Ever since DOOM or DOOM 4 or DOOM 2016, whatever you wanna call it, was released I kept hearing or seeing people talking about how well it runs on their PC. However played the game myself as well as beaten it (going for Ultra Nightmare now), I can attest to how well the game runs. However I’ve also seen people compare its performance to several other similar games from Bethesda and company, mainly Wolfenstein: The New Order and its follow-up, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. So what exactly is different between these two games? Don’t they run on the same game engine?
Well, actually they don’t. While Wolfenstein ran on the ID Tech 5 game engine, DOOM 4 is running on a newer ID Tech 6 engine. But what’s the difference you ask? The ID Tech 5 engine was developed in-house by John Carmack when he was still with the “House of DOOM” and was the successor to then ID Tech series of game engine. Released back during October 2011, the ID Tech 5 engine was supposed to be the next step of ID Software’s game engine and while I won’t get into specifics, the engine wasn’t received well. To add to that, only a hand full of games were released using the engine; Rage, The Evil Within, Wolfenstein: The New Older and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. With each of those titles, there were multiple issues with the game’s performance, ranging from bad looking textures, rendering “pop-in” issues, locked 60 frame rate, screen tearing even with v-sync enabled and the major lack of support for SLI / Crossfire setups. To be quite honest, with all the issues I experienced with Rage, I stopped playing it, even though I was about halfway done with beating the game.
Obviously, Bethesda took all of these issues along with the concerns from not only the PC gaming community but also from their own development team and decided that during the initial development of DOOM 4, to change gears. The early build of DOOM 4 was utilizing the ID Tech 5 game engine, however during 2012, the development was restarted, using the codebase of the ID Tech 5 engine but major changes to it that would alleviate the concerns that were noted with ID Tech 5. It was also during this time that ID Software had brought onboard Tiago Sousa, who previously was the Lead R&D Graphics Engineer and former Graphics Software Engineer at Crytek, who also had a pretty top-notch game engine called the “CryEngine”. With the onboarding of Tiago Sousa, ID Software and Bethesda began working on a new development cycle for DOOM 4.
The main features of the ID Tech 6 engine still featured the “Mega Textures” from ID Tech 5, as well as dynamic lighting, unlocked frame rate and the much requested SLI / Crossfire support that as absent in the previous game engine version. The result is evident as DOOM 4 is the very first game engine running on the ID Tech 6 engine and as the reviews and impressions are showing, the performance between the two engines are pretty much night in day. Compared to ID Tech 5, ID Tech 6 runs DOOM 4 with little to no issues and scales incredibly well.
I’ve tested this on my end on several computers that ranged from high-end to mid-range, to which I was able to max the game settings out on an Intel i7-5820k + GTX 980 Ti running at 3440×1440 to the mid-range that is still rocking an AMD Phenom II X 945 (heavily overclocked) + GTX 970 running at both 1920×1080 and 2560×1440 on a mixture medium / high settings. Both machines were easily able to maintain 60FPS, which really impressive on both ends of the spectrum.
So there you have it. The next time you wonder why DOOM runs so much better than Wolfenstein or even The Evil Within, there’s a bit of a history lesson there. That said, much props and appreciation to both ID Software and Bethesda for not settling for a gimped version of the ID Tech engine and more importantly, a very well optimization reboot of a familiar and favorite shooter, DOOM 4.