DOOM is back – the gory, bloody, sci-fi first person shooter developed and published by Bethesda Software. A sequel to DOOM ( the 2016 reboot) set two years after previous events, Earth has been overrun by demons. You play as the iconic Doom Slayer, a warrior tasked with pushing back the demons from hell and saving the human race.
Doom Slayer (or Doom Guy) is a kick ass space marine and if you played any of the previous DOOM titles you will know exactly what you are in for; but ramp those expectations up as it is even crazier than before. There are so many different varieties of demons you can face. Each species has their own weak points and different levels of stamina and strength. You have to match your aggression and focus your attacks accordingly. There are various difficulty levels to choose from, but you can change between these at any time you want if you are struggling. The number of demons you encounter and the speed of their projectiles is the same across all difficulties, however, enemy damage is increased and they will be more aggressive with their attacks.
The gameplay style encourages you to play aggressively, and I love it! You have various bits of kit to aid you in the fight and you can find more ammo, armour and health scattered around the world. However, you shouldn’t sit back because putting yourself in the action is your main way of gaining all the ammo and armour you need as well as healing your battle wounds. It all feels so much more aggressive than DOOM. Let’s go into a bit more detail…
Firstly, ammo. For this, you need your trusty returning chainsaw. The fuel to power your chainsaw attack is found lying around the world, but it will also slowly increase over time. Once ready, a one hit kill will cut open a demon, spilling out a load of beautiful coloured ammo drops, which vary depending on the weapons you have at that time.
Next is armour. The best way to obtain this is to use your Flame Belch ability, which burns demons alive. The more they burn, the more armour they will drop, and if they die as a result they drop even more. This ability needs to be recharged, so you have to pick the right moment to use it.
And last, but by very means least, is health. The best of them all is back… Glory Kills! You’re able to complete a Glory Kill when an enemy is weakened and staggering. With a push of a button, you will destroy them in a gory and often comical fashion, such as tearing them into pieces with your bare hands or chopping their head off with your Doomblade. The demon will then drop loads of health which is automatically picked up. If you’re not low on health, you don’t need to do every prompted Glory Kill, but it does help save ammunition and gives you a temporary window of invincibility during the takedown animation, so it’s useful if you’re being overwhelmed.
These three key features require some strategy, as you don’t want to mash all of them at the same time, but put together they make for really entertaining and rewarding gameplay. I’m more of a stealth guy, but this aggressive style was really fun to play. Demons also have weak points which give you an area to focus on.
When you are not destroying demons, you will have to do certain exploration and platforming segments. These come at just the right time to separate the intense gameplay and are heavily focused on movement. This release brings a new ability to climb rock faces and building edges, as well as double jumping or dashing and swinging on bars, which all enable you to reach new areas.
A significant feature of the exploration is discovering secrets. There are several collectables to find on each level, and all of it ties directly into the combat. Some collectables are themselves power-ups, giving you points to upgrade your suit or weapons. At first I was failing these sections a lot but after a while I got the hang of it. If you fall off the world you won’t die straight away, just respawn with a little bit of health lost. Eventually, if you fail too much, you’ll die. You can find yourself getting a little frustrated and lost, but you’re not kept you doing these bits for long.
In between missions you can explore the fantastic home base called the Fortress of DOOM. Here you can have a bit of downtime, as well as acquire new items and upgrades. It’s a good bridge between missions.
All the weapons you expect to have in DOOM are present – the main, iconic, super shotgun along with the regular shotgun, assault rifle, plasma rifle, rocket launcher, and trusty chainsaw mentioned earlier. Most can be modified to increase their capability, for example obtaining homing rockets for the rocket launcher or adding a grenade launcher to the shotgun. I love how time slows down a little when you open up your weapon wheel to change guns. This gives you time to select the right weapon for the next fight and not panic.
Of course, there is also your Praetor suit. This can be upgraded with a variety of perks. These include protection against environmental hazards, faster dash and weapon switching, significant upgrades to your grenades, and much more. Each perk is unlocked by spending Praetor suit tokens, hidden in the levels and also within the Fortress of DOOM behind locked doors which you can open with a certain item.
The graphics are crisp and beautiful. I never once got any stutter or FPS drops – it worked perfectly. You can tell they have put a lot of effort in to how the game looks, from the demon Earth to the character models. The level designs are varied and interesting. It does its best to make sure the corridors and connected rooms, while tight and complex, aren’t a complete labyrinth. More commonly the rooms will open up into large and versatile fighting arenas with hazards and enemies galore which you will have to take down.
During fights, the music fits the bill. Its fantastic aggressive heavy metal music works perfectly alongside the gameplay. Huge, chaotic combat scenarios are made even more epic by the crazy hard-rock instrumental playing over the top of it. It makes the battle more intense and the music won’t stop until all demons are vanquished.
DOOM is back, and it’s just as good as we’d all hoped. The action is fast, brutal and unforgiving. The soundtrack and pacing are perfect. You know when that music starts, it’s time to lock and load and get ready to fight. The campaign is long and always keeps you on your toes. It’s one of the most satisfying first person shooters I have played in quite some time. There is so much more to say about DOOM Eternal, but I’d rather save it and let you enjoy the blood and gore.