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Doom Eternal – Review

It sure does feel like an eternity since the highly praised reimagining of the Doom franchise saw the light of day in 2016. At that point, the famed demon slaying sci-fi series hadn’t seen an entry since 2004’s Doom 3; a title that dared to defy the norms of its predecessors by introducing a terrifying horror atmosphere, along with slower-paced gameplay. Luckily, those of us who love to rip and tear didn’t have as daunting of a wait this time around; Doom Eternal hurls us back into the pits of Hell itself as the Doom Slayer, a man who takes no crap from any demon.

Pros:

  • Fluid, frenetic shooting
  • Excellent performance
  • Has a ton of style
  • Good balance between combat, platforming and exploration

Cons:

  • Hud is a bit arcadish
  • Multiplayer is fun, but lacks variety

Score – 9.5/10

Doom Eternal’s plot is… strange. Strange in the sense that it’s an actual fully fleshed out plot, complete with voice acting (even for Doom Guy) and sensible objectives that go above and beyond killing hordes of demons. It all borrows heavily from the four-part novel series from the 1990’s; more specifically, the last two books, Infernal Sky and End Game. Set in 2151, two years after the events of Doom 2016 (which was a retelling of the first two games), Earth has now been overrun by demonic forces. It would seem that all previous efforts to keep the invasion on Phobos and Deimos failed. Over 60% of the planet’s population has been wiped out, and the once-righteous Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) has now been corrupted by entities of both a demonic and alien nature. To save Earth once again, Doom Guy is led by an AI named Vega aboard his floating spaceship, aptly named the Fortress of Doom. He sets off to put a stop to the demonic invasion by finding and killing the Hell Priests; three powerful ancients who are serving an angelic, alien being called the Kahn Maykr, who has the intention of sacrificing mankind.

If we’re being honest here, the story is really vague and cryptic. It’s hard to follow, as Bethesda just shove the player into the midst of it all without any explanation whatsoever. If you’ve read the aforementioned novels (which I personally highly recommend, if you can find them) then you’ll know better than most as to what’s happening. Other than that, it’s just kinda awkward and weird. Especially given the fact that someone, somewhere, decided that it was appropriate to give Doom Guy a voice. He doesn’t have much dialogue, but the fact remains that he does. Some of the enemies also talk, which is just as unexpected and uncomfortable as the Slayer himself speaking. This is completely out of character for the franchise as a whole, and it wouldn’t be missed if Bethesda decided to not make the should-be silent protagonist never utter another word, ever again.

The gameplay has taken further numerous steps in the right direction. Doom 2016 got it right, with high-octane carnage, gruesome finishers, and that oldschool Doom feeling that was reimagined, reshaped, and repurposed for modern gaming. Doom Eternal has taken its predecessor’s framework and built upon it with even more gnarly Glory Kills, faster ripping and tearing, and an unshakeable arcade vibe. The chainsaw has been reintroduced and each time it’s used the player gets showered with ammo pick-ups, each Glory Kill gives health, and setting enemies ablaze with the new Flame Belch drops lots of armor shards. Armor, health, and ammo can still be found laying around the map, however, along with various collectibles, secrets, and rare power-ups. There are also a ton of challenges to beat for each level, milestones to reach by performing various feats, mastery goals for every weapon, and a level-up system that rewards players with new skins for the Slayer, demons, weapons, as well as new poses, profile icons and titles, and tons of other stuff.

It’s obvious that Bethesda want people to become deeply engaged in the online portion of this title, given the leveling and reward system that has been set in place. That said, there’s currently only one multiplayer mode and it’s unimaginably boring. Battlemode pits two players controlling demons against one player who controls the Slayer. The demon players can choose between five different enemies, each with their own special powers. There is a total of four rounds per game, and if the two demons manage to kill the Slayer, they win. If the Slayer can take out both demons before one of them manages to respawn, (s)he wins. That’s all there is to it. The demons aren’t fast or particularly mobile. The online play is slow and uninspired, a far cry from the oldschool online play of Doom 1 and 2. It feels like a chore just to get through one match. The reward of it all at the end? Experience points and some unlocks; nothing very exciting in the least.

One of the biggest gripes from Doom 2016 was just how squeaky clean all of the environments were. Well, thankfully Doom Eternal has changed all of that; many of the levels send the Slayer into the bowels of Hell itself, or through rotten corridors that are completely covered in the viscera of what could only possibly be demonic entities. Grotesque fleshy mounds and purple liquid line some areas, where hordes of dead bodies and lakes of blood coat others. Then there are the more technological-looking segments that lend to the fact that players are in the presence of more advanced alien beings who seek to do harm to mankind, by using the force of the demons to do their bidding. There’s a grand variety between the levels, with most of them allowing the Doom Guy out for a breath of fresh space air; revealing the massive universe to the player, the spinning Earth below the Fortress of Doom, and the atmosphere of other visited fantastical planets.

It’s a heavy thing to say, but Doom Eternal may just be the biggest undertaking and best release of the franchise since the first two installments. It gets nearly everything about the series right, minus the awkward dialogue from Doom Guy and some boss enemies. It has the high velocity FPS gameplay, an arcade-like feel to it thanks to the new Extra Lives system and armor/ammo drops, it brings back all of the enemies that players know and love such as the Tyrant and Cacodemon, the guns are beefy and destructive, and the environments are unique. There’s nothing about this game that feels rehashed in the least, and it’s nice to finally have an expansive story set beyond Phobos and Deimos. The only true downside is the boring online gameplay, but not many people play a Doom game for the multiplayer aspect these days anyway.

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