Hell has come to Earth and the demon swarms have overwhelmed the human population, decimating millions and throwing the entire planet into pure chaos. Earth needs a saviour and there is no better option than the only being that strikes pure cold fear into the black hearts of all demons. The Doom Slayer. The ultimate opponent, the unstoppable force and full-time shotgun enthusiast. Yes, my friends, it’s time to rip and tear again and a lot of both is going to be done throughout the course of this wild hellish ride.
Hell on Earth
The Doom reboot set the tone for what constitutes a fun FPS. Fast, frantic action accented by blistering guitars, huge guns and the flow of pure killing. It’s a golden recipe for fun and what Doom Eternal attempts to do is add about double the ingredients to that recipe while throwing in various spices to keep the flavours dancing on your palette. It’s not a total revolution of the franchise or FPS games in general, but what it is is a laser-focused refinement of what the series is known and loved for while seeping with passion and pure love for what makes the franchise so near and dear to the hearts of millions.
The story gets a little more attention this time around as the Doom Slayer needs to defeat the Khan Maykr, a celestial being protected by a cabal of Hell Priests who each needs their heads ripped off. The Doom Slayer’s signature DGAF attitude is thankfully intact as the exposition gets thrown in his face and he doesn’t really acknowledge it, he’s just there to murder as many demons as he can and if he saves the planet while he’s doing it, that’s a bonus.
We get some glimpses into the origins of the Doom Slayer and the enemies he faces, which is a welcome exploration into the lore of this mad and violent world amongst all the slaying that’s going on. Curious minds will find many rabbit holes to jump down with the game’s various codex entries and collectables that paint a picture of what this hellish invasion is really all about.
Tearing and ripping
But we’re not really here for the talking, are we? The killing is where all the fun lies and we have a whole smorgasbord of deadly delights to indulge our violent streaks. Doom Eternal has a very clear focus on incremental progression. You get weapons piecemeal as you go through the story and there are upgrades scattered all over levels to take your arsenal to the next level. The Doom Slayer also now has the ability to dash which adds a whole new level of speed to the carnage.
Doom Eternal is all you hoped it would be. Fun, exceptionally violent, fast and beautifully designed.
Once you unlock most of the weapons, you have a broad swath of options to go for. Each weapon is equipped with multiple special modifications that change the way they function and you can tailor your arsenal to your particular playstyle. The Super Shotgun also allows you to grapple enemies and get right up in their face which is possibly the most fun thing I’ve done in years.
Along with your assortment of rocket launchers, machine guns, shotguns and plasma rifles, you also have access to rechargeable grenades, both frost and normal, and a flame belch that allows you to literally shoot armour out of burning enemies. It takes a while to get used to this large arsenal at your disposal, but once you do, the fun just doesn’t stop.
Exploration is a huge part of the Doom Eternal experience since each intricately designed level has a whole host of goodies hidden away and waiting to be discovered. There’s definitely no shortage of things that can be upgraded. You can upgrade your suit, your weapons, your abilities, there are runes to be found, batteries to unlock stuff on the Fortress of Doom and much more. Along with all the upgrades, we also have a plethora of secrets to discover such as vinyl records, figurines, secret encounters and even 1 Ups that give you another chance if you die.
The plethora of collectables and upgrades can be overwhelming at first, but once you discover that the genius level design allows you to effortlessly explore around these massive sprawling levels, hunting for upgrades and secrets becomes a treat in itself. I have a completionist brain and I don’t feel comfortable leaving stones unturned and the game indulged me in every way it could. Satisfying little environmental puzzles, wonderful setpieces and hidden compartments to poke and prod to get some goodies and it all felt so effortless that I ended up getting 100% for the majority of levels without ever even feeling like I was trying.
With the new dash ability and the Slayer’s increased manoeuvrability, Doom Eternal leans into platforming sections a lot more than the predecessor did. Specific walls can now be scaled and they open up a whole new box of possibilities when it comes to traversing. Most of the platforming sections are fine little breaks in the action and some can be exhilarating, but sometimes I found them to break the flow of combat too much and some can be too obtuse for their own good. It’s not a massive hindrance, but I felt these sections were the worst part of the experience for me. Considering they’re not even that bad, it says a lot about the level of quality on offer by everything else.
The game does have a hub that you return to between missions, but thankfully it doesn’t intrude whatsoever and is actually a very welcome reprieve. The hub is called the Fortress of Doom, a giant hulking spaceship with its own medieval architecture that the Doom Slayer has claimed as his personal home. You can chill and look at your collectables or explore the secret little corners of the ship if you wish, but when you’re ready for the next adventure, you can hop into the portal instantly and be on your merry way.
Hell of a good time
There’s this feeling I frequently felt as I played Doom Eternal. I see a bunch of demons before me and the animalistic part of my brain flips a switch and I go into what can only be described as violence overdrive. My pupils widen, my breath steadily hastens and my muscles gradually contract. All my synapses are firing at a million miles a second and I fall into this trance backed by the excellent thundering soundtrack pulsing in my ears. I start shooting demons with reckless abandon, finding and riding that flow of combat, smashing faces with glory kills and decimating everything in front of me. When it’s all done and the music drops, my heart rate takes a second to cool down as I head to the next blistering encounter, collecting trinkets and baubles along the way.
I ended up getting 100% for the majority of levels without ever even feeling like I was trying.
The key to this beautiful feeling is the labour of love that this game went through. The demons are designed beautifully and when you shoot them, their flesh scatters and explodes with force. The glory kills exude this palpable personality as you rip a demon apart in increasingly creative ways as they look upon the Slayer in pure horror. The environments are beautiful, intricate and carry this gravitas and mystery as you gawk at destroyed behemoths or desolated ancient ruins.
It’s like the developers tapped into our collective minds and designed exactly what we wanted. More Doom, faster gameplay, more guns, more violence, more stuff to do, awesome stuff to collect, it’s all here and rolled into a no-nonsense package of pure cathartic violence. It’s hefty as well, sporting a very respectable runtime when you choose to do all the optional objectives. It’s also very replayable since I initially scoured the map for secrets and on the second run, I just enjoyed the frantic combat without any distractions.
Doom Eternal is all you hoped it would be. Fun, exceptionally violent, fast and beautifully designed. It’s a testament to FPS games, it’s a testament to how a sequel should be handled and it gave me the purest sense of serene joy that I haven’t felt in an immensely long time. It’s shocking how good it is.