We have a soft spot for Doom 3. It was essentially a ghost train set in a haunted research base on the moons of Mars: with demons, hellspawn and floating heads leaping out at you from the shadows. All built in John Carmack’s id Tech 4 - a rival to the Unreal Engine that just didn’t catch on.
Doom 3 was was decently received: but you needed a hefty PC to run it, and certain design decisions were widely ridiculed - we’re talking about forcing players to choose between their gun and their flashlight. Doom 3: BFG edition is Doom 3 done right: a re-release with new levels that fixes the mistakes of the original. Even better: even an average PC of today shouldn’t be troubled by John Carmack’s programming wizardry.
So what’s changed? What’s stayed the same? And why should you play it?
Here’s everything we know.
It’s more than just a re-release
Id say that the BFG Edition is more than just a rehash. As Willits told VG247, “a number of publishers have put together compilation packs and said to people ‘oh hey, three old games for 20 bucks, this is great!’ But we’ve really worked hard to make this version of Doom 3 more than just a re-release.”.
Inside the (virtual) box, you get a copy of Doom 3 and its expansion, Resurrection of Evil, plus a brand new set of levels, called “The Lost Mission.” Alongside that, you’ll get a copy of Doom 1 and 2.
Here’s Id's Tom Willits explaining the Lost Mission.
The Lost Mission runs parallel to the original Doom 3 campaign and see you fighting as part of Bravo Company, a unit of marines that you were attempting to hook up with. You’ll fight in the original base, before decamping into hell for a boss-fight finale.
The Doom engine has received a hefty update
Doom 3 is eight years old: having been released in 2004. As part of the re-release, it’s been upgraded with tech from id’s latest effort, Rage. That technology includes a network code, input code, 3D support and multi-monitor support. As Tim Willits, a developer at id explained, “we have the Rage input control, checkpoints, we’ve updated the lighting so it’s brighter, we changed the flashlight, tweaked ammo, we’ve put the Rage network layer in to make it run faster at low latency, and we added 3D support, multi-display support for PC.”
The biggest step change in the PC version is that it now runs at 120hz. 120 hz is a magic number: running at 120 frames per second means that it’s smoother than butter. But it also enables 60Hz across two displays: perfect if you’re planning to test 3D headsets.
Which is exactly what id are trying.
Id’s super-programmer John Carmack has been actively involved in the development of the Oculus Rift, a 3D virtual reality headset that’s set to be PC gaming’s next big thing. Doom 3: BFG Edition is thefirst game to truly support the Oculus Rift, with 3D vision and head-tracking. We’ve played it using an early version of the Oculus and it’s a startling and stunning experience. It’s tech from the future you can play today.
Here’s John Carmack demoing Doom 3 with Oculus Rift at E3 2012
You can stop worrying about the ammo counter
One of the criticisms of Doom 3 was that it didn’t play like a Doom game as we knew it. Doom 1 and 2 gave you more ammo than you could ever throw at the demons, but then threw more demons at you than you could ever cope with. Doom 3 was less generous; you spent your time conserving every bullet. Fun, but not Doom.
That’s changing. As Tim Willits told IGN, "we upped the player speed, upped the ammo counts, and just by doing those small things have pushed it more towards horror-action instead of horror-survival.” Here's the BFG
in action at 1:16 in the debut trailer...
Duct tape comes as standard
Part of the gloomy lighting and slow pace of the original Doom 3 related to how you couldn’t use the torch at the same time as your gun. You’d find yourself inching forward squinting into the dark, switching gun-to-torch constantly or just blazing forward lighting your way with muzzle flare. There was a good reason for that: PCs and consoles just weren’t powerful enough to show the flashlight and the weapon muzzle fire at the same time. Today, they are: so the game’s adapted. “Doom 3 was pushing PCs to the max,” says Willits. “We could not have had that dynamic light at the same time as all the weapon effects.” In the BFG Edition you can use your torch anytime… but the tension comes from crappy battery life instead.
It’s not Doom 4
Doom 4 is coming, but you’re going to have to wait. John Carmack has confirmed Doom 4 is in production at this year’s Quakecon, explaining that “essentially everybody [at id] will be focused on Doom 4 as a project. Doom 4 then appeared as an entry in the Steam Content Database - an entry presumably for internal testing and development.
It’s out really soon
The Doom 3: BFG Edition PC release date is October 19. Check Doom 3 download prices.