Bethesda, a company which has rarely developed for Nintendo consoles, has brought one of their biggest IPs, DOOM, to Nintendo Switch.
It’s time to find out how Bethesda’s first title fares on the Switch, and whether it deserves the attention of players new to the series.
Gameplay and Story
For players new to DOOM, the DOOM that is releasing on Nintendo Switch isn’t the first DOOM game made in history. DOOM has a very long history that can be traced back to its days on the SNES. The first DOOM was a horror-themed first player shooter of its kind that took the world by storm.
Although there have been many iterations of DOOM and changes along the way, the DOOM that’s on Nintendo Switch is based on the 2016 reboot that takes a leaf out of the original’s book, from enemy design to gameplay.
As DOOM is a first player shooter at its core, there isn’t much of a narrative to it. You take control of Doom Slayer, who has been awakened as demons from Hell begin their invasion of Mars. From there, the Doom Slayer has to find out the source of demonic activity and put a stop to it.
The truth behind Hell, Mars, and whatever is the cause of the demons are all revealed through 13 long missions in single player Campaign Mode, which should take you at least 10 hours to complete. There are three different difficulty levels to choose from (easy, medium hard), so if you’re new to DOOM or are looking for a challenge, everyone is covered.
Similar to the first game in the series, you’ll encounter a variety of demons and possessed humans out to destroy you at all cost. Every type of enemy is unique in their own way, as each have their own way of attacking you, defending themselves, different speed and resistance. You will have the time to learn how to respond to them using movement, the environment, weapons at your disposal, and pull off melee attacks, as new enemy types are introduced at a slow and steady pace.
The fights that I had with the demons were and action packed and intense. Adding to the heart pounding atmosphere was the horror music. Demons spawned from strategic positions to put as much pressure as possible, and they could be coming from anywhere. Standing still and shooting up stuff won’t work – sometimes I had to use my imagination to shoot up explosive barrels or lure a stronger demon into the corner and finish them off first.
Campaign Mode isn’t all about shooting enemies up though. There are multiple objectives to complete before moving on to the next mission. You will be required to look for certain key cards to gain access to facilities, disable stuff, destroy Gore Nests, and eventually engage in boss fights close to the end of the game. Should you ever find yourself lost not knowing where to go next, the map will show you the way. Sometimes all you have to do is pull off some jumps.
If you’re a completionist, there are tons of secrets to uncover in hidden areas as well as Rune Trials (challenges) that test your skills to the limits. You’ll need to find everything (all armor upgrades (argent cells), rune trials, elite guards, field drones) in every Mission to consider the campaign 100% completed.
I’ve also noticed that Panic Button, the developer in charge of porting over DOOM, has made some “quality of life” adjustments to DOOM’s Switch port. The reticle on the Switch version is much bigger than other versions, making it easier to aim especially on handheld mode. HD Rumble is also supported, as I felt subtle vibrations from my Pro Controller when jumping and shooting demons.
Unfortunately, the gyroscope isn’t supported for controlling the camera. The camera can still be controlled by using the right stick and I think it did a fine job.
Other than Campaign Mode, there’s an Arcade Mode where your goal is to rake as many points as possible from collecting items and slaying demons, as well as online multiplayer which we’ll get to later. Unfortunately there’s no local multiplayer or splitscreen multiplayer. Splitscreen probably wouldn’t work well so I understood why, but I was slightly disappointed with the lack of local multiplayer as I’m someone who does play with others offline.
Graphics and Performance
I believe DOOM’s graphics and performance on Nintendo Switch is what many of you want to hear, so I’ve dedicated this section to you guys to hear my thoughts on how the game has been for me.
First and foremost I have to say that the game has been running very smoothly for me. Most of the time I have never experienced any major frame rate drops with the exception of certain areas that have a very huge number of demons and explosions, which can become really bad. It’s the same type of frame rate drops I encountered while playing in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
As you all know DOOM was originally built for PS4 and Xbox One, so you’re probably wondering how the graphics were affected in the Switch port. I found it wasn’t as sharp as any of the other versions, textures aren’t as detailed, and there’s a “blurry” effect which is pretty apparent. Imagine you’re slightly short-sighted and took your glasses off – that’s how the blurry effect feels like on the Nintendo Switch version of DOOM. It took awhile to get use to it.
There were also some audio issues with the game (weird and loud “alarm” sound for a few seconds), but I believe they should be patched in the future.
That said I still had a lot of fun with the game. I wasn’t really bothered since I’m not a graphics person to start with. With all of the compromises made in the graphics department I feel DOOM really shines if you play it on Handheld Mode. Just bear in mind it consumes your battery really fast too, probably close to the same rate as first party games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
If you’re curious how the Switch version stacks up to the PC version, check out some screenshots below, courtesy of my friend Alvin. First screenshot Switch, second PC. Keep in mind the PC version was taken at 720p and the lowest video setting.
DOOM supports online multiplayer for up to 12 players on Nintendo Switch. There are various modes such as Team battles and competitive battles. The objective of these matches are to accumulate as much points as possible, and you could even transform into a demon to land bigger attacks on the opposing team.
Unfortunately I didn’t had get the chance to play online since the game isn’t out yet (other than an offline practice match with CPU players), so I’ll update my impressions after the game is released.
For someone who rarely plays first person shooter, DOOM has been a fantastic experience. Whether it’s on the TV or on the small screen, DOOM delivered an intense, action packed, and memorable gameplay the developers promised it would.
Yes, it may not look good as the other versions of DOOM, but this is the first which you can take out on the go. It’s essentially the same gameplay you’ll get on your PC or PS4, just without the level editor and detailed visuals.
If you own a Nintendo Switch and are contemplating buying DOOM as a first timer or long time fan, I say it’s worth your 60 bucks. You may want to consider getting it on another platform if the boiled down graphics are your concern.
- Fast moving and intense fights with demons
- Long single player campaign
- All the DLC installed
- You can take it on the go for the first time
- The lack of local multiplayer and SnapMap level editor
Soup Verdict: The bowl may not look fancy but the soup tastes great.
A review code was provided by Bethesda for the purposes of this review.