Doom Eternal on PlayStation 4
With Wolfenstein: The New Colossus and the 2016 Doom reboot, Bethesda has published some of the best first-person shooters of the last five years. Now, Doom Eternal looks to take the mix of old-school design and modern, fast-paced combat even further.
Without forgetting what made the 2016 game feel so good to play, id Software has managed to make Eternal more varied, gory, and relentlessly quick while being just as much of a blast.
As the iconic Doom Slayer, you’re blasting through hell, Earth, and beyond to stop the Hell Priests and protect what is left of our home planet, killing as many demons as possible along the way.
That story is pretty basic, and you’ll probably not care too much about what’s happening, but since it provides a reason for what’s you’re doing, it’s a nice added bonus.
Doom Eternal’s combat is crazy. As anyone who’s played the 2016 game will know, it’s brutally violent, insanely fluid, and stressful as hell.
Smashing through tens of skulls in a couple of seconds, feeling like an unstoppable badass, is brilliant, but it’s Doom Eternal’s meticulous design that’s id’s masterstroke. Everything is balanced to perfection. Every single weapon, every melee move, and every type of jump or dash have their time and place in every demonic encounter.
Slicing through enemies with a chainsaw to get ammo, chaining Glory Kills to refill health, and switching to the weapon that’s best for each enemy are things you have to consider at every turn, altering your focus every couple of seconds.
It’s not just a case of mindlessly bashing through skulls for 12 hours though, smashing R3 to the point your thumb hurts. There’s actual tactics you begin to learn that make the arena-based battles more manageable.
Learning how much damage an enemy can take before they can be Glory Killed to conserve ammo and time; leaving a basic demon or two to roam the map so that you can go back to them when you need an easy kill for an ammo or health top up, or even just figuring out which enemies you struggle with most are hugely helpful things to learn as you progress or think about during a fight.
All this tactical juggling takes place at immense speed too, making it all the more exhausting. The way that id has managed to retain the fluidity with an increased focus on balancing resources and your arsenal is nothing short of remarkable, especially in the way Doom Eternal plays and runs.
Not once did the game stutter under the weight of all the neon explosions, not once did a lunging Glory Kill look awkward or unpolished, and not once did an enemy look out of place.
Doom Eternal’s design is so precise and it’s not something you’ll necessarily notice. The way the levels flow from old-school multiplayer arena to puzzle centric corridors, keeping the action smooth constantly, allows you to lose yourself in the gore and brutality.
Doom Eternal is all about ripping demons apart at breakneck speed, but it’s only because of the attention to detail and polish in almost every aspect that it feels quite as incredible as it does.
The action doesn’t overstay its welcome either. Considering Doom is so centered around its speed and relentlessness, you could understand if Glory Kill after Glory Kill got a little stale.
Even with it being considerably longer than 2016’s reboot, it stays fresh throughout, introducing you to a breathtaking new setting, traversal mechanic, weapon, or enemy every 10 minutes or so.
Each one gives you something new to learn or something extra to incorporate into your attack patterns. By the end of the game, the way I approached each arena section was completely different to how I did both at the start and half way through.
Dashing quickly became muscle memory and I tried to Glory Kill or chainsaw anything and everything to keep my reserves topped up.
Without new things to learn, Eternal’s action could have become stale. There’s only so many times you can see a basic demon have its head smashed into its neck, so keeping the variety coming was so important to Doom Eternal’s progression.
Also, with it throwing quite so much at you at every turn, Doom Eternal is hard, really hard. Particular enemies are trickier than others, some of which you’ll only encounter five or six times in the whole game, but you always have to fight so many at one time that it can be pretty overwhelming.
Playing the game on Nightmare mode, or even the one life only Ultra-Nightmare, seems genuinely impossible to me. Eternal’s at its best when you’re playing at a difficulty that you’re comfortable with. The combat feels too fantastic for you to waste your time getting frustrated.
Eternal’s presentation and world design complement that combat, too. It’s a gorgeous game, from the larger world and stunning setpieces like looming giants from the past, to the smaller details. You’ll visit Earth, space, hell, and other surprise locations, battling through grim hellscapes, futuristic broken cities, and exaggerated high fantasy castles.
The pace of the combat might make you want to race through to the end, keeping the heart racing, but do take a moment every now and then to explore and take a look around. The secrets you find and the landscapes you’ll get to look at are the perfect reward.
Mods you can unlock and upgrade points you get by exploring really make a difference in the later missions (particularly the plasma rifle fully charged blast), but the exploration opportunities also mean there’s plenty to play once the campaign is done.
There are toys and vinyls to find, secret encounters to complete, and Slayer Levels to tackle, which throw you deeper into the world and challenge you more than anything else.
Exploration is promoted throughout too, giving you some items and upgrades that are easy to find to give you the taste for searching for those that are a little more hidden.
Most boss fights are incorporated into the standard action as well, throwing tens of enemies at you while you struggle with the boss itself. The boss fights are great as well, making you take everything you’ve learned and use it on larger, more dangerous foes.
The last two are a little too similar, seeing you fight a towering enemy from further away than usual in both instances, which makes the last one less memorable, but they’re well designed nonetheless.
For as old school it is in the arena design, seeing fights take place over multiple levels filled with glowing items, staircases, and jump pads, Eternal is revelatory in its approach to combat flow and presentation.
The likes of Titanfall 2 and Wolfenstein 2 have been lauded for how great they feel to play. They’re not a patch on Doom Eternal though, which is more satisfying that any of the competition.
Doom Eternal is far more than gore, double jumps, and brutal executions. It’s an impeccably designed game that perfectly balances every single aspect of its action to create one of the most challenging, exhausting, and consistently fun shooters in years.
Story is nothing more than serviceable.