I hope I never see another glowing axe for as long as I live.
To say that I was excited for Doom Eternal would be a vast understatement. From the moment it was announced at E3 2018 up until its 2020 release I was not only filled with anxious anticipation but extreme curiosity. At the time it was revealed I hadn’t fully beaten a Doom game before (though the reveal is what inspired me to go through 2016) but I wanted to know everything about it. “What does it look like?” “How does it play?” “What new things will be added?” These were all the questions that were swirling inside my brain and to be fair, Bethesda did show off everything I was asking for. I just didn’t actually want to see it. I intentionally went into Doom Eternal as blind as I possibly could from revealing until release and let me tell you that I am a fucking genius because experiencing this game with a fresh perspective was mind-blowing. Doom Eternal absolutely blew me away, though it took a hot minute to do so.
Doom Eternal starts off in a similar manner to Doom 2016 by throwing you headfirst into the action. Armed with you trusty shotgun (not a pistol, funnily enough) you are tasked to destroy Hell’s armies from taking over an extremely fucked up Earth. The first thing you’ll notice is that by the time you first reach the chainsaw which is like…20 feet ahead of where you start, you’re already out of shotgun ammo and have to refill it by killing an enemy with the chainsaw. While this sounds standard given how 2016 did something similar it really isn’t. Like at all. Doom Eternal is MUCH less frivolous with ammo drops than in previous games and each of your weapons has an embarrassingly low amount of ammo at the start of the game. You can improve that by finding Sentinel Crystals scattered throughout the levels of course but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re always going to be low on ammo and that’s really a problem since the enemies in Doom Eternal are much more aggressive and harder to take down this time around.
In Doom 2016 the game made the player feel like an unstoppable killing a machine, a god among men. Doom Eternal makes you feel like an Imp fighting that killing machine. Not only are your weapons far less powerful than in the previous entry but your enemies have been given thicker skin and more aggressive attack patterns. I have never had more trouble killing an Imp in a Doom game than I have with Doom Eternal, almost every demon got a complete move set overhaul. Imps as faster and jump around more, Cacodemons fire multiple energy blasts at once, there are armored Mancubus’ now that can only have their armor removed with a Blood Punch, it’s insane. You’re sometimes thrown into arenas with Multiples upon multiples of these enemies and having that aforementioned ammo count is an issue, but that actually makes the combat far more engaging in my opinion. I felt that it made every enemy encounter feel tense and meaningful, it made you feel like you were taking down an army rather than demon fodder. DoomEternal requires you to have complete spacial awareness of where enemies are and to use every ounce of skill and equipment you have at your disposal to take down your enemies as efficiently as possible and I loved that, especially given that the new gameplay additions kick absolute ass.
For being such a big guy the Doom Slayer sure is an agile bastard. Doom Eternal adds two major things when it comes to combat. The first is the dash which is not only a useful traversal tool given how far you travel, it’s also an essential skill in combat since it can save you from certain attacks AND allows you to dash into enemies because the damn thing has a fucking hitbox I DIDN’T EVEN FIND THAT OUT UNTIL THE END OF THE GAME. You also get a little shoulder-mounted cannon that spits grenades and elemental attacks that can give you an edge against enemy hoards. The Flame Belch is a slow damaging fire spew that grants armor upon damaging and killing engulfed enemies and the ice bomb freezes them in their tracks. You. Need. To. Use. These. They will save your life during tough enemy encounters. Now that’s not all you get for new additions as Doom Eternal also made changes to the rune system from 2016 and they are so, so much better. The shotgun now has a sticky bomb launcher that beats the shit out of using it normally, the chaingun has a front-facing barrier, the plasma rifle’s heat blast has become more devastating, and the newly added Ballista has a super fun precision shot. While I lament the loss of the Gauss Cannon I can’t deny that Doom Eternal’s arsenal is a lot more well rounded this time around with every weapon being given a purpose and specific use, especially since many demons have exploitable weak points. I could go on for hours about how much I enjoy the combat in this game and general gameplay of this game but I think I’ve gushed enough about it.
So let’s gush about the rest of the game.
Doom Eternal is the best M rated Nintendo game I have ever played. Yes, I’m serious (you can find extra lives for god’s sake). Instead of going for a forward-moving level structure like in 2016, Eternal opts for a much less linear experience in terms of environment progression. The Doom Slayer now has his own orbiting base that he uses to travel from level to level so you not only get a super neat hub world to explore that is filled to the brim with fanservice and bonuses to find, but it allows the game to showcase a wider array of locations. Each level has a bunch of collectibles hidden throughout them and they are not only much more fun to find than in 2016, but there’s also a lot more of them. There’s still the returning action figures that let you view enemy models but there’s also cheat codes that you can find and use on repeat mission attempts, vinyl records that unlock music tracks you can listen to at the Doom Slayer’s base, little codex entries that feel much more substantial to Doom’s lore this time around. The levels themselves are also far bigger and have way more interesting setpieces, making a lot of them feel more memorable than in previous games. I guess if I had one complaint it’s that a lot of the levels rely a bit too heavily on enemy arenas and don’t space them out enough but that’s about it. Overall great stuff and a FANTASTIC evolution on the foundation Doom 2016 left behind.
Also, the game is gorgeous.
Now there’s one thing I’ve neglected to mention in this review, one glaring omission that I’ve had problems with bringing up in just about every Doom-related review I’ve posted. The multiplayer.
I don’t like it.
Instead of doing a traditional deathmatch style of game or…really anything typical for an FPS game, Doom Eternal chose to do an admittedly unique 2v1 style of multiplayer. One player controls the Doom Slayer while 2 others play as the demons (Marauder, Mancubus, Revenant, Pain Elemental, and the Arch-Vile). The matches are 3 out of 5 and are structured similarly to a single player enemy arena. The Slayer wins once they’ve eliminated the two demon players and the demons win when they’ve eliminated the Slayer. It’s a really cool idea in concept and is certainly unique for an FPS game but it just wasn’t for me. The demon players can respawn as long as one other demon is alive and the Doom Slayer’s weapons are pretty heavy-hitting so I don’t think it’s SUPER balanced at the moment but I’m also not really good at it so I don’t think I can say much. I can see this being a really cool and long-lasting mode for people but I wish it had an option for standard deathmatches. Not my thing, but it’s cool to have.
Doom Eternal is an unbelievable game and was well worth the 2-year wait. Sure it’s a bit too hard at the beginning and I wish it was less stingy when it comes to ammo drops but it more than makes up for it with all of the new combat and traversal additions. I’m still not sure if it beats out Doom 2016 as my favorite entry because of how strong you feel in that game, but Eternal is undoubtedly an improvement in almost every way. I loved every second of this game and am looking forward to playing even more of it when the single-player DLC packs come out. Until then though, I’m all Doom-ed out. I’ve been marathoning nothing but Doom games for the past month and while I still have one more game to go through, I need to take a break.
Until then though? Rip and Tear, friends. Rip and Tear.