The original DOOM games were perhaps my first real experience playing the FPS genre, and I have fond memories of my ICT teacher installing DOOM on the school’s LAN in order for us to play at lunchtime and after school in what could be seen as the very first ‘Slayer Club’. Since then the series become legend with a couple of attempts to reboot it and a very interesting big screen outing starring The Rock which is worth watching if just for the giggles alone. Then in 2016, DOOM was remade from the ground up and it literally kicked a whole in gaming as it brought back classic DOOM gameplay but in a new world built upon lore and battles that were just adrenalin fuelled rushes of death metal fury. To say I was hyped and excited to get my hands on DOOM Eternal would be an understatement….but dear god was the wait worth it!
*Note that at time of writing, our early access to the game meant that the Multiplayer servers had yet to be turned on, which they will be on 20th March for the release day. This review will focus on the Campaign and a further review of the ‘Battle Mode’ MP will follow once servers go online*
I was fortunate enough to have been able to play a demo of DOOM Eternal at both EGX and XO19 in 2019 and I was just hit with the awesome that was DOOM Eternal was shaping up to be. Not only did it feel like I was back in the ‘Ripping and Tearing’ action that I fell in love with in DOOM 2016, but the game was actively kicking my butt and I thought I was good at DOOM. It made me excited and determined to get DOOM Eternal in my Xbox One X as soon as possible and have been chomping on the bit until my calendar finally reached March 2020.
DOOM Eternal picks up right after the climatic ending to DOOM 2016 as the Slayer has returned to Earth to find it fully invaded by the forces of Hell. Onboard his new base of operations, the Fortress of DOOM and with the UAC AI construct VEGA (Slayer made a copy of it before destroying the original in DOOM 2016) serving as his ally, the Slayer picks up his gun, puts on his Praetor suit once more and teleports into the fight once more, a Slayer’s work is never done, thankfully for us! The Slayer’s aim is to find and kill the three Hell Priests responsible for both making the invasion property and for the continuing growth of demonic forces on Earth. The small remaining human resistance is not able to hold out for much longer and the rumours of the legendary Slayer arriving is giving some hope!
I really have to start by saying I bloody love DOOM Eternal’s campaign which feels bigger and bolder than DOOM 2016. Moving the action to Earth just adds that little something extra when playing a story about trying to save the last of humanity from the forces of Hell. Visually and especially true when playing on the Xbox One X, DOOM Eternal is just beautiful to look at with enemies looking more detailed than ever but it is the environments and levels that just pop right off your screen. Seeing the devastation of Earth cities who have all fallen to the demons is very much all judgement day focused and the Slayer has arrived in the final hours to try and do some good. Of course, doing good for humanity is quite subjective for the Slayer, as all he pretty much wants to do is to literally continue his mission to “Rip and Tear” through any and all demons he comes into contact with. DOOM Eternal really is a feast of visual delight that only delivers more and more courses to dine on as you play through the campaign.
Once again, all the action in DOOM Eternal is boosted beyond measure thanks to the music which is designed to augment the Adrenalin from the fighting and it does exactly that, bringing one of the elements I loved about DOOM 2016 smack into DOOM Eternal. The heavy metal just enhances what is already a very heart pumping fighting experience with the action being non stop and the only real indication that you have slayed all the enemies is when the music calms and stops. But out of the action the music helps create the atmosphere of where you are and from the heavy metal when the battle kicks in to just accompanying you as you explore the levels and the eclectic range of the music is not something you would expect from a DOOM experience.
It is in the fighting where DOOM always comes alive and it continues to be the most visceral shooting experience you can have right now. Eternal has doubled down on the demon encounters you can have with all the familiar demon types returning as well as some new enemies to sink your brand-new Praetor wrist blade into. The fluidity of being able to switch to a new weapon means you will always have a weapon to hand with different weapons having an increased effect on the types of Demon you meet along the way. The Praetor suit itself has seen a few upgrades since the Slayer was on Mars, a shoulder mounted launcher can now act as a flame thrower and fire both Frag Grenade and Ice Bombs once unlocked through the campaign which can be combined together for massive area damage. The new Praetor wrist blade gives a new slice n dice animation to the glory kills which are also back, stagger an enemy so they glow and you can trigger a glory kill with RS to perform an execution resulting in some health items dropping for the slayer. I love the variety of the Glory Kill animations for all demon types they just add that little bloody thirsty satisfaction right in the middle of a fight and also gives some much-needed health when needed.
Another thing I found satisfying about Eternal is the upgrading system and there are a lot of things you can upgrade from the weapon’s themselves which can have new modifications added to give weapons an alternate fire mode such as the standard shotgun getting sticky bombs to shoot or turning it into a full auto shotgun. These mods can then be enhanced further using “weapon points” earned by just using the weapons in combat. Upgrade enough and you can unlick the master level for that weapon. The Praetor Suit as well can be enhanced with Sentinel Discs and Crystals, the crystals will improve an attribute, attributes can be boosted twice with each one either increasing health, armour or ammo levels so choosing which to activate and boost will help you as you progress through the campaign. Sentinel Discs can be used to improve five elements of the suit; Fundamentals to quicken ledge grabs and weapon mod switching, Exploration to add elements that the new 3D map system will reveal, Environment to reduce damage from explosive barrels and acid, to enhancing both Ice and Frag grenades to extend their duration and range.
The end result is one hell of a powerful Slayer and choosing which weapons and suit upgrades to activate at what time will certainly help as you create a build for your Slayer. A personal tip from me is to activate the upgrades for the Flame Thrower and both grenade types to give extra health and armour drops when used so for example in my current Slayer build, I will use the Ice Bomb to freeze a group of enemies, use flame thrower to set them alight so they drop armour packs and drop a frag grenade to explode them all for extra health, just watch the health and amour packs fly! This tactic in the middle of a huge fight will keep you battling on at those almost dead moments. The thrill of that last moment Glory Kill for ammo or getting that tiny bit of health or armour to prevent you dying and having to restart the fight is one of the things I adore most about DOOM Eternal.
The campaign is a real joy to play through as was DOOM 2016 and they have definitely expanded the story to feature more lore, which I will no spoil but what started in DOOM 2016 to give the series an entire history of story continues and is only enriched further in Eternal. Gameplay wise there is a more focused element on exploring maps which the redesigned 3D map really helps players to navigate levels to find all the collectibles. The platforming gameplay has grown as well, with more jumping and ledge climbing now involved in the levels to not only progress but to find secrets and collectibles. Now I can see some people having niggles with this aspect but for me, having a brief platforming and jumping around section is a nice break from the relentless fighting once it starts. I did find it a little clumsy at points as you begin to double jump and air dash distance to reach new ledges and if you fail to wall grab, which by the way is a very satisfying animation and angry sounding move, you often will fall but at least it will not kill you as you just respawn at the point where you made the jump with the failure only costing you some health.
I also really advise having a good look around the Fortress of DOOM to reveal its own secrets because they are worth finding and again, I do not want to spoil anything so please, have a good walk about in between missions to see what you can discover and unlock. Eternal even has its own Battle Pass of a sort with the Event section which gives rewards for completing challenges in game which can unlock new player profile pics and titles no doubt for showing off in Battle Mode, weapon skins and Slayer skins too, all can be applied before you launch into campaign or Battle Mode.
Final thoughts are that DOOM Eternal is just sheer majestic mayhem wrapped around story and lore many long-term fans have always wanted and newcomers will really appreciate. The combat is just heart pounding and it will test you, even on normal difficulty and I relished this about Eternal. This is a game that makes you feel the fight just without the injuries. Each time you fall you just come back more determined to win the war the next time and this is a war, the campaign has a superb pace and difficulty curve that prepares you for the big fights later and if you study and work on the build of your Slayer, these big battles can be some of the most challenging but satisfying fights you will have in an FPS game.
Bigger, badder and more DOOM than ever before, Eternal is offering a lot from day one, and I really hope the MP in Battle Mode is just as polished and fulfilling as the Campaign. DOOM Eternal is everything I was hoping for and I am really looking forward to taking on the Master Levels which are reworked versions of campaign missions but with the difficulty pushed to the max with more powerful demon types replacing the normal mission enemies. I just really loved my time with DOOM Eternal and it is going to be something fans of the series are going to just going to go crazy for as well. DOOM Eternal just continues to elevate this series going into a new generation of gaming.
Ripping and Tearing has never been more glorious, pass me my Super Shotgun…time to go pick a fight!