Doom in 2016 marked a turning point for this iconic and game changing franchise, and truly made “old school, new school”.  2004’s Doom 3 was a change of pace for the series, a slow burn title that aimed to have more survival horror elements, over fast paced action.  It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea (though I enjoyed it), as fans wanted something faster paced and true to the beloved instalments from the 1990’s.  So in 2016, that’s just what we got with a reboot, a game that not only looked gorgeous as well as performing at a slick framerate with gore galore.  The new standard was set with the reboot and it would set the bar even higher for the developers at id Software, which is likely why the game got pushed back.  Thankfully, it seems that the delayed release date was worth its weight in gold, because Hell on Earth is a vacation that you’ll want to say on for an eternity.

One of the beauty factors of this series, is its simple premise, you’re the Doom Slayer and you’re going to have a blast killing demons and ruining their plans to take over earth, and you’ll get extra satisfaction knowing that you’re pissing them off by throwing a spanner into their works.  But with Doom Eternal being a sequel to the 2016 reboot, the story has continued on and despite the Doom Slayers efforts, earth has been overrun by the demons and while the challenge seems near impossible to overcome, nothing will stop our favourite slayer of demons putting a stop to their shenanigans.  However, in order to stop earth becoming Satan’s playground for all eternity, Doom Slayer must begin with annihilating the Hell Priests and with the human race at the brink of extinction, otherwise hell will unleash its utmost fury to put an end to Doom Slayer once and for all, or so they hope.

As in 2016, you are pretty much thrown straight into the action and instantly, you’ll likely feel very much at home the moment you start  running, gunning and ripping apart anyone that stands before you, in typical brutal fashion.  Much of Doom Eternal’s gameplay remains the same, because you should never fix something that isn’t broke.  You still have high octane gameplay that has you speeding around miniature arena’s that very much reminds me of old-school Quake games.  With that said, it would be easy to think that among the fast paced action, there is little room for strategy in Doom Eternal, but you’d be massively wrong.

As with Doom (2016), ammo, health and shield top-ups are placed in various locations and as you die multiple times in that arena, you will gradually learn the lay of the land, and you’ll soon find yourself learning from your mistakes, realising the best path, as well as when and how to kill certain enemies.  In most cases when you kill an enemy, you will be rewarded with health and ammo, but not in all cases.  To get the most rewards with each kill, you’ll either have to perform a glorious Glory Kill or an equally satisfying chainsaw kill, each will reward you handsomely with a plethora of top-ups.  It’s this kind of “Push Forward” gameplay that made Doom (2016) so rewarding and that has been expanded upon in 2020.  The game has also wonderfully implemented a way for you to try out just about all weapons on offer.  We will always no doubt have our favourites, but you will find yourself running low on any weapon ammo that you use more than most, forcing you to switch it up via the weapon reel.  But don’t be put off by this, because by doing so, you’ll not only find that all other weapons are as equally awesome in their own right, but you’ll also discover new ways to unleash them to your advantage.

To evolve the game forward in the best way possible, to add upon what worked before hand in the hope that you would make a great game even better, I feel this is what id Software has accomplished with Doom Eternal.  So what enhancements have been made in Doom Eternal?  Well, quite surprising of which is the ability to traverse walls, akin to Lara Croft with her pick axe in the most recent Tomb Raider reboot, but rather than using an axe, Doom Slayer will aggressively sink has armoured claws into the scalable walls.  When I played a preview build in 2019 of Doom Eternal, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this mechanic, as it didn’t feel natural to Doom Slayer or a natural fit to the actual gameplay.  However, I am assuming that since last year’s preview build from QuakeCon, the developers have used the extra development time following the release date delay, to fine tune certain aspects of the game, including the wall climbing.

Other improvements made to how Doom Slayer moves around the maps is his new dash ability, which is not only handy to avoid enemy attacks, but also to reach seemingly unreachable areas as well as the inclusion of horizontal bars that you have you swinging to extra lengths.  All three of these aspects, wall climbing, the dash and the horizontal bars make for new and exciting ways to manourve, not only during battle areas, but also well thought out puzzle sections and areas that will lead to secret locations, including an old-school extra life discovery which you throw you straight back into the action upon death.

But how about the weapons?  Well, much of the favourites from 2016 have returned, all of which, as well as Doom Slayer himself are upgradable as long as you find the correct items hidden throughout the campaign.  One of the series favourite weapons is the good old faithful Shotgun, namely the Super Shotgun, which has appeared in previous games.  Yet in Doom Eternal, this Super Shotgun has somehow been made even greater by having come equipped with a grappling hook!  As I’m sure you can imagine, this addition can be used to brutal effect, but it also adds another layer of strategy, whether it being to pull you closer to certain enemies for an up-close and person kill, especially when you’re running low on health and resources, but it’s also a very handy way to get around the map in added quick time.  Other new forms of weaponry comes in the form of your Equipment Launcher, located on your shoulder, which seems very Predator inspired.  This Equipment Launcher can unleash anything from grenades to Ice Bombs, and there’s also a handy flamethrower for good measure, which can reward you with additional health drops.

Yet the improvements don’t stop there, because there is also an impressive and very tactical dismemberment mechanic.  Not only does this particular mechanic look wonderfully gruesome, but it also has a genuine purpose in bringing down your enemies.  Larger enemies such as the Arachnotron or the Revenant will have certain weak spots to exploit, as do the magnificent boss encounters.  But it also looks great and gruesome as you pick apart the muscular Hell Knight to its knees with a devastating shotgun blast to its limbs.  One last other improvement is a new feature to the series and that’s the hub, fittingly dubbed the “Fortress of Doom”.  This is a quite large space station-like hub set in-between levels, containing many locked rooms with upgradable items, hidden locations and more.  It’s nothing spectacular, but it does offer an at times a much needed rest bite from all the chaos that Doom Eternal brings to the table.

As you’d likely assume, Doom Eternal is a visually stunning game, in-fact it’s one of the best looking and performing games of this current generation.  Never before has Doom’s vision of hell looked so detailed, vibrant, luring and brimming with death.  Just as this series has offered since it began in the 90’s, Doom Eternal has some truly fantastic level design that encourages you to explore an area for secrets, before you pass through the next door.  As in 2016, Doom Eternal features an adrenaline pumping metal soundtrack brought to you by Mick Gordon, and you should be pleased to know, that there is no sign of any Christian rap songs, which were present in that infamous TV ad.  But now that I think about it, that might have been an ironic, and quite brilliant marketing ploy by the folks at Bethesda?  Doom Eternal also has some phenomenal sound design and if you have access to a quality headset, then I urge them to use them when playing Doom Eternal.  In fact, it’s so good that I’d be shocked if Doom Eternal doesn’t win some end of year awards for its incredible sound design.

To conclude, Doom Eternal does everything that you’d want from a sequel, it improves upon what worked so fantastically before, without losing its focus, it adds new elements and mechanics without losing its identity and so late on in this console generation, it pushes the PS4 to its absolute limits, both in the visual and level design departments, and despite the added frantic pace, it runs at an incredible framerate.  It’s also worth mentioning that at the time of writing, Doom Eternal features no loot boxes or microtransactions, as everything is earnable in game and at least now, everything seems fairly achievable, simply by playing the game, whether it be the campaign or the multiplayer offerings (though the latter is not live at the time of writing).  I don’t know what else can be said, other than this is one of the most fun and oddly therapeutic games that I’ve played.  Simply put, Doom Eternal is a clear game of the year contender.

  • Unfortunately, the multiplayer component wasn’t live for the review embargo, so I will be updating this review at a later date after it goes live.


Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake and you can check out my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/solidus5nake