Title: DOOM Eternal
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: First-person Shooter
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Stadia (Nintendo Switch TBA)
Version Tested: Xbox One
Release Date: March 20, 2020
The DOOM Slayer Strikes Again
If DOOM (2016) was a welcome reboot of the Doom Slayer’s adventures through Hell and back, then DOOM Eternal is the worthy passionate sequel that kicks up the action to a whole new level.
Taking place after the events of DOOM (2016), the forces of Hell have ravished Earth. Killing billions in the process, the various demons have destroyed the will of the humans to fight back. Titans tower over cities, blood fills the streets and cries for help ring terror in the hearts of the fallen and hopeless soldiers over radio shock and awe.
DOOM Eternal opens up with a conquered Earth, being observed from the Doom Slayer, who readies up his equipment. A woman yells for help over a transmission, and our main protagonist is determined to “rip and tear” all those who bleed evil. We’re then smacked with the game’s title, and the intense heavy metal music plays on, with the Doom Slayer transporting onto Earth to “raze hell” and put a stop to the demonic invasion.
Slashin’ and Dashin’
All the familiar and dominating combat mechanics from 2016’s entry are vamped up and improved to provide a more flowy and yet crazier gameplay experience. The first-person goodness of fast-paced action with big weapons and various demons are essentially all juiced up for the sequel. The player is equipped with a dash ability that only adds more strategy to how you approach the enemies. A Super Shotgun can be utilized to hook onto demons and to straight-up punch, burn, shoot, or chainsaw at in the heat of many intense moments. Armed with a flamethrower, a wrist blade, grenades for days, and massive weapons, the Doom Slayer will take on an ample range of enemies that fear his presence.
Obviously, the glory kills from the original make a stellar comeback, as the brutal finishers that can be performed on every demon are bloodier and more hilarious this time around. Once you’ve pumped enough bullets into an enemy, they’ll glow orange and blue to trigger the notable mechanic to make them suffer viscously.
Along with the introduction of the dash ability, there’s also a big emphasis on platforming in the game that either proceed the player to the next area or toward a secret area that contains a collectible. These come in the form of Funko-like figures of the demons; Cheat Codes that can be applied to mix up the madness of the gameplay; Vinyls of DOOM-related music that can be played at the Doom Slayer’s main base; playable Slayer Gates that provide a challenge but also a reward that can lead to the unlockable Unmaykr weapon, which makes a return from the DOOM 64 installment; and essentially upgradeable runes, crystals, and weapon mods can be found to strengthen up yourself and your equipment and have the odds be more aligned in your favor.
There’s nothing that really misses the mark when it comes to the overall gameplay. Its satisfactory flow-and-blow combat system is superb, and it makes me want to restart the campaign just because of how much fun I was having. With each new enemy being presented down the line of the narrative, I became increasingly more attracted to finding out different ways to approach the hordes of Hell. Enemies have weak points which can be imperative in a tight spot if you end getting cornered by a wave of heavy Mancubus shooters or Pinkys ready to strike and charge at you when you can’t get a second to breathe and reload. Pieces of their armor can be shot off to expose their vulnerable hit points, which can be examined easily due to the new feature that shows chunks of their body parts coming off as you supply more lead into their corrupted bodies.
More and More Lore
Without spoiling anything big that develops in the narrative of the game, there is an increased focus on storytelling that adds more lore to the franchise than DOOM (2016). Through a Codex that can be updated by collecting pieces of information in the missions, do we learn more of Hell and its nightmarish denizens, the invasion on Earth, background, and history of the Doom Slayer, and so much more. The establishing universe gets more prominent this time around, and it’s great to see how inventive the writers have become since the previous DOOM installment.
Of course, the Codex answers many questions and introduces new ideas to the game that the campaign doesn’t fully explore. You get a fair amount of context during the playthrough, where it’s comprehensible enough to have a blast without being too distracted. Even though I kind of wish that the lore’s background could’ve played more into the campaign’s narrative, I did appreciate how the Codex creates a layer of complexity over the more simple and straightforward main tale told through the gameplay.
Compared to how the Doom Slayer was at the beginning of the series with just a pistol as a lone marine to this demon-crushing badass truly amazes me. The game gives a lot more background and development for the Doom Slayer that he almost feels like an entirely fleshed out character. His past, his motivation, and his will for fighting can all be explored through the campaign, and it definitely pays off very well for a sequel to the 2016 reboot and the franchise as a whole.
Australian sound designer and composer Mick Gordon returns to mix new heavy metal music for DOOM Eternal. Acting as lead composer and collaborating with Chad Mossholder (one of the game’s writers), the intense metal music and choir vocals perfectly reflect the hellish mayhem-induced world of the game and its action. For someone who doesn’t necessarily enjoy metal, I found the soundtrack to be well-suited for the Doom Slayer’s journey; it’s also part of the reason why DOOM (2016) was so awesome to play through.
I find myself humming to Gordon’s and Mossholder’s composition mixes, and I can’t wait until the soundtrack is released for streaming and digital platforms. I know owners of the Collector’s Edition have access to it, so it looks like YouTube might be the way to go at the moment if you’re eager to listen to the music on your own and away from the game (especially since this might be Gordon’s last time working with id Software and Bethesda).
The masterful sound design is backed up with the soundtrack make for one hell of a ride. Each sound effect is polished and crisp, from the explosions to the crunchy kills on the demons. It all sounds fantastic, even when you’re playing with headphones late at night.
A Blast Into The Past
There’s a specific retro aesthetic to the game’s overall graphics that make it seem like a big brother to the original DOOM II. Some of the enemies are upgraded from their pixelated counterparts, and they all look grotesque and astonishing thanks to the living details on the character models. The first-person layout feels like a remastered version of the original game.
The game looks absolutely gorgeous, and that’s mostly due to the id Tech 7 engine and the excellent level design that left me speechless upon playing the opening mission. Nearly every texture and environment are touched with the expertise to almost a perfecting rate. It’s probably one of the best looking shooters in recent memory just because of how well-crafted and beautiful the graphics and gameplay are.
In regards to the multiplayer aspect of DOOM Eternal, the developers have decided to ditch traditional online matchmaking to introduce a new Battlemode. In Battlemode, one player will be fighting as the Doom Slayer with all of his weapons and abilities while two opposing players will team-up and battle against the Slayer as demon enemies. You’ll get to pick between an Archvile, Mancubus, Marauder, Revenant, and a Pain Elemental, with demon bots providing additional firepower. It’s quite different, but it’s also a ton of fun to get into once you get a few rounds in.
There’s another mode that will be coming soon called Invasion, where players can take on the role of a demon while “invading” the campaign of another player. This will toughen up your skills for both the demon playing and demon slaying. It’s being expected soon as a free update.
Furthermore, there is a progression system where you can unlock icons and skins that works almost like a battle pass – though there is no such thing where you have to pay extra. It’s really just an incentive to keep playing, and a good move on the developers for putting out a straightforward product.
It’s crazy to think about how addicting DOOM Eternal is. Even when I’m constantly checking the map to see where the hidden items are, I’m also going back to previous levels to continue the rip-and-tear carnage. I’m finding myself more and more attracted to the game once I realize that there is so much content packed into a single and awesome playthrough. There’s also upcoming story DLC that will be released, but no official trailers are available at the moment. Still, for a $60 price tag that doesn’t double-jump the player with extra payable content, DOOM Eternal exceeds expectations on every angle in its existence. Also, I advise any player to check out the Doom Slayer’s man cave within his Fortress; you’ll find some goodies that any DOOM fan will definitely appreciate.
Verdict: DOOM Eternal is a masterful work of art. From the battle chills of the opening cinematic to all the way to the final boss battle, I was delighted with my time in the game, and I was just itching for more and more by the end of it. The Doom Slayer’s quest is an epic gaming experience that makes the player feel immensely powerful and smart at the same time. I’m thrilled to see what new content that will be coming out in the next few months, but for now, I think I’ll gladly restart the campaign. Easily a top ten game of 2020, I highly recommend playing DOOM Eternal for any first-person shooting enthusiast or anyone who enjoys a great demon-slaying session. It’s time to raze some hell.