Doom Eternal Review: Almost a Perfect Classic

Doom Eternal is probably one of the best games you will play this year! No one expected anything different really, seeing that the ID cult franchise stands proud and tall over any other shooter. 

The 2016 iteration was a smashing success and this sequel improves on the formula, adding a bit of flavor and gimmicks, like their own brand of fatalities, proving once again that Doom is the king of shooters. 

For those of you who are interested in this game, and haven’t played Doom 2016, you need to bookmark this post and do yourself a favor, play that masterpiece. 

Doom Eternal picks up after the last game but this time the Slayer is being thrust towards Earth, where a new demon invasion is on the way. Here you arrive, with your space ship/castle/fortress and you start making demon kind wish they were never there to begin with. 

One note of importance: this time, the pistol is nowhere in sight. You start with a shotgun and the game makes a point of proving to the player that the arsenal is upgraded. You will soon start to acquire new armaments and, of course, new skills, your use of them making the difference between life and death. The game is a bit more forgiving in the platforming department, but not when it comes to the demon encounters. You will have to learn to adapt and use all that you have in order to best the game.

This is the nature of the new era of Doom. A little bit of Dark Souls, a little bit of classic Doom, some Metroidvania and RPG elements, and the game is now fresh and ready for a new generation. With one exception: the story is now front and center. 

Not unlike the previous game, the story is now more complex. You get a sense of urgency and destruction from the narrative. There is a push from the story to progress and find out what’s the deal with the new, almost angelic foe and the three little demonic piglets that you will chase throughout the Solar system.  

The story set pieces are also more complex. You see how the Slayer affects the environment and you get some closure on some story topics from Doom 2016, and even from older installments. Plus, the ride is masterfully crafted. The story arc makes sure you feel like a total badass when you move from Earth to Mars with the grace of a nuke, eviscerating anything that does not belong to the mortal race. It’s incredibly fun and rewarding. 

Story-wise, you get a rollercoaster of adrenaline and jaw-dropping moments, all while the Slayer is being portrayed as an unrelenting savior of humanity. Simple, silent and deadly. But in his solace, he says a lot more with his Super Shotgun than other video game protagonists. 

The Doom Slayer doesn’t see an obstacle, he sees a stepping stone to the next challenge, and no demon or human will stand in his way.  This makes the story extremely enjoyable, even more than it’s predecessor, thus motivating you to push forward through the fast-paced, frenetic gameplay. The mise en place is exquisite and Doom Eternal successfully blends story with gameplay and atmosphere to deliver, just in the story department, one of the best experiences you will ever have in a shooter. 

Sure, there are some problems, but most of them are related to the way the game presents some sections of the story. You get your big set-piece cinematics and bombastic presentations with sparkling graphics, but some of the story is hidden in the journal entries.

They consist of a light read and the info they reveal is crucial to the story, but it seems a tad bit half-assed in the context of a game that has this level of finish. Other than that, you will feel like a regular superhero jumping around and making demons pop all over the place. The story is a blast from start to finish and we cannot be recommending it enough. 

The fact that we used the word Metroidvania at the beginning of this review is not by chance. Every level is a huge puzzle you need to traverse while double jumping and boosting from one ledge to another, trying to find out secrets, runes, and unlocking powerups. A level is not a level, it is a work of art onto itself. It makes you explore, it wants you to see what works and what doesn’t and this time it’s a little bit more lenient towards you when it comes to failure. 

In Doom 2016, a fall or a death meant the ending of your run and a load checkpoint prompt. Now, in Doom Eternal, you can pick up extra lives that will revive you, just in case a Pinkie made you chum, and you also have a last stand mechanic and a chasm that just resets you to the nearest ledge. These tiny mechanics make the flow of the game more organic, and the player, in turn, is more engaged in the action. Death is not the end, if you have a 1UP stored in your inventory. 

You are more relaxed as you jump like a bloody ballerina, shotgun in hand, trying to find out where the automap or a core are. In fact, Doom Eternal gives you a ton to do, on a level by level basis. You get challenges, you get collectibles, upgrades to hunt down, music tracks and random encounters. You get a full package if you want to keep yourself entertained and, if you are a bit of a completionist, you will have a field day with Doom Eternal. Every level has something to offer and to challenge you. 

Even the new game hub, the Doom Fortress, is a sight to behold. Here is where you store your collectibles, farm new costumes using power cores that you find scattered throughout the levels and direct your fury towards the demonkind. You can also train your aim and reflexes in the training room. It’s a step in the right direction, and with a little bit of exploration, you can find some interesting collectibles even here, with a tad of expert traversal. 

If Doom 2016 was leaps and bounds over the other games, Doom Eternal refines the level movement mechanics and adds a few new ones. Awareness and quick reaction time are a must here. Dashing and double jumping are your bread and butter, and you will use these two abilities more than the Doom Slayer arsenal. 

On top of those, you get a grenade launcher and a flame thrower. No rocket jumps here, sadly, but the addition of the Flame Belch shifts the dynamic, introducing a new weapon that can make the demons literally shed their armor. Used in conjunction with the glory kills and the new Blood Fist, you have the winning combination of Rip and Tear. 

Using the Slayer abilities is imperative to survive. If the Flame Belch gives you armor when you light up a demon, the Blood Punch instakills most common enemies, and for ammo, you can use the good old chainsaw. That’s the winning trifecta if you want. But hey, if everything fails, you have the BFG and the Crucible Blade that kills most enemies in the game. 

In addition, the new gameplay mechanics complement Doom Eternal marvelously. Now, you want to explore the level and find out where all the power cores and upgrades are, so you can be more effective and have all the toys. 

You will spend more time than you will want to admit to on that one jump that seems impossible, only to discover that there is a simple way forward… and here is the only gripe we have with the game.

Sometimes, the game forces you to move forward in a way that the game developer tried to fit in the level design.  

At times, Doom Eternal forces you to take the path that it considers perfect and most of our alternative route experiments result in a death and a teleport to the nearest ledge. Sure, there is some leniency in some cases, but most of the time it’s the dev’s way or the highway, and that breaks the flow of the game a little bit.

That, and the Marauder, which is a new enemy type, that will make you lose your marbles the first time you encounter him, and then every single time you see him after that. 

The forced path forward, the marauders, and the lack of ammo at the beginning of the game are the only major problems we had with this game, in the sense that it was a bit hard to get the hang of the new gameplay mechanics. Not all the time, but when they show up, you will lose your marbles and it will take you out of the experience.

But, as long as you know your basics, learn to use the correct weapon for the correct demon, and try not to fall prey to your basic desires, you will overcome any encounter with the undead faction. 

You are never given more than you can handle. Doom Eternal progresses steadily, giving the player time to accommodate with his new upgrades and abilities, most new power-ups being accompanied by a short tutorial, so the player doesn’t lose any important piece of information. As soon as you are halfway through the game, Doom Eternal moves to show what you can do with what you have learned. Your first Marauder fight is your christening. After that, you will have to bring your A-game to a higher level of difficulty in order to best the game. 

Switching between weapons and using the abilities at the right time is the winning formula in this case. The game offers you all the info you need in order to quickly finish up any demon, and you can always chain abilities together using the Flame Belch to give yourself some extra crispy armor, shoot the poor demon SOB a couple of times, and finish him up with a glory kill that will make the undead burst into a cornucopia of resources, like ammo or life. It’s a feast for the soul and eyes, ripping and tearing through the hordes of demons. 

The frantic pace of the game keeps you going. It pushes your buttons in order for you to get that adrenaline rush every time you get unsaved out of a battle or a boss fight. It’s a refinement of the first game, an upgrade in every way for an iconic franchise, that now has a bit more under his name than the title of “Classic”. 

The arena fights keep things fresh and engaging, while the vistas, evil and full of blood and guts, will make your jaw drop to the floor. The game is gorgeous, and it shows from the very first frame. The presentation is a sight to behold, the studio using all the bells and whistles that the current-gen tech can provide. But, as they say, the Devil is in the details. 

Like in Doom 2016, the music is an important piece that sets not only the mood, but pumps you full of demonic juice, pouring metal into your veins every time a fight is about to start, and then fading in the background like a ruckus long gone. Blend this with giant demons, new enemies and some level design that will make you speak in tongues some times, and the winning recipe is almost done. All we need is some ray tracing, so the game doesn’t look all that dated, and here we go! Doom Eternal! 

Is the game perfect?

Not even by a long shot! Some encounters are repetitive, and some platforming aspects are nerve-wracking. The ammo problem at the beginning of the game is a bit irritating. Also, we can’t shake the feeling that Doom Eternal is like a big expansion for Doom 2016, in the sense that it is the story expansion pack that everybody was asking for, and now we got it… but at full price.

There is an AAA+ Game there, the essence of what makes a Doom game, a Doom game, being captured here. Unfortunately, it misses something in order to be the best Doom of all time. Maybe bigger levels. Maybe an open world and a 4 player co-op. Maybe the possibility to make your own campaign and develop your own assets. Who knows?! All of the above seem like a good idea. The deal is not to hurry a good thing and wait for the right time. Maybe the next Doom game will change everything!?

Other than this, and the multiplayer that almost nobody will play, the game is an instant classic. This is one of those games that, in about 20 years or so, will be shown running on a watch on some video sharing platform, similar to what we are now doing with the old Doom, porting it to any device that has the processor and memory. The game needs to be in your collection and it needs to be experienced. But not before you finish Doom 2016.  

Bottom line: Help the human race and Rip and Tear in Doom Eternal. Or else! 

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