Our Doom is here and the only one who can save us is the Doom Slayer!
Doom Eternal has been on my radar for quite some time and as an FPS junkie, I’m all over anything that involves guns, gore, and gorgeous demon slayers! Although in the last year I was pretty scared, with Bethesda going on some weird downfall and having Doom Eternal being delayed by 6 months made me close to having a meltdown. But now with a review copy at hand and having played about 20 or so hours, I can finally put my nerves at ease … well, not really with all these demons around! All hail the DOOM SLAYER
Now Doom has never been one for a compelling story with plenty of gravitas and that’s not a bad thing. Previous games have had all the right beats, interesting concepts, and plot devices and work well as video games. They’ve not really needed a story similar to say The Last of Us and just do well as a somewhat mindless journey of survival and damnation.
But Doom Eternal is shaking things up a bit and what we get is a decent amount of lore and to be fair, some interesting dynamics which will change things in the Doom universe. Things seem grander in terms of world-building and character development is on the next level compared to older titles. While the Slayer does not speak, we feel like he has a million years of experience behind him. With demonic forces fearing his name and antagonizing b*****s spewing about his terrible deeds towards demon kind (sorry, mortally challenge – love it).
There’s plenty of lore to read up on and it’s pretty impressively detailed making it worth reading upon. But if you don’t, you can follow the story for the most part. But certain chunks of backstory are not explained in-game, such as how the Doom Slayer got out of Hell and got the Fortress of Doom itself.
Yes, there are cut-scenes but they’re rather short, sweet and right to the point. Within a 15 hour campaign, there are about 20 minutes or less in total that are cut-scenes. It’s not Metal Gear Solid and after the first couple of hours into the game, you hardly see them. Plus they can be skipped and they don’t impose themselves onto the player.
But overall the story is fine, taking beats with seen before where you need to kill three powerful figures, get a super-powerful weapon and defeat and even more, super-powerful force of evil. There are some neat reveals and a twist which will make any Doom fan gush!
Now okay, enough with the story, let’s talk guns, gameplay, and difficulty.
Tough Mudda F***er
Doom Eternal is a relentless beast and one that boasts its hard-core nature in every step of the adventure. For Doom fans, this will be the ultimate test in wits, reflexes, quick strategic thinking and keeping your nerves under control. I swear ID Software needs to offer counseling after playing this as this game will wreck you in so many ways!
The difficulty for Doom Eternal has been bumped up and the aim of the game in each battle or enemy encounter is to keep moving and know your surroundings. Simply using the Super Shotgun all the time won’t cut it now and players will need to adapt quickly in every fight.
On the one hand and overall, I love this approach. Players will certainly use everything in their arsenal and skillset, such as grenades, glory kills and the chainsaw in order to obtain resources when low and of course, the ultimate lifesaver which is the double dash. Every encounter will force you to combine tactics, gadgets and guns to clean out the hoard of enemies that pounce upon you. Making everything you have feel important and thus no gun feels left out.
Doom Eternal is also about knowing what guns are effective on which enemies, understanding each demon’s behavior, knowing their weak points and who to make out first in a crowded fight. I will admit, I tried Doom Eternal first on “Hurt me Plenty” and it was more than a healthy challenge. The higher difficulties are just ridiculous at times but manageable once you understand the core principles of Doom Eternal. These are moving fast, reacting fast and knowing where to pick up resources in a pinch. I did run out of ammo a few times but Doom Eternal always gave me enough to make it through and exploring the environment quickly always offered a saving grace or secret “power up” that gave me the winning edge. This intensity is enthralling and after a long and brutal fight, I felt complete and highly satisfied!
The downside to this leaner, meaner approach to fighting is that the first couple of hours before you get more guns and gadgets are pretty slow and tedious at times. You do get the good guns after a couple of hours, but the first few of missions will be slow as enemies, even the fodder ones, are tough and you can only carry very low amounts of ammo on your person. Once you upgrade a bit and get a few new guns such as the Super Shotgun, the game picks up and gets much more energetic and fun.
The second thing with the difficulty is that there is a massive jump from “I’m too Young to Die” to “Hurt me Plenty”. As mentioned, I played on Hurt me Plenty as I heard this was a much tougher game and it certainly is. But I felt it should’ve been a little less intense and maybe leased up, considering you have two difficulties above that and oh my god, they’re insane. I got on fine with the main three but any average gamer or those not massive in First Person Shooters might be turned off a little by this approach. Guns, Gore, Gadgets, Guts, and Guns!
But Doom Eternal does an immense job of delivering the goods when it comes to guns and gore. Now I loved Doom 2016 and I’m happy to see ID Software replicate the same intensity and cleaver level design in Doom Eternal. Every level, for the most part, has great pacing, an immense amount of exploration and plenty of hard-hitting combat.
As mentioned all the guns feel as though they have a purpose while offering plenty of opportunities to cause some serious carnage and more. Each gun can be upgraded with combat points and be made even more deadly for later in the game. That’s not the only thing to be upgraded as the Doom Slayer can upgrade his suit to aid in exploration, buff up defenses up to resist toxic, explosions, general damage or allow the grenades from his shoulder-mounted cannon to make an even bigger boom! There’s a huge amount of potential to unlock with the Doom Slayer and it highly rewarding completing each encounter, finding all the secrets and completing challenges to make yourself feel more of a badass!
In terms of combat arenas, most are designed well, with plenty of breathing space, cover and small elements to gain a short advantage over the enemy. You can use portals, jumping platforms and traps to your advantage and believe me; you will need to use everything in your arsenal and environment to survive. Taking notes from Doom 2016, the arenas here are varied, crammed pack with enemies and explosive possibilities to create true mayhem. Plus they flow well, keeping with the theme of momentum.
There’s a good mixture of enemies with some new additions really adding tension to the fights. You have Whiplashes which crawl on the ground very quickly, Pain Elementals which are flying b******s that throw Lost souls at you and even a smaller version of the Cyber-Demon known as the Titan which makes for a nice mini-boss of sorts. There’s also the Doom Hunter, a robotic floating death machine that can ruin your day and a savage fighter known as Marauders. Even some of the returning enemies have been upgraded, adding new dynamics to their attacks and keeping the experience overall fresh and exciting.
Many of these guys are tough already but when most of them are mixed together in the same fight, things go from fine to holy s*** levels of insanity. Everything just explodes and you may end up screaming for joy and crying when the fight is over. But there are some special tools at the Doom Slayer’s disposal including a melee weapon known as “The Crucible”, a powerful sword that can kill any enemy (apart from bosses / mini-bosses) in one hit and of course, the BFG.
No, not a big friendly giant (I will actually discuss giants in this review later on) … THE BIG F***ING GUN. It’s awesome and still makes me smile when I use it and using it with unlimited ammo (a cheat you can unlock) was just a life fulfilling moment!
Doom Eternal knows how to keep you on your feet but also gives much love and attention to its exploration.
There are a ton of secrets to find, including toys, music and even cheat codes which are hilarious. With codes such as infinite ammo, infinite lives and even a Quake Con crowd that cheers you on as you slay the hordes of demons before you. These add a ton of replay-ability and just make for a nice touch if you fancy some mindless violence without any of the drama. Plus there are secret encounters that allow you to obtain more tokens for upgrading and even keys to unlock a super-duper weapon, from a previous Doom game.
(Hint: It’s the one which has 64 at the end of the title)
Oh and the Fortress of Doom is the sweetest hub area I’ve seen in a game for a long time! Filled with awesome unlockable items and a place where you can chill and reflect over your accumulated wealth made up of toys, music, and suits. Where Doom Eternal fell short for me …
I did find however find the Buff Totems insanely annoying as these make enemies super-tough until you destroy it and usually they’re in the biggest arenas. And the new enemy I mentioned before known as the Marauder. This dude was a complete f***ing nightmare and a little unbalanced if you ask me. He requires very particular tactics to defeat and is more of a one to one fight. However, they pack this dude into a number of combat encounters with lots of other enemies and it becomes a complete cluster f*** when he shows up. There are two moments where he’s a good fight but near the end, when he shows up like three times at the same level, I just got annoyed.
I was also a little let down by the last level which I felt could’ve done so much more. You get a couple of neat set-pieces throughout the game and one being where you control a Revenant, which was so cool! And the last level is just a generic gauntlet of encounters, no different from previous levels. Levels such as the Arc were amazing with great pacing, good placement of enemies and plenty of activities that keep the momentum going.
I had personally hoped that Doom Slayer would control a giant, walking power suit as you see them everywhere or at least, I don’t know, maybe be made into a giant himself to take on the last boss? Gears of War as a series (well the first two games) always knew how to up the stakes and always made their climaxes a real show stopper. Gears of War 2 even went bigger for a climax compared to the first game and I hoped Doom Eternal would do something a little more interesting and insane.
But overall it’s fine, yet for DOOM 3 I want Doom Slayer either made into a giant or using a mech of some kind. DOOM SLAYER is doing his best to be the new Mario
Yeah, the platforming is fine for the most part. I do appreciate its implementation and for many segments, it breaking up the generic format of exploration nicely. I did find towards the end the platforming does become a little tougher and this is due to the pin-point accuracy needed for certain jumps. Also, it usually involves just jumping from one stationary platform to another. I did hope for some more madcap situations with platforming but it’s all very safe and sound. Maybe for the sequel, they’ll enhance the platforming.
And for the bright, colourful popups and all, I didn’t mind it so much. After playing for a few hours it didn’t even phase me the slightest. I kind of enjoyed some of the visuals and for the most part, everything looks amazing! Into the Lungs of Hell!
Mick Gordon’s soundtrack is amazing. This dude is a god!
I cannot praise the soundtrack enough as it’s so good and just makes the fights even more epic! It’s blood pumping, headbanging and teeth grinding to the extreme. All the songs just fit the total carnage and destruction happening on screen. Without the music, Doom Eternal wouldn’t have the same impact.
Mick, you’re music is amazing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Overall?
While there are some things which I would like to see tweaked and yes I feel the end of Doom Eternal, could’ve been much grander and interesting. Doom Eternal is an amazingly intense and brutal shooter that ID Software has clearly put a lot of love, respect and care into making. Everything from combat, exploration, content and even the story have been handled with mastery and it goes beyond what most shooter offer nowadays. This marks a great start to the year and Doom Eternal will be eternal in the FPS genre.
++++ The soundtrack!!!
++ Awesome gunplay, level design, and exploration
+ Nice to see the depth to the Doom lore
+ Looks beautiful
+ Lots of replay-ability
-- Difficulty spikes and the learning curve can be immensely annoying
- The first couple of hours are a slight grind (before you get the good guns and gadgets)
- The third act could’ve been more interesting (more set pieces needed, methinks)
A PS4 review copy of Doom Eternal was kindly provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.