An Open Letter to ID Software

Dear fellas,

My name is BT and I celebrate your entire catalogue. I’ve been a diehard Doom stan since my father brought home the first massive, beige Packard Bell monstrosity, circa Y2K. I’ve gotten through every incarnation of the game on Nightmare, from Classic to Brutal, Ultimate and Final, TNT and Plutonia, and I reveled in it. If I were a different, sadder type of man, I would probably have a Doom tattoo that I would have to avoid explaining to women.

Doom 2016 was a whole new world. The plot was getting sort of anime and increasingly indecipherable, but that’s fine. The plot I grew up with was a single barely legible page of red text once a campaign, written in second person, ending with “You grab your plasma gun and go forth into Hell to find further ass to kick!!!” And that was enough. We were thankful.

I beat that game on Ultra-Violence twice, then Nightmare over a dozen times. It was a religious experience, and not just because of Doomguy’s excessive, canon Catholicism.

I preordered Doom Eternal. The Authorities at Youtube were very upset about Doom Eternal. The marauder was the scourge of pissbaby game journalists the world over, because he has a shield. You couldn’t just shoot him a bunch. You needed to strafe around, keep the other demons at bay, strategically prioritize the marauder by keeping your distance and wiping out the distractions until you could isolate him for an old West style showdown. It was challenging, satisfying, excellent gameplay. The platforming added a fun new element, and increased Doomguy’s mobility. On some level, I think I preferred 2016, but I still loved Eternal. I cleared it once on Ultra Violence, then three more times on Nightmare.

By this point, I am a man grown. I have many jobs, and responsibilities. I have a world-renown travel blog, multivariate financial holdings, and a burgeoning gorilla-themed athleticwear empire. I have a demanding gym schedule, many fulfilling hobbies, and my very own dog whom I walk twice a day. There aren’t enough hours in the day for video games anymore. When my desktop PC broke, I didn’t bother fixing it. I replaced my computer desk with a fish tank because the industrial revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.

My gamer friends, they say to me, “BT, fix your fucking computer! It’s like a 30 minute job!” to which I respond, “Never! I have thrown off the ergonomic, rainbow-glowing shackles of gamerdom. My fingers are clean of Cheetoh dust, my bloodstream finally clear of 20 years accumulated Mountain Dew Code Red. I am a free man.”

And even still, I bought the Ancient Gods DLC. I took some issue with it being called DLC, as I’m of the belief DLC should be free shit you add to a finished game. The implication of “content” is the game contains it, and if it is contained in the game, it is part of the base game. Ancient Gods extends the story line and adds new enemies, which makes it an expansion of Eternal, and thus, an “expansion pack”. But this isn’t the hill I’m here to die on. Let’s keep going.

I skipped Ultra-Violence this time and went right for Nightmare. This was hubris. The Ancient Gods expansion is harder than college.

This made sense to me. You start the game fully upgraded with everything you had in Doom Eternal (because it’s an expansion pack). The challenge would need to scale accordingly, and does.

The story continued to career around incomprehensibly, VEGA has always been God, Samuel Hayden has DBZ-melded with God’s best friend and closest confidant, there’s an actual Devil that Vega-née-God buried in a hole in Makyrville and Doomguy has decided that he’s going to kill God (though not Vega) and incarnate the Devil to kill the Devil so all the demons have to go home. Whatever, dude. I’m here to chew ass and collect heavy metal vinyls… and I left my record player on my Hot Topic-themed space ship.

ID software. Fellas. I’m not mad. Life’s too short to be mad about video games, rest in fucking piss Overwatch. I’m just disappointed. By forcing Doomguy to take out enemies in a specific order and immediately respawning the annoying “deprioritized” demons like Hell Knights, Pinkies, and those douchebags with the shields, you’ve disincentivized killing demons in the game about killing demons. It’s like, what are we even ripping and tearing for?

The arena design suffered a little compared to previous games, but the environmental design was awe-inspiring. A lot of people seem to be bitching about the Spirits, but that has the same vibe as the issue with the Marauders. I think they were well done, and they add a level of difficulty and shifted priority that would make for a very engaging and fulfilling experience if I wasn’t spending so much time running for my life from the perpetually respawning throngs of shit-tier demons that can still absolutely one-shot you on Nightmare.

The Turrets were a fun idea, if lazy in their design. The invisible Whiplashes that you can’t meathook were the truest manifestation of Hell I can imagine.

I don’t know whose nephew suggested the Blood Maykrs, but they certainly only came onto the team in the past six months, and you’ve got to get rid of them. I’m not a big fan of aiming in general which is why I’m playing Doom, but the invulnerability, the weird timing, the reuse of the chime sound from the Marauder, and the sad little squirt of ammo you get for killing it… there’s just no reason to bother with it. It’s difficult, and annoying, but not especially fun, especially when it winds up behind waves of trash enemies that respawn as soon as you kill them.

And then, after the first appearance, the Blood Maykrs are relegated to the role of ambient trash demons themselves, and if you put in the time and effort to pinata pop them in the skull, they’re right back on the playing field while you continue dealing with the arbitrarily defined “true threat” of whatever demon is tallest.

I didn’t care for all the special demons that could only be killed by special guns, and I especially disliked how many of them were the plasma gun. Don’t make me use the plasma gun. I shouldn’t be punished for not liking an inferior gun.

In Eternal, you were rewarded for switching through guns, but if you were good enough with your preferred guns, you didn’t have to. That’s no longer available to you. You’re required to use the microwave gun, and strafe around in stupid little crisscross patterns while you wait for the target to pop. Hopefully the Blood Maykr or Pinkie you killed five seconds ago hasn’t respawned nearby, or you won’t get the microwave off, and you’re dead again. You better have enjoyed the first six waves of this arena, because you’re going to be doing them again, and again, and again.

I don’t mean to bitch, in general, or about my favorite video game series specifically. It’s a recreational activity and if I didn’t like it, I could have just stopped. But by virtue of being not mad, just disappointed, the issue is further highlighted because Doom is a game about rage. Doomguy is a fury elemental, that’s his whole deal. We’re out here to rip and tear until it is done. So why am I spending so much of this game shooting wildly over my shoulder, fleeing from demons that I’ve either already killed or demons that I have to kite out to a special segment of the map so I can use the goddamn microwave gun on?

Doomguy shouldn’t be running in the opposite direction for the majority of these battles. There’s a difference between strategic withdrawal and shrieking, tears-running-down-your-cheeks retreat, and playing Eternal then playing Ancient Gods really underscores that in a way that I wish could be avoided.

But I bought it, and beat it, and sprung for the combo pack, so I’m going to be beating Part II when it comes out. No matter the cost. By any means necessary. Fighting the Devil who is Doomguy with red eyes for some reason. I’m sure they’re going to have a better final exposition that’s going to really just blow the lid off the whole big bastard. They’ll pull it together in the last innings. They have to. Doom is good. I love ID software. You can do it, fellas.

We’ve got something beautiful here. You gotta… you gotta do it.

Love,

BT