ID Software’s DOOM Eternal has some big shoes to fill considering the success of DOOM 2016 and subsequent VR spin-off DOOM VFR. Rather than create a carbon-copy of the 2016 masterpiece, id changes things up a little whilst keeping familiar elements. This translates to not only keeping twitch fingers well-exercised but also mentally taxing the player as well. Is this heady mixture of excessive violence, smooth gun-play and item management a recipe for success then? Read on!
Whilst DOOM 2016 effortlessly drew its players in with a gentle ease of use before letting all-hell-break-loose. Eternal goes directly for the jugular from the off. The big difference here is how players not only traverse the levels but manage the systems on offer to maintain the mantra, the slayer character is the most badass character at all times. That means some learning as a requirement for success. Rather than stick to tried-and-trusted fps shooting gameplay mechanics, dodging and shifting about whilst dishing it out, players learn quickly how to read each encounter and take advantage.
The glory kills return giving players suitable health replenishing in the thick of a demon-filled showdown. Great! However a massive difference here is how quickly ammo seems to deplete when you’re totally into it – giving rise to getting the player to use all weapons available. New systems then counter this by allowing you to chainsaw weaker foes for ammo boosts. Flame gulch them for additional armour shards and perhaps ice or toss a grenade or two for some combo rewards. On-the-surface, the systems aren’t particularly complex, yet when the game thrusts its most challenging assortment of heavy gunners, fast-moving shifters and shielded foes at you , it can feel quite overwhelming if you’ve not mastered these systems. The end result is an almost puzzle like approach as you dart around what sometimes feels like a series of mini-arenas. The fact is though, when it all clicks the feeling, the rush is just insane, totally empowering the player to kick all sorts of demon ass. It is this aspect which makes Eternal a joy-to-play and somewhat different to its predecessor even if this approach might not gel with all players. There’s massive satisfaction from dying, trying again, getting it right and then basking in the glory of immediate success before moving on to the next. That’s a real dopamine release right there.
Eternal’s progression and navigation helps break-up the encounters in an methodical way. You’re looking for switches, items, the usual upgrades and jumping around like you’re inside a first person platformer. It works, although sometimes head-scratching moments of challenge might get the better of you. The path ahead is usually quite clear but the execution requiring a little more deft than you might think. This is a very different DOOM game in this regard, be warned!
Visually, Id work their magic here making the hellish world come to life on PC. An assortment of options means players with lesser systems can still enjoy the game running relatively smoothly with high frame rates. However, it’s when the visual effects ramp-up, alongside 4K and a spot of HDR tossed in the mix is when the visuals truly shine. This is a colourful masterpiece which looks stunning using an RTX 2080 Ti. The visual design is both disgusting and ingenious. Hats-off then to the level design, damage representation and those in charge of getting the various depictions of the hell aesthetic just-right.
One can’t talk about the visuals without mentioning the blistering sound-track. This is top-quality stuff here in and out of combat. Each note emphasises how badass the slayer character is. Paying attention to the assortment of sound-effects and sound-bites means your ears receive the full-auto assault and it’s mind-blowing (especially with a decent pair of cans).
Eternal’s single-player campaign naturally offers plenty of replay value with its extra difficulties, secret arenas, challenges and extras to uncover. That’s a given, and will net double figures play time for sure. For those looking to extend the experience further into multiplayer then the battlemode returns with a 2 v 1 demon on slayer twist.
DOOM Eternal ticks all the right boxes to be a great addition to the series. Whilst it does keep things fresh with its combat resource management approach, some players might find this too overbearing for their enjoyment when hoping for a straight-up shooter. Therefore, it’s advised to remove any preconceived shackles from 2016, and approach it as a fresh experience under a familiar guise. For those who “get” it though, this game is engrossing, flamboyant, visceral and a neat evolution for first person shooting. The pinnacle of id’s gameplay hook into more tactical pastures. Awesome and highly recommended then.