Review: DOOM Eternal is a Madhouse of Destruction, Excitement, and Insane Power
The follow-up to the 2016 smash-hit title didn’t have to go so extreme, but it thankfully did anyway.
By Jay Gervais
The Doom Slayer is back and he’s as angry as ever in id Software’s DOOM Eternal, a dynamic and worthy follow-up title to 2016’s DOOM. As many readers know, the title was initially expected to drop in November of last year, but its release was pushed to March 2020 instead. Was it worth the 4-month wait? You’re damn right it was.
DOOM Eternal is essentially a power fantasy in the way it makes the player feel like they are a force to be reckoned with. However, this ability is not just given away on a silver platter, but rather one that is built as players progress through a challenging campaign. Make no mistake, this game will roundhouse kick you in the face and you will die often as you learn the ropes of how everything works. Once you do, the game transforms into your own personal madhouse of destruction, excitement, and insane power!
The plot picks up eight months following the events of 2016’s DOOM. Earth is invaded by demonic forces who have singlehandedly decimated most of the planet’s population. With the world dominated by a regime of demons and a corrupted Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC), what little is left of humanity has either fled or joined hands with a resistance movement known as the Armored Response Coalition (ARC). By the time players take up the stomping boots of the Doom Slayer, who returns to Earth with a huge, fortified space station of his own, there’s plenty of opportunities to rip and tear away at some nasty-looking demon guts.
As is traditional with any proper DOOM experience, half the battle is finding the right arsenal to stay alive and get the job done. While there isn’t a huge array of weapons to choose from, the ability to modify most of them is extremely useful and adds a fine layer of fun to the gameplay. Every chance you get to learn each weapon’s capabilities should be taken advantage of, as your chances of survival on higher difficulties will depend on how well you have mastered your resources.
Players can also increase their strength through finding power-up stations scattered throughout the game, along with locating items and other collectibles that can be exchanged at the Fortress of Doom. If the going gets too hot, you’ll need to make sure to keep checking for opportunities to gain more strength, or perhaps a reorganization of your resources is necessary to get through a tough fight.
DOOM Eternal’s difficulty is not intended to be punishing, but it puts players behind the wheel and allows them to control their own destiny. It all depends if one took the time to truly learn how to play effectively, and there will be consequences for those believing they can approach every fight with a “guns blazing” mentality. It quickly becomes apparent early on how supplies are limited and the need to conserve ammo is necessary, unless desperately jumping around the arena waiting for items or weak enemies to respawn is your idea of a good time.
Sparing ammo when possible and using the infamous chainsaw on weaker enemies will give you those much-needed supplies to help make battles less stressful—a helpful strategy to keep in mind. In addition, players will need to haul ass by staying constantly on the move, using the dash capability, and observing opportunities like jumping pads and looking for cover points in their environment. Not to mention, of course, making sure to nail those glory kills on enemies who are close to death.
Level designs are, for the most part, easy to navigate through. However, there are times when the game does feel unfair when having to restart at certain points after messing up on a series of complicated maneuvers using swing bars, wall climbing, and other platforming mechanics.
This title is graphically impressive with diverse and innovative environments, character models, and other fine attention to detail. In order to have the ultimate DOOM Eternal experience, you’ll need a beastly setup with all the latest technology on the market. However, those with inferior setups will still be able to enjoy the game regardless.
For a casual playthrough, the title does feel somewhat longer than it needs to be. Spread across thirteen levels, an average campaign can take up to twenty or more hours depending on your playstyle. Excitement for battles may later turn to a feeling of dullness as you fight an Arachnotron or Mancubus for the thirtieth or so time. However, stress levels will continue to rise as the game gets more difficult as it reaches its conclusion.
There’s very little room to breathe in DOOM Eternal and those of you who suffer from claustrophobia or expect there to be a heavy emphasis on story will find little enjoyment here.
The returning Mick Gordon brings a more polished and heavy-hitting soundtrack this time around. You might recall how the composer was searching for heavy metal screamers to bring another element to the game’s music. There are several tracks containing interesting choral statements that, when combined with Gordon’s usual unhinged compositions, makes for a hell of a ride.
The music feels more in-tune with complementing the player’s power fantasy than the 2016 predecessor, while that title’s music felt like it blended a bit more into the background. Thankfully, this has been rectified with DOOM Eternal and you’ll surely be headbanging your way through every fight.
The remainder of the audio is top-notch. Sound effects feel authentic and in-your-face. The voice work is excellent thanks to talented voice actors and memorable moments of dialogue, with “You can’t just shoot a hole into the surface of Mars” being my personal favorite. At no time did it feel as though there were awkward moments of silence. Everything just keeps moving along at a high pace, as you’d expect.
The game delivers on its promise of a satisfying power fantasy. The ability to increase strength and modify weapons keeps things interesting and allows for progression. Gameplay is enhanced by beautiful graphics, impressive voice work, and a killer soundtrack by Mick Gordon.
While the difficulty is purposely designed to teach players to master the skills necessary to survive, it can feel unfair and downright annoying at times. Encounters with the same variety of enemies does get tiresome in a longer-than-necessary campaign.
Overall, DOOM Eternal is a fantastic sequel worthy of praise. People play these kinds of games for the power fantasy experience, which this title delivers on quite marvelously. Other elements feel somewhat dumbed-down, but DOOM games have never been about creating a narrative masterpiece anyway.
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