Doom Eternal, the long-awaited sequel to the 2016 reboot of the decades-old shooter franchise is finally here, and id Software has done it again. They’ve made a campaign that is on par, if not better than Doom (2016).
It retains the wild and frantic gameplay that made the prior game great and doubles down on it with more demons, less ammo and all the blood and guts you’d expect. Everything that worked in the solid foundation of the past game has been refined along with new additions to the player’s combat toolbelt.
Keep On Ripping and Tearing: Combat
Much of Doom Eternal’s gameplay is unchanged from its predecessor. The Doom Slayer still has a massive arsenal of weapons at his disposal, such as the combat and super shotguns, an assault rifle, a plasma rifle and rocket launcher. The BFG returns as well, of course.
You still have to maintain constant motion in tight combat arenas that will test your resolve by fighting several tough demons at once and when you run low on ammo or health, the chainsaw and Glory Kills are your best friend.
It’s an approach that still works, and if the developers just kept the same mechanics and added nothing, it would still be satisfying to play.
However, there are plenty of new toys to play around with, such as an ice bomb that freezes enemies in place, a shoulder-mounted flamethrower that produces ammo from charred demons and the blood punch, a melee attack that does massive damage to even the biggest baddies.
These are introduced fairly early and are a good way to turn the tide in the many insanely difficult encounters Doomguy faces.
One thing this game ups the ante on are the different kinds of demons. There are probably twice as many different kinds to face, many returning from older Doom games, and they each bring their own annoying trait to battle. Some project force fields, others fly and shoot venom and enemies introduced as boss battles become regular foes as the game goes on.
The most infuriating of these is the Marauder, an enemy with super defense capabilities that will kill you several times in the heat of battle. He shoots a shotgun at close range and sends a flame dog summon and throws his Argent ax from a distance. He can only be hit when his eyes glow green in a midrange position and blocks every other attack. He’s a real nuisance.
Also new in this game are enemy weak points. Certain heavy demons, like the Mancubus or Revenant, now have visible weak spots that when destroyed, make the fight much easier. Most enemies can be dealt with easier with a particular weapon, which makes keeping up on ammo and being able to switch guns on the fly more important.
Compared to the last game, ammo is more scarce in the world. There were many times I ran out of ammo, but this is where the chainsaw comes in. Ripping demons apart with it wields a multicolored treasure trove of ammo. Resource management is important in the game, and players have all the tools to thrive.
All in all, combat remains the core of Doom Eternal’s gameplay. Playing on normal mode, the game was an unrelenting gauntlet at times, as I suffered death after death after death. Yet, much like its predecessor, it didn’t discourage me from jumping back in, changing my approach and overcoming the challenge, because Doom Eternal puts the ball in the player’s court.
Furthering the Scope: New Additions
In addition to new weapons and enemies, the game provides several new features to gameplay and the game flow, one of the biggest being the Fortress of Doom, a space station found by the Slayer between the events of Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal.
This is the hub world of the game and features unlockable secrets, places to admire the many collectibles found in the world (such as music players, plush toys found in the world and cheat codes that alter the game) and the Ripatorium, a combat training area to test newly acquired weapons or face tough battles.
It’s really nice and has several easter eggs within and references to other Bethesda and id Software games.
One huge addition to the game is the dash ability. The player has two dashes that can be used to dodge enemies or gain a better vantage point in combat. It adds more depth to the combat and provides a way to get out of tough situations. It’s also used in platforming, which has a bigger emphasis than before.
Several sections of the game require making the most out of your jumps and timing the dash just right to reach a ledge or a wall to climb. I’ve seen mixed thoughts on this, but I really enjoy the focus on platforming, as it serves as a nice break between intense combat sections and provides a nice challenge, as this is the main way to find collectibles.
Another new item is the 1-up. They are found in out of the way areas and respawn you where you died with full health upon death, instead of booting you back to a checkpoint. They are a nice way to help balance the game’s hefty difficulty and they got me through some adrenaline and rage-fueled moments.
Overall these new additions and the way they are implemented push the series forward. I’m very glad these changes were made, and I just wonder what they could possibly add in the next game.
Walls of Flesh and Thundering Heavy Metal: Presentation
Similar to Doom (2016), the presentation of the game is stellar. Everything that stood out from that game is pumped with steroids for the second go-round.
While the number of demons in the game has doubled, each one has its own visual cues and style to stand out in the middle of a massive battle, which is important in a game with combat as intense and fast-paced as this.
In addition, there are even more Glory Kills in this game that up the gore tremendously. One example is the Doom Slayer forcing a demon’s own gun to its face and firing it. These kills are so ridiculous that it borders on cartoonish, which fits right in with the game’s aesthetic and almost makes you feel sorry for the demons. Almost.
The scope of the game has increased tenfold, taking the Doomguy to several different locations, including old ruined cities, pristine temples, the rampant hell-ravaged Earth and a soul-extracting factory in Hell.
These places all look great from a design standpoint and use some grotesque imagery to set the mood. One example is walls made out of flesh on Earth that show how far the demons have infested themselves into the planet.
Like the previous game, I encountered no graphical issues or glitches and the game ran smooth as butter. Because of this, combat remains a blast and I never suffered any unfair deaths due to slowdown or frame rate drops.
Mick Gordon returns to helm the game’s soundtrack and takes the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. The score is a similar style to Doom (2016): bombastic, chunky guitar riffs, menacing synth beats and driving tempo that makes the player feel like the ultimate badass.
This soundtrack, like much of the game, feels more focused and confident than its predecessor and gives Doom Eternal its own voice. I recommend listening to this track to get a real feel for it.
Doom Eternal graphically, conceptually and sonically doubles down on what made the previous game work and we are much better off because of it.
More Than Meets the Eye: The Story
The story of Doom Eternal follows a similar pattern to the last game. It is a simple premise, with a plethora of lore and rich background information available to those that seek it.
Sometime after the events of the Mars invasion, demons have invaded Earth, cultivating its resources and people to provide energy. Doomguy shows up in the Fortress of Doom (powered by the A.I. VEGA) to save his planet.
To do this, he must kill the three Hell priests managing the invasion. This task isn’t so simple, as the priests are moved to different places and the Doom Slayer must find ways to track them down and stop an even bigger threat than a demon invasion.
The story takes the player to a variety of different locations across different dimensions and is a simple way to segue into gameplay. It’s there for those who want it but is briskly paced enough to satisfy those that just want to get straight into the combat.
Yet those who want more can find background information on the lands the Slayer visits, bios of the various demons and important figures in the story, the entire story of the history of Hell and even documents that shed light on the Doom Slayer’s backstory in the form of lore pages scattered throughout levels. You can find a summary here, but it contains some spoilers.
It’s all well-written and interesting, but some of it feels like it should be given justice as a cutscene in the story. However, Doom has never been known as a narrative-driven series, and I see this as a solid compromise.
The only big problem I have with the story is the lack of explanation about what happened between games. Where did the Slayer go when Samuel Hayden beamed him off of Mars? How did he find and capture the Fortress of Doom? There are two DLC campaigns coming out for the game, but that’d be pretty cheap to hide major story details behind post-release content.
Overall, the story is competent and has a lot of depth if you go out of your way to find and read the lore.
Doom Eternal is a different game than Doom (2016). The combat has been overhauled and is faster, deadlier and allows for a lot more creativity in how you obliterate hordes of demons.
It is more difficult, while at the same time giving players more tools to face the challenge and overcome. Ryan McCaffrey of IGN says it best in his review of the game: “If you can keep up with it, it will keep up with you.”
The story takes a bigger scope than the first but expects the player to do a lot more legwork in figuring out the hows and whys. Yet the presentation is magnificent, with gorgeous graphics, well-designed levels and a fantastic soundtrack.
There are plenty of collectibles or combat challenges (such as Slayer Gates or secret encounters) that make replaying the game’s massive levels a rewarding experience.
While I play these games mainly for the single-player campaigns, I did dabble and play a few hours of matches in the new Battlemode. It’s a cool idea for online multiplayer, as one Slayer takes on two demons. It seems a bit unbalanced in the Slayer’s favor but it is a fun distraction when you are done with the campaign or want a break from it. It’s worth a shot.
Doom Eternal takes everything that worked in the 2016 reboot and amps it up to 11. It is my favorite first-person shooter game I’ve ever played and as long as you pay attention and fully take advantage of the mechanics the game offers you, you’ll have a fun time playing it.
Seek this one out if you like exciting games or if you’ve been a Doom fan since 1993. It’s the fully formed modern update to the series’ formula and will fill you with an adrenaline high for its entire 15+ hour runtime.