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“We're not making an immersive cinematic experience - we're making a video game” - why Doom Eternal has floating pickups

In Doom 2016 you found new guns gripped in dead hands. Doomslayer ripped them from the corpses you found and then you’d have a new tool for your arsenal. Doom Eternal might be doing things a little differently.

A lot of the design ethos behind Doom Eternal appears to be centred around readability. How do you make the player be able to read what’s going on when they’re on rocket-powered roller skates, under constant attack, and there’s a 200-foot cannon going off in the distance? You make everything as clear as possible. It’s why Doom Eternal’s UI is so garish.

Rather than having to search out weapons in Doom Eternal - at least at this stage in development - weapons are floating, neon pickups that you simply need to run over to grab. This is partly because people sometimes missed weapons in Doom 2016, therefore skipping a core part of the game’s combat puzzles.

“We talk about this with the team, we made an announcement, we're not making an immersive cinematic experience. We're making a video game,” executive producer Marty Stratton explained during our E3 interview. “That's what's good for Doom.

“There are other games that it's right for their brand to make an immersive cinematic experience, but I think it is a functional choice to make everything big, bold and loud in the game, like floating guns, because again these are the ways that we can communicate to somebody moving 200 miles an hour. And communicate that, 'I see that question mark, that is a secret, do I want to get that? No.' We'll see where we land with the gun pickups but certainly whatever it is, we want it to be obvious.”

It’s the same reason Doom Eternal has extra lives now - as a way to obviously reward exploration with a tangible benefit. In the pre-E3 demo I played, it felt like these partly existed to also offset the extra difficulty, however this isn’t the case. Extra lives might revive you on the spot, but if you fail and have to return to a checkpoint you still lose the crutch. It’s just a little safety net as a way to obviously reward you by going off the main path.

“It is one of those kind of old school fun things that you get a little bit of exploration, same thing, you earn them, you seek them out, and when you earn them you feel good about having it,” creative director Hugo Martin said. “And then when you're in the middle of a combat fight, nothing triggers off, it feels good and gives you that opportunity to keep going.”

“But if it's like this subtle thing, you think about, like - one of my favourite games, a Fallout game, that the pace of that game dictates that it's okay for me to rummage around a room and discover something on a table that I might not have noticed as soon as I walk in, because that's really the tone of the entire game,” Martin added.

For more, check out our Doom Eternal preview.

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DOOM Eternal

PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch

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Kirk McKeand avatar

Kirk McKeand

Former Deputy Editor

Kirk is an award-winning writer from the UK's Lincoln, and has written for the likes of IGN, Vice, Eurogamer, Edge, Playboy, and several other magazines, newspapers, and websites. For several years, Kirk also acted as the editor of VG247.