Yep, that’s the main character in Doom fist bumping a collectible. It’s not easy for games to be funny, but another id Software reboot, Wolfenstein: The New Order, deftly pulled this off. It’s a nice surprise that Doom does, too.
(Yes, I know that id Software didn’t make Wolfenstein: The New Order; the studio was figuring itself out while Machine Games put that together. )
It’s easy to imagine how id Software and its parent company, Bethesda Softworks, could have opted for some Zach Snyder-inspired grimdark bullshit. In fact, they almost did! This fourth Doom game has been in development hell (sorry about that) for years now, and they almost got behind a Call of Duty-style game where a demon portal opened on Earth.
“You can probably close your eyes and imagine a ‘Call of Doom’ or a ‘BattleDoom’ game,” said Bethesda VP Pete Hines to Polygon, “where it starts to feel way too much like: ‘Wait, this doesn’t feel like Doom, it feels like we’re playing some other franchise with a Doom skin on it,’” he said.
I’m glad they took their time, shifted direction, and scrapped that game. Humor is central to Doom’s identity, despite its pseudo-serious premise.
We’re talking about a series that has you killing Commander Keen...
...finding designer John Romero’s head behind the final boss of Doom 2:
...and encountering a marine complaining about you hovering in Doom 3:
Like the Doom games before it, there’s technically a story to guide the madness, but whether you’re supposed to care is an open question. Whereas other games fuel motivation to press forward by revealing more about what’s going on in the plot, DOOM puts gameplay on a pedestal.
You blow shit up, then blow shit up somewhere else.
This notion is established within the first few minutes of the game, as the always trusty Doom Marine emerges from a sarcophagus-like structure. What’s going on? How can you save humanity this time? These are the questions most games would immediately try to concern the player with.
Not Doom, though. Instead, as some omnipotent commander starts to explain what’s going on, your character gives them the middle finger:
Video Credit: MKIceAndFire
I started howling when this happened, moments into my Doom playthrough. It helped establish what kind of game Doom is. Yes, there is a story. Yes, there are characters. No, you don’t really have to pay attention.
(Am I the only one who’s been oddly drawn into the mythology, though? It seems like the Doom Marine became a god-like myth after Doom 2, and he’s been resurrected via demon ritual? We’ll have to do a deep dive into the game’s story in another post soon. I can’t believe I just said that.)
Doom might be dumb, but it’s not dumb. It’s a smart, modern shooter that captures the spirit of Doom in both tone and gameplay. That’s no easy feat, and makes me wonder if they’d ever think about taking on Quake.