Game director Hugo Martin compares the game’s difficulty balancing to Mario Kart.
Though we’ve had to wait a little longer for it than we originally thought we’d have to, DOOM Eternal is almost here, and in the last couple of days, with the game’s launch approaching developers id Software have opened the floodgates to let a flood of new information pour out. From what the developer is saying about the upcoming shooter, it’s clear that they are taking a lot of pride in their work, whether that’s from a technical perspective or a more holistic view of the game– and sure enough, the new trailer and new gameplay we’ve seen look absolutely fantastic.
And of the many new details that have come to light, something that fans of the series will be quite pleased by is id Software’s modified approach to difficulty in DOOM Eternal. For starters, the game will bring back permadeath in a new difficulty setting that goes one step above even Ultra Nightmare, called Extra Life Mode.
What’s interesting, though, is that id Software are taking a more balanced approach to difficulty this time, in order to make sure that players don’t lose anything and experience the same core game regardless of what difficulty they are playing on, the lowest or the highest. The comparison creative director Hugo Martin makes is to Mario Kart, oddly enough.
“In Mario Kart if I play on easy, it’s the slowest setting,” he said, speaking to US Gamer. “I mean, I’m still needing to power slide. I still need to use my resources. I still need to do all the same things; hit the jump the same way. The only difference is that on the hardest setting, it’s just way ****ing faster, you know? So I think that’s our goal.”
Martin says id Software felt DOOM (2016) “changed too much from each difficulty”, which, in their view, “discouraged people to play it at higher difficulties.”
As such, the studio decided to go with a different approach- so that players would be getting the same experience across all difficulties, and the only thing that would change would be the intensity of the experience, so as to make sure it doesn’t lose the urgency and bite that it’s supposed to be brimming with.
“The only thing that changes is the number of decisions you’re being asked to make per second and the number of mistakes you’re allowed to make,” Martin explained. “So the game that you play, if you drop down to easy, is basically the same exact game, the same exact combat loop. You’re gonna be doing the same exact things that you would be doing on Nightmare. The only thing is to just be doing it way faster.”
“[E]verything you learned on the lower difficulty will carry over to the next difficulty, which will make transitioning to higher difficulties, I think, that much more inviting to players,” he added later.
DOOM Eternal is due out for the PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia on March 20. A Nintendo Switch version is also currently in development, and though it doesn’t currently have a long release date, the developers have assured that it will launch not too long after initial release on other systems. id Software recently confirmed that the game’s campaign will be over 20 hours long.