When gameplay footage for Doom (aka Doom 4) was shown at last year’s E3 in June, the gratuitous images of demons being obliterated into to a bloody pulp garnered a rapturous response from die-hard Doom fans. From the brutal “Glory Kills” to the breakneck pace (no pun intended) of the gun-toting gameplay – ID Software’s trailer seemed to vindicate those waiting twelve years for the next iteration of the space marine’s satanic slaughter. With the recent announcement of what its DLC is going to include, Doom is now receiving a new response from fans – however – this reaction is a lot less positive.
In addition to the planned free content updates, Doom will be releasing three DLC packs after launch, which amongst other things will include maps, weapons, playable demons and hack modules. So for those planning on purchasing Doom for its multiplayer component – they are now confronted with a DLC model that may hurt their personal gameplay experience for several reasons. From the inherent disadvantages of coming up against players with a superior arsenal to friends simply not owning the DLC – Bethesda’s decision to lock core multiplayer content behind a paywall is a bewildering one. This DLC model will undoubtedly fragment DOOM’s online community and most likely affect the longevity of the game’s online presence. One only has to look at Titanfall and Evolve’s current online player base to see that – unless you’re the outlier that is Call of Duty – this approach simply does not work. Franchises like Call of Duty are able to get away with DLC models that mirror this approach because of its large and loyal player base backing it up. A lot of devoted CoD players purchase the DLC that is made available because it’s the only game they want to play.
Currently Doom and its season pass (known as the ‘Digital Deluxe Pre-Order’) is available for purchase on the Xbox Games and PlayStation store for $154.95 AUD and $152.95 AUD respectively. This is a ridiculous asking price for those wishing to experience the game with everything it has to offer. Since the franchise’s inception in 1993, Doom has been synonymous with having a copious amount of free maps (developer and user made) readily available for its players to enjoy. The decision to charge such exorbitant prices for maps seems to vehemently contradict one of the key components that makes up Doom’s DNA. As mentioned earlier, it has been exactly twelve years since a Doom release. With such a large gap between releases and a previous release (Doom 3) that polarised fans – these prices are extremely hard to justify for a reboot whose recent open beta has currently made it Bethesda’s second-lowest rated game on Steam. For the curious, Fallout 4’s Wasteland Workshop DLC has the unwanted honour of having the lowest rating.So what would be a good alternative to supplement Doom’s current DLC Model? As much as I dislike the idea of microtransactions, I believe this ultimately may have been the better approach for Doom and its multiplayer component. Team Fortress 2 is a shining example of just how effective this approach can be. Instead of fragmenting the user base by locking content behind a paywall, their DLC only includes content such as cosmetics or items. Alternatively, the upcoming Gears of War 4 will be offering free DLC maps, with new maps rotating in and out of availability to prevent things from stagnating. Each month new DLC maps will launch, replacing others from the ‘playlist’ – giving all players access to whatever maps are currently operating at that time.
All maps will also be available as paid DLC for private matches so that players can still enjoy their favourite maps if they are to drop out of rotation. If this situation was to arise, only the host of the game is required to own the map for all players to participate. For me personally, these are two examples of games that exhibit a lot more respect for their player base than Bethesda is currently showing theirs. Currently, Doom’s immediate future is looking quite bleak. With DLC and betas being met with vitriolic disdain, it’s hard to see it remaining a significant presence in the online community several months after its release. That is, unless Bethesda attempts to make amends with its now jaded player base – because if they don’t, Doom may have no chance in hell.
Doom will release on PS4, Xbox One and PC on May 13th.