E3 kicked off with a bang, as Bethesda gave us the first public viewing of the fourth installment in the Doom franchise. Despite only having four main games, the series has been going for 22 years, with the first game releasing in 1993. It was a completely different experience from games released before it, allowing players to see through the eyes of their character. Combining that with excellent level design, a vast array of weapons and a crunching fast-paced soundtrack, Doom became one of the biggest games of the 90s. Although developer id Software did release another first-person shooter (Wolfenstein 3D) previously, it's Doom that is massively attributed to popularising the genre.
Doom is unrelenting in its dedication to gore and challenge. It's a careful balance throughout, making you struggle to overcome certain areas and treating you to a gory display as you finally wipe your enemies from the screen. It's catharsis in its purest form, making you feel like a true action hero without needing any sort of dramatic storytelling or even characters. The few text screens dotted throughout only add to the feeling of being the man, telling you snippets about how you were so awesome that the demons kicked you out of hell. Honestly, Doom is everything you want after a hard day at a boring job. Simple, fun and a visual spectacle that's still impressive over twenty years later. And with Doom 4, it seems the series is going back to this idea of a game that only concerns itself with fast-paced gory gameplay that became popular after the original was released.
But things change. Games evolved. From Half-Life, to Halo, to Bioshock to Call of Duty; games progressed at a staggering rate to become much more than simple. Even Doom evolved, with the third game in the series being a much more story-driven game with horror aspects. It's suddenly become very rare to play a game that lets you shoot someone without being questioned on the moral implications at some point, and it feels impossible to imagine a game coming out in the current climate that forgoes the need for storytelling and instead just presents you with a level full of bad guys and a gun. Which isn't totally a bad thing - as games evolve, so does our mentality towards them. When Doom first hit the scene, games were simplistic past times that were still considered more toys than media. But now, we see games in the same light as we look at movies or books. Anytime any sort of violent game came out, it was blasted by many groups for not being suitable for children even if they weren't the intended audience. Now, games intended for all sorts of audiences are accepted by the masses as being just another part of the entertainment landscape.
So does that mean the original, simple style of Doom has a place in the modern gaming world? If anything, I think it makes the new Doom one of the most important games to come out in the coming years. Videogames are getting more and more complex as developers start to develop new techniques for storytelling within them. At the end of the previous generation we saw the megahits Bioshock Infinite and The Last Of Us release, both of which challenged your views, invoked strong emotions and started thousands of online debates. Even the mainstream games that could be argued to mostly focus on simple cathartic gameplay, like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, feature large and bombastic plots featuring celebrities voicing over various twists and turns. When it comes to shooting people in the face in the current generation of gaming, simple is different. By returning to its roots and doing exactly what it did over twenty years ago, Doom is being different. If it's pulled off with the flair and pizazz the trailers make it look like it does, then it could very well be one of the hits of 2016 when it releases in Spring.