Is Doom the New Diablo?
The world of gaming can only accommodate one Doom Slayer
The people cry out in terror as the legions of hell pour out across the earth. Demons and unholy abominations stalk the night slaughtering the innocent. As they cower in fear and beg for mercy, they cry out for a savior! Who will liberate them from unholy genocide? Is there a guardian who can purge this evil from the land? They pray to the heavens.They cry out for a champion, a savior. They ask for barbarian, the wizard, the demon hunter, and the necromancer, but their prayers go unanswered falling on deaf ears. No one is coming. But in the darkest hour when all hope is lost a lone man stands tall alone amidst the blazing hellscape. A man fitted in green battle armor with a gaze so cold and merciless it could freeze hell itself, he steps forward with a single unrelenting purpose. Rip and tear until it is done. A new champion has come to answer the people’s prayers and deliver us from evil. A man known by one name whispered in reverence and fear by those he slaughters and that name is the Doom Slayer.
The original doom was the game that defined the early era of PC gaming. While it wasn’t the first 3D shooter with iD’s Wolfenstein 3D serving as the great pioneer, the relationship between Wolfenstein 3D to Doom is kind of like Street Fighter to Street Fighter 2. Sure technically the first street fighter was a fighting game. But it was Street Fighter 2 that invented all of the conventions of the fighting game genre that define it to this day. Just like how Doom did in terms of expanding upon the basic framework of Wolfenstein 3D. And thanks to its initial shareware release it exploded in popularity. Doom was everywhere as the punk rock that defined PC gaming. It was violent, brutal, but mechanically enthralling. It also introduced the world to deathmatch and still lives on to this day thanks to the thousands of custom mods that have been made for it. With mods featuring everything from the Simpsons, all the way to the infamous H-Doom that turns all the demons into sexy monster girls who players can. Well, I think you know what you can do with them and why we can’t talk too much about that on youtube.
The controversy it inspired due to its violence only further entrenched its place as a permanent fixture of gaming’s counter culture. It was the ultimate symbol of gaming rebellion. Screw you mom and dad! I’m gonna sit down in my basement with my CRT computer monitor, start blasting out some Nine-inch nails, guzzle some mountain dew, and snap into a slim jim. Take that Jack Thompson. But then something happened. While Doom was left behind by ID software as they moved into the polygon realm of Quake there was another seismic shift coming along. That, of course, was Half-Life. Built on a modified version of the Quake 2 engine Half-Life completely reinvented how the first-person shooter was played. It’s design was less arcadey, while it didn’t have a super sophisticated story it was one that was elegantly told through it’s scripted events and environmental storytelling. There were no end screens, no cutscenes. In many respects, most mainstream first-person shooter campaigns are still built upon the framework of Half-Life’s design.
And while I’d say Doom never completely died, it did become a relic. But it’s punk rock metal aesthetic would be taken up by another. While mechanically Diablo has nothing in common with Doom, what they both share is a dark horror aesthetic. Diablo started out as a turn-based role-playing game, but it quickly changed into an action role-playing game about 6 months into development and took the gaming world by storm when it was released in 1997. It’s moody music, randomly generated dungeons, and most importantly the online coop multiplayer made it the gaming sensation of the year. Diablo became the new infinitely re-playable stay-up-late game of choice. But better yet because of the fact that it was fantasy it didn’t get the same kind of mainstream attention or stigma as Doom. You could enjoy all your hardcore slaying of satanism without out mom and dad giving you any trouble because you were playing as a wizard or barbarian instead of a rocket launching space marine.
It was the best of both worlds, satisfying a never ending desire for crafting, loot, and violence and becoming one of the most successful games of all time. Diablo 2 further cemented its role as the metal game of choice with an even darker story line and improved gorier visuals. But nobody complained. There was never a segment on fox news or CNN complaining about the violence of Diablo. It was the death metal that your mom would be too confused by to complain about it because of all the numbers and RPG mechanics and thanks to the ladder system and seasons you could play it forever. As people continue to this day.
And Doom became forgotten, sure it was ported to every console under the sun. A running joke in the tech community was: can it run Doom, as modders and hackers tried to port Doom to run on every piece of hardware under the sun just to see if they could. But at this point Doom was like Pacman. It was remembered and revered but it just wasn’t relevant anymore. Until iD software announced Doom 3. It began in development in 2000 after Quake 3 arena, and was formally announced in 2002. Doom 3 was their attempt to try modernize doom utilizing their brand spanking iD tech engine 4 and at the time it was amazing. It looked like a playable CGI cutscene, a living pixar cartoon filled with blood and guts instead of living toys or fluffy monsters.
But it also faced a new rival, the new kid on the block that came to represent what FPS’s could be in the modern era. I’m talking of course about Valve’s industry defining Half-life 2 along with their brand spanking new source engine. The two titans were meant to face off in a bloody duel for PC supremacy with the victor enjoying the spoils and inheriting the earth to become the king of PC gaming in the new decade. And when they both clashed in 2004 Valve was ultimately the victor.
Doom 3 was successful and sold 3.5 million copies, but I think we all know what happened with Half-life 2. 39 game of the year awards, 12 million copies sold, the entire global empire of steam was launched off it’s back creating a billion dollar dynasty that endures to this day and even the meme of Half-Life 3 confirmed, is something that remains painfully relevant for gamers looking for closure on the Gordan Freeman saga. AND THAT VR TECH DEMO DOESN'T COUNT!!!
Doom 3 tried too hard to become something like the shooters of its era. It was more story focused and featured a more scripted campaign with a mild tinge of survival horror, but it wasn’t a trailblazer anymore. It was just an imitation. A relic trying to dress itself up in a supreme t-shirt to fit in with all the cool kids at the party. But by following current trends it lost a part of itself. What made Doom fundamentally different from other more linear scripted shooters. But Diablo still managed to dominate with Diablo 2 selling over 17 million copies followed by an expansion that sold just as much. It was the cool dark edgy transgressive game filled with loot and violence but no guns. Gamers could sip their mountain dew and enjoy it in peace because nobody outside of gaming circles really knew about it despite the fact that even to this day you can find Diablo battle boxes being sold at Staples.
But just like how Doom had a reckoning Diablo faced one as well when it was time for the third game in the series to be released. Despite the hype and anticipation when Diablo 3 launched in 2012 something had changed. The art style was much brighter and more colorful than what people had been accustomed to previously. Then of course there was the much reviled auction house system and a base game that could be beaten in less than 8 hours. It felt like the decade long wait was for nothing and Diablo lost its mojo. Of course Blizzard eventually managed to course correct in their reaper of souls expansion pack, but by then it was too little too late. While Diablo sold incredibly well, it’s dark charm had been lost.
But something was happening over at id Software with Doom. Doom 4 had gone into development, but it was following the same flawed path as Doom 3. Rather then reconnecting with what made the series special it was chasing more modern trends trying to incorporate Doom’s demon slaying gameplay into a more modern military FPS aesthetic of Call of Duty. This was eventually completely scrapped as Doom was reforged from the ground up into something new. Something better, faster, and stronger. Instead of trying to chase industry trends this Doom was built following the gameplay tenants that had made the series great. Honed with laser precision. It embraced the death metal nature of Doom and doubled down on it.
You weren’t just the Doom guy anymore, you were the Doom Slayer a trans dimensional warrior so feared by the denzions of hell that they had to lock him away in sarcophagus to seal him away. Oh no it wasn’t about being terrified of fighting scary demons anymore, now they were terrified of you. Basically it was that old rorschach quote from the watchmen translated in gameplay form.
Id went back to basics in crafting Doom 2016 pumping up everything that made Doom well Doom. Screw only holding 2 weapons you're the goddamn doom slayer, you’ll carry as many weapons as you goddamn feel like. Who the hell gives a shit about reloading, you’re here to shoot things not count clips. Forget the story you can read if you like in the log entries, but we’re all about ripping and tearing until it’s done. With the greatest addition being the glory kills that reward players with sweet sweet ammo and health.
The perfect merger of ultra violence with gameplay creating a non-stop stream of action where one clutch kill can be the difference between life and death. Doom 2016 was old school Doom with new school design where levels were littered with secrets and power ups and big glowing icons. Screw realistic design it was all about being in a heavy metal fantasy kicked up to 11 that never stopped and people loved it.
Doom became such a breath of fresh air going against the current trends of game design and marketing that the Doom Slayer took back his place as a gaming icon and the definitive first person badass. Screw master chief, and his sticky grenades to the nads it’s all about being the Doom slayer and tearing Demons apart with your bare fists. And so in a move that surprised no one two years later a sequel was announced and all I’ve seen is anticipation grow for Doom Eternal as it kept getting pushed back.
But as it was delayed and more information became revealed that anticipation grew even further. This was going to be the full kitting caboodle. A new demon dismemberment system so you can literally watch the flesh fly off your foes as you shoot them. Improved glory kills where now using either your flamethrower or grenade determines which type of pickups you get. Improved enemies with weak points and a combat system so deep it’s almost like a combat puzzle in terms of giving the player so many choices in how they approach their demon murder spree.
While Diablo still hooked people with the never ending quest for loot, people are actually engaged with the lore of Doom, plus it looks like there are more customization and RPG elements than ever before in Doom Eternal. You got Preator suit upgrades, Sentinel crystals, unlockable runes, weapon kits and upgrades for those weapons kits. It looks like they weren’t lying when they advertised it as Doom Eternal. It’s a game littered with all kinds of systems and I’m sure after the campaign is over they’ll be plenty of reasons to replay it or unlock the slayer gate challenges and other assortment of carrots and sticks to keep people around so you can keep playing Doom eternal for well eternity, similar to how Diablo used to have a seemingly unlimited amount of replay value.
Of course Diablo isn’t entirely out for the count with Diablo 4 coming in the not-too-distant future along with a return to it’s more moody gothic horror themed aesthetic then the colorful fun house that defined Diablo 3’s visuals. But until Diablo 4 comes whenever that may be, in terms of what is the most beloved metal counter cultural old school demon slaying experience. It’s Doom eternal keeping the old school alive in a way no other game has. So while the yearly Call of Duty’s will continue to go into infinity. While Ubisoft will continue making their expansive open worlds where you’re forced to collect the million different icons on the map. The Doom slayer will continue doing what he does best. Rip and tear my friends...rip and tear until it is done. And as another faded gaming icon used to say… hail to the king baby
About the Creator
When not scrounging the internet for the best content for Jerrick Media, Isaac can be found giving scritches to feathery friend Captain Crunch.
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