I ripped and tore until it was done. I pulled out the spines, blew up, sawed in half and decapitated more demons than I can count. And it was some of the most fun I’ve had with a shooter this generation.
Summon The Fun
DOOM Eternal takes the 2016 reboot by the horns, cranks the volume up and sends you into the guns, guts, and guitar fuelled mayhem.
DOOM 2016 feels tame in comparison to Eternal. The feeling of speed you get, the weapon arsenal at your disposal, the types of demons and the various ways to decimate these demons all come together to create an adrenaline-pumping experience.
An increased focus on strategy and a higher skill ceiling provide intense skirmishes and satisfying gameplay. I completed the single-player story on Ultra-Violence and have also replayed some levels on Nightmare. Ultra-Violence strikes a balance of difficulty that provides a challenge without causing too many moments where you will contemplate a rage quit.
The Right Tool for The Job
DOOM’s core gameplay has received some changes. Glory kills no longer reward ammo, only health. To refill ammo you either have to find it or use your chainsaw on demons which will reward you with ammo and health. The bigger the enemy the bigger the resource reward, at the cost of more chainsaw fuel being used. Because of this, you will need to use your chainsaw more than you had to in DOOM 2016 and is an essential part of your arsenal.
To receive armour you must again find it. Or you can set fire to demons. This can be done using the all-new ‘Flame Bletch’ which is essentially a shoulder-mounted flamethrower. The Flame Bletch doesn’t do much damage, but demons who are feeling the effects of the Flame Bletch will drop armour when damaged or killed.
Weapon switching is vital to coming out of combat alive in DOOM Eternal. Certain demons are more susceptible to certain weapons. Demons also have weak points now, for instance destroying the Revenant’s cannons will remove its ability to fire rockets. Because of these two combat aspects, you will need to always be on the ball and aware of the situation you’re in and make your moves accordingly.
The Slayer now gets a dash ability, and this is like turning the afterburners on. DOOM Eternal is fast but the dash allows you to zip around, evade projectiles and traverse the environment with ease. Dashing keeps the speed and intensity high, and aids tremendously when keeping on the move. As you never want to stand still during combat.
Double Jumping is also unlocked right out of the gate this time around. The double jump and Dash make the Slayer the most agile and fastest he’s ever been.
You will need to master your traversal skills, time dashes and double jumps correctly. Not just to survive combat, but to progress through the platforming sections that break up the combat encounters. Wall climbing and monkey bar swinging are two new traversal methods that you will become familiar with during gameplay. I thought the platforming broke up the combat and added some variety. I didn’t find it very frustrating either. Though on one or two occasions I did, but nothing major.
These changes and additions to DOOM Eternal’s combat help add more strategy to the already superb run and gun action gameplay. It’s a terrific amount of fun racking up the body count and feeling like a total bad-ass. I feel sorry for whoever has to clean up the mess you will make out of the demons who stand in your way.
Hide and Seek
Levels in DOOM Eternal have what you would expect from a DOOM level. Combat areas that flow well and are a joy to slay in and secrets that are hidden around for you to find.
Things like extra lives, and collectibles such as toys and vinyl records are a few examples of items you can find around levels. I’m not usually one for collectibles in games, but when I saw one here I wanted to collect it.
My favourite things to find were the Empyrean Keys/Slayer Gates. Finding a key and using it to access a Slayer Gate sends you to a new area and pits you against a nearly overwhelming horde of demons for you to put down. These areas can be challenging but were always rewarding and enjoyable.
It also helps that the levels in DOOM ETERNAL look great. The graphics and art are a treat for the eyes, which makes exploring the brilliantly crafted and levels even better.
One Man Army
DOOM Eternal offers multiple different weapons to the player. From the Super Shotgun to the Chaingun to the Ballista, each weapon has its strengths and can play a role in combat.
A shoulder-mounted grenade launcher now allows you to fire grades without lowering your weapon. Ice bombs can also be fired from this launcher, freezing demons in place and leaving them vulnerable.
If you really want to give the demons a bad day (as if running into the Slayer wasn’t bad enough) you can use one of two power weapons.
The BFG 9000 which fires projectiles through the air that can dish out big amounts of damage to multiple foes. It can clear a room with ease and get you out of a sticky situation, let’s just put it that way.
The other power weapon the Unmaykr, which you can unlock by acquiring six Empyrean Keys that are obtained from clearing Slayer Gates. The Unmaykr is a rapid-fire spread shot weapon that is more suitable to close range encounters. Although powerful, I feel the BFG 9000 is far superior, making it the power weapon of choice and kind of making the Unmaykr irreverent.
Up Close and Personal
Once you’ve done enough damage to a demon, you can move in for the famous Glory Kill. A brutal finishing move that will evoke some sort of reaction depending on who you are. Thanks to the addition of the Doomblade, glory kills are more creative and barbaric, and give even more viewing pleasure.
If one blade wasn’t enough how about a laser sword? The Crucible is a sword that works similar to the Chainsaw. The Crucible, however, can cut down and slice up some of the biggest demons such as the Tyrant with ease, something the chainsaw can’t. And looking cool is just a side effect of The Crucible. but it’s surely appreciated.
Perform enough Glory Kills and you will charge up your ‘Blood Punch’. A melee attack that does a lot more damage than a regular melee attack. Which isn’t saying much – poking a demon with a toothpick would do more damage than your regular melee. Seriously though, the Blood Punch is effective, as it can destroy demons and knock off armour. It also sends out a shock-wave damaging other demons around you.
DOOM ETERNAL’s weapons look good and feel good. They serve different purposes, while adding to the sandbox. You’ll find yourself utilising many more weapons here compared to Eternal’s predecessor. It makes you need to be proficient with more that one gun and learn the strengths and weaknesses of each, relying on one weapon is not as effective this time around.
Weapons can be fitted with one of two alternative fire modes that change the way you use the weapon. If you obtain both fire modes for a weapon you can switch between them on the fly. Handy when you find yourself up against certain enemies.
The Combat Shotgun can become fully automatic or equipped with a grenade launcher. The Rocket Launcher can fire remote detonation rockets or have a lock-on system.
You can even upgrade weapons alternative fire modes by spending Weapon Points that you earn from Combat Encounters, Slayer Gates, Boss battles and Secret Combat Encounters.
Every weapon apart from the BFG-9000, Unmaykr and Super Shotgun have alternative fire modes. Though the Super Shotgun can still be upgraded whereas the Later two weapons cannot.
Strength to Strength
Scattered around levels are Sentinel Crystals that you can use to upgrade your Health, Armour, and Ammo. With extra boosts such as resources getting pulled in from a greater distance being unlocked as you purchase corresponding upgrades.
Praetor Suit tokens can also be found, which you use to purchase upgrades for the Praetor Suit. For example, being able to hold two grenades or mantle and swing on monkey bars faster.
All of this upgrading, various tokens and points, paired with the more layered gameplay can feel a little overwhelming at first, especially compared to the more simple DOOM 2016.
But once you’ve got your head around it, it will won’t be a problem and will provide ways for you to upgrade your Slayer to suit your style. Making him more powerful and versatile. Resulting in you slaying the hordes of hell with even more destruction. Which in my books is always a positive.
Forces of Hell
The number of demons you will encounter has increased in Doom Eternal. Demons like the Pinky and Cacodemon return from Doom (2016). Demons like the Arch-Vile and Pain Elemental return from older installments. New demons are also a thing. With the Doom Hunter and Gargoyle being two of them.
The demons in Doom Eternal have different roles, some are heavier demons who can take punishment and also dish it out. While weaker demons are fodder, they won’t pose much of a threat but can be used to gain resources.
One new demon is called the Marauder and can be a real pain. The Marauder specialises in defence, by using a shield to block your attacks and a Super Shotgun of its own that it will blast you with if you get too close. Get too far way however and an axe will come flying your way. And I still haven’t mentioned the spirit dog/wolf that it summons to chase and attack you.
The key to defeating the Marauder is to stay at mid-range and counter its melee attacks when its eyes light up green. But it can feel frustrating as most of the time when you feel you’re at mid-range you either get an axe or shotgun to the face. Oh, and the dashing around the Marauder likes to do doesn’t make staying at mid-range any easier.
Defeating a Marauder gets easier the more you face them. But what’s consistent across all of your encounters with them is the game’s pace, which goes from bombastic to a crawl. It would be fine if it was a one and done boss battle, but when one shows up mid-combat encounter it can feel a bit jarring.
Another demon I’m not a fan of is the Tentacle. Another new demon. It will pop out of the ground and slap you, but if you react quickly enough you can kill it before getting hit. The Tentacles just aren’t fun to deal with and become irritating. Especially when you run into multiple of them.
Most of the demons are fun to fight, with demons having a weakness that you can take advantage of, and strengths to be wary of. But all of them look top-notch in terms art side. The visual damage of demons is a nice touch, seeing holes and missing pieces not only is an amusing detail, but helps show how much damage you’ve done to them. You will also encounter bosses during the single-player, which are satisfying to take down and require you to learn their behaviours. The bosses also succeed in shaking up the combat.
Hell and Back
The story takes a backseat to the gameplay here. It clearly knows why you’re playing and what it does best.
But a story is present and is more prominent than it was last time around which might be something some people may not be a fan of in Doom Eternal.
In short, Hell is invading Earth and it’s up to the only one who can stop it, the Doom Slayer. To do this you will need to kill the three Hell priests along with some other formidable foes, who I won’t spoil. You will journey through a hell torn Earth along with a return to Mars and Hell. You will also venture to a more unsuspected realm.
Cutscenes feature more here, which explore characters in the Doom universe, including antagonists and returning faces, attempting to flesh them out and give more life to the world/characters. The Doom Slayer’s back story is also briefly delved into during a cutscene.
The best thing about the cutscenes, like DOOM 2016’s cutscenes, is the visual storytelling. Without really speaking we can see all we need to about the Slayer’s personality. From the way people cower at just the sight of him, to the care or lack thereof he gives about doing things by the book and caring about what people say. He wants to kill demons and that’s what he’s going to do, in any way he can.
The story and lore can pretty much be ignored if you so wish. But if you do want to delve into it, you can read the in-game Codex that dives deep into the lore. The story is there if you want it, but doesn’t get in the way too much if you don’t.
If I’m honest, the story is nothing to write home about, but I don’t think it was trying to be. And if you came here expecting the story to be a major aspect then you’re in the wrong place. The story is nice to have, however and does give context to your crusade. The gameplay is the main attraction though, it’s what you will remember DOOM ETERNAL for.
Mick Gordon returns to provide one hell of a soundtrack. A thunderous metal performance that elevates the action, as well as setting the tone of the game.
The soundtrack gets you pumped, it helps drive the gameplay along with ferocious pace. When the soundtrack kicks into overdrive you know it’s about to go down.
Mick Gordon shows his talent once more in creating yet another excellent soundtrack. One that will leave you jamming out because it’s so good, it is a serious strong point in DOOM Eternal.
Home Sweet Home
Between levels you will return to a hub known as ‘The Fortress of Doom’. The Fortress of Doom is the Slayer’s home, that you can explore, and get a glimpse into what the Slayer does when not slicing, shooting or blowing demons up.
Take a look around and you’ll find guitars mounted on the wall, a three monitor PC setup, books and even playable versions of DOOM (1993) and DOOM 2. It seems like the Slayer enjoys shredding the axe, gaming and indulging in fine literature.
Skins to swap out and upgrades can be unlocked around The Fortress of Doom. Vinyl records that you’ve found can be played here as well. Giving you a reason to stay and explore.
But if you really can’t go five minutes without spilling demon blood or just want to practice some combat, then you can visit the Ripatorium/Demon prison. Where you can kill demons without any cost to ammo or extra lives.
The Fortress of Doom’s attention to detail is what makes it a joy to look around. Each book and magazine has a unique readable title that sounds like it would belong on the Slayer’s shelf. It also acts as a way to look at collectibles. Toys you find are on display alongside the aforementioned vinyl records, that you can play. It’s nice to see the items you find slowly turning into a collection.
Slaying in Style
During a playthrough of DOOM Eternal you will be sure to unlock some skins that give you the opportunity to change the appearance of not just the Slayer but the demons you can play as in PVP multiplayer.
The base your characters stand on and various animations they do can also be unlocked and changed. Along with your tile card and emblem.
A traditional level system paired with a Battle Pass like system, give you the chance to unlock these various items.
It’s nice to be able to change skins and other bits and pieces, especially as some of the skins do look awesome. I personally rocked the classic DOOM skin most of the time. But I feel the Battle Pass system doesn’t fit very well in this game.
Two on One
Classic multiplayer isn’t part of DOOM Eternal. Instead, it’s replaced with a less traditional PVP multiplayer mode called ‘Battlemode’.
Battlemode pits one player who controls the Slayer against two other players who control a demon of their choice. The demon players’ goal is to eliminate the Slayer, with the Slayer’s goal being to eliminate the demons (who would have guessed). Best of three rounds wins.
The singular player must utilise all of the skills they have learned to succeed. Because player demons can respawn and both demons must be dead at the same time for a Slayer victory. meaning they both need to be killed around the same time.
The demon players have the ability to activate abilities such as damage zones. A.I. demons can be spawned in too by demon players. They can work wonders for the demon side, but if one is killed it gives the Slayer resources.
Maps are taken from the single player and work well enough. But some unique locations would have helped the mode stand out and entice people to try it.
Battlemode can be fun and interesting, but unfortunately, I don’t see much longevity in it. Playing as the Slayer feels too similar to the single-player, while also feeling inferior to it. Playing as the demons is a nice change of gameplay, but isn’t enough to get me to want to return to the mode.
Missing in Action
It’s also unfortunate that we no longer have a traditional multiplayer mode or SnapMap. SnapMap would have offered more replayability and gameplay variety.
BattleMode isn’t bad, but it’s not great. I appreciate id Software trying something different. It definitely is a cool concept, that others might enjoy more than I did. I do feel that it’s nice bonus though, a side dish you could call it to the main course single player.
And I would rather the developers make something they are passionate about and want to make as opposed to tacking on a multiplayer mode they don’t want, that would end up most likely not being anything special due to lack of passion and motivation.
Bring It On
Great level design, superb gameplay and an incredibly fitting soundtrack provide an experience few other games can match. It’s so much fun and is definitely one of the best shooter/action games of the generation. Id Software should be proud, as they have made something magnificent. If you liked Doom (2016) you should pick up Doom Eternal.