Doom 3: BFG Edition Hands-on Preview -- Back to (Beautified) HellBy Kevin Kelly - Posted Aug 06, 2012
Want some more enticement to pick up the Doom 3: BFG Edition? You can play Doom 4 in it. Well, sort of. They've used the id Tech 5 engine to power parts of the game, which will supposedly be powering Doom 4, and they have even brought over some tech from Rage to update the title. But what most people will be looking forward to is The Lost Mission, which is a completely new scenario for Doom that was created just for this version of the game.
In this mission, you're playing a completely different soldier from Bravo team, which was supposedly wiped out in the middle of the standard Doom 3 campaign. You're a survivor from that team, and you've run across a scientist who is trying to destroy the portal from Hell. There are eight maps in this mission, and you eventually make your way to Hell, which was arguably the best part of Doom 3.
The game is definitely built for players who appreciated the original games: two of the level designers worked on the original game, and two were brand-new, but none of them were under 40. "We're getting old!" joked id project lead Tim Willits. "All of the guys that were assigned to this were like, 'This is awesome! We're getting to make Doom 3 again! We're putting the band back together.!" But don't let the "3" on the box confuse you, as this packed version contains Doom, Doom 2, Doom 3, Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil. 49 levels, 8 multiplayer maps, plus the 32 Doom maps, and 40+ Doom 2 maps.
Since Doom uses a unified codebase, they were able to pull in other weapons from the series, like the double-barreled shotgun and the gravity gun from Resurrection of Evil. They've also tweaked the lighting throughout the game making everything brighter, and sweetened the audio as well. But what players of the original will really appreciate is the fact that they've taken out "All off the stupid stuff." according to Willits.
"There was one level where you walk up these steps, which fall away behind you for no reason, and then two imps jump out in front of you. We were playing this and we were like, 'Why did we do this? This is dumb.' Then we had an area where 12 Lost Souls would appear out of nowhere. No fun. Then there were our health stations, which were not always set at 100 percent. I don't even know why we did that. So, we fixed that. We also added some ammo, because we were too damn stingy."
They've also removed some monster classes and revisited every map in the process, removing more "stupid stuff" and adding more tweaks. But they didn't add the ability to aim down the sights of your weapons, which will flummox gamers who have only played modern FPS games. If you pull the left trigger to try and aim, all you'll end up doing will be turning on your flashlight. The team talked about precision aiming a lot, but ultimately decided to leave it out. The original game had the ability to zoom slightly, and this version had the function in it until last week when Willits decided to take it out.
The biggest challenge to the team was trying not to overdo it. According to Willits, it was very tempting for the team to add things from Rage, like hit detection, or changing the A.I. They did bring over the Rage multiplayer code, and the team wanted to boost the multiplayer in Doom 3 to 16 players. But with a tight timeline and most of the team working on id's next project, they stuck with tradition and kept it at four players.
The game itself is a bit of an anomaly, as it plays just like Doom 3 played back in 2004, but it looks much better. Just don't expect updated enemy behavior or any real new elements here, besides the 3D which is actually fairly impressive. We played the game on the Xbox 360, and the 3D output was gorgeous. Although, given the fact that aiming is a bit more difficult in this game, the 3D doesn't really help with that at all. The developers have given every weapon a laser sight to combat that, but it takes a bit of getting used to.
The game also works with Palmer Luckey's Oculus Rift, the VR headset that has John Carmack in his excitable "Let's Build New Tech!" state, and it looked in a word … awesome. Granted, the price to jump aboard the Kickstarter campaign for that project and get your own VR headset is $300, making it a very expensive way to play Doom 3, but when you're standing up with 3D sound and a virtual reality environment straight out of the game all around you, it's hard not to be impressed.
The Doom 3: BFG Edition will be out on October 16 this year, and fans of Doom and id will definitely want to put this on their wish lists.