VietDoom — How Sgt. Mark IV, the Creator of Brutal Doom, is Taking the Vietnam Conflict to Hell

Placing your game in Vietnam is an opportunity to setup tactic in a tropical setting. If America’s history of war was an FPS game from the 90’s, then the Vietnam Conflict was the jungle expansion pack. With this comes a lot of unique architecture, tools, weaponry, level design and the unique theme of appalling patriotism only this campaign in history can provide.

Courtesy of @BrutalDoomGuy

With all this in mind, Sgt. Mark IV seems to be taking heavy influences from the mercenary-in-the-jungle genre of films. High action, machismo movies like Rambo, Commando, The Expendables — all mixed with militarism of the 1960’s.

With a new battlefield comes a brand new set of rules and assets for the all-mighty Doom engine to usher in. Land mark changes have been made here — destructible environments, controllable vehicles, health and status effects, booming weaponry, freaking light switches can be flipped on and off (touche, Build Engine.) Yesterday we got our first Dev Diary entry so today I wanted to share with you my favorite parts of this piece.

Courtesy of @BrutalDoomGuy

Explosive Defamation

This one’s huge. Nothing feels more like a sandbox to me than blowing chunks off the side of building. Back in the day, I played the demo to Battlefield: Battle Company so damn much just for its environmental damage. Both of these games let you deal with a gunner in the window by leveling the whole fucking building he sits in.

After enough structural damage from any weapon is applied, the destructible object will be brought to ruin. Physics hasn’t been applied to these objects so roofs can magically remain upright despite having half the supporting walls violently obliterated. This is to be expected though as, to my knowledge, no game using GZDoom has ever had physics — let alone destructible environments. After enough damage, the entire building will collapse, crumbling the roof into a pile of sticks and straws.

Smaller assets can face the same fate. Trees, fences, beds and more can be easily destroyed by moderate machine gun fire or a well-placed shotgun round. There’s one point in the Dev Diary where Sgt. Mark IV swings the barrel of his tank around and blows a guard tower to smithereens. That brings me to the next impressive feat of this mod…

Courtesy of @BrutalDoomGuy

Armored Vehicles for Reinforced Artillery

Sometimes, you just gotta hop in a tank and let loose; so of course we’ve got one to use here. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen vehicles in a GZDoom game, since Sgt Mark IV brought us those a few years ago in this vehicles mod. It is worth noting that these armored war machines aren’t just sprites anymore but full 3D models based on period specific influences. In the dev diary, we get to see the M-44 Patton in action but a post on Sgt Mark IV’s Twitter from awhile back also lets us see the M-50 Ontos that’ll also be playable.

Courtesy of @BrutalDoomGuy

Having a big gun mounted on the front of the tank is an obvious attack, but just colliding the tank into objects makes for a usefully destructive melee attack. Walls of huts get obliterated in just moments when the tank drives into them, eluding to some interesting scenarios for the campaign to boast.

I’d love to see some creative uses of the tank going up against waves of enemies. Imagine gameplay moments where you need to level the battlefield as quick as possible while taking all the damage in the world. Oh yea, we’ll be feeling like demi-gods of the war front when manning this thing.

Courtesy of @BrutalDoomGuy

Status Affects aren’t Just for RPGs

Out of everything shown off so far, this has got me the most curious. Being an unabashed Dark Souls megafan, I am a sucker for synergistic play. Up top, Sgt. Mark IV talks about how most wounds you suffer have a small chance of causing a bleed effect, so you’ll need to bandage up or suffer a bleed out. This is amazing because it immediately allows for more defensive strategy in a war game than how the scripted segment has you rally your troops. It seems like this inventory management extends further than your health gauge too.

Note that there’s also a food and water bar down at the bottom of most of these screens. This wasn’t discussed in the Dev Diary but I’m sure we’ll hear more about it as development continues.

Courtesy of @BrutalDoomGuy

If you consider, ‘being on-fire’ a status effect then VietDoom has that too. While it’s more prominent in the environmental destruction, I wouldn’t rule out its contribution to gameplay. I’m sure the flames are going to be used as more than just another way to punch through enemies. Games like Far Cry 2 used fire in a moderately successful manner by giving it a systemic effect on the landscape, wildlife and enemies. For a game largely set in the jungle, I’m excited to see how being a pyromaniac helps you win.

With the inclusion of Dragonbreath Shells, elemental effects can seemingly be toggled on and off for weapons. I would absolutely love to see this aspect get played out in other ways. The Vietnam War is known for its Guerrilla tactics and stopping-power alone wasn’t enough for America to win.

An Arsenal Built for Power

One of the things I see talked about a lot with the new Modern Warfare title is how aggressive its animations feel. They must have been taking pages from Sgt. Mark IV’s playbook because every custom animation I’ve seen of his gets me freaking pumped.

Courtesy of @BrutalDoomGuy

What sets this firing animation apart from others is how the FOV quickly pulls out a tad, then pushes back after the bullet has exited the muzzle. It’s the little things like that I fall in love with while blasting through enemies.

There were about twenty guns shown off in the Dev Dairy and Sgt. Mark IV expresses that he more than likely won’t be adding any more than what’s already been shown. His aim is to make every weapon feel purposeful and unique, a contributing factor to the the original Doom’s success. It looks like most of the guns will have an alt-fire mode as well, things like single shots from the double barrel, a bi-pod for the heavy machine guns and single-fire modes for rifles.

Courtesy of @BrutalDoomGuy

The most stand out alt-fire in my eyes is the scope for sniper rifles. Long range combat isn’t something Doom was built around but as mods have grown in scale, the need for highly accurate firepower hasn’t been worked on as well. First Sgt. Mark IV gave us iron sights, now he’s granted scopes. Prepare to pick off some 360° drag shots on hit scanning enemies that are hopefully more fair then the chain gunner.

Scopes don’t even need to be attached to guns. Sometimes all you need is to pinpoint an artillery strike with a pair of binoculars and let the Top Gun boys take care of the rest. No matter your play style, there’s a great chance this game is going to provide the tools your patriotism seeks.

So far, this is all we know about VietDoom. Given its maker’s history with Brutal Doom and how it basically set the bar for what a Doom mod should be, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sgt. Mark IV has some big ideas still in store for this mod. Plus, the Hell on Earth campaign he made for Brutal Doom is easily my favorite Doom campaign out of them all. And yes, I say that having played the base game and lots of mod packs.

The Vietnam conflict stripped too many lives away unnecessarily around the world, all to serve as backdrop for crooked, American politicians to get their way. Many landmark pieces of media have tackled the effects this skirmish (which lasted just under twenty years) and I encourage anyone who feels uncomfortable with this to watch films like Hamburger Hill, Apocalypse Now for an American perspective and Vietnamese films like The Little Girl of Hanoi and Journey from the Fall to further understand the effect of violence on home turf.

Stay tuned for this one. Sgt. Mark IV is always posting updates to this project on his Twitter. If you want to keep track of my thoughts on this mod and many other games, follow me @SheeshFr.