Doom Eternal is the highly anticipated sequel to Doom, the reboot of the classic first-person shooter franchise that released back in 2016. Created by id Software, who are absolute titans of the FPS genre, Doom Eternal promises players with more high-speed shooting action, more blood, and a slew of new features and gameplay enhancements. By shifting the scenery from a demon-infested Mars to a demon-infested Earth, Doom Eternal also promises a more visually diverse and interesting story than its predecessor. However, after several delays, some fans may have their doubts. Is Doom Eternal a bigger, better, and bloodier version of this classic first-person shooter series, or is it a woefully disappointing disaster? Let’s see if the act of ripping and tearing through demons is just as fun in Doom Eternal as it was in Doom (2016).
Hell on Earth
At the start of Doom Eternal, things are looking worse for wear. After battling through hordes of demons on Mars, our hero space-marine (better known as the Doom Slayer) returns to Earth and finds it under attack. By the time the Doom Slayer can get his boots on the ground, over 60% of the Earth’s population has been wiped out by invading armies of hellish creatures, led by prophetic Hell Priests who ride atop towering nightmares. As always, the Doom Slayer does what he does best, jumping straight into the action with a whole lot of vengeance.
In Doom Eternal, there’s a noticeably bigger focus on storytelling and narrative. There’s an ample amount of lore you can draw from collectible notes and cutscenes are far more frequent than in the past. Eternal occasionally errs on the side of goofy over serious, resulting in a surprising and wacky experience. Some Doom purists might be annoyed by the sillier aspects of the story, as well as the character development afforded to the Doom Slayer himself. However, I found Doom Eternal‘s plot to be tons of fun and have just the right amount of humor mixed in with the chaos.
To Lay Waste and Let Blood Flow
Doom Eternal builds upon the frenetic and insanely quick gameplay from Doom (2016), adding a handful of new mechanics that crank the action to another level entirely. From start to finish, Doom Eternal‘s campaign mode is a nonstop ride of death, destruction, and gore at bullet-train speeds. A great selection of difficulty options ensure that players of all skills can enjoy this bloody romp, but make no mistake, Doom Eternal is chaotic and overwhelming in the best kind of way. From the pounding metal soundtrack to the never-ending onslaught of baddies to slay, Eternal knows how to raise your heart rate and keep it there.
In many ways, Doom Eternal is a mixture of new ideas and classic Doom mechanics. As you blast your way through the game’s open-ended levels, you’re encouraged to always be on the move, tear through enemies with finishing moves, and use your lethal equipment. Your first (and often most reliable) weapon is a shotgun, so sitting back and picking off foes is simply not an option. However, when you take a second to catch your breath, you can search around for a variety of hidden goodies, including story-based collectibles, weapon upgrades, and secret rooms. Doom games have always been excellent when it comes to fun secrets and hidden rewards that increase replayability and Doom Eternal is no different in that regard.
Doom Eternal also introduces a lot more jumping around, both in combat and overall level progression. There are swing bars to propel yourself off of, quick-dashes to span large spaces quickly and evade enemies, as well as boost pads and climbable wall sections. Things are slightly less hectic in the air than they are on the ground, so you’ll naturally lean towards hopping around during fights, trying to deal damage from higher altitudes. With all the jumping around and platforming, Doom Eternal can sometimes feel more like a modern Quake game with Doom weapons and enemies.
The Glory, The Saw, The Flame
The gunplay in Doom Eternal is all about moving quickly and being aggressive. In fact, every aspect of combat, from your melee abilities to special equipment, all work in tandem to produce an exceptionally chaotic experience. Apart from its ultra-quick speed, the basics are easy enough to handle. You can quickly swap between weapons, occasionally upgrading them with additional abilities as you explore levels and discover collectibles. For the most part, guns don’t need to be reloaded, so your main concern will be staying healthy and keeping ammo stocked. When things get worrisome, the best tactic is to go full tilt, blasting through everything in your path.
By the second or third level of Doom Eternal, you should start to see a pattern during combat. If you run low on health, you can quickly regain some by performing gruesome “Glory Kills”. These up-close finishing moves can only be performed when enemies are staggered, so you’ll have to put down some damage before you can rush in. If you’re too low on ammo to stagger an enemy, you can cut them down with your handy chainsaw, which always results in a colorful burst of ammunition. If you’re worried about running low on health in general, you can always get some extra armor by spraying enemies with the flamethrower and then killing them.
All of these abilities run on a cool-down system, encouraging you to duck and dodge enemy attacks until your abilities become available for use. There’s a great variety of unique, quickly-identifiable enemies in Eternal, and most of them have different strengths and weaknesses. Quick, fast-moving demons can be quickly dispatched with homing rockets, while some are best handled with a blast of your super shotgun. As new enemies are introduced and you begin to work out the optimal strategy for killing each one, you’ll find yourself utilizing every weapon in your arsenal. As you flip back and forth between your various weapons and abilities, Doom Eternal quickly becomes a highly strategic yet blissfully hectic display of violence that is unmatched by most other first-person shooters.
Extra, Extra, Bleed All About It
If there’s one word to describe Doom Eternal‘s general vibe, it would be “extra”. Everything about Eternal feels gleefully gratuitous and content-rich, from its collectible-heavy levels to its many upgrade and skill-point systems. In addition to the various collectibles scattered around levels, you can discover “secret encounters”, which are quick, timed combat challenges that offer bountiful rewards. If you discover any hidden purple keys while playing, these can be used to unlock “Slayer Gates”, yet another bonus combat challenge that rewards players with loot and mysterious Empyrean keys. These can be used to unlock a special weapon, which can in turn be used on the harder extra difficulties.
When it comes to upgrading your arsenal and Doom Slayer, Doom Eternal has an abundance of extra content in comparison to Doom (2016). One of my favorite new additions are the cheat code floppy discs, which unlock huge gameplay modifiers that can be used in mission select. You can still level up your suit and weapons with Praetor Coins and weapon mods respectively, activating unique sub-abilities and passive bonuses. You can also further strengthen your weapons by spending weapon points, which add various boosts to the unlocked weapon abilities.
For overall progression, there’s the player profile, which can be leveled up to unlock new cosmetic options like player icons and banners for online play. In nearly every facet and feature of Doom Eternal, there’s a plethora of additional content. For some, this might feel overwhelming, but for those who love hunting down collectibles and obtaining 100% completion, Doom Eternal is a treasure-trove of bloody fun.
Splash More than Crimson
If there were any complaints to be had about the previous Doom, they mostly revolved around the game’s visual variety. Doom (2016) used a lot of reds and browns on its trek through a demon-infested Mars. Doom Eternal almost immediately bucks that trend, showering the player in neon-colored power-ups, ammo, and health. The environmental design is imaginatively morbid, ranging from apocalyptic city streets to the blood-soaked otherworldly depths of Hell.
These distinct colors feel surprisingly natural with the fast flow of the game, making it easier to parse the information as you fly through the level in a blur of blood. It also helps add a dash of originality to the tone of the game while also recalling the classic Doom games from the 90s. If you enjoy a splash of color with your bloodlust, Doom Eternal lets you taste the rainbow of excess gore.
Battle(mode) for Supremacy
With such a hefty single-player campaign, Doom Eternal doesn’t really need an online multiplayer mode, but includes one all the same. Instead of the standard team-based deathmatch gameplay that fans might be expecting (similar to what was included in Doom (2016)), Doom Eternal offers a 3-person competitive mode known simply as “Battlemode”. In this unique online arena, one player takes on the role of the Doom Slayer, while the two opponents control unique demons with varying special abilities. It’s cool in both concept and execution, but lacks the longevity to stay relevant for long.
Matches are broken up into rounds, with victory being awarded to the side that wins three rounds first. In order to win a round, you simply have to wipe out the opposing team. Each subsequent round adds more neutral demon enemies that the Doom Slayer will have to contend with, evening out the odds. Each player also gets to pick a small upgrade with each passing round, allowing for differing playstyles. The demon team also has timed respawns, so coordinating strategies with your teammate is essential for success. With five unique demons to play as and a smattering of maps to master, there’s enough variety to keep things interesting for a while. Overall, Battlemode is enjoyable, but I never found myself wanting to play more than a match or two in a sitting.
The Bottom Line on Doom Eternal
Doom Eternal is fast, it’s always in-your-face, and it never lets you take a breath. Like previous Doom games, there’s a level of bloodshed that can’t be rivaled, as you chainsaw and shotgun-blast your way through countless demonic creatures. While it pays homage to the classic Doom games in some really fun ways, Doom Eternal is still a beast of its own, with many unique gameplay mechanics and features. The list of unlockable content is longer than any other modern FPS offering, giving players a surplus of stuff to hunt down and collect. In fact, the only real disappointment I had with Doom Eternal was the fact that it had to end. That, and the slightly underwhelming online multiplayer.
If you’re the kind of gamer who likes challenging action experiences that afford you a feeling of immense power, Doom Eternal is right up your alley. You may be surprised by the challenge at first, but once you get the hang of the gameplay loop, you’ll find that Eternal is both masterfully-designed and exceptionally addictive. There’s a lot more platforming and jumping than most Doom fans might expect, but if you’re able to adapt to those fundamental changes, I’m sure you’ll find Doom Eternal to be one of the most rewarding and downright entertaining first-person shooters of this generation.