It’s crazy to think that DOOM hasn’t been on a Nintendo home console in over 20 years, with Doom 64 being the last game. Obviously, Nintendo went with a different route in the past decade with the Wii and Wii U, so it made sense, and some people thought the Nintendo Switch would be another sidestep for Nintendo that would not allow big 3rd party games to be on the platform. When DOOM was announced during the latest Nintendo Direct for the Switch, I was blown away. As a PS4 veteran of the game, I thought to myself: how the hell can they get this game running on the Switch, and will it be any good? The time has come, DOOM is here on the Switch, so how does it fare?
The story of DOOM takes place on Mars, where a facility is using energy drawn from Hell in order to solve an energy crisis. A scientist, Dr. Olivia Pierce, ends up messing things up on purpose which brings a horde of demons onto the facility, and you are tasked with the job of removing the threat. DOOM’s story isn’t a focal point in my opinion of the game, but it’s serviceable in moving the game along.
Let’s Blow S**t Up
The real treat of DOOM is the gameplay. While Doom 3 used a slow-paced, almost survival horror style, DOOM is a grand return to the fast-paced violent action that fans wanted. It feels familiar, but fresh. Demons of all shapes and sizes are constantly swarming you, and you are always scouring for ammunition from your variety of weapons to blast them away. The game offers good customization as well, for both your weapons and your character. You can equip upgrades for your weapons, and your character as well. It actually ends up altering your play style depending on what you choose to do with your character, which keeps things interesting throughout the game.
While playing the campaign, which will last you anywhere from 8-12 hours, there’s also a slew of secrets and challenges to do. From Relic challenges that upon completion will give you more upgrades that have you blasting away a certain number of enemies in a time limit, to hidden levels from classic Doom games to find and unlock, there’s tons of reasons to go back and do multiple playthroughs and scour every inch of the maps looking for all the secrets.
Aside from the campaign, there is also an Arcade mode as well, that has you choose a level and try to get a high score. Scores are saved and can be compared to other players worldwide or on your friend’s list, so bragging rights are there for the taking.
Multiplayer features both online and bot matches, but the servers were not up at the time of this review. I did play a few bot matches, and everything felt and looked good. I actually really enjoyed the online in DOOM on PS4, because it’s very “arena-based” and fast-paced. Team Deathmatch is a real treat, because of Demon runes that appear on the map. If you acquire a Demon rune, you can take over the role of a demon and destroy the opposing team as they try and slaughter you. There’s a ton of game modes, maps, and weapons to choose from as well, so the game will last you much longer than just the single-player experience if you are looking for more DOOM content.
Now the biggest question that everyone is asking: how does DOOM on the Switch look? Obviously, the Switch is not as powerful as the PS4, so to expect the graphics to be as good as they would be disingenuous. The Switch version runs at 720P 30FPS, and after playing the hell out of the PS4 version, did take a bit of an adjustment. On its own merits though, DOOM on the Switch looks rather impressive. Some areas look a bit blurry, there are some low-resolution textures here and there, but it’s hardly noticeable when you are deep in combat blasting away hordes of demons. The nice part is the framerate remains completely solid throughout, and I never experienced any notable dips when the action got heated with tons of enemies on screen. The game does look slightly better in docked mode over handheld, but overall it looks good regardless and is pretty impressive looking on the Switch.
Makes Your Ears Bleed, But in a Good Way
The audio in the game is phenomenal and a true highlight. The music is used scarcely, but when it hits, you get some of the sickest metal guitar riffs ever in a video game. Demons sound creepy and haunting, and it can be a terrifying experience on your senses as well.
This version of DOOM also includes all of the DLC that was available on other platforms for free, so you are really getting a complete package. The only feature missing in this version from the others is SnapMap, which was a user-created level creator. I would have loved to have seen this added to the Switch version because I have many fond memories of playing it on the PS4, as some levels were very creative, but if this is the main sacrifice then it’s acceptable.
One other slight disappointment is the lack of gyro-controls in the game. Many Switch owners have become accustomed to gyro-controls due to games like Splatoon 2, and DOOM only offers a slight gyro-control for Glory Kills, which are melee attacks done when the enemy is flashing and weak. I didn’t try this feature out as it felt like it would be cumbersome and not add anything to the game. Also, one final minor quibble is that although there’s TONS of content here, it would have been nice for some Switch-specific things, sort of like Link in Skyrim.
DOOM on the Switch is a great package. The fact that you can take this game with you wherever you go and play this game at any time is pretty amazing considering this was one of the most graphically intense games of 2016. If you are a seasoned DOOM player, there’s nothing new to see here, but the portability aspect could lure you in. If you are brand new to DOOM and own a Switch, it’s worth picking up. It’s fast, it’s fun, there’s tons of content, and it’s an extremely solid port of a technical beast. The first FPS on the Switch is a winner and is setting the bar for future games in the genre, along with 3rd party ports.