Solving a complex puzzle can be a satisfying achievement. Doing so while blasting demons into smithereens and chainsawing monsters foolish enough to get close makes id Software’s DOOM Eternal one of the best first-person shooters ever made.
The shooting remains an exhilarating experience but this sequel has upped the ante on a classic in every department. Building upon the already spectacular foundation of DOOM 2016, the thrilling moment-to-moment ride of death, action, and gore is only enhanced by the added strategy, freedom, and unique satisfaction only possible in the world of DOOM Eternal.
While you can certainly try your utmost to shoot through all that stands in your way, the real satisfaction in DOOM Eternal is learning all the intricacies that makes you a unique Slayer of demons. Sure, every goretastic glory kill is a joy to behold, but doing so with a clear sense of direction and strategy in mind makes it sweeter.
As you smarten up to become more efficient, swifter, and deadly, you will start seeing opportunities for mayhem as events unfold. DOOM Eternal is not shy about throwing you into gauntlets of enemies, all bloodthirsty and aggressive, but you have all the tools you need to overcome and come out on top.
To be an effective Doom Slayer, you need to read the situation and know thy enemies. The cannon fodder like the zombies and imps are nuisances that can be swatted away easily, but they are perfect for providing resources like ammo and health in an instance.
The bigger threats, like the Mancubus or Arachnotron, are genuine terrors, but there are always weak points to exploit. You just have to learn how to maximise your windows of opportunity.
A handy grenade into the mouth of a Cacodemons opens it up for a glory kill, while destroying the mounted cannon of the Arachnotron makes it less of a hassle at range. Staying still in DOOM Eternal is a big no-no, and the game definitely rewards you for always being on the move.
Take down the larger demons, swing around and mutilate the smaller beasts, recharge, refill, and go again. The formula that the franchise is now known for is even more perfect than before. Ammo is always running low, but it is never far away with the use of the chainsaw. The dilemma you will face is whether you want to cut down three zombies for an ammo shower, or save your fuel for the instant destruction of a bigger foe in one amazing slice.
The breadth of the combat is vast, aided by the obvious refinement of the already wonderful gameplay design, and the added variety of glory kills make each battle a true spectacle fitting for a legend like yourself. It is like engaging in first-person shooter chess, and it is glorious.
On that front, DOOM Eternal also gives players more options to go in for the kill in terms of upgrades. Not only are you looking for alternate-firing modes for your many weapons, but the game also throws in mastery skills and collectable Runes that grant passive bonuses.
There are also ability-granting Sentinel Crystals that also increases your health, ammo, and armour, and lastly, Praetor Suit tokens that allow you to choose from a bunch of skills that make you even more awesome.
In particular, the Flame Belch upgrade for your suit is a godsend. Not only are you setting enemies aflame for constant damage, but it also causes armour shards to drop to keep you fighting even longer. Upgrades never felt more useful or cathartic.
And the arsenal of the Doom Slayer is no different – the Heavy Cannon is always good for a whirl, while the returning Super Shotgun remains a perennial favourite. Its meathook attachment marks it as an even more effective dealer of death, allowing players to get up close and personal with enemies and introduce them to twin slugs of doom. The options are many, and it is up to you to discover your preferred way of slaying.
DOOM Eternal has also made the combat flow more movement-dependant than before. With the Doom Slayer able to double-jump, double-dash, and the environment catering to death-defying leaps of faith, it all plays into the highly kinetic formula of combat on the move. Every arena gives you ample space to manoeuvre, outsmart, and outlast the denizens of Hell. If you ever needed a breather to regroup, you can do so easily as well.
That manoeuvrability also helps in discovering many of DOOM Eternal’s secrets. Some are easy and in plain sight, while the more hidden ones require your best platforming skills to even sniff them out. Of course, platforming in first-person is never easy, but the ease of movement in DOOM Eternal makes it less of a frustrating experience.
The hunt for these many secrets also provides for a welcome distraction after each vigorous battle, giving players a chance to test their skills in puzzle-solving and platforming. DOOM Eternal also features a sprawling but disappointingly empty hub that is the Fortress of Doom. At least you can relax with classic id Software soundtracks from the past 25 years.
Everything that keeps you moving in DOOM Eternal is close to perfection. Unfortunately, that cannot be said for the plot. While it is definitely more enjoyable and coherent than most shooter plots, its dependence on text logs instead of the majesty of the cut-scenes in DOOM Eternal takes away from the experience. Reading just does not convey the same kind of epicness that constant action and dramatic theatre the new DOOM is known for.
Outside of the substantial story mode of DOOM Eternal, you can look forward to challenging Slayer Gates and secret timed encounters that are hidden in each level. Need something more difficult to chew on? Master Levels will let you relive the campaign with souped-up monsters and demons. And then, there is the competitive multiplayer affair that is Battlemode.
Transitioning from an all-killing god in the single-player portion of DOOM Eternal to the multiplayer Battlemode could have been a disaster. However, id has done an exceptional job at giving you power but also challenging you in this 2v1 affair.
A fully upgraded and armed Doom Slayer will go up against a pair of demons controlled by two other players. It can be any combination of the Mancubus, Revenant, Pain Element, Marauder, or the Archville. To taste victory in a best-of-five matchup, either take out the Doom Slayer, or both demons before one can respawn.
That would usually result in a massacre of the demons. This is where the weaker, AI-controlled monsters that can be summoned by the demons come into play. You can use these mobs to slow down the Doom Slayer and give you a chance to strike, but bear in mind it also gives him a chance to replenish his resources. The strategic element of DOOM Eternal remains well and alive in Battlemode.
Taking control of the demons provides a refreshing new perspective as well. From the Mancubus to the Archvile, each plays differently and have skills that can complement each other well. The Marauder can deal damage at range with his axe throw, but also up close with the shotgun. Combine that with the Archvile’s ability to seal off areas with its area-of-effect fire, and you can trap the Doom Slayer for some pain.
Victory does not come easy, and being able to coordinate as the demons will go a long way in securing a win for Hell. The Doom Slayer is also not too overpowered, and has to fight smart to emerge victorious. The balance is surprisingly there, and Battlemode is one of the more pleasant surprises to come out of DOOM Eternal.
DOOM Eternal is adrenaline in its purest form, poured through the eyes and your hands, enjoyed by the mind. Nothing comes close to the enjoyment and ecstasy that it provides. The improvements made over an already close-to-perfect formula of combat, movement, and cathartic release will keep you coming back for more. Bigger, faster, stronger, just like the Doom Slayer, DOOM Eternal is everything you could ask for in a sequel, and then some.
DOOM Eternal is now available on the PSN Store for $87.00.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
One of the best first-person shooters ever made, DOOM Eternal etches its name into the annals of history for eternity.
Gameplay - 9.5/10
Story - 8.5/10
Presentation - 10/10
Value - 10/10