Let’s face it, Doom Eternal needs no introduction. It’s the latest release in the genre-defining series, and after Doom (2016) ran in, punched a big hole in our chest, and tore our hearts out, fans have been eagerly awaiting more.
For those of our readers who have no idea what I’m talking about, the original Doom revolutionised first-person shooters way back in 1993. Developer ID Software took everything they learnt for their previous title, Wolfenstein 3D, and turned it up to 11. It’s a frantic, unrelenting game, which pits you against the toughest S.O.B’s Hell has to offer.
ID Software have always shown great reverence when it comes to Doom. It’s a game that has been ported to everything (even calculators), but when it comes to sequels, there’s only a small handful. As such, when a new game lands, you know to get excited. Releasing on March 20th, Doom Eternal rips and tears on PC, PS4, & Xbox One.
On the face of it, Doom Eternal is a first-person shooter. You work your way through a series of levels killing everything in your way. But Doom moves away from the twitch-based shooting popularised by Call of Duty, and instead wants you to get up close and in the face of those you’re dismembering.
Levels are linear, but you find yourself moving between combat arenas, and it’s here where Doom Eternal stands out from the crowd. Enemies come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with their own strengths and weakness. The game challenges you to continually adapt to onslaught and use everything in your arsenal to get through it all.
ID Software has beautifully balanced your ammo levels to give you enough to tackle the biggest of beasts, but there’s not enough you can ever become reliant on single weapon. You have to switch things up, and when you get into a combo like zone, very few games feel better.
Movement is as important in Doom as the guns. You can’t stand still for too long or you will be swamped, and it isn’t going to end well. As with the wealth of guns, you’re given a lot of movement options. Double jumps and dashes keep you out of harm’s way, and shout out to grappling hook on the Super Shotgun (this game’s MVP). When you’re ready to go on the offensive, there’s no better way of diving into the action.
I’ve been able to spend plenty of spilling blood and guts in Doom Eternal’s online offering, and I’m pleased to report that Doom Eternal’s unique 2v1 Battle Mode is a blast to play.
1 person will take on the role of the Slayer, whilst the other 2 pick one of the hell spawn to control. The Slayer has access to his full arsenal and is as powerful as the single player. As that is very powerful, to balance things out, the demons also have the computer on their side.
Maps are littered with every kind of Demon, all hell bent on taking the Slayer down. It’s a wonderfully designed system as overwhelming the Slayer is the way to go, but it also gives the Slayer chance to continually refill health and ammo, just like in the campaign.
Because they’re weaker, demons need to use strategy. Whilst any combination has the chance to win, if you work in tandem with the other player, you can really mess up the Slayers day. Some enemies are summonable, and used at the right time are highly effective. You can also block the pickups, giving you chance to avoid that Shotgun blast to the noggin.
It’s a well thought out and wonderfully crafted system than is a lot fun whether you’re a demon or the Slayer. There’s also a nice range of maps, all made from repurposing campaign levels. My only reservation is that this is the only mode, and whilst great, a little more variety would be welcome.
Fortunately, Doom Eternal features a wealth of things to unlock, through both rankings and weekly challenges. It will keep you dipping you’re toes in, just don’t expect it take over your regular online sessions.
ID Software have earnt a well-deserved reputation as a technical powerhouse, and Doom Eternal is just another reason as to why. It’s an extremely impressive looking game. Maps, enemies, weapons, and let’s face it, everything is well designed and highly detailed. And for a game about Hell destroying the world, Doom Eternal sure is pretty.
Hell has reached our humble little abode, we’ve left behind space stations on Mars, and get to see how Earth’s doing. A little spoiler: it’s not looking good. But at least it means we can go globetrotting whilst trying to sort things out.
Across the campaign, you’ll visit a nice range of locations, including ruined cityscapes, and frozen wastelands. As a result, the sense of isolation and claustrophobia found in other Doom titles has gone but replaced by a continual sense of awe.
Doom’s enemies can easily be considered classics. For years they’ve terrorized peoples computers, and are now looking better than ever. They fit into the world perfect and the iconography and hellfire smattered everywhere truly bring this apocalypse to life.
With it’s fast and frantic combat, you need a rock steady frame rate supporting it. During my time with the game, I’m pleased to report I didn’t encounter any noticeable framerate drops, regardless of how chaotic things became.
I also have to give credit to Doom Eternal’s wealth of options for customising its graphics. Whilst it’s a norm for you, PC users, we console folk are used to a brightness option only. I didn’t find having to change anything, by default it looks great, but more power to the player is always a good thing.
Complementing the fantastic graphics, it some truly brilliant audio. The game has a rich sound design, that’ll get all parts of a sound system working.
Things just look and sound right. I’ve never actually met any skeletons with rocket launchers attached them in my life, but I’m sure that Doom Eternal has nailed how they sound. Enemy screeches echo throughout the levels, the thud of hooves on concrete rumble, and the squelch of ramming someone’s arm through their own head is suitably disgusting.
Like it’s enemy design Doom has a classic soundtrack. It’s bastardised Master of Puppets is instantly recognisable, and in the 2016 release was updated in a way that made sense. Doom Eternal continues with this, blending heavy metal, with electronic and dubstep.
It might not be to everyone’s taste, but it suits the game perfectly. You’re not here to be frightened, you’re here to destroy. Ambient sounds and minimalist soundtracks just wouldn’t work. The tracks build hype and get you ready to fight.
Usually, when I’m playing a game for review, I try to keep a running count of the hours, but honestly, I was so absorbed by Doom Eternal, I forgot to. It was the first time for a while I just kept playing a game until the early hours each night.
It’s a longer game than previous titles, and you’ll be looking around 15 hours or so to roll credits. But to only play it once would be a mistake. Doom Eternal doesn’t rely on set pieces to impress in the single-player mode, it’s combat is everything. As a result, it gives the game an arcade-like quality – you can replay this over and over.
And replaying is something I would highly recommend. You can get two very different experiences depending on the difficulty, and both are equally fantastic. Play on an easier difficulty, and you can feel like a god. You run through enemies like a hot knife through butter, but crank up the difficulty and Doom Eternal is a genuine challenge. You’ll have to use your wits, your environment, and your ammo very wisely.
The game will also throw plenty at you. Collectables are littered throughout levels, optional combat challenges appear in every level, and modifiers allow you to tailor every playthrough. There’s even remix modes and additional challenge maps to unlock. Doom Eternal wants you to have as much fun, or as much challenge as you like, and it has a more than ample toolset to do so.
Doom Eternal is an incredible game, there are no two ways about it. Its gameplay is slick, it’s fun, and a crazy good time. There’s a reason this series is so beloved, and Doom Eternal is no exception. It builds on the already stellar work done in Doom (2016) and doesn’t just repeat things.
For all the praise I’ve given, I would just have to say it’s not quite the best in the series. I miss some of the sense of isolation, and whilst it does add some very interesting story beats and lore, it’s only for those wanting to deep dive into the world. If you didn’t like Doom before, this won’t change your mind.
That said, it’s an exceptionally well-crafted game, and I’m pleased to award Doom Eternal a Thumb Culture gold award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.
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