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Parents' Guide to Doom (PEGI 18)

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In associated with the Games Rating Authority here is our Parents' Guide to Doom:

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1. Genre

DOOM is a shooting game in which the player kills demons in a futuristic SF setting.

The game is played from a first person perspective and involves fast-paced combat using guns, explosives and close-up melee kills. As opposed to many shooting games which require thoughtful use of inventory and reloads, DOOM keeps the action going by having no reloads and quick access to a huge number of weapons. Non-stop explosive violence is the order of the day.

DOOM has a substantial single player game as well as online multiplayer modes. A ‘SnapMap’ system allows custom multiplayer maps to be built and shared for online matches.

DOOM is the fourth game in a series which founded the first person shooter genre, and a reboot that begins the series’ story again. In its stripped back action and pulpy plot it shares DNA with its stablemates Wolfenstein and Quake.

2. PEGI Rating

In the UK and Europe, PEGI rates DOOM as PEGI 18, suitable for adults only, due to frequent graphic violence and infrequent strong language.

The Games Rating Authority expand on their PEGI details by stating that the player uses ‘an arsenal of devastating weapons to shoot, slash and crush [their] way through demonic hordes, in both campaign and multiplayer modes’ adding that DOOM ‘features graphic, gory violence throughout’, mostly against demons though there are ‘instances of violence against humans’ for example ripping ‘the arm off a mutilated human corpse’. Most violence against humans is reserved for the multiplayer, for example ‘using a rocket launcher against an enemy will often result in them exploding into blood, gibs and some clearly distinguishable human parts’. The GRA add that there is one use of the word ‘fucking’.

3. Story

The story of DOOM sees the player becoming a lone soldier on Mars, exploring a research facility full of demons and then taking the fight all the way into hell. To keep the action moving cut-scenes are minimal and instead environmental and contextual narrative devices are used to fill in the backstory of the research facility’s literal descent into hell.

4. Developer

iD software originated the DOOM series as well as the Wolfenstein and Quake games.

5. Format

DOOM is available for PS4, XBox One and PC, and costs around £40 or $60, with more expensive special editions including a season pass as well as physical collectibles. Three downloadable multiplayer content packs will be available later, costing either £12/$15 each or together in a season pass costing £30 or $40. A PS Plus or XBox One account is required for online play on consoles.

6. Duration and Difficulty

DOOM’s main single player campaign should take 12 to 13 hours to complete, dependent on ability, difficulty level chosen and how deeply players explore the game’s secrets. Multiplayer should add many further hours of play, especially with the option of user-created maps expanding the game.

7. Themes

DOOM isn’t weighed down by deep lore, but this new installment promises to build on the series pulp SF horror backdrop and fill out how a scientific research project on Mars opened a portal to hell, with a mood of twisted religious ritual as you explore a place that’s part bureaucratic tech campus and part cult lair. Don’t expect too much in the way of Lovecraftian existential horror though - the emphasis is on gory black humour rather than angst.

In a genre that’s often dominated by real world locations, human enemies and historical conflicts, DOOM is refreshingly fantastical, it’s bloody violence remote from any worrying real world implications. While it may be graphic, chain-sawing a demon from hell in half isn’t nearly as troubling as gunning down a humanoid enemy.

8. Why people play:

The DOOM series is a relic of the earliest age of first person shooting games, of a time long before Call of Duty or most of the current genre stalwarts. This reboot aims to make a virtue of this old school approach, stripping the shooting game of cutscenes and heavily scripted set-pieces in favour of fast, frantic and very gory action. This doesn’t mean it entirely lacks nuance and evolution - close-up melee finishers are precisely calibrated so you’ll brutally kill an enemy in a different way depending on which body part you’re looking at when you hit the button, while runes, upgrade points and a deep arsenal of weapons allow strategic approaches and variety of play.

Whether in single player or multiplayer though, DOOM remains a game about the simple joys of bloody, fantastical, heart-jumpingly fast guilt-free violence.

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Andrew Robertson
Andy Robertson is the editor of AskAboutGames and has written for national press and broadcast about video games and families for over 15 years. He has just published the Taming Gaming book with its Family Video Game Database.