I’d been looking forward to Doom Eternal ever since it was first announced back at E3 2018. The first game was, in my opinion, one of the finest shooters of this generation and I’ve been clamoring for more of the brutal demon-dismembering action ever since. So when Doom Eternal showed up on release day, it didn’t take me long to shove it in my Xbox One and dive right back into Hell.
But that’s where things felt a bit off. Over the course of the first few missions, the imaginatively-named protagonist, Doomguy, sets off on his quest to defeat the Demonic Priests and put an end to Khan Maykr’s plot to overrun Earth with demons once and for all.
We get to grips with the Glory Kill, Chainsaw and Flame Belch mechanics, rewarding us with health, ammo, and armor respectively when used properly. Most importantly, we grow our arsenal of weapons and danced many a deadly dance with hordes of demons.
Despite my best efforts to gel with the game, however, it just couldn’t. I put the game down, relegating it to my never-ending backlog to be played when I had more energy for its insatiable appetite for demon guts and exceptional hand-eye coordination. That turned out to be this past weekend, with lockdown’s limitations now really beginning to set in.
Lo and behold, I enjoyed it a heck of a lot more. This wasn’t anything to do with the difficulty setting I was on. I’d started off on Doom Eternal’s ‘Hurt Me Plenty’ mode which is its funny name for ‘Normal.’
I actually think Eternal doesn’t truly shine until you open up more of Doomguy’s arsenal of weapons. At this point, the game truly shines as you’re forced into utilizing your entire arsenal of weapons and abilities to keep topping up your health and ammo, while simultaneously keeping the demon hordes at bay.
So on I trudged through the depths of Hell, defeating boss battle after boss battle. It was only during Doom Eternal’s last few levels, however, where that enjoyment began to wain again, and it was at this point that I took the decision to drop the difficulty setting.
It was as if the shackles had been broken on Doomguy and consequently Doom Eternal’s gameplay. From that point on, I could take almost any 30-second snippet of gameplay and it looked like it belonged in some badass sizzle reel trailer.
I was ripping the head off one demon, shoving the eye of another into its own mouth, setting another group on fire, before firing a grenade at their feet, causing armor pieces to rain down from the sky like some weird, twisted confetti. I was hurtling through the air with my Super Shotgun’s meat hook, obliterating some unknowing minor demon into little red bits before they could see me coming.
It. Was. Heaven… in Hell.
Despite having had a great time playing Doom Eternal on its normal difficulty setting, dropping it down to easy allows you to truly appreciate the fluidity of the action more so than on any other difficulty. It allows you to enjoy these insane 20-30 vs. 1 combat scenarios for what they are — complete and utter chaotic fun — without taking away the ‘stress’ that comes with being surrounded by bloodthirsty demons.
I can already see the comments from ‘LeetGamer69’ below this post telling me to ‘git gud’ and yes, there’s an element of truth to that. If I were ‘gud’ at Doom Eternal, I’d be able to swiftly go about my demon despatching business on one of the tougher difficulties and appreciate the gameplay in very much the same way that I did on easy.
But I’m not a Doom expert, and that’s ok.
Doom Eternal’s easy mode doesn’t thin out the hordes or overly-simplify things. Demons can take less damage and drop faster, but the number of enemies doesn’t appear to let up. The threat of death is still there, it’s just not as overwhelming. It’s more fun when Doomguy feels like the unstoppable juggernaut that he’s portrayed as, and easy mode ratchets that feeling up to 11.
There’s something to plugging your way through Doom Eternal on higher difficulties. Finally stomping Khan Maykr after countless attempts, or putting your first Marauder down all on your own are some seriously satisfying moments. But if you’re looking to experience Doom Eternal in all of its fluid, fast-paced, gory glory, there’s simply no better place to start than on its easiest difficulty.
Now, onto the next playthrough.