Following up on its 2016 predecessor, DOOM Eternal steps onto the scene to prove once again that there are still new ways to rip and tear. Armed with a completely overhauled combat and movement system, new upgrade and progression mechanics and some sweet new customization options, Eternal works hard to try and set a new standard for the FPS genre. Does it achieve this lofty goal? Grab that coffee, kick back and find out in our Campaign review of DOOM Eternal played on PC. (no key was provided for this review)
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Set roughly eight months or so after the events of DOOM 2016, Eternal wastes so time dropping you in the middle of the madness. With little explanation and even less exposition, you find yourself ripping and tearing through demons in a mad dash to hunt down and kill three Hell Priests in the hopes of stopping the ongoing invasion of earth.
Interestingly this time around id software has spent a little more time presenting the story through cutscenes and dialogue. Before the games release many had reported that there was much more of these story delivery mechanics. As a huge fan of DOOM 2016, I was afraid it was going to through off the pacing and rhythm of combat that made DOOM 2016 such an incredible title. Thankfully my concerns were for nothing, as the story, which was actually quite engaging and really fleshed out much of the Doom Slayers arc, is both optional and honestly a welcome breather from the intensity of combat.
This Brilliant Dance
Pacing and rhythm of combat in Eternal were also definitely not slowed down. In fact, it feels like they were ramped up to elven. As much as I loved 2016 for its aggressive, seemingly fast-paced run and gun, the thought of going back to it now seems silly.
DOOM Eternal has redefined the concept of run and gun. Id has been very intentional about redesigning movement from the ground up; adding in a much-appreciated dash ability, improved double jump and overall faster movement. These, coupled with the new monkey bars and meat hook ability, change the whole flow of combat. It’s faster, harder and way more engaging. What used to feel like a game of checkers now feels like a game of chess on a treadmill, while doing parkour and dancing the Salsa; and it’s amazing.
As a result of these new mechanics, level design has taken on a much more vertical structure. As a result, levels feel much more open, larger and offer more options for engaging enemies. This further results in a whole new layer to combat engagement. Its a blast to jump into a new arena and have to think on the fly about how to balance all of the enemies.
Every enemy type brings a new challenge to the fight. Understanding how each enemy functions, they’re strengths and weaknesses and how they synergize with each other, all play into how you rip and tear through them. Its a bit of a learning curve at first, even with my many playthroughs of 2016. However, it didn’t take long to get a feel for the new systems and in no time I found a new rhythm for combat. It’s one of the fastest, more strategic and challenging first-person shooter experiences I’ve ever had.
Another interesting result of the new movement mechanics is increased use of movement and jump puzzles in between combat arenas. For the most part, they were clever and engaging. I did find though that as the game progressed I was less and less interested in them and was more interested in just moving to the next arena to rip and tear. It never felt too challenging but with just how fun combat is, it did sometimes feel a little unnecessary.
DOOM Eternal also offers a revised progression system for the slayer which feels much more streamlined. It also feels like each upgrade, be it to your suit, weapons or abilities, brings much more impact and weight to the fight. Eternal does a great job of releasing upgrades at a fairly balanced pace. Just when combat was getting to be too intense, an upgrade would come along that seemed to rebalance the encounters. Overall it was rewarding to unlock upgrades as every one of them really felt like it added value to the combat encounters.
Speaking of revamping systems, the secrets and hidden items have seen a wonderful overhaul. Secret areas and items are now marked with a large green question mark and are designed to encourage exploration to unlock them then rather than simply stumbling upon them during combat. Not to mention that the hidden items are basically POP figurines of the game’s enemies, vinyl records that contain some of Id’s best soundtracks from past games and other assorted items that will adorn your newly acquired DOOM fortress.
Did I not mention that you get a fortress? It works as a central hub for missions, collectibles, and additional unlockables. Some of the latter are upgrades while others are simply cosmetic items and costumes. The whole space is really just one big easter egg but also serves as a great place to catch your breath between missions. Was it necessary? Not really; but it’s still amazing fun and offers some great tributes to id’s past titles.