Video Game Review: Doom Eternal

I adore the 2016 reboot of Doom in all of its blood-soaked heavy metal glory. While Eternal falls short in some areas that its predecessor shined in, it is still a sequel that manages to go above and beyond on the core elements that made the previous entry so special.

Coming off the last title, the mission failed, and Hell rules most of Earth. The Doom Slayer must go through the hierarchy of Hell to stop the demonic army from destroying the last of humanity. It layers in thicker layers of lore and stronger storytelling, making for a much more engaging experience than last time.

The gameplay is so much more refined than Doom 2016. While the guns were great, some felt more tuning would have done them justice. Eternal evolves some familiar weaponry with introductions to brand new toys. Killing hellish monsters has never felt this good.

Glory kills on stunned enemies, and chainsawing through flesh highlights how much more gruesome things have gotten. The over-the-top violence never gets old, and I crave to get back in as soon as I can for more blood-soaked fun.

Mods return for each gun, two for almost everything except for the Super Shotgun and BFG. I felt I was switching between different firing modes more so this time around, mostly due to the new enemy types. It gave more meaning to what I had selected, making fighting that much more strategic and overall improved from four years ago.

Moving is fluid as ever, for the most part. Platforming is a nice touch when you aren’t massacring endless hordes of demons, sometimes getting woven into battles, but at times the Slayer did not grab onto things I was trying to climb. Swinging around, felt satisfying, but the climbable walls felt too stiff.

Puzzles act as a way to breathe in between fights. However, I found it to be lackluster and nothing too impressive. Mostly punch this thing in time to punch another to unlock a door. It was all elementary and not elaborate. Also, I found some to be not so clear on how to go about it despite the classic signals, but I can be dumb too.

Encounters and Slayer Gates are challenges that replace the rune trials from before. The upgrades rewarded make it worthwhile, especially since many of these can take some time as I did die on some a lot. Seriously, fuck Marauders.

Exploring gets deeper with more depth to the level design. It leans linear with nooks and crannies that have goodies to find. Upgrades, toys, vinyl records, and files to expand the lore make me want to go out a collect it all, which you bet I will after writing this review.

Also, if anyone works at id Software or Bethesda, please make these toys and albums, I will buy them all in a heartbeat.

Another cool collectible comes from the cheat codes. Bringing back the old days when games had god mode and infinite ammo. What makes it better, you can use them and not lose progress, making a 100 percent run-through less painful and more fun.

While trying to navigate these worlds, I still found the map to be awkward, like in the reboot. I got used to it, but I still think id Software could dial it in.

Everything can get upgraded from guns, your abilities, and the selection of three runes that have various attributes. It goes into an RPG realm, and while it is on the thinner side, it is a brilliant addition to powerup the most badass protagonist around.

Doom Eternal Screenshot 2020.03.20 - 10.07.18.56

Speaking of badass, I never felt more empowered in a video game in my life. Once I got the rhythm down of the combat and movement down, it made every kill that much more satisfying. That said, it is a must to go on a harder difficulty. I got put on my ass to keep my ego in check as it is insanely hard but fair at all times.

The bosses get depth with multiple phases and some more exciting move sets. I feel more games these days have lost the art of making an excellent baddie to face. Eternal matches up with FromSoftware when it comes to having an epic battle with a giant monster.

Bones are thrown to you with extra lives that can be found or knowing enemy weak points, a great new addition to get the leg up on these goddamn demons. Keeping up with that fairness, I just mentioned.

The demon variety is about doubled in size. Familiar faces, retro enemies return from the past, and new monsters all are coming after the Doom Slayer. To make it all better, enemy damage shows off armor and flesh getting blown off. It gives a signal to when you are about to kill off a pesty creature while looking so incredibly brutal.

A hub world has been placed with the most metal name imaginable, the Fortress of Doom. Unlock new upgrades, and cosmetic armors (which needed more than the three in there) will prepare you for the next mission, or get you diving into the battlefield in style. Plus, instead of looking at what I collected in a menu,  all of the collectibles with shelves full of toys or being able to play your vinyl collection as I got to relax in the Doom Slayer’s awesome man cave.

One thing found in the basement of the Slayer’s lair is a practice arena called the Demon Prison or its other more brutal name, Ripatorium. I had no use for it as no reward came out of going into fighting down there. I feel honing in on skill is best playing the game normally.

Master Levels is a bonus mode to play specifically selected missions with an added difficulty. Enemies who may not spawn until later in the game will show themselves to you with more abundant spawns. It is not my jam like the Ripatorium, but it does add some additional replayability.

The environments are better than ever. More variety from Hell on Earth, new planets, and ancient cities flesh out this universe. Each new place kept things fresh.

Everything in this game is so devilishly, disgustingly beautiful. Higher-end textures and details pop, especially in the advanced lighting effects.

The online is devastatingly disappointing. While the reboot had an in-depth customization option and various game modes, this has one mode plus a small number of skins to unlock rather than making a character look like an individual. Battlemode is two v.s. one, two demons and one Slayer, to battle it out in three rounds. It is a ton of fun, but that being the only option is a huge letdown as I really enjoyed Doom 2016’s competitive multiplayer.

It is annoying that in Battlemode, you do have to do a tutorial to play the demons without a way to skip it. I wanted to play with my buddies on night one and had to go through a rather unhelpful mission to learn how to play.

Singleplayer missions, weekly challenges, and multiplayer give out experience to unlock more cosmetic skins for guns and playable characters. I wish there was more, and I have a feeling additions will be made, but it was a weak lineup. What was available did look awesome, if that makes up for the lackluster amount.

The shining star outside of the combat is the music. Mick Gordon reprises his role as the game’s composer and elevates this heavy metal soundscape. Outside of battles, an electric atmosphere keeps the vibes going while when the demons come out, so does the brutal tunes. As a lifelong metalhead, Gordon gets the seal of approval.

The elephant in the room is the technical difficulties. On the lighter side, enemies would occasionally freeze in place until I attacked, and a brief lost save made me go back a few checkpoints. The killer was the crashes, which got to a point the game was unplayable for a few days before miraculously fixing itself, even then I had two or three shutdowns while playing.

If Doom Eternal gets an award this year, then it is for the most intoxicating experience of the year as the brutal soundscape mixed with its ridiculous gameplay. It breaks my heart that I have to rate it lower than I want to, but the technical difficulties and online bring it down a peg. That said, the campaign alone with its storytelling, level design, and overall experience beats out Doom 2016, making this sequel more superior in the end.

Score: 8/10

 

 

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