June is here, and that means one of the biggest gaming events of the year: E3. News and rumors abound as to what kind of content is going to be shown by various companies at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, but one announcement in particular has gamers very interested. Bethesda Studios, the creators of the very popular “Fallout” and “The Elder Scrolls” series, has stated that they’re going to re-release “Doom.” “Doom,” guys! It’s coming back!
Originally developed by iD Software (which is now owned by Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax Media, though it wasn’t at the time of “Doom”’s production) in 1993, “Doom” is considered by many in the gaming industry to be responsible for the enormous popularity of the first-person shooter genre. At its release, the game had some of the best, most innovative 3D graphics yet seen. It also is credited with pioneering the concept of multiplayer games played over a network, rather than by players who were together in the same room. Besides that, “Doom” was one of the first games to feature an anonymous “space marine” character, a trope furthered by games like “Halo” and “Mass Effect” decades later.
As of last December, an average of 100 players per night could be found still playing the original “Doom” online. Why? Why bother playing a game that seems so primitive by today’s standards? And why, if people are still playing the original, would Bethesda bother to re-make it? Well, on the one hand, people love nostalgia. A lot of players today grew up with games like “Doom,” and replaying it brings back great memories of happy childhoods spent huddled in front of a massive desktop, clicking merrily away to kill hordes of demonic invaders. Remembering and reliving “The Good Old Days” is a very powerful motivator, psychologically speaking.
Even if your rose-tinted glasses fall off after you’ve started playing your favorite game again (after tracking down a version of the game that doesn’t involve reconfiguring your entire computer), your memories of the days your mom would say that you wasted slaving away at a hot keyboard grinding through level after level bring back feelings of satisfaction, self-regard and, interestingly, a connection to other people, even if you never played multiplayer.
However, as much as people love nostalgia, they also love the good graphics and higher-end computing power of today’s gaming. Bethesda’s re-release of “Doom” is going to be for the Xbox One and the Playstation 4, as well as on PC, which means an exponentially more refined gaming experience than developers in the mid-1990s could have ever dreamed. The brief gameplay preview that Bethesda released on May 18 showed just how much work the development team put into updating the graphics engines. One of the developers, Tiago Sousa, worked extensively on games like “Far Cry” and “Crysis,” both of which were lauded for their astounding graphics, before joining Bethesda’s team.
Bethesda games are famous for their mod-friendliness. Mods are player-produced edits to games that either augment or replace files, lines of code, and textures within the game itself, and Bethesda often encourages players to mod by releasing their development files. “Doom” was one of the first games to seriously acknowledge the capacity of its players to create their own content, and it therefore became a groundbreaker for the modding community before such a community even existed. It’s fitting, then, that Bethesda would choose a game like “Doom” to put their name on. And with the internet fostering a bigger modding community than ever, it’s fitting, too, that they would choose now to re-release it.
A full gameplay reveal is scheduled during Bethesda Studios’ press conference on the evening of June 14 during E3, which will be livestreamed by IGN on their website.