DOOM Eternal is one of the largest names in the gaming industry as it picks up traditions that its 2016 predecessor established. Now, it’s promising a bigger, bloodier and meaner experience than before. Is it what we needed or does it find itself struggling with new gameplay mechanic introductions and returns of classic foes?
+Absolutely one of the best looking and most optimized games of this generation
+Mick Gordon doesn’t disappoint with an all-new soundtrack
+The newest pieces to the larger story build up an entire DOOM universe
-Almost too many platforming segments for those incapable of getting through them
When I imagine that id Software and Bethesda began to settle down on an idea for a sequel for DOOM (2016), a part of me has this odd image in my head of Hugo Martin, Marty Stratton, Jason O’Connel, Jason Martin, Luis Perez, Duffy, and a few of the other team members at a round table watching Mick Gordon for a response if he could make this year’s follow-up title any more metal than its predecessor and Mick just getting this massive grin on his face.
When it comes to sequels, id Software is no stranger to delivering masterful follow-up titles for any of their franchises. Since the studio was established in the late ’80s, early ‘90s, I imagine that a part of their discussion was how they could go bigger, better, and meaner than before. A part of me imagines that this same approach was taken fort his exact release, the team putting their heads together in order to prepare for their follow-up title, one that would see elements of the original mid-’90s sequel, DOOM II: Hell on Earth, and running with the philosophy that was put before on their drawing board.
Like any good title, however, there is the idea that if DOOM (2016) was a classic rock enthusiast as a child then I would imagine that DOOM Eternal is that same person has turned into an angsty teenage metalhead with extreme anger management issues. There’s nothing wrong with that because its combat takes everything we loved from its predecessor and turns the dial even higher, giving it the injection of adrenaline that it needed to get things going right. So without further ado, let’s see why DOOM Eternal is absolutely one of the best the franchise has to offer.
DOOM Eternal is everything we loved about DOOM (2016) injected with a major dose of metal
When it came to DOOM (2016), I had nothing to complain about, in truth, I was a junkie craving more. I needed my next fix no matter where I got it. I’d jump into SnapMap, enjoying the fanmade offerings and seeing just what imaginative fans had to offer, clear down to designing my own megaWADS (for you youngsters, I created my own objective-based mission).
DOOM Eternal, for what it’s worth, takes all of that and turns it upside down, ripping and tearing its way through the confines of what once held it back and opting for a much bigger, much meaner world than the one we had known before. The Doom Slayer makes his next big debut, often opting for blood and gore over breaking machines this time around.
Except there’s something majorly different from this title compared to its predecessors: DOOM Eternal didn’t just add a few new maps, a new enemy, a new weapon and run with it from there. Instead, id Software did what they felt was right, which made this game absolutely explode in every way possible. Instead of just expanding on new levels and previous focuses that id Software established in 2016, the talented crew behind the game expanded upon the scope of what DOOM has to offer as a franchise.
While it is to say that some of the new additions are a bit much could be an overstatement, but the idea, once done right, will be as glorious as ever. Just like its predecessors, you’ll see the Doom Slayer return, chomping away through the forces of Hell and showing them what a good ol’ ripping and tearing looks like along the way. After all, who’s going to paint those roses red without the blood of demonic sacrifices for those who decided to besiege all of Earth and turn them into sacrificial lambs being led tot he slaughter? As you can imagine, this leaves the Doom Slayer, aka you, the player, with one simple job: Rip, tear, and blow up every piece of demonic trash you can.
The Doom Slayer isn’t stripped of all his glorious deeds from the past, he got to keep them, which makes him a worthwhile character
In order to take out the trash, however, the experience had to be streamlined, not stripped down like many games do, forcing players to start over with extremely limited gear. This time, DOOM Eternal isn’t afraid to hand players previous abilities, giving players their double jump, combat shotgun, and glory kills for days in return for their demonic killing frenzy.
Within the opening hour of the game, you’ll find that the game is an acrobatic endeavor, one that didn’t contrive a way to strip players of their previous experiences, but rather, begging them to master previously established gameplay approaches. Arenas have grown in size, forcing players to master their layouts in order to succeed, using trial and error as their main go-to areas of design.
Players will often find that if they need to cross a valley, you’ll end up jumping across, making use of features such as double jump and dash to clear major gaps in the ground while using poles and lifts to dart about with reckless abandon. If there was any game to compare it to, aside from its 1995 predecessor, then Super Mario 64 and its lava levels would be the next big comparison one can draw.
Combat itself has been streamlined for beginning players, allowing them the chance to experience well-established design choices made by the team at id Software, while offering advance gameplay mechanics for those really wanting to get the most out of combat. Weapon combos and enemy weaknesses have become a mainline focus, forcing players to adapt and overcome in order to succeed, which shows through time and time again with each enemy having a unique approach to how they can be taken out (here’s looking at you, damn Marauder).
New additions such as flame belcher, grenades, and the return of the Unmayker changes how the combat pacing works
As you increase the difficulty, these little know-how’s become all the more important, forcing the hands of players to learn each enemy’s weaknesses and taking advantage of them while managing entire hordes. Secondary items such as grenades have been altered from separate pick-up to an item with a gear-based refresh period. Using both its variants – ice and fragmentation – allows for grenades to dispatch large crowds of weaker enemies or freezing an entire horde when you can.
Using the flame belcher does help out with survivability; forcing enemies to drop armor before allowing you to either chainsaw them for ammo or to glory kill them for health drops. Changes to the grenade and the chainsaw are welcomed, allowing the Doom Slayer to access his equipment quicker than he did before, continually using the chainsaw to his advantage in unison with the rest of his gear.
Larger enemies, however, do require more fuel than basic demons such as the possessed, imps, or possessed soldiers. Enemies such as the Revenant, Hellknight, and Mancubus will require three fuel chargers in order to take them out with the chainsaw. A daring change, but one that makes perfect sense and allows for the flow of combat to feel a bit more fluid.
Some enemies, however, do require equipment to increase your odds of taking them out. This includes newer enemies such as the Whiplash and the Prowler, which makes them unable to maneuver about as quickly or what they are capable of. Other enemies, such as the Carcass and the Doom Hunter prove to be formidable foes, requiring players to use specified weapons in order to make them vulnerable to attack.
The subtle nods to DOOM 64 and previous titles remain unrivaled
When it comes to subtle nodding to predecessor titles, DOOM Eternal isn’t shy about its roots, you see titles often forgot their past experiences in an attempt to continue moving forward. Id Software did quite the opposite and looked back to past titles and experiences, using DOOM 64 as some of the inspirations to help push it forward along with what DOOM II: Hell on Earth did for the series.
DOOM Eternal follows in their footsteps, using many of the games elements and design methods to bring some of the best features the series has ever had to offer including map designs, music, enemy types, and its massive scope and scale. Meanwhile, there’s also the idea that many enemies that were missing from DOOM (2016) that make an amazingly beautiful return, including the Pain Elemental, Archvile, Arachnotron, and Cyberdemon all remain fantastic enemies and provide almost the same identical challenge as they did back in the ‘90s.
Each of them is different in some ways while offering the same challenge as they did back then. You’ll find that the Arachnotron is a long-range fighter, using those skills to their advantage in order to take out a daring slayer. There are also some of the design elements as far as enemies go, which looks back to what kinds of designs we saw in DOOM 64 and DOOM II: Hell on Earth.
You’ll be able to take notice that many of the designs are rather close to ones witnessed in DOOM 64 and DOOM II: Hell on Earth. They’re a cheeky way of showing appreciation for past titles, but they work rather well. As does the destructive body part portion of the game, which adds more depth to the game, making every blast or attack feel as if they are packing a major punch.
DOOM Eternal’s Battle Mode is a nice little package that could use some minor tweaking
One of the hidden treasures in DOOM Eternal may not seem like one to many fans of their franchise on their initial attempt to give it a whirl. DOOM Eternal’s multiplayer is one that’s rather unconventional, it forgoes the well-established fragfest that we know DOOM (2016) to be.
This time, the game puts two demon players against a single slayer, putting their advanced skills to the test as they face off against one another. Those playing demons will get to choose from enemies such as Archvile, the Revenant, Pain Elemental, Marauder, and a few others that give players a fair amount of challenge based on what they opt to do and using each of the demons abilities to their fullest.
Marauders, for what it’s worth, are an adequate contender, keeping as much pressure on the slayer as they can, often using their throwing ax, their hound, and even the double-barrel shotgun to their advantage.On the other side of the spectrum, you have great support such as the Archvile who can cut off areas of the arena, making it hard for the Doom Slayer to get about while staying in constant pursuit, hitting the Doom Slayer every chance they can.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have the Pain Elemental who can constantly cast enemies, using the ability to cast its Lost Souls to damage the Slayer with heavy burst attacks, cutting off areas of combat to limit the combat area the Slayer has. The loot can be blocked, making the Slayer vulnerable.
The map variety itself will seem rather familiar as players prepare to take to arenas they may or may not recognize from their time with the game. Even the highest tiered slayers will find their ability to use a combination of weapons and work together will make it rather hard for a Slayer to remain alive.
Id Tech 7 is a beautiful, beautiful, evolution in graphics and performance for PC and current-gen console gamers
When it comes to making a game absolutely beautiful, id Software is the reigning champion of that. Their graphics, their animations, their lighting effects, performance rations, and scaling is absolutely astounding. Id Tech 7 is no exemption to that rule, making the engine one of the most astounding there is, keeping games like DOOM Eternal ahead of the cure.
I’ll just put this out there: DOOM Eternal is one of the best looking games on the market, standing side-by-side with games such as Marvel’s Spider-Man and Horizon Zero Dawn, which have stood out among their peers for quite some time. Atmospheric design elements are also rather well made, making every set piece feel as if they are n organic piece of the picture.
Even during my time with DOOM Eternal, somewhere near fifty hours, I’ve yet to experience a single performance issue as the game has continued to run buttery smooth on a PlayStation 4 Pro console with a 7200 RPM HDD. Surprisingly enough, this also goes to say that I’ve yet to experience any graphical anomalies or bugs of any kind as one might expect.
Instead, everything pops and stands out as it should; delivering a visual spectacle of an experience. The most impressive part is that these design elements help bring out the intensity of the Doom Slayers situation as the story unfolds before a player’s eyes at an impressive 60fps on consoles at 1080p, eve higher if your TV supports 4K and HDR.
All that rips and tears doesn’t mean the success isn’t going to have some growing pains
When it comes to accessibility and skill levels, DOOM Eternal isn’t one that just any Tom, Dick, Harry or Jane can play. It’s a game that requires skill, unfortunately, some of that skill is a limitation that some people can’t perform for a number of reasons. For our very own David, it came in the shape of the jumping puzzles, which for him, have been an excessive struggle due to it having messed with his eyesight and having given him major vertigo.
However, that doesn’t mean everyone will experience the same issues he has. For some, these are non-complacencies, ones that are non-existent with no reason to bring up in any form. It is worth noting there could have been minor alterations to offer those that suffer those issues, giving them alternative routes for them to take and experience the same story as anyone else would.
It doesn’t take away from the fact that these levels are amazing in design and will keep anyone busy for hours to come, regardless of who you are and gives us an idea of what kind of direction we can expect the franchise to take. For some, it may just end up leaving them behind while aiming at the younger generations and what kind of gameplay mechanics they enjoy.
The Conclusion – Don’t forget to visit Jessica at the UAC’s HR office
When it comes to making a solid sequel, one that steps even further ahead of its predecessor, DOOM Eternal is a prime example of how to do this and how to do it right. It’s an astonishing example in gaming evolution, offering cutting edge graphics alongside a cutting-edge experience, one that brings with it an impressive story and gameplay experiences.
However, it doesn’t weigh in the fact that DOOM Eternal is significantly harder than its predecessor for some. For others, this is the diamond in the rough that they’ve been waiting for, the game that can easily rival many of 2020’s contenders this far and even make them excited for the future content pieces that are expected to drop as some point in 2020 or 2021.
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and Stadia
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: id Software
Release Date: Available Now
Regardless, this is one of the best entries in the franchise and sets precedence for a strong future ahead. So for now, we just have to rip and tear and see what the future has to offer, which we hope includes a Quake Reboot at this rate.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!