Review – Doom Eternal
The hype is real. Ever since I first saw the Doom Eternal reveal at E3 2018, I couldn’t think of another game I was looking forward to the most than the sequel to Id Software’s ultra-violent magnum opus, the Doom reboot/sequel from 2016. I kept myself busy with its Switch port, its passable VR spinoff, and the various re-releases of the original Doom trilogy, such as the Switch version of Doom 3. But what I really wanted was to put my hands on Doom Freaking Eternal. Even though I was somewhat skeptical regarding the bigger emphasis on storytelling and some Fortnite-esque battle pass elements in its multiplayer mode, I was salivating for its final release. It’s finally here, and I shouldn’t have worried. This is exactly what I wanted.
Everyone was curious to see how Id Software would be able to surpass the Burj Khalifa-high standards set by Doom Eternal‘s predecessor. That game was a masterclass in gameplay, visuals, sound, level design, and above all, fun. It felt like an old-school shooter, but it had all of the advancements from this current generation of gaming. How would you succeed on a game that already managed to turn everything to 11? The answer is simple: turn it up to something even higher. Dial it up to 666.
It might be shocking to some, but Doom Eternal has a big emphasis on storytelling. Yes, I was skeptical as anyone else. Doom 2016 was famous for being a game that had a story, but not even the protagonist, the fantastic Doomguy, cared about it. If someone wanted to talk to the man through a monitor, Doomguy would simply push the computer aside and proceed to kill even more demons. Doom Eternal is the best of both worlds in this aspect. Yes, there is a story, but it acts more as an excuse, a reason to explain all the crazy crap that’s happening onscreen. It is the kind of plot that is so absurd, so downright idiotic, that it ends up captivating you. Not a single cutscene lasts for more than a few dozen seconds, allowing you to quickly get back into a demon-killing spree. Yet, whenever it happens, it will usually bring a ridiculous set piece alongside it, and you will like it.
The level design is absolutely sublime, as to be expected. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was for Doom Eternal to be so… colorful. While the predecessor mostly stuck to levels set in Mars and Hell, places that thrived on orange and red. Doom Eternal features forested caves, ancient cities, snowy mountains, and even a base in space. Every single level looks like something a very edgy death metal band would use as the cover to its debut album. It’s ridiculous, and I love it. As to be expected from Id Software, all levels are crammed with collectibles and secret areas to explore as well.
You will never be able to find every single toy, soundtrack album, rune, suit token, floppy disk and Empyrean key on your first run, so you’ll want to come back and explore everything once again. Floppy disks act as cheat codes, allowing you to revisit levels with perks such as infinite ammo and increased speed without locking achievements or your overall progress.
Doom Eternal is a visual and audio achievement. This game pushes the limits of whichever console you decide to play on. No matter what console you choose, you’ll get stupidly detailed graphics, tons of particles onscreen, and to top things off, 60 freaking frames a second. Id Software knows this game is as fast-paced as a roadrunner trying to look for a toilet after eating a burrito. So they took their time in order to ensure every single version of the game would run as smoothly as possible. Even the base Xbox One version manages to achieve this framerate, all while maintaining a high resolution and detailed visuals.
Then there’s the audio. Doom 2016 featured tunes like “BFG Division” and “Rip and Tear“, which aren’t only fantastic video game tracks, but metal masterpieces in their own right. Mick Gordon, the game’s composer, had to surpass what was already perfect. Did he manage to do so? That will be up to debate. While Doom 2016‘s soundtrack featured more elements of electronica and djent, Doom Eternal‘s soundtrack has more elements of industrial and even a bit of nu-metal. There’s even a freaking choir comprised of metal singers. You won’t need to worry, every single tune in Doom Eternal was perfectly crafted to make your blood boil with anger and adrenaline. It will make you want to shoot everything in sight while headbanging to the point of suffering a whiplash. Give this man a Grammy, for crying out loud.
Now, there’s the gameplay. What was already intense four years ago is now even more intense; Doom Eternal pulls no punches. It delivers a barrage of fury right from the get-go, to the point that you start off with a shotgun and a chainsaw instead of that pathetic old pistol. There are some major changes to the gameplay, however, and while they might sound odd at first, trust me, they were perfectly implemented.
The vast majority of weapons in Doom Eternal hold a lot less ammo than before, but that doesn’t mean this has been turned into a survival horror. You don’t need to worry that much about your resources. Just like its predecessor, you can use the chainsaw to transform enemies into pulpy piñatas, but Doom Eternal eased things up a bit by giving the chainsaw a cooldown effect just like grenades. You will always have enough fuel to kill lesser enemies, which will infinitely respawn during battles. They will be at your service whenever you end up needing chainsaw or glorykill fodder. If you want to kill a bigger enemy, however, you will still need to collect fuel.
Even though it is easier to collect resources through the levels, that doesn’t mean Doom Eternal is easier than its predecessor. On the contrary, it is much harder than Doom 2016. The enemy AI has been vastly improved. Those damned demons are really fast, can take a lot of bullets, and are strong enough to take you down in a few hits if you’re not careful. As always, constant movement is key to success. Doomguy still runs as fast as a stabbed badger and with the addition of the brand new dash mechanic, you’ll be able to cover large distances in even less time.
One thing that might be a point of controversy among some is the fact that Doom Eternal features lots of platforming puzzles. The game will constantly test your abilities with the double jump and the double dash, creating puzzles that require you to jump from a floating island to another. Sometimes using a pole to reset your jump meter, and a glowing yellow icon that allows you to perform another dash in mid-air. Some will complain about those sections, calling them momentum breakers, but there’s something positive about them. In pretty much every single platforming section, there’s always a ton of secrets to find, making these small segments a great opportunity for you to train your explorer’s wits and find some hidden goodies. Those segments are never too long, and you’ll quickly go back to killing demons.
Just like its predecessor, Doom Eternal features tons of upgrades. Things haven’t changed that much this time around; you still have weapon upgrades, runes and suit tokens. The only difference this time is that runes are acquired without the need of going through a trial. The moment you find a rune, that rune is yours. That doesn’t mean trials are absent, however, as Doom Eternal features new combat trials that make the base game look like a Ted Talk featuring Bob Ross in comparison. If you complete them you get weapon tokens, and if you complete all Slayer Door challenges, you’ll acquire an extra weapon from the hub world in true Turok: Dinosaur Hunter fashion.
The aforementioned Fortnite-esque battle pass is present in here, and it works even while you’re playing the single-player campaign. Thankfully, it is very non-intrusive and it only unlocks cosmetic items and icons for you to customize your multiplayer avatar. There are also a few cosmetic items that can be unlocked through the single player campaign, and I’m pretty sure you’ll want to check them out. That’s all I can say about them…
To sum things up, Id Software had a colossal challenge trying to improve upon what was already perfect, but Cacodemons be praised, they did it. Doom Eternal is one of the most technically advanced games from this entire generation, a masterful achievement in graphics, framerates, gameplay, and sound. It is a game that is hell-bent on giving you a gigantic smile at all times, making you feel like a brutal god of destruction, a force to be reckoned with, someone to be feared. This title is the reason I love video games. I had so much fun with Doom Eternal that I don’t even care if no other decent titles come out this year. I’ll keep on killing demons in here until my fingers fall off.
No matter which console you decide to play this on, you’ll be greeted with fantastic visuals, a high resolution, and most importantly, 60 frames a second. This is one of the most technically advanced games of this entire generation.
It’s the same gameplay from before, but dialed up to 666. There are more weapons to wield, more abilities to use, more collectibles to find, and there are some quality of life improvements that make the acquisition of ammo and health a bit easier than before. In order to balance things up, Doom Eternal is also a lot harder than its predecessor.
Mick Gordon’s soundtrack is a masterpiece in adrenaline and headbanging. Homeboy needs a Grammy, pronto.
Doom Eternal is hell-bent on putting a smile on your face at all times. It makes its already insane predecessor look tame in comparison. It’s longer and more challenging. It’s filled with secrets to uncover. It’s a masterpiece.
Final Verdict: 10
Doom Eternal is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Stadia and PC. Switch port coming at a later date.
Reviewed on Xbox One.
A copy of Doom Eternal was provided by the publisher.