What DOOM Eternal got right - Our review
Our take on the latest demon-slaying action FPS
The world isn't looking so peachy right now given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but at least we've not been invaded by demons... yet.
DOOM Eternal takes you on a journey into a post-apocalyptic setting, where Hell's finest have once again risen to conquer Earth as well as neighboring planets and realms (now that's just greedy). The game takes place eight months after the events in DOOM (2016), which sees humanity's dwindling numbers left with no other option than to evacuate the planet and its orbit via star ships known as 'ARCs'.
In the meantime, the defiant DOOM Slayer returns from Hell - very much locked & loaded and looking like he's been regularly bench pressing over 400kg - and ready to take down some demon scum. His objective: hunt down the three Hell priests under command of the powerful Supreme Khan Maykr, and prevent Earth from being plunged into Hell for good.
If my experience with Eternal has taught me anything, it's that standing still is not an option - and cranking the volume up on your headphones makes this game one heck of an adrenaline rush.
Stepping up the brutal action
DOOM Eternal has a pretty heavy emphasis on run and gun action. Standing still to perform pin-perfect shots or to gather your thoughts is simply out of the question. Even on the more moderate/lower difficulties, the enemies which are being almost constantly thrown at you can prove to be tricky.
Fortunately, id Software isn't leaving you and DOOM Slayer empty handed as the over the top, sometimes comical, weapons make a return - allowing you to turn that pesky, persistent Arachnotron or Mancubus into small pounds of demonic meat. As with the reboot, you'll often find yourself taking on a variety of different enemies in one manic horde-like battle, so it's worth remembering that certain enemies are weaker to specific weapons.
The Cacodemon can be staggered in one shot by using the Shotgun's Sticky Bombs mod, or a well placed grenade from your shoulder cannon, while using the Precision Heavy Cannon on a Revenant will damage its cannons to prevent it from being able to use auto-lock missiles as well as going airborne.
The Ballista is perfect for taking out flying demons, while the Plasma Rifle is ideal for breaking down shielded enemies - and it's also worth nothing that your grenades and Ice Bombs run on different refill gauges, so be sure to switch between them during combat while the other recharges.
It's incredible how quick your ammo can deplete, as well as your health and armor, so ensuring that you've got other methods of topping up, besides the odd packs lying around, is essential. Scorching enemies with your flamethrower will drop armor packs, performing a heavy melee attack known as a 'glory kill' will replenish health, and using your chainsaw to tear those demons a new one will drop much-needed ammo.
Better still, the 'destructible demons' system made possible by the advanced id Tech 7 game engine means that enemies shred skin, muscle and armor as you deal more damage - making a Hell Knight look like a half eaten BBQ chicken wing is somewhat satisfying.
With new enemies come new challenges, and it's fair to say Eternal has quite a few new tricks up its sleeve compared to its predecessor. The Carcass is a cunning, strategical foe that can produce shields from long distance - this often not only protects itself, but also enemies close by and is a pain if it forms a shield in a narrow location such as a doorway.
The Marauder is another new addition in Eternal, and one that should not be taken for granted when heading into a fight. Its ability to dash and summon a wolf that lunges at you, as well as wielding a Super Shotgun and battle axe, makes it one of the game's more assertive and deadlier enemies.
Whatever enemy you face and in whichever area of the map you go, you'll be inspired by the truly awesome work of DOOM Eternal composer Mick Gordon, whose iconic heavy metal music thrashes, rips and shreds along with your demon-slaying activities.
As mentioned before, headphones are a must if you want to truly enjoy this dark, chaotic shooter.
Improved upgrade paths
Part and parcel of surviving in DOOM Eternal's ever-hellish world is upgrading your suit and weapons to become as powerful as possible. The Praetor Suit upgrades were a main feature in DOOM (2016), and continue to play a big part in ensuring that your health, armor and ammo total reaches its maximum capacity.
Finding Praetor Suit Tokens will help unlock these, which are scattered across the maps. These tokens will also unlock a much more broader wheel of skills and perks than ever before.
For me, upgrading the Thicker Skin, Explosive Pinatas and Regenerating Barrels skills, which all fall under the 'Environment' category, helped massively as I progressed into the latter stages of the game. Having these skills unlocked meant that I could retrieve ammo from exploded barrels and not be harmed by the blast - and these barrels would also replenish and reappear in a short while - creating a continuous loop of ammo pick-ups.
Other key upgrades are the weapon mods, also seen in the previous game, which unlock better and more powerful modes for your weapons that become essential for fighting off demon hordes. As ever, the go-to mod is the Sticky Bomb grenades for your Combat Shotgun, among others.
Once unlocked, these weapon mods can then be further upgraded with points redeemed by killing all enemies in a specific area, which helps toward accuracy, damage and mod cooldowns.
Runes also come in handy for upgrading our beloved DOOM Slayer, as well as blending into your own unique playstyle - nine Runes are available to unlock, but only three can be equipped at one time. From a personal view, having the Savagery, Dazed and Confused, and Punch and Reave Runes active would be a sound recommendation.
Savagery lets you perform Glory Kills faster, while Dazed and Confused increases how long a staggered enemy remains in that state, which is perfect for those moments where your foe is out of reach. Punch and Reave is also good as, when active, enemies who are slaughtered by a Blood Punch shockwave will drop health.
Taking a leap in a new direction
Quite literally taking a leap...
DOOM Eternal isn't just walking through a bunch of rooms and up some stairs to find another mob of undead creatures looking to tear you apart - sometimes, the path to your next objective can be quite intriguing.
As well as being able to double jump, you'll also acquire the dash ability near the start of the game. This technique will not only serve you well in combat for dodging attacks, but it also plays a big part in reaching new sections of the map and finding those secret rooms - filled with Praetor Suit tokens, collectables and Cheat Codes!
It adds a sort of platformer element to the action-packed FPS, which certain sections of the game sees you swinging from a pole, double jumping and dashing to a grippable wall - all while avoiding flaming chains, heaving slamming traps and enemy attacks.
A lot of these scenarios will require completing within a set amount of time, usually after starting the sequence by opening a gate on the other side, so precision and speed is key. You can also find Automaps to unlock sections of the map to view, and discovering the majority of the map by foot will also unlock the option to fast travel, which is great if you need to head back and pick up a missed Praetor Token or other collectables.
With DOOM (2016), the chainsaw was a great way to quickly take down enemies and receive a big ammo refill - but, due to it needing fuel pickups, it wasn't always a sound option. In DOOM Eternal, id Software opted for a chainsaw gauge that refills over time, which means that you don't have to desperately run off or resort to punching everything after you completely run out of ammo - there's no unlimited ammo Pistol in this one so, yeah, this can happen.
However, as you progress through the game, you'll uncover The Crucible - the most powerful melee weapon in the game - think of it as DOOM's equivalent to the lightsaber. It's a chargeable weapon and great at dealing heavy damage to the toughest of foes (not Marauder though, sad face).
To take on bigger foes with the chainsaw, you will still need to pick up canisters, as the refillable chainsaw gauge only allows you to split smaller minions in half.
Another cool single-player feature, which I feel sets players up with a taster for the BATTLEMODE multiplayer mode, is the ability to control a Revenant. Experiencing what it's like to hover around firing missiles and blasting your own demon-kind to pieces is a short but awesome spectacle - and you acquire the Super Shotgun as a result of it, so what's not to love!
As mentioned, Eternal is pretty darn hectic, so you'll be forgiven for wanting a little respite here and there after a big battle. This latest instalment in the rebooted series introduces the Fortress of Doom, DOOM Slayer's home from home... his mothership, as it were.
It's here that our trusted Slayer can pick up new guns, practice in the 'Ripatorium' arena against enemies, and unlock additional costumes and upgrades. When out on your travels across Earth and the other various places you'll have to visit, be sure to pick up as many Sentinel Batteries as possible as these are your keys to the many, MANY rooms that can be unlocked throughout the Fortress of Doom.
It's worth looking inside each of these rooms first as the content might be more useful if you're wanting to upgrade your suit, or if you just want to look snazzy with some new cosmetics.
The narrative in Eternal flows from events in DOOM (2016), but in this game we get to dive deeper into the origins of DOOM Slayer and, without saying too much, discover more about this mysterious heroic figure.
Switching up the multiplayer
It was quite a surprise to most fans when id Software and Bethesda announced that it would be removing its Quake-style deathmatch multiplayer mode previously used in DOOM (2016), and replacing it with BATTLEMODE - the new 2v1, PvP mode.
But, fair play to the devs, as this mode has introduced a fun style of 'predator vs prey' type combat. The single player takes on the role of DOOM Slayer, while the other two players control demonic enemies including the Archvile, Mancubus, Marauder, Pain Elemental and Revenant. Each of these enemies has a set list of actions and abilities - the Marauder, for instance, can summon a Carcass or an Arachnotron and use the 'Noxious Hazard' which creates a hazardous area that inflicts damage on the DOOM Slayer when in range.
If you're getting used to one member of Hell's Demons and want to try out another, or you just want to hone in on perfecting your skills with your favorite monstrosity, there are handy tutorials within BATTLEMODE that are worth checking out.
Those of you who take on the role of DOOM Slayer will certainly have your work cut out. You'll be pretty jacked up with a wide range of weapons and skills from the start - but you'll also have to take into consideration the fact that two opposing players are (hopefully) working together to bring you down - as well as the AI spawning foes that continuously attack you.
As you rank up in BATTLEMODE, and complete objectives in single-player, you'll also unlock cool customizations for your profile including new player and weapon skins, stances and victory poses, and podiums to proudly stand upon.
If you think that you're a true demon slayer, this is the place to find out!
Building on a promising formula from the 2016 reboot, DOOM Eternal reaches into the gut of its unsuspecting demon foe and pulls out all the stops to ensure that gamers experience one of the most chaotic, carnage-fueled and entertaining entries in the franchise - and most definitely one of the top FPS games that you'll play this year.
The combination of new upgrade features and the brand-new multiplayer mode, as well as new enemies to battle, means that DOOM Eternal offers many challenges and rewards no matter what difficulty level you opt for.
SAM'S SCORE: ★★★★★
Tempted? Pick up your DOOM Eternal PC key now from Fanatical. Or choose the DOOM Eternal Deluxe Edition and get the base game plus the Demonic Slayer Skin, Classic Weapon Sound Pack and Year One Pass!
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A review copy of DOOM Eternal was provided by Bethesda for this article.