Doom, the very first one, was widely regarded to have pushed the boundaries of PC gaming and graphics of that era, with its 3D graphics, 3D maps, networked multiplayer, and mature rating. Ever since then, id Software has been carrying on that tradition, like with RAGE’s use of megatextures. Now under the ownership of Bethesda Softworks, that tradition continues with the announcement that the reincarnation of DOOM is now the first triple-A game to support the brand new Vulkan API, promising to deliver even better framerates, especially on slightly weaker hardware.
Vulkan is heralded as the successor to OpenGL, the graphics API library that has been the cornerstone of thousands of graphics programs, especially games. It rivals Microsoft’s Direct3D, part of the DirectX framework, for dominance in the market. OpenGL, however, has been criticized for a lot of excess baggage it has accumulated over the decades (yes, decades), in order to maintain backwards compatibility with older versions and graphics hardware.
Vulkan is break from the past, both in terms of the API as well as the mental model. Without going into gory technical details, Vulkan gives developers even closer access to the graphics hardware than OpenGL allows, removing the middle man in the process. This results in increased performance, which translates to higher framerates for applications like games. At least that’s the theory.
The Talos Principle is actually the first commercial game to announce support for Vulkan, followed closely by Valve’s Dota 2. DOOM, though third in that list, is the first among the triple-A ranks to join the still exclusive and very small club. What this new feature means for players, in essence, is high framerates that improve the feel of movement. It’s also allows slightly older GPUS to get better framerates.
In practice, this will still largely depend on the combination of hardware and drivers you have on your PC rig. DOOM’s minimum required graphics AMD and NVIDIA cards all support Vulkan, except any NVIDIA card with only 2 GB of VRAM on Windows 7 or those GTX 690 cards. Those with compatible hardware and update DOOM copies will be given a choice between OpenGL or Vulkan when starting the game or via the in-game Settings menu.