringing an enemy down to critical health, the demon will enter a staggered state, at which point Doomguy can run up to it and deliver a righteously brutal melee kill straight out of the most violent parts of our collective imagination.
One of the most interesting concepts in the new Doom is its catchy-sounding level editor, SnapMap. While level editors are nothing new, even in the console space (we must have spend hundreds of hours building levels in Timesplitters for PS2), Doom 2016 is running with it in a way we’ve never seen before.
First of all, user-generated content is entirely console-neutral, meaning content built on PS4 can be played on Xbox One and PC, etc. SnapMap has a fully-featured logic system; SnapMap can be used to create multiplayer Deathmatch maps, but it can also be used to create fully-featured co-op-enabled story levels. The possibilities for what is essentially an FPS version of LittleBigPlanet are endless, and it will be up to the community to unleash SnapMap’s true potential.
There, now you’re an official Doom scholar! Take your knowledge and share it with the as-of-yet unenlightened. Did we miss any cool bits of trivia? Have you read any of the Doom novels? They’re real! Sound off in the comments section!