Doom Eternal: Bethesda Explains Lack of Traditional Deathmatch Mode

Bethesda's Pete Hines offers a controversial explanation for Doom Eternal's missing deathmatch mode.

Photo: Bethesda

In an…interesting interview with Shack News, Pete Hines defends Doom Eternal‘s lack of a traditional deathmatch multiplayer mode by saying that the deathmatch mode is “eons old.”

“We don’t want to do something just for the sake of doing it, or because something has always been a certain way,” Hines says. “We want to make sure we’re doing stuff that’s interesting and that resonates. I loved the idea of what they were doing with Battle Mode. The first time I played, I was instantly hooked. I’ve only played as a demon, in part because as I mentioned, I get really motion-sick as the Doom Slayer. But it’s super-fun to play as the Pain Elemental; I gravitate toward that demon in particular. I’m playing the game from a very different angle.”

Hines elaborates on the relationship between single-player and multiplayer by stating his desire to see elements of the Doom campaigns transition into multiplayer such as what we see in Doom Eternal‘s main multiplayer option

“Whether you’re playing by yourself or with others, we want it to feel like you’re all playing the same game,” Hines says of a conversation with id Software team members Hugo Martin and Marty Stratton. “That’s as opposed to, ‘I’m a badass demon slayer in single-player, but when I go over to multiplayer, there are no demons, and it’s just deathmatch.’ I don’t know what that has to do with [Doom] other than that, well, a couple of decades ago we had that, so we should just have that again.”

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To play what will likely be a bit of a devil’s advocate position regarding these statements, Hines does raise a few fair points. We’re always going to be champions of studios pursuing original ideas (especially as it relates to multiplayer modes). Doom 2016’s multiplayer was also fairly fun in its own right (at least for a little while). It should also be noted that much of the work on that game’s multiplayer mode was done by an outside studio.

Having said all of that, Hines may slightly be missing the point here. First off, even Doom Eternal co-director Hugo Martin says in an interview with GameSpot that he feels Doom 2016’s multiplayer “played it very safe” and was “kind of formulaic.” It was different from what we’ve seen before from Doom multiplayer, but it may be a bit optimistic to suggest that it was trying to break entirely new ground or utilized deathmatch ideas in a particularly compelling way. Doom Eternal‘s asymmetrical multiplayer looks a little more ambitious in that respect, but we’ve also seen similar asymmetrical multiplayer modes in recent years fail to live up to their ambition.

The other, potentially bigger, point to consider here is that deathmatches are as much a part of the Doom legacy as the single-player campaigns (if it’s not arguably a bigger part of the franchise’s legacy). Yes, the basic deathmatch idea is old, but you also don’t see a lot of games that feature pure deathmatch experiences these days. In a strange way, Doom could have stood out more by featuring somewhat simpler deathmatch multiplayer options that weren’t as reliant on gimmicks. Quake Champions arguably suffered from a similar issue.

Still, we can’t wait to get our hands on Doom Eternal even if we also don’t end up diving too deep into its multiplayer mode.