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Review: Doom Eternal (2020)

by EyeRChris
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Doom Eternal continues the story started with the relaunch of Doom (2016). The last we saw of The Doom Slayer. He murdered the Spider Mastermind with a BFG to the face and recovered The Crucible. After being teleported back to the UAC base on Mars. Dr. Hayden betrays The Doom Slayer taking the artifact and teleporting The Doom Slayer away. Doom Eternal takes place an undetermined amount of time after the events of Doom (2016). The Doom Slayer is in orbit in The Fortress of Doom as it arrives at Earth after 60% of the planet has been slaughtered by the demonic hordes. With his trusty shotgun in hand he goes head first into the demonic horde to Rip and Tear, until its done.

At first glance, Doom Eternal is a very impressive game from minute one. The graphics are sharp and the performance is impressive. On consoles it runs at a locked 60 FPS. While PC performance might differ from your hardware. The engine and ID Tech on display here is leaps and bounds beyond what was on display in previous titles like Doom (2016) and Rage. In my time with the game, even under the most hectic of gunfights. The game performed admirably without any noticeable drops in performance.

The world of Doom Eternal is much more vibrant compared to Doom 2016. While the previous game was crawling through a sci-fi facility, the wastelands of Mars, and the depths of hell. Doom Eternal brings a wide variety of environments. The Fortress of Doom is a mix of space station and gothic castle motifs. Earth itself is devastated and being converted into a hellish landscape. Sky scrappers are on fire, lava and dark chasms litter the land, and signs of Earth’s defense lay scattered everywhere. From fallen soldiers to damaged to destroyed mechs laying in the backgrounds. Hell continues like previous where everything has a very wet feel. Walls and floors look like they are lined with flesh as pools of lava are everywhere. And without giving too much away in spoilers. The demonic hordes opposites, the Makyrs have a very high tech celestial motif. Unlike Doom (2016) and Doom 3. The world of Doom Eternal is very diverse and constantly has something new to show you as you leave the corpses of your foes in your wake. On replays, take some time and take in the scenery and just realize how much of a world the developers have built into this game.

Now the story of Doom Eternal is pretty direct and can feel very bare bones. While the world, the demonic hordes, the Sentinels, and the Makyrs are fleshed out in the codex files you unlock and collect through the course of the game. The Doom Slayer is not concerned with such things. He is only concerned with ripping and tearing the demons who threaten Earth. And shows no mercy to anything that stands in his way. Damn the consequences. The introduction of the game makes it clear. 60% of Earth’s forces have been consumed by the demonic horde. Does The Doom Slayer go to save the survivors? No, he is going for the source of the demonic taint by hunting down the demonic priests that are making the invasion possible. His journey to hunt down and destroy the priests is the catalyst that drives the story and his interference in the story ends up driving the end game of the story.

But when it comes to Doom. Lore takes a distant place to the combat. The meat and potatoes of every Doom title. And Doom Eternal does not disappoint in this aspect. In Doom Eternal your ammo is more limited than it was in Doom (2016). You no longer have your pistol with its unlimited ammo as back up. While this sounds like a step backward for combat. It actually is balanced perfectly in the game. In Doom 2016 you had your chainsaw where you can stockpile 3 pips of fuel to chainsaw enemies to insta-kill them. This causes them to tear apart and spray a colorful rainbow of ammo pickups to restock your ammo. In Doom Eternal, the chainsaw returns. But since you no longer have infinite pistol ammo. Your chainsaw now regenerates up to one pip of fuel when drained. This means every zombie, possessed, imp, and gargoyle might as well wear a name tag that states “Hi! My name is AMMO”. Like in Doom 2016, Doom Eternal has a focus on resource management. The Chainsaw creates ammo on kills. Glory Kills let you finish off enemies in violent fashion to cause them to drop health. And in Doom Eternal, The Doom Slayer has got a new gadget in the form of the Flame Bealcher. This lets you ignite your enemies to cause them to drop armor shards. This adds a new side to resource management in juggling your ammo count, health, and armor on the fly. But adding a bit of fire is not the only new trick The Doom Slayer brings to his crusade. On his left shoulder, The Doom Slayer has a mounted grenade launcher where he can fire Frag or Ice grenades that recharge without need of additional ammo. The Frag Grenades are high damage explosions that can stagger, kill, or rend armor of anything in their area of effect. The Ice grenades can temporarily freeze demons in their blast leaving them vulnerable to attack. Both can be upgraded with various effects like drop additional grenades or frozen enemies drop health when damaged. Both grenades are on their own recharge timers can can be launched one after another if the fire fight demands some additional fire power to give you some breathing room.

The weapons of Doom Eternal have also been balanced to fit the new game play loop. Due to the previous reduction in ammo capacity. You are no longer capable of running around like a madman with just the Super Shotgun with impunity. Instead each combat encounter can be treated almost like a puzzle. Every weapon and available mods meet certain needs and excel in certain conditions. The sticky bomb mod from the pump action shotgun can be used to feed a Cacodemon the grenade causing them to eat the bomb putting them into a state to be glory killed in a single shot. Prowler demons can be tracked by the lock on launcher mod making it no where they can run. The Chain gun can be modded to add additional barrels to dump an entire supply of rifle ammo in seconds or deploying an energy shield to protect yourself. Every weapon and mod has its pros and cons against the various demons you will encounter in the game. And learning the strengths and weakness of each will be vital in your survival. Because expending more ammo than needed against a wave when cheaper and more efficient methods were available mean the difference between life and death on higher difficulties.

And speaking of difficulties, the fights in Doom Eternal are much more difficult compared to Doom (2016). Where previously the most difficult things to fight were the shield demons because of their defense. In Doom Eternal, it flips this on its head. Hell Knights are so much more aggressive. They will charge in constantly and try to smash your skull in. Revenants will try to stay at distance and bombard your position with missiles. And to throw any fight into chaos there are Arch-Viles and Buff Totems that will make all the demons stronger and spawn them infinitely until they are dealt with. As the game progresses you will find yourself keeping your head on a swivel and after some trial and error. You will be assigning target priority to lower the threat as quickly as possible. Paying attention to the loading screen tips will key you in on some strategies that will save you frustration and ammo. With tips like the Blood Punch, a super melee attack that charges off glory kills, can tear the armor off Cyber Mancubus in a single hit makes a huge difference in ammo conservation.

But it is these same difficulties that can lead to some of the more frustrating moments in Doom Eternal. A new demon added to the mix is the demonic Marauder. This is a demon who is on par with The Doom Slayer. Stand too close and he will blast you with his own double barrel shotgun. Stand too far away and he will throw his energy axe at you. Piss him off too much and he will unleash a ghost dog who will chase after you and hound you in the fight. Any gun fire you send his way will be blocked by his shield. This is what makes this enemy so frustrating to fight with. While the game encourages you to run and gun with a variety of weapons. The Marauder is the antithesis to this. He requires you to maintain medium distance. This will cause him to lunge forward and melee strike you. Your only moment of attack is a flash of green light in his eyes. Striking him will stun him for a moment for some follow up attacks. While there is some strategies and perks you can unlock to make these fights easier. Rather than spoil them, I will say that it is satisfying to find counters to this enemy. Who in himself, is a counter to The Doom Slayers combat style.

Doom Eternal is a good sized game for its single player campaign. Clocking in around 18-20 hours for my first play through. At any point in the campaign, outside of certain story elements, you can revisit any completed level. Here you can use any unlocked cheats you’ve unlocked and go back for any collectibles (toys, music, power ups, and slayer gates [challenge rooms]) to power up your arsenal or suit. The cheats do not prevent your progression on replays. With the exception of the Slayer Gates, you can use cheats to go back and collect all the collectibles and power up items you may have missed. This is a cathartic release as going back with unlimited lives, all upgrades, and one shot kill on staggered enemies can make for some fun runs through stages you have already completed.
As well as all the collectibles and challenges in the single player game. Doom Eternal launched with BATTLEMODE as a replacement for the Multiplayer from Doom (2016). This is a 1 vs 2 game mode. One player plays as The Slayer and the other 2 players can select from 5 demons. The game is a best of 3 game mode where the demons must kill the Slayer or the Slayer must kill both demons before they respawn. In between rounds you get to pick power ups to make your demon stronger or to buff the summoned lesser demons. It can be a fun diversion from playing the campaign, especially if you got 2 other friends who want to just rip and tear.

Also included in the game is a battle pass type system. As you play the single player and BATTLEMODE you earn XP. This is applied to the battle pass to unlock new icons, player plates, and skins for your slayer, demons, or weapons. The game has no loot boxes and all the cosmetics can be earned in game (with exceptions being to Twitch Prime or Slayers Club unlocks). It is refreshing to see that cool and interesting skins can be earned rather than made available for sale. By subscribing to the Slayers Club you can unlock the Zombie Doom Slayer skin. This makes your slayer look battle damaged and decayed. His face visor has been bashed in, his armor torn, and it is the essence of a man who is too angry to die. With Twitch Prime, you can unlock The DOOMicorn skin. Where The Doom Slayer channels his inner pony and proves that murder is magic.

Any cosmetics you unlock can be used in BATTLEMODE to customize your appearance, but in relation to The Doom Slayer. His cosmetics can be used in the single player campaign. This changes his appearance in cut scenes as well as the visible armor scene when holding your guns or bashing a demon’s skull in. It is wonderful touch that not many games implement into their single player that I appreciate whole heartedly.

But I feel I would be doing the review a disservice if I did not mention the soundtrack. In Doom (2016), Mick Gordon absolutely knocked it out of the park with his heavy metal soundtrack. In Doom Eternal, Mick Gordon returns and he has lost none of his edge. The soundtrack at all times can be atmospheric and jump immediately into face melting tracks in the heat of combat. At times you will be so focused on the fighting that the music can be lost in the back of your mind. But going back and listening you are treated to an OST that is the heavy metal backing that you never knew you needed. The game also includes collectible tracks that unlock classic tracks from Doom, Doom 2, Doom 2016, Quake, and Commander Keen that you can listen to in the Fortress of Doom. While not available at this time, the soundtrack to Doom Eternal is one to get hyped to.

Doom Eternal is a worthy sequel to Doom (2016) bringing more of the same high intensity combat that fans craved. The fights are challenging and the weapons are satisfying to rend the flesh from the demonic horde who stands in your path. With plenty of content at launch and more to come later (Additional story content and player invasions). Doom Eternal has everything you could want to Rip and Tear for eternity.

Score: 9.5 / 10
Disclaimer: Reviewed on X-Box One S. No review copy was supplied by Bethesda.

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