DOOM Eternal is out in just a few days, the sequel to 2016’s DOOM that follows the misadventures of the DOOM Slayer in his quest to finally vanquish the demons of Hell, restore peace and order to Earth, and seek vengeance against the dark lords that did him wrong. But how does the Hell Walker’s new outting fare? Well, lucky for you we have the official Game Debate review right here...
First of all, I would just like to say that when it comes to what kind of video game genres I like, first-person shooters do not rank highly. I’m more of a single-player RPG kind of person, and revealing to you that my favourite game of all time is The Witcher 3 should give you some indication as to what kind of games I am most drawn to. The most games I play that are first-person shooters are sometimes Apex Legends, and sometimes Rainbow Six: Siege, though, albeit, not very often, and I am not particularly ‘good’ at either of them. So no, I would not say that I am a true fan of first-person shooters.
So when I say that DOOM Eternal is one of the best damn games I’ve ever played, that should be a testament as to how good id Software has truly made these last two titles. I must confess that I did not play DOOM (2016) when it came out, in fact I only played it for the first time recently because DOOM Eternal was coming out and I wanted to get a sense as to what I was getting into, and oh am I glad that I did.
Playing as the DOOM Slayer just feels good. There’s nothing more I can add to that, you just feel like a total god whilst playing these games, and DOOM Eternal somehow does it better than the last instalment. This sequel really is bigger and better in every way imaginable. Well, almost in every way…
I can’t proceed to talk about what this game does right before I get into what it does wrong (or, at least, what I was disappointed by), which, in the grand scheme of things, honestly isn’t that big of a deal. After playing DOOM (2016) I was absolutely infatuated with the soundtrack, I would listen to it constantly, I felt like a badass even when I was just walking to the shops to grab some bread, I noticed that I started head bobbing in public, I had a rhythmic stride to my usual walk, and to top it all off I don’t even like metal music! So it’s safe to say that I was well and truly affected, both physically and emotionally, by the DOOM (2016) soundtrack.
Unfortunately, DOOM Eternal does not have that anymore, at least not for me. Where the first game felt like the music was working with you, almost like it was playing it’s own separate game alongside you, like a phantasmal orchestra that was always over your shoulder, reacting to everything that you did. Now, it feels like the music is just... there. That is not to say that it’s bad, it's just… there. It’s a good ambient soundtrack, hell I would even say it’s a killer soundtrack still, but for everything that DOOM Eternal did better, the music somehow didn’t catch the memo. Though to be honest, I’m not sure anyone could top the DOOM (2016) soundtrack, not even the great Mick Gordon himself.
I have to reiterate that the DOOM Eternal Soundtrack is still really good, I just wanted… more. But even though I was slightly disappointed by it, I cannot think of any other negative thing to say about DOOM Eternal. Literally every aspect of DOOM (2016) has been improved here, and I could list them all if I wanted, but then this would be a very long review so I’m just going to focus on the important stuff. I just want to start out by saying that DOOM Eternal is hard, much harder than DOOM (2016) in fact.
First of all, enemies. Just… enemies. Everything about them has been improved, from their AI, to their textures, to their animations. Every enemy has been overhauled with a new look and they are much, much more deadly. And not only that, but they now dynamically react to damage, so their bodies incrementally get bits blown off of them. Shooting an arachnotron reveals the insides of it’s brains, blasting a Hell Soldier point-blank rips it’s skin off, and unloading on a Hell Knight reveals the bits of bones and muscle beneath it’s flesh. And whilst we’re on the topic of enemies, they now have weak points that can be abused to deal extra damage or stun them, providing more opportunities to use different weapons on certain enemies.
Exploration has had an overhaul too. Whilst there are no longer any DOOM levels to find, and, on that note, no significant secrets that will take ages to search for like those damn levers… There is so much more to explore and find in these areas. Remember how annoying it was in DOOM (2016) to search for secrets, only to move into the next area and never be able to make your way back without restarting the entire level? (and missing your chance at those sweet, sweet secrets). Well, now DOOM Eternal comes with a fast travel option that allows you to instantly visit any previous area at the press of a button. However, this option only becomes available towards the end of the level, so before you complete the mission you have a chance to quickly find anything that you may have missed. You can easily 100% each level by the time you finish your first runthrough of the campaign, some of you might be disappointed by this, but personally I found this to be much more rewarding in the short-term.
Environments are just jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and it's hard not to appreciate the stunning set pieces you will find yourself in. The art team truly deserves some sort of award for their work here as it cannot go unrecognised. Later on in the game there are some really spectacular moments that you will find difficult not to marvel at.
In between most missions you will return to the hub area, known as the Fortress of DOOM, where you can unlock certain secrets through hidden items that you find in the missions. There are also opportunities to learn more lore about the DOOM Slayer and the world (well, I guess, worlds to be exact). There is also a chance to test out new weapons and abilities on enemies in the prison, an area where enemies will keep respawning, without risk of depleting your health or ammo stocks.
Lastly, weapons and combat itself have been completely updated. I mentioned earlier about weak points on enemies that make for more tactical battles, but the DOOM Slayer himself has also been upgraded with new kit and weapon mods. Glory kills provide health as usual, but now a Flamethrower adds the necessary feature to get armour mid-combat as well. You also have an ice grenade along with your standard one that can freeze enemies and provide moments of escape or chances to deal extra damage. What’s also new is the Blood Punch, perform two glory kills and you can charge up your Blood Punch to deal massive amounts of melee damage in a small area of effect. Combat literally has tonnes of options now that provide players with unique ways to annihilate hordes of demons, which is very useful now considering how much more difficult and aggressive the enemies are.
If you were worried about the third-person cutscenes when they were announced, don’t be. They add necessary story and visual context to the game that we didn’t realise we needed. It also provides a much more cinematic experience which can greatly help in those emotional climaxes where new information or enemies are revealed. Most of the time I got goosebumps during these cutscenes because they were just really well made with great cinematography and direction.
I don’t want to reveal anything else as there are a few surprises not worth spoiling for everyone, but long-time fans will be very happy, and newcomers alike will also be very satisfied by it’s engaging gameplay and story. So for now, I’ll just leave you with my final thoughts:
DOOM Eternal is an absolutely insane roller coaster ride of emotions, and is a truly fantastic game. Levels are no longer gauntlets to run through, they have become a kind of murder ballet. There is a much more tactical thought put into combat now, like violent puzzles, that require intense strategies in order to make it through unscathed. The combat has been completely improved and gives players the true feeling of what it’s like to be the DOOM Slayer. The environments are stunning and provide many opportunities to leave your mouth agape at the sheer metal-ness of it all. Every area of this game is a sheer delight to just look around at the stunning scenery and jaw-dropping set pieces. The story is not something I particularly cared for in DOOM (2016), but DOOM Eternal somehow manages to wraps it’s silky tendrils all across your brain, and will surely provide a lot of excitement and satisfaction for those who have been following the DOOM lore and theory-crafting for these past games. DOOM Eternal is bigger and better in every conceivable way. Welcome back, Slayer, it’s good to have you home.