DOOM: Eternal Review

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Posted March 30, 2020 by Sean Capri in Nerdy Bits

Rip and Tear. Until it is done. 

DOOM: Eternal

Developer : id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Studios
Release Date: March 20, 2020
Platforms:  PlayStation 4 (Reviewed on PS4 Pro) Xbox One, PC

On the surface, DOOM: Eternal looks and sounds a lot like its predecessor from 2016 but after completing the 15 (or so)-hour Campaign, I’ve come to realize this follow-up is anything but a rinse-and-repeat sequel. This is one of the hardest-hitting, sweat-inducing, game-ass video games I’ve ever played. 

DOOM: Eternal is a video game made from nightmares. I grew up with Wolfenstein, DOOM, Quake – all the classics. Those games left a mark because playing them truly felt like being transported to a hellish world – trapped in tight corridors with the most hideous, bloodthirsty, and relentless monsters imaginable. DOOM: Eternal honors its legacy of nightmare and destruction – with a rock-solid 60fps, wonderfully detailed, and dripping with atmosphere. 

When mechanics are this well designed, you get a damn-near perfect gameplay loop. And that’s what id Software has done with a few tweaks to the foundational gameplay in DOOM (2016). Like taking your Chainsaw, shredding an imp apart for precious ammo to blast a few shotgun shells into a gargoyle until he blinks – prompting a sickening Glory Kill to snag some life-saving health, then blast a Flame Belch (what’s more hardcore than a Flame Thrower!?) to ignite a lanky Revenant on fire for some armor, and finish it all off with a Glory Punch to the face to blast him to pieces. It’s all brutal. It’s all metal. It’s so awesome. 

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The art direction is as masterful as the gameplay. Absolutely every inch of this world is over-the-top. It’s like a damn Cannibal Corpse concert (I’d say Slayer but that felt too on the nose). The imagery throughout DOOM: Eternal reminds me of my old metal records – and somehow these demonic memories bring a smile to my face. It’s so evil and hilariously over-the-top, I just love it. Castles and dungeon lairs tower into the sky. You just don’t see this kind of spectacle anymore. Flames, enormous skulls, torture devices, giant gears, brick and shards – everything is hard. Every level looks like a death factory. And there is nothing soft in DOOM: Eternal – except maybe how squishy the demons get when you squash your foot into their damn faces!

Of course, Mick Gordon returns as the Maestro at the Helm, composing one of the most fitting, and amplifying soundtracks in gaming. The music is as important to the overall DOOM: Eternal experience as the weapons, demons, and game mechanics. It’s kind of a cross between the groovy electronic vibes of Nine Inch Nails with the punishing percussion of Slipknot, some fun with the time signatures like Tool or Rush, and the relentless riffs of Lamb of God. It’s terrifying and blood-pumping all at the same time. The culmination of gameplay and soundtrack, at many times throughout my playthrough, had me literally sweating through my shirt. This game affected me. 

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There is no pistol in DOOM: Eternal. That’s because a pistol is useless against a never-ending horde of hell monsters. This is to say that every single weapon in DOOM: Eternal is awesome. Even the Shotgun – now the first weapon acquired – packs a powerful punch and it gets even better with a Sticky Grenade mod. Just like DOOM (1994 and 2016) there is no reloading. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Just move on to the next weapon for DOOM Slayer Destruction. I wish I could adjust the controls to select the next gun. Instead, the radial dial allows you to slow the gameplay to a near-pause – but you’re still very vulnerable – and select the specific weapon. However, as with all radial select menus, I found it difficult to choose the precise weapon I wanted when frantically trying to…you know, not die. 

You might think that slaying thousands of demons over and over would get old fast. Well, you’d be wrong about that – it’s amazing. Plus, a slew of pacing elements have been wisely implemented to change things up from time to time. One example is the Fortress of DOOM. After each level, you return to a headquarters of sorts. Here, you can unlock more Mods and Secrets to flesh out your arsenal, check out all your collectibles – like a Toy Shelf with all the adorable Funko-like.

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DOOM is all about speed and fluidity of motion and now the DOOM Slayer can dash to more quickly cover ground, launch into a better attack position, or dodge projectiles. One of my favorite things to do was jump up and dash towards a Cacodemon (you know, the giant red ball with a green eye), Glory Kill when it was just out of reach, pop his eye out (which, the sound effect on this is hilarious), and dash back to safety. For the most part, I enjoyed the additional movement options and additional platforming. But in a few instances, my frustration boiled over – particularly one spot near the end of the campaign – where the platforming felt unfairly difficult. 

Which brings me to the difficulty. This game is balls-hard. I played on “Hurt Me Plenty” – the second-easiest difficulty mode and it is unfathomable to me that someone could play on anything harder and it still be fun. The Final Boss has an option to play with “Sentinel Armor” – significantly reducing damage taken. This has no impact on progression or getting a “real ending” but it seemed jarring to me. Why not just make the Final Boss more aligned with the rest of the campaign. I got to the end without this Sentinel Armor – why introduce it now? And maybe I could’ve used it earlier? It just seemed like an odd choice. 

The other odd choice is the addition of one of my most hated enemies in all of games. The Marauder. What an asshole. The Marauder is built like a brick shithouse, has giant devil horns, swings a double-bladed laser axe,  shoots a double-barrel shotgun, and has a laser-ghost tigercat…thing. He’s fast as hell. He blocks EVERYTHING. And if you’re lucky, you can stagger him with a perfectly-timed shot – which means that really only your Shotgun or Super Shotgun are useful against him. This enemy is awful. He’s not fun. He didn’t scare me. He pissed me off. Often. It’s not even a boss! He shows up among dozens of other demons to ruin your day. Luckily, the Marauder isn’t introduced until late in the game and makes only a few appearances but he’s memorable for all the wrong reasons. 

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The only other nitpick I have for what is otherwise a masterfully crafted game is the 3D map. It’s fine in that you can easily see where you have and haven’t explored. But it controls like garbage. You can rotate up, down, left, and right – but my horizontal axis was confusingly reversed (it’s possible this is because I play with y-axis inverted controls but that’s a completely different axis!). Also, you can’t move the map straight up or down. It’s all rotations and zoom in-and-outs. I found myself fighting with the map enough to mention it here but it’s not a major detractor. 

Final Verdict

The DOOM: Eternal campaign is a remarkable achievement in gaming. With an endless sea of military shooters and battle royales, DOOM: Eternal is bold. It will make onlookers feel uncomfortable, gamers feel challenged, and old men like me feel nostalgic. This feels like a game I shouldn’t be playing. It’s too evil. Too demonic. Every element of this game exists to overload the senses. The framerate is blisteringly fast, the music is not for my mother’s ears, and the violence is nightmare-inducing. It is so damn satisfying. 

9/10


About the Author

Sean Capri

I am a beady-eyed Canadian. I play video games and feed/walk my three dogs.