Developed by id Software, DOOM Eternal is the direct sequel to DOOM (2016). Experience the ultimate combination of speed and power with the next leap in push-forward, first-person combat. As the DOOM Slayer, return to take your vengeance against the forces of Hell. Set to an all-new pulse pounding soundtrack composed by Mick Gordon, fight across dimensions as you slay new and classic demons with powerful new weapons and abilities.
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Doom Eternal is the best action FPS game to this date. It’s challenging, but also provides a good amount of freedom to the player for them to creatively express their skill. To clarify, an action FPS is an FPS that focuses more on mechanical skill (aiming, movement) over strategy (resource management, positioning). Contrary to the old style, which uses finite resources, Doom Eternal resources are cycle based - you regather resources in a cycle similar to arena FPS games. Because of this you are forced to use your entire arsenal at once. You need to find the best usage of each weapon in the given situation for each cycle. This is contrary to the retro style of fps, where the resources are distributed for the whole level instead in a timeframe. Similarly the damage you are allowed to take is also based on cycles. While you can keep regaining health though Glory Kills, the armour is still locked behind this cycle based gameplay.
One of the core aspects of the game is the movement and how it is used for the gameplay. Usually in those types of games the main idea of the movement is to allow the player to dodge attacks and projectiles, and while this is true, there is an even more important aspect to the movement in Eternal - the map traversal. You need to keep relocating if you want to survive in Eternal. While you could skillfully deal with a handful of enemies through dodging and being efficient with your damage, you will inevitably be overrun by a lot more than you can handle if you stay in the same place. Combine that with the enhanced movement of the enemies compared to previous titles and the intricate arenas created to emphasize your ability to traverse them, and you get a very interesting mix of platforming and FPS combat. This serves to intensify the combat even more, by making each second you stand still dangerous and also forces you to shoot while on the move, making it harder to aim. One thing that the map movement does not work with is the cycle based resource gathering. To gather resources your best targets are fodder demons that spawn in specific locations. This makes the resource gathering process itself rather uninteresting, as you just cycle through one location on the map every time. While with interesting level design and ambushes that could work better, it is still very limited to what you can do with it. This was a place where the game could have taken more from the arena FPS genre and bring respawning resources in the arena itself. This would bring more strategic decisions, since now you don’t have just 1 spot to gather ALL kinds of resources, but rather you need to go to different spots on the map to collect different resources. This would make the movement more interesting outside just of enemy management by adding a resource management aspect to it. It could also be used in plethora more interesting ways compared to the current system in the level design itself.
What is easily the biggest strength of Eternal is the enemy roster. Almost every enemy does its job extremely well. Early on the fodder enemies you fight provide decent challenge until you gather your better equipment and abilities, and later on they still have use, not as a threat, but rather for resources. You could easily dispatch them if you need, and you will easily dispatch them while fighting stronger demons due to the use of explosive weapons, however a lot of the time this won’t really be a good thing for you - you want to keep them alive. The hell knight and the dread knight are another good insensitive to put you on the move, and especially the dread knight with its area denial ability. The Arachnotron and the Mancubi are great long range enemies that most of your time will be one of your first targets, or at least their weak points will be. The Pain Elemental similar to the original game brings time to the equation of the combat as the longer they are left alive, the more dangerous they become similar to the original games. Still contrary to them, they don’t have a lasting effect even after they have died like the original, however they are also way more dangerous upfront, so even without many lost souls spawned they are still a big threat. The Carcass is easily one of the best supporting FPS enemies. They are scripted to spawn the shields in very dangerous locations and hinder any plans you currently have. They try to prevent you from shooting at the target you are currently prioritizing, and spawning a shield in your face makes it risky to use the Rocket Launcher because of its splash damage. They can also use shields to prevent you from Glory Killing enemies. Carcasses force you to be even more adaptive to the situation, especially because they’re not that easy to kill; they are often placed in spots you can’t easily get to, and they are one of the few enemies with a tracking ranged hard knockback (albeit they use it mostly in defense), which on hit briefly stuns you, and in a game about constant movement this is even more dangerous. The mobile enemies, the Whiplash and the Prowler, can be really devastating. While they don’t have that much DPS and cannot easily kill the player by themselves, they specialize in hindering your movement, which allows the other demons to sneak attacks in. The Whiplash is especially dangerous - it is harder to kill than the Prowler and you are forced to actually dodge mindfully to not get hit by its hard knockback. Their speed and aggression is also essential to this, making them an immediate threat as you can’t keep running away from them and evading them constantly. The Prowler on the other hand is much easier to kill and does not have hard knockback on its attacks, however their ability to teleport behind you and bodyblock you serves as a hard counter against camping and backpedaling. This could potentially make them extremely dangerous. An issue with them is that they also look similar to the Imps, so you might try to Chainsaw a Prowler for ammo thinking it’s an Imp, only for the unskippable Chainsaw rev animation to play because Prowlers take three pips of fuel to Chainsaw instead of one. The weakest enemies from the heavy demons roster are the Cacos, Revenants and the Pinkies. The Pinkies are rendered almost useless compared to the previous game because of your expanded vertical movement, which let you spend way more time in the air and making their ground attacks pathetic. The Cacos, while dangerous if left alone, can be easily stunned into a Glory Kill state with only 1 Sticky Bomb (ammo for which you will almost never run out for) in their weakspot. The issue with the Revenants is that they are ineffective at pressuring the player on either time or space, leaving them devoid of a niche in the enemy roster and a reason to ever prioritize them. They just feel like a heavier fodder enemy.
Last but not least are the super heavy enemies. They are the biggest threats in each encounter. The Barons of Hell are essentially super duper Hell Knights. They are extremely tanky, so even though they are an extreme threat, they are still very low on your priority list because they take significant commitment to kill but aren’t good at directly damaging you. By the time they’re introduced, you are already used to moving around the arena a lot, and their aggression would never let you stay in the same place.. The Tyrant/Cyberdemon is another tanky enemy, but instead of focusing on chasing you down, it is a slow ranged powerhouse. If you are not careful, you could very easily die to its laser attack or the artillery shots. However, he has one glaring weakness - his attacks are also slow. This allows you to very easily dodge those attacks, but there is an even more important aspect to his attacks - monster infighting. Because of his slow attacks and inaccuracy, he is extremely hazardous not only to you, but to other demons as well. This could lead to much more interesting usage of the Tyrant, than dispatching him when you can. The Doom Hunter, who is originally a boss, is one of the best enemies in the game. He has 2 phases, one is more tanky with a shield, which could influence your weapon choice, and the other phase is mobile, but easy to kill. He could also deal significant damage covering both close and long range, and his general mobility keeps him a threat all the time. He doesn’t have a main goal as most other enemies and is instead an all around enemy. Because of that he would never take all your attention to fight him and also that he can play any role allows him to synchronize with all the rest of the enemies. The Archvile takes the place of the Summoner from the previous game, but is way tankier. It also presents a bigger threat since instead of just spawning fodder it can also spawn buffed Heavy demons in large numbers and even other Super Heavy Demons. This makes them the enemies with the highest priority. There are no more Super Heavy Demons.
The Doomslayer in this game is way stronger than his 2016 counterpart. On top of having a rechargeable chainsaw and a way to gain armour from enemies, the movement abilities of the Doomslayer have gone through the roof. Even though the movement speed of Doomslayer is slightly lower than before, being able to dash more than compensate for that. You would be flying through the map like a mad man, especially with well time dashes. Not only that but this brings a new form of dodging outside of circle strafing and baiting attacks to make dealing with enemies more interesting. The grapple hook on the SSG also makes the movement incredibly fast in the game. It allows for making a super jump, by using any enemy, which is essential for the vertical movement. Though some more skilled use (and the air control rune), it could also be used to gather a lot of momentum quickly. The game also offers a lot of bounce pads and money bars, giving you even more ways to traverse the arena. On top of that the current version of the Ballista boost (formerly the Gauss boost ) allows you to preserve momentum even after a double jump, allowing for way more lateral movement. This with the vertical height you can gain, would allow you to clear any arena in 1 Ballista boost.
Another important aspect is the arsenal of the Doomslayer himself. The starting shotgun quickly loses its usefulness after the start of the game. Later on it can still be used to kill fodder enemies quickly, but as we established that isn’t really a good choice most of the time. However it can still be used to get enemies into glory kill state instead of outright killing them. The only other usage is for the sticky grenades against the Cacos and against some other weak spots. Sadly it lacks the damage to be useful for anything else in either variation (the automatic variation is completely useless after the early game). The rifle on the other hand has become a stronger weapon both for its primary fire and also for its Sniper mode. Not only is the Sniper mode good for dealing with weak points, it also deals considerable damage, so it is a good choice in combination with reload canceling for long range DPS. The Plasma rifle is another good weapon for continuous DPS, however it is overshadowed by other weapons when they are used with the reload canceling ability. It is effective at dealing with fodder, but that isn’t really something you should be thinking about. The biggest use of it is actually the microwave variation, as it allows you to crowd control all the demons with carefully calculated damage on a single enemy (if you damage the enemy just enough for it to be close to death and to not enter the glory kill state you can almost instantly blow it up with the microwave). It can also be used to quickly stun any enemy with just a momentary beam, which could open up the defense of some enemies like the Mancubi, letting you get close to quickly kill them, without them using their AoE attack. The Rockets are an essential weapon of your arsenal. They are one of the main weapons you can use to maximize your DPS thought reload canceling. The lock-on mod is also great for dealing good amounts of damage and dealing with more dangerous mobile enemies quickly. The self-detonate on the other hand is important for its ability to stun demons. The SSG is the other heavy damage dealer of your arsenal, and it is extremely sensitive to range. In midrange it is already really weak, but at point blank is the most devastating weapon in your arsenal. The Ballista is the other DPS weapon you should use. What is good about it is that you can use it at ANY range, making both a good pick for reload canceling on long range, mid range and close range. It is also strong against flying enemies, and it has the mobility option we talked about in the previous paragraph. Last but not least is the chaingun - it can quickly shred enemies, and more importantly stun chasing enemies like the knights and the Baron. The effective usage of your arsenal is obviously thought switching between weapons to cancel the reload, and also it is about managing the stun on tankier enemies you try to combo to death. This could be done through a grenade (which you can shoot while shooting a weapon), the remote detonate, the microwave tap or explosion, a glory punch (boosted punch, which recharges from glory kills), or shooting a weak point. By chaining those stuns together you can be close to an enemy to maximize your DPS without getting damaged yourself. However one important thing about those ways to stun an enemy is that they involve AoE damage (except the weak points and the microwave tap). This would lead to killing off fodder enemies, which could be a damaging decision to you in the long run.
This paragraph will be about some miscellaneous things and issues with the game. First I would like to mention that the pacing on Doom Eternal is way faster than 2016 in terms of progression. You start the game with the double jump, and you very quickly gain access to your abilities and the meat of your arsenal. The collectables are fairly easy to get, and even if you don’t hunt them, you are still likely to have full upgrades towards the end of the game. Important to this is the fast travel feature, which allows you to backtrack more quickly though a level after you complete it, to hunt down all the collectables. However this can’t be used when revisiting missions. This could be problematic both if you wanted to gather the items later on, or if you just wanted to play again a specific encounter of a level. The platforming is another weak point of the game. While the movement in the game is very strong, the game is littered with invisible walls. There are so many places you could reach through an alternative path using your movement, but often that place is specifical locked with an invisible wall, and you are forced to get through it, by the clear path set by the developer. This makes the puzzles and the platforming more Zelda-style in the sense you do not have the freedom to apply your own solution through interesting usage of the mechanics. Most of the bosses are also a big disappointment, some being just basic timing puzzles, and even the good ones lack diversity for their many phases. Another issue with the game is the HUD, important information such as the cooldowns on your Chainsaw, Flame Blech, dash and your Blood Punch are tucked away in the corners of your screen. While this is standard for many games, for a high speed game like Doom Eternal that just isn’t suitable. Having an option for a center bottom HUD, and more importantly small indicators for health/ammo, and the availability of your abilities around the crosshair, are essential for such a high speed game. The lack thereof means people are either going to underuse their abilities, or make a bad call thinking their abilities were available.
Now let’s address the elephant in the room - the Marauder. This enemy is mainly hated for 2 separate reasons. One is the lack of freedom you have for dealing with him, which feels like an antithesis of what Eternal is doing. You do have options to kill him in 1 or 2 cycles, or even use grenades and remote detonate, to not even have to deal with the parry, but compared to how you can play around other enemies it is just lackluster. On another side is the fact that you always deal with him in the same way, which becomes tedious for a while - you need full commitment for this enemy (contrary to the Doom Hunter), which leads to lack of any meaningful interaction between him and other enemies. And not only that but fighting him is not interesting enough by itself. What is even worse than the issue with killing him is that he does not really present a threat, until you decide to fight him. He does not excel at anything - his projectile attack has a tiny hitbox and is slow, so you are unlikely to get hit by it. He and his dog struggle with verticality and your movement, so he ain’t gonna catch up to you majority of the time. Most of the time you can safely ignore him, while you kill everything else and then just finish him at the end of the encounter. This is what really makes him the worst enemy of Doom Eternal, he does not contribute almost anything to the encounters, and it is just a tedious thing you need to kill eventually.
Last, but not least I need to talk about the tutorialization of the game. Many people have been left with the impression that Eternal does not give them a choice in how they want to play the game, but that is quite the contrary. However, while someone could just blame this on those players themselves, I believe the main issue is actually in the tutorialization of the game. While it is great in a sense that it gives the player a lot of information, the place it fails is the emphasis. Doom Eternal is an action FPS, which is a fairly new genre, and most people do not have any expectations of how these games are supposed to be approached. And this is where the game tutorial failed I believe, it lacked the vital information about how the game is supposed to be played and instead focused on trivia about Weak Points. Weak Points are important, but not that important, as the emphasis on them even leads some people to believe that they are the best way to kill enemies. The reality is that Weak Points are just about quickly reducing a threat - if you want to kill an enemy you shouldn’t even consider the Weak Points. On another side, elements like the refilling first pip of the chainsaw aren’t emphasized, as well as the cycle based nature of the resource management (and the HUD contributes to that as well), which then leaves many players with very low resources to work within the long run. Last, but not least the map traversal was also something that should have been pushed into the players, way too many people are used from other games to just circle-strafing in place, backpedalling and dealing with enemies one by one, including the previous Doom games. It is natural that they would try to do what they are used to, so it is another very important point that should have been emphasized.
Special Thanks to Durandal and S.G.S for helping me with this review, as well as the discussions we had around the game, and sharing of ideas.
Doom Eternal takes the 2016 game and cranks it up to eleven. Everything good about the first game is in here, like the fast-paced gameplay, rewarding upgrades, the variety of weapons that all have their use and all feel viable even in the endgame.
Many of the things it adds do come with a downside though. While it can definitely make the original feel lacking in features, this one feels more like they didn’t put much thought into what should or shouldn’t be added and just threw in anything they could think of and just didn’t do any trimming to make them actually work properly.
I do like all the new combat options which complement the even more chaotic battles. The ice grenade and flame belch add a whole new layer to how you play the game and manage resources. The chainsaw is now much more utilised as an ammo refresh.
One of the things I mentioned above about adding things without properly sculpting it to fit the gameplay is the extra lives system. It makes sense to have them I guess to fit the more difficult game. The problem is that they don’t refresh either on death or reloading checkpoints. In other words, let’s say you get to a really tough encounter with 3 lives, but lose all your lives and die near the end, at that point you’ll respawn at the start of the battle with zero extra lives, meaning that the game was basically handing you extra lives to say “We acknowledge you may need this extra help to survive the 10 minute warzones all over the level, but if you die during one of them we expect you to somehow succeed the second time with even LESS lives”. Just seems like a crazy system.
They also added some extra strategic elements to many demons. Unfortunately this is another 50/50 feature because while it’s nice that some enemies have weak points that you can destroy, the gameplay just does not give you the breathing room required to properly aim at specific portions of an enemies weak spots. You’ll be overwhelmed in seconds if you try to aim at a manucbus’s arms to slightly lower his damage output rather than just unloading into his fat stomach which you can do much easier while avoiding the other 70 demons in the room. Some of them though, like shooting a grenade into the cacodemon to instantly stagger them, work well.
Then there’s the additional enemies. Many are great, many are annoying. The marauder completely changes the playstyle of the game and is near impossible to properly fight with the other demons in the room. The arch-vile is just a pain in the ass, being a bullet sponge, teleporter, area of denial-fire user, summoner and buff totem all in one.
It feels like for everything the game adds, it doesn’t take 2 steps back so to speak, but each step they take isn’t as finely tuned as it should be.
As for the story… I don’t like the way Doom handles story. 95% of it is told in collectable codex’s. Unfortunately these contain so much lore-specific terminology that it’s near impossible to read any of them without constant cross-referencing with the other (missable) codex’s. I kind of just gave up after a while because not only is it a huge pace-breaker to try to read these in the middle of a mission, but trying to piece anything together when half the words they use require the knowledge of something else you need to find became a chore. If you’re going to have this much backstory why not actually use it to tell the story, and if you’re not going to use it why bother making it up? It’s the worst case of telling and not showing I’ve ever seen.
Even the stages didn’t feel any different from before, despite the massively improved potential of being on Earth for some portions of this game. Hell, Mars and Earth all feel too similar to each other. It actually seemed like it’d go in the opposite direction at first, I seem to recall feeling like the first 3 levels had their own unique style, but then it devolved into fire and brimstone everywhere with random destroyed buildings or ruins.
I will say this though, the platforming never once bothered me. I actually found it kind of fun. There’s some other things that were a pure net positive for me too, like removing challenges for runes. I never liked how the original would force you to use specific runes to master them. Now you can just set what you want and go. I’m also a fan of the fact you can unlock cheat codes that let you both go on a power trip and make re-runs through stages to do missions and get collectibles much faster.
So throughout the entire campaign I was fighting with myself whether I preferred this version to the 2016 game. Half the time I’d feel the benefits of the new things, and half the time I’d feel the frustration.
Then I tried the multiplayer. Instead of any kind of fun, balanced standard FPS deathmatch multiplayer we have a single asymmetric gimmick mode.
Battlemode is basically the equivalent of coin smash in Smash Bros. It’s something that should be an extra, something that you see on a menu and go “huh, I wonder what this is?” then maybe play it a few times for the novelty then forget about it and go back to stock smash. Except now there is no stock smash. Or time smash. Or anything, there’s only coin battle.
How they went from a perfectly functional multiplayer mode in 2016 to this travesty is baffling. If you only care about single player, Doom Eternal is an improvement on the original even with some questionable additions, but if you count multiplayer then Eternal falls flat.
Best FPS, better than the rest, lore is hilariously convoluted, level design comes straight from metal album covers (they always have guys) yet this time there’s mario involved and mario is pretty good right? The combat is an addicting frenzy that will melt your beurons until you’re rendered some gelatinous substance, which rules. I have never had to go back to work or listen to myself chew food no longer for I merely need never eat again. This is the citizen kane of video games. This is the stone cold Steve austin of foods for thoughts. THIS is my new Dad. Doom eternal, and if you disagree, then you need to go home and take a long, cold, hard nap. So get comfortable, bud.
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