Doom Eternal is a masterful improvement on what was already a near perfect game. It delivers a roster of old, new and returning enemies, and most importantly, new ways to rip and tear them. If you’re into the lore, Eternal finally pieces together various strings of classic doom lore, all within a brutally beautiful setting.
Some of my earliest memories are that of waking up early on a weekend and playing the PlayStation for as long as I could before the tv show Rage came on, and my parents made me go play outside. Specifically, I remember The Ultimate Doom being my first ever video game that I owned, and one that I played the most. As a teenage I was given several 3inch floppy discs with all the other classic Doom games as well, and became pretty active in the small Doom community creating my own custom maps as a hobby.
I loved Doom 3 when it came out, but to me it was just missing something that made Doom so amazing. That something was rediscovered by the franchise when Doom 2016 came out and it really got people’s attention. Since then I’ve been waiting eagerly for the sequel, Doom Eternal.
Doom 2016 was, in my opinion, a masterpiece, but Doom Eternal enhances its glory in a way that doesn’t convolute or confuse. Between the added mobility, the new enemies, lore and mechanics, Doom Eternal is masterful example just how perfection can be improved upon. It’s super well polished as well, and is just hellishly beautiful to behold.
The gameplay for Doom, since the originals, has always been about a vicious balance of pulverization and puzzles, and that’s what made Doom 2016 stand out so much. Doom Eternal is no different, only it figured out a way to make combat ever more fast paced, and the parts in between more interesting.
The ability to dash around the battlefield alone is a fantastic addition to your arsenal, allowing you to dodge dozens of fireballs, and then quickly strike forward with ease as that imp you just blasted mid-dodge staggers. This, mixed with the still present double-jump, made the new meat-hook ability, attached to the Super-shotgun, all the more enjoyable. There’s something super satisfying about swinging up to a cacodemon, blasting it in the face(?) and then dashing back just as the giblets hit the ground.
For all the areas between bloodbaths, dashing meshes well with the new wall-climb ability, allowing for some satisfying and enjoyable jump-puzzles.
I won’t list all the new enemies, some are better experienced first hand face-to-claw, but as an avid old-school Doomer, it was exciting to see that the invasion of Earth was not the only thing to keep to the classic formula. The return of the infamous Pain Elemental and Arachnotron are just as a menacing addition to hell’s armies as they were in Doom 2, if not more so (Now that the plasma-spitting ‘spider’ can jump).
But it’s not just the new enemies that make Doom Eternal an improvement, but that fact that now, instead of just aiming for the head, most enemies have a weak points that the player can destroy. Doing so can weaken or disable certain abilities, keeping the demons from using them against the slayer. For example, destroying those frustrating heat-seeking missile-pods on a revenant, disables its ranged abilities, forcing it to become a melee combatant. This new mechanic makes your choice of weapon and strategy going into a battle all the more important, as taking advantage of it could keep you looking at a loading screen a lot less.
One of the main ingredients to all Doom games is looking for resources in the form of ammo, health, and armour, and if you’re playing on the higher difficulties, these are crucial to your advancement. But sometimes, these things are not always readily available on the ground. In Doom 2016, getting health was a matter of staggering demons and brutally executing them like blood-filled pinatas of first aid supplies. When you ran out of ammo, you simply had to switch to your chainsaw and carve up the nearest hellspawn, assuming you had enough fuel. There was no way to gain armour, but that’s where Doom Eternal comes in with the ‘flame belch’, which is a shoulder mounted flamethrower that works on a cooldown basis. You flame a demon and they start spewing out armour shards, kill them while they’re on fire and you get even more. It works with its own button, so there’s no need to waste time switching back and forth. Which is also the case now for the chainsaw, allowing it to be used in a much more streamlined and efficient manner – You can still pick up fuel, but the first bit recharges, allowing you to almost always be able to cut up smaller demons. All of this makes the Doom Slayer 100% environmentally friendly and self-sufficient, not to mention adds to your available options in battle.
Then comes Eternal’s answer to PvP. It was a bit odd to find out that the game that gave birth to Deathmatch was going to be, for the first time ever, forgoing standard deathmatch style PvP. Instead we get “battlemode”, where two demon players face off against a single player-controlled Slayer in a best 3/5 round based showdown. The objective as the player is simple, you have to kill the two demon players, but you need to do so within 20 seconds of killing the first, or else they can respawn with half their health. You get most of the weapons available to you from the campaign, with the option to sort your loadout to choose which mods you wants, as well as certain abilities that don’t exist inside the main game. For the demons, it’s very much the same, you get a selection of five demons, each with two role types to choose from, which give you a different loadout of abilities and summonable NPC demons. I have not played much of of yet, because I want to finish the campaign first, but have played enough to satisfy the weekly challenges. Overall, it’s an enjoyable mode, though I feel, and I can’t believe I am saying this, the Doom Slayer needs a little bit of a buff. I got lucky in my first round as the Slayer, winning the match, but no one as the Slayer won a single round in the three games I player after that one. Obviously my experience in anecdotal, but so far it seems there needs some balancing tweaking, but it’s still early days, and the mode itself is rather unique. Though personally, as an old-school “doomtographer”, I would probably rather have snap-maps. Hopefully that comes in later, but no news on it as far as I know.
Lastly, lore and collectibles. Doom 2016 is probably the only game I can remember completing 100%, (besides doing ultra-nightmare because screw that). I plan for Doom Eternal not to be any different, and as such I am super grateful for the ability of fast travel. This option allows unlocks near to the end of every level, and allows the player to go back to various points on the map as your leisure. This means being able to focus on ripping and tearing through the level, instead of scrutinising each and every nook and exploring every cranny just in case you pass a point of no return. Among these collectibles the Codex returns with bits of information regarding the lore of the Doom world. Personally, I love that that Doom Eternal has done such an amazing job taking the pieces of buried lore of the classic games, and on the platform set up by its recent predecessor, created what a world and story that feels like a brutal amalgamation of every classic heavy metal album ever.
Without reservation, I give Doom Eternal a perfect 10/10, and can not recommend it enough to anyone within the FPS fanbase, especially if you enjoyed Doom 2016, and I can not wait for the DLCs in the future.