According to a recent interview with Game Informer, Executive Producer Martin Stratton talked a bit about where the game will go story wise. To break things down rather bluntly he notes that the game focuses primarily on action and gameplay, then the story is secondary to all of that.
“If you come into DOOM to have amazing combat, then I really think people are going to enjoy themselves. We’ve spent so much time to try to get that right, to try to get the challenge of it right.”
From there he talks with the interviewer about how the difficulty has been turned up since several journalists last played the game. He said that of all things people wanted, it was a bigger challenge to get through the game that was asked for most.
“That’s what DOOM is about. It’s not about canned set pieces, cinematic sequences…the roller coaster is about the action and the combat and it’s a blast. “
Yet he comes back to the story and addresses that for fans that truly want the story, there is something there for them to find.
“The marine doesn’t have a name. Story hasn’t been the focus of development, the combat has, but I would say we’ve injected quite a bit more, for people who want to find it and get a little more on how the DOOM marine is and where we hope he heads, it’s there for people to find. I like it, I think it’s cool stuff and I think it’s more so than we’ve had in other DOOM games and I’m excited to see people’s reaction to it.”
The idea is that there is a story so that the game has some type of “purpose” to different aspects of a game. Early on in the game industry there wasn’t much “need” for a story and many games lacked in this area when compared to other mediums. Yet games had a story because it helped explain why certain things happened or why you were tasked with doing an objective. It just made games simply make sense.
Today the industry is probably one of the leaders in telling new stories, but there is still that sense of “we need it simply to explain” and I’m personally okay with that. I’m a writer so it’s odd saying “well I’m okay with the lack of plot,” but when you look at it, some of the greatest games in history hardly had one.
Plus we are not saying take a game totally out of context and just throw a bunch of monsters at the player. Let’s look at the original Doom and see why it technically is a masterpiece in telling a story. For one it had a bare bones plot. The original writer, Tom Hall, had all kinds of ideas for the story including aspects that affected game design. Yet all of it was thrown out because Carmack and others felt that a story of that nature was slowing the game down. (Plus there were aspects the engine probably couldn’t handle.)
So instead what we got was his core idea, a slow travel into the depths of Hell. You start out in a rather “normal” world with slight issues, and the level design shows it. Then as you progress the levels, names, and design itself become darker and more complex. (Bet some of you also don’t notice the final level actually being built as you progress too!) Eventually you travel a world, progress into hell, and then watch hell consume the “normal” world too. Doom 2 somewhat shows this progress a bit more, but Doom 1 did it damn near perfect.
Did Doom sit there and hold your hand through it all? No. Instead you were playing the game, you were part of the story. You were not told “and then this happened” until after the game was over, but the whole adventure there is your adventure. You get to see the progression and be a part of the journey. This is why I’m okay with the lack of plot points. We are playing a video game, not a movie.
Does this mean I never want to see stories? Absolutely not, especially since some of my favorite stories are from video games. I also read the Doom books because the world that they place you in is so fascinating, so of course I would love more details and things to learn about. Which we will get, we just won’t get it in a cutscene after every kill fashion.
Basically what I take from these comments is that yes the Doom reboot has a story, however the story doesn’t hold the gameplay back. This is what makes the original Doom so great. It was a brawler full of blood and guts with a character that was basically built after you, Doom Guy. YOU were part of the story, YOU watched it evolve, and YOU explored it how you wanted.