On March 2, videogame archivist The Gman’s Archive (opens in new tab) shared a video to Twitter that’s purportedly from a 2012 build of Doom 4, the long-in-development Doom follow-up that would eventually become the universally-acclaimed 2016 reboot of the series. The video was sourced from the Artstation page of Danny Keys, a video editor and media artist at id Software, but the original Artstation post has since been taken down (opens in new tab).
While Doom 3 has its detractors, the slower-paced, more horror-focused game has an appeal that I find hard to deny. Still, after its 2004 release, id clearly struggled with what direction to take the series in, as outlined in a Noclip documentary (opens in new tab) from 2016. The Noclip doc, as well as scattered leaks (opens in new tab) and coverage over the years, all paint a picture of a distinctly late ’00s, early ’10s sort of cinematic shooter. I look at these lovingly-animated faces, brown and grey colors, urban environments, a dude with a rucksack trundling along before vaulting over a table—I calls ’em like I sees ’em, and what I see is Call of Doom.
The contents of this new sizzle reel from Keys slot strangely perfectly into what we know of the Doom 4 to Doom (2016) development timeline. In another Noclip video (opens in new tab) from just last year, you can unmistakably make out the gleaming Terminator skeleton of Doom (2016) slowly emerging from the yielding flesh of Doom 4 as time goes on, with Call of Doom’s muddy brownness and sluggish movement giving way to the familiar contours of the released shooter.
The 2012 trailer is darker and less colorful than the final game, with demons that more resemble the body horror beasts of Doom 3 than the goofy (if still somewhat gruesome) demon guys of today. The shotgun, rage fist, and chainsaw glory kill animations though—those are practically identical to what came in 2016, ditto for the shotgun and chainsaw models. Most of the trailer looks like it was set on Earth, though partway through it transitions to a sterile interior that’d be right at home in the UAC Mars facility.
This new video is another interesting look at one of the previous console generation’s defining shooters before it came together—”Doom’s not done yet, put it back in the oven!” One thing I always find funny about Doom 4 is that it doesn’t really seem to attract the same wistful yearning as other cut, canceled, or reworked games.
I’m for sure guilty of this impulse—I’ll never not pine after Troika’s potential Fallout 3/Fallout-inspired prototype (opens in new tab) from before Bethesda bought the license and the Black Isle successor studio went under. With Doom though, what we got was so good, and its initial direction was so off-mark, we can just be normal about leaked Doom 4 stuff—it has no power over us (cue Doom 4 likers sending me strongly-worded emails.).