Four years after the phenomenal Doom 2016 was laid upon us unexpecting gamers, id Software releases their highly anticipated follow up – Doom Eternal – which manages to not only take and build upon what was created in the earlier games of the series, but to add in new mechanics as well; however, is it all a worthwhile experience?
Doom Eternal picks up sometime after the events of the first game with the “Doom Slayer” hovering above Earth like some omnipresent God lording over his flock in the Fortress of Doom – a towering citadel planted on a jagged piece of rock that acts as his personal headquarters he will visit after almost every mission. Last seen being teleported away to somewhere by Samuel Hayden at the end of Doom 2016, the Slayer’s presumably just arrived somehow after a long journey to find Earth overwhelmed by demons. The resistance – whom you never see and who manage to put out radio broadcasts like John Conner in some demon-infested reimagining of Terminator (and there are many references to this I.P. from the Mecha Zombies to this) – are begging for help before all of humanity is snuffed out of existence. Luckily, you are here to answer the call!Thus begins Doom Eternal.
HELL ON EARTH
In a reimagining (…or is it? More on this later.) of the second game in the series, Doom II: Hell on Earth, DE not only takes all of what was created in Doom games past and manages to build upon them by refining and ramping up previous mechanics, but adds new ideas to the fold creating a unique experience from D2016. However, is this experience entirely positive?For me it was a mixed bag.I’ll admit, at first I was really questioning the more prevalent chainsaw mechanic (used to get ammo from enemy), but after playing a while it made perfect sense. I rarely ever used the chainsaw in the original (as did most people apparently) because it felt tacked on and not needed, but not in this game. In Doom Eternal it is absolutely essential because you will be running out of ammo fast, but it’s not as much of a distraction as it is more of a push to get you to continually move forward as was the glory kill mechanic of the first game that gives you life and the new armor mechanic that has you destroying enemy after you hit them with a fiery blast from your Flame Belch. Killing is the only way you will survive in this game on multiple levels.
The enemy are fast, furious and even more deadly than they were in D2016. Old enemy have some new tricks from shooting a higher number of blasts at varying angles or a beastly melee attack that does massive damage to better mobility allowing them to get near you faster or shields that protect them from your attacks until broken (if they can be). New enemies are full of surprises and fill in the voids that may be left by their counterparts. The Whiplash, a cybernetic snake-like entity, will ruin your day with its speed and ferocity if you’re not careful. The Gargoyle will burn you quick with its acidic spit as it flies about the level keeping its distance from you. Then there are returning favorites such as the Archville which apparently has retaken its rightful place from the Summoner in D2016, but also comes with a new trick. However, none of these demons hold a candle to the outright fuckery that is the Marauder.I mentioned the enemies that will hide behind their shields until broken. The Marauder has an unbreakable shield he will hide behind, only hittable when his eyes flash green during a melee axe attack. All his other attacks – throwing argent energy axes from afar, summoning quick spectral hounds to fight along side him and a super shotgun blast that will push you to long range keeping you right where he wants you – are impervious to attacks… or so they say. I’ve hit him more than a couple of times after his super shotgun blast, however trading blows like this won’t keep you alive long. Take all that and add on his teleporting movement and the fact that you will have a slew of other enemy trying to rip your head off and you have a perfect storm of frustration. He is easily the hardest enemy you will fight in the game.
All other enemy provide their challenges but can be overcome if you handle them correctly, and they go out in glorious fashion as each shot blows a chunk of flesh off of your target eventually turning them into giblets. You can shoot the rocket launchers off of the Revenants and the guns off of the Mancubus. You can Blood Punch – a punch that gives you health and instantly kills the enemy – the armor off of the Cyber Mancubus… if you want to get that close to it. And most of the time you will have to if you want to survive long. Like flies to shit, the enemy will be drawn to and quickly surround you bouncing you around like a pinata at some sort of demonic quinceanera. It sucks, but that’s where your improved mobility come into play.As you upgrade your slayer you will begin to feel like a God as you double jump and double dash your way around the enemy like you’re a ballerina performing in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. I didn’t even mention the “meat hook” attached to your double barrel shotgun that will pull you towards any enemy you attach it to, the pull-up bars that a spread around the levels that allow you to stay in the air longer or pull yourself up to a higher location, the jump pads located around levels that propel you in various directions and the wall climbable ares that allow you to get more verticality on your targets.
Your ability to maim and murder your enemy has dramatically increased, but it’s when you’re out of battle that the downside of Doom Eternal rears its head. More so, the game seems to pause – dragging on through sluggish platforming sections that swing the pendulum entirely in the other direction from the action-oriented combat to more methodical and slow movement as you leap onto falling platforms, around fire whips and climb up walls looking for you next destination or secret. I don’t mind this in moderation but this game does it all too often slowing down whatever momentum it had built up previously and sometimes (literally) dropping you into a pit of frustration (and death) if you don’t time the jumps just right or fail to see a button you have to shoot across the map that will extend a platform that you need to complete the section.Adding insult to injury there are some elements that just don’t fit at all. Wall cannons that you can’t destroy shoot huge fireballs down the hallways that do damage to you but not the enemy giving you yet another thing to dodge, tentacles hide in holes or under water ready to jump out and swipe at you as you gloriously dance around your enemy or run through the level, and the sludge…The sludge is absolutely counterintuitive to Doom. In a game that constantly pushes you forward toward the enemy and have the enemy constantly coming toward you firing more ammo than ever, why are there large pools of unavoidable goop that slow you down considerably and prevent you from running, jumping or dodging? It feels like a kick in the balls rather than a reinforcement of any kind of game mechanic or principle.
And this slowdown happens in more way than one throughout the game. In between missions you will be sent back to your Fortress of Doom where you can look at all the things you’ve collected throughout the levels which include your weapons and Funko Pop! toys of the characters in the game, use Sentinel batteries to unlock certain powerups and armor (outfits) trapped behind locked doors, and listen to albums containing music from various id games. You can also collect disks containing cheat codes that can be turned on during the regular game and even play the original two Doom games in their entirety. There’s a lot to do in this location, but I didn’t see a reason why this couldn’t be included in the menu system and the Doom Slayer could just travel from one level to another.The upgrades are even more plentiful as you have mods for your weapons, and then you can spend Weapon Points to upgrade those mods which can be upgraded to a Mastery level after completing a challenge (or by using a collectable Mastery Point). Your suit and its weapons can be upgraded in various ways using Praeter Suit Points… almost everything can be upgraded to help make the Doom Slayer an ultimate badass. The only weapons that can’t be upgraded are the one-shot powerhouse Crucible Sword and the two most powerful guns: the returning BFG 9000 and the Unmayker.
Yes, the ultimate weapon from Doom 64 that was originally supposed to be included in Doom according to the Doom Bible which is a beautiful bone white (as originally described) and listed as a “demon-tech weapon that hurts pure demons a lot, demon-humans very little, tech demons some. Made of demon bones.” It is here, white and does some nifty damage, even if you don’t use it much alongside the Big Fucking Gun. Of course, that’s not the only thing taken from Doom 64…(spoilers and more ranting ahead)
WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND
As legend (or various online articles including this and the Doom wiki) states, the Doom Slayer is actually one in a long line of descendants that date all the way back to the original Doom Space Marine (Doomguy) who was the grandson of Commander Keen, no less, the unlikely hero from id Software’s first game.After Doomguy battled through Phobos, Deimos and Hell in the first Doom (around 2022) and was returned to Earth in Doom II: Hell on Earth because he was found “too tough for Hell to contain” but, upon finding Earth in demonic ruin, Doomguy suits up again to free the remaining human survivors to space and enters Hell to battle the Icon of Sin and rid Earth of demons forever. Or so he thinks.In Doom 64 the demons trick Doomguy back down to hell once more in an effort to stop him, but he manages to defeat them once again, along with the Mother Demon. No longer able to return to a normal life above ground, Doomguy stays in hell to make sure no demon escapes to Earth ever again.
Nobody really knows what the fuck happened with Doom 3. Well, some say it’s a prequel to the original Doom, but it takes place in 2145 so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯Sometime before the events of Doom 2016, the Doomguy was found near death in Hell by the Maykrs, trained and turned into the badass Doom Slayer to do their bidding as a Night Sentinel which is basically their bitch.He was sent to Hell or something to do battle with the demons (because that’s what he does) but the demons apparently trapped him in a sarcophagus without his armor where he would have stayed until the end of days. However, at the beginning of Doom 2016 (in 2149) he was released by Samuel Hayden to stop the new demon onslaught lead by Olivia Pierce and the events in D2016 happened. At the end he is teleported somewhere as Samuel Hayden walks away with the Crucible Sword.Some years later Doom Eternal puts our boy back on Earth fighting for humanity’s survival which means either a long time has passed between Doom II and now so that humanity had plenty of time to repopulate and be rampaged by demons once again, but that doesn’t explain the Icon of Sin being reborn unless there were two or more of them but then why doesn’t Hell just attack with multiple Icons of Sin? A more popular belief (?) is that you’re in alternate dimension that might have started with Doom 3?
The Hell if I know. Whatever the story is, I can’t help but feel it’s a letdown to go from a simple soldier who is literally thrown into the bowels of hell coming out the other side beaten, bruised but still breathing to some God-like superhero who can jump in a cannon and shoot himself across space through a sanctuary wall without so much as a scratch.
My heroes are the cowboy-types who go through seemingly insurmountable odds taking their share of bumps and bruises along the way, but come out on the other side a better person. Bruce Willis’ John McClane in Die Hard and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch Schaefer in Predator are perfect examples of this. However, with the somewhat new direction of the series, this God-like persona and moveset seem entirely necessary.
OVERKILL!!! I MEAN, OVERVIEW
All said, Doom Eternal is a very good game. I don’t think it’s as solid as Doom 2016, but at the same time I wouldn’t hesitate to tell somebody to pay full price for it today. The AAA quality from edge-of-your-seat gameplay to jaw-dropping graphics to absolutely metal music and sound effects all combine to overcome any shortcomings the game has, even the three crashes to desktop that occured during my playthrough. There is plenty of challenge and plenty of frustration that goes with it, but once you take down the hoards of beasts (or single damned demonic Marauder) that have given you pause, you will begin to feel like a true Doom Slayer.
I don’t know where the series goes from here – literally fighting God and the Devil? The story has left plenty open for a sequel. Was the blood curdling scream when Kahn Mayker bit the dust just an homage to Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan or was id Software leaving the door open for their next big bad? Will they somehow fit inter-dimensional travel into the series proving theories correct?
Where ever it goes, success is sure to follow because despite the time we live in or whatever platform we are using, Doom is seemingly eternal.
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Developer: id Software
Release Date: March 20, 2020
Genre: First-person Shooter
Total Hours Played: 37h 17m