Written by Karl Dunne
DOOM Eternal is a thrilling bloodbath sequel to the Doom Slayer’s campaign to save Mars in 2016. Eternal builds upon the intense, movement-based combat, story and line-up of horrific demons and turns the intensity up to 11 in this 2020 entry into the newly rebooted franchise.
Armed with new weapons, abilities, a floating space-fortress and ever-burning hatred for demon-filth, players rain down death and destruction in wonderful new ways on Earth’s invaders.
At the time of writing of this review, I have completed the first five missions, almost every secret combat encounter and gathered most of the collectables (so many collectables) and defeated the first boss of the game.
This review focuses on some of the new additions to the gameplay and story of DOOM Eternal in comparison with its predecessor, DOOM (2016).
More than complete carnage: here’s what’s going on with the new story
DOOM Eternal opens with the Slayer arriving in Earth’s orbit on-board his new Fortress of Doom. Upon seeing the demon-infested Earth, he grabs his trusty combat shotgun, walks through a portal and gets to work. The story of Eternal takes place across several different Earth continents including demon-controlled hellscapes, ravaged human cities, ice fortresses in the Artic and even other planets.
The story follows the Slayer continuing his campaign of carnage death against all hell-born creatures. However, in Eternal, we get a closer look into the history of the Slayer, his purpose for existing, the Night-Sentinels, the hierarchy of hell and so much more. The explanation and portrayal of the story are like the 2016 game. The cutscenes and in-game audio give you the requirements to understand the story fundamentals and characters but for lore nerds, there are tons of collectables, lore pages and more to fill in the blanks.
Get hurtled into the fray
In comparison to 2016’s opening, Eternal throws you into the action as fast as it can. Armed with the shotgun and snazzy new wrist-mounted blade you begin eviscerating zombies and corrupted humans. Fight to survive the battles with the forces of hell!
The intensity as real as you can feel the developers at id Software shoving you through the early combat encounters, throwing as much of the fantastic new tools of death at you as quickly as possible. Let loose with your grenade launcher, take out those ice grenades or fire out your flame-thrower, everything is fair game as your upgraded guns unleash hell upon the landscape.
The marriage of movement and gunplay is the quintessential DOOM experience and Eternal provides that experience in spades. As you move through the game, the battle arenas become more and more complex with jump-lifts and metal bars to swing from.
The Slayer himself has fancy movement abilities such as the double jump (which took a while to acquire in 2016) and a new double-dash ability which must be abused in both combat and platforming sections. One must adapt to each new area and use it to their fullest potential to escape your brawl with the hordes of hell.
One combat encounter I would like to gush about is the hidden ‘Slayer Trials’. These are extreme combat encounters with hyper-aggressive demons that must be eviscerated within a short time-limit. The ‘Slayer Trial’ requires a player to massively up their abilities in terms of movement, ammo management and enemy juggling in order to complete the encounter. If that wasn’t enough, to show that these trials are only for the hardest of DOOM Slayers, all ammo and bonus lives used in your attempts to complete the encounter are lost regardless of completion or failure.
In terms of gameplay outside of combat, the platforming of DOOM Eternal is thoroughly enjoyable. I quite enjoyed the simple platforming of DOOM (2016) and apparently so did many other people I’d wager. Id Software clearly doubled down on the platforming and puzzle-solving antics in DOOM Eternal, so much so that half of my time so far has been spent climbing walls, double-jumping, double-dashing and timing movements to avoid lasers and large, sharp objects.
These sections provide fun and creative breaks from the balls-to-the-wall intensity of the combat sections. Players that learn the new movement mechanics are rewarded with copious amounts of hidden areas, secret combat challenges, collectables, bonus upgrade tokens and more throughout every mission.
How Eternal looks and sounds
While I am no graphics, game engine or hardware buff, I can say with certainty that the graphics in DOOM Eternal are simply fantastic. Everything, from the large city-shots covered in demonic entities and fire to the close-up scars, teeth and mangled flesh of the demons I slaughter, are terrifyingly well detailed.
The upgrade to the graphics from 2016 is utilised in accentuating the detail of viscera and gore during combat. One encounter exemplifies this perfectly; a Hell Knight began charging me, so I launched a sticky grenade onto his chest, blasting chunks off exposing his ribcage clearly.
His charge did not stop, and I fired two shotgun blasts staggering him for a wonderous glory kill. I watched as I broke his already exposed radius and stabbed him in the throat with his own arm. In beautiful 1080p and 60FPS, the detail is fantastic and adds to the level of violence DOOM is well-known for.
In terms of audio, the world of DOOM Eternal is expertly realised through the implementation of sound. The weapons, both old and new are given such a meaty bass that it adds an audible weight to each shot when fired.
Some outstanding examples are the shoulder-mounted grenade launcher and its 3D stereo placement, making it feel like its firing from your shoulder and the combat shotgun, which feels like the recoil would tear a normal human’s arm off.
With the music, composer Mick Gordon returns to form with another colossal soundtrack with his, now signature, blend of heavy bass, EDM and Industrial Metal infused madness. DOOM 2016’s soundtrack was a highlight for many players, and it will surprise very few when I say that this soundtrack is another masterpiece of game-music, writing and implementation.
Does this have replay value?
DOOM Eternal is one of the most complete FPS experiences I have played in years. It features a very lengthy campaign, secret battle areas, weapon upgrades and runes, all of which can completely alter how you approach each combat scenario.
The game also features tons of collectables including cheat codes such as the infamous IDDQD and bonus skins for the DOOM Slayer to wear during the campaign, cutscenes and multiplayer. Multiplayer is not an arena shooter mode like in DOOM (2016), but a fresh new “Battle mode” which pitches one player-controlled Slayer against two player-controlled Demons in an arena. The Slayer plays identically to the campaign, but the demons have numerous new abilities, such as healing areas and the ability to summon other lesser demons to assist in killing the Slayer.
I did not get much experience in this mode as it is quite buggy. Being kicked out of pre- and post-game lobbies and several instances of rubber-banding made for a lesser experience than what id Software intended. I can only assume with updates and patching, ‘Battle mode’ can only get better from here!
So, what’s the verdict?
DOOM Eternal is a fantastic sequel to the 2016 reboot and a truly great entry into this legendary gaming franchise. It is an absolute benchmark of solid gameplay, tight controls and fantastic game-design that future FPS games should be compared to.
While issues with the multiplayer should be taken into consideration, the true meat of DOOM Eternal is with its gameplay and campaign mode. This game is for fans of DOOM, fast-paced combat and will provide a hefty challenge to players of all skill levels. Eternal features story, grit, violence, fun gunplay, movement and platforming and wonderful music and sound design, everything that a modern triple-A shooter should strive to be.
Images through the IGDB Press Kit