After sawing a demon in half, I launched up into the air, fired a grenade into a demon’s mouth in slo-mo, and ripped its eye out before hitting the ground. This is DOOM Eternal, a blood splattering, ammo expending, hellspawn slaying good time that delivers some of the finest FPS combat this generation. Developed by id Software, DOOM Eternal isn’t a perfect game, but it’s a damn good time that kept me coming back for more.
Set an undisclosed amount of time after the 2016 reboot, DOOM Eternal once again places players in the hefty shoes of Doomguy. With the demon’s invasion of Earth already underway and humanity pushed to the brink of extinction, Doomguy must battle the forces of Hell to save what’s left of Earth. Yet, along the journey, this silent hero will need to face his past and uncover the true reason that the demons are attacking the planet.
It’s a remarkably nuanced story, once that takes a few surprising turns that actually sheds light on Doomguy. While the previous entry only dipped its toes in developing this character, DOOM Eternal dives right into the deep end. Boasting multiple cutscenes, supporting characters, and even flashbacks, DOOM Eternal attempts to shed light on a topic that is rarely every discussed in this historic series. This is a refreshing change that kept me engaged beyond simply killing monsters in creative ways.
Yet, the conduit for the core storytelling is also the weakest aspect of this stellar title. Instead of fully committing to developing the story while playing, DOOM Eternal barrages the player with text logs that fill in all the blanks for different characters, locations, and events. Despite being well written, these logs feel endless at times. In a franchise all about kinetic momentum, stopping the game entirely to read lore feels too disconnected from the core gameplay experience. It’s a shame too because there are some genuinely intriguing story moments that could have easily been expanded without forcing users into cumbersome data dumps.
But of course, the main attraction of DOOM Eternal is killing demons in the most brutal, over-the-top ways possible. Embracing the frenetic action the series helped define, DOOM Eternal refines his combat to near perfection. Moving throughout the various arenas is exceptionally smooth, allowing you to easily outmaneuver any foes chasing you down. Not only can players use a dash to dodge incoming attacks, but Doomguy can also swing on bars to launch himself high in the air. This gives battles some great verticality, allowing you to launch into the air, quickly assess the situation, and then drop down on your foes.
This is critical since the demons won’t take being filled with led and plasma lying down. While the rank and file creatures are nothing more than fodder, DOOM Eternal ramps up the difficulty with each subsequent demon introduced. These foes provide a more substantial challenge, forcing you to approach each engagement like an intricate, gore-soaked puzzle. It’s a surprising challenge that only escalates as the campaign progresses. Enemies such as the Arch-vile and Mauraders are serious threats, capable of quickly overwhelming you if not dealt with first.
Thankfully, enemies can be exploited for health, armor, and ammo in the middle of combat. This gives the fights a nice flow where you’re decapitating demons one second and rushing to recover health the next. Understanding and mastering this balance is key, especially when DOOM Eternal throws everything it has at you. Where this design falters is during the few boss battles scattered throughout. They’re not poorly designed, but the slower more methodical pace of the fights feels at odds with the chaotic combat pushed on you.
To combat the forces of Hell, Doomguy has access to a plethora of different weapons. Ranging from machine guns to rocket launchers to various energy weapons, players have a variety of ways to take out demons. My personal favorite is the Super Shotgun, which not only decimates any foe at close range, but comes with a grapple that, in a unique twist, pulls you towards the enemies. Almost all of these weapons can be upgraded with a variety of modifications and passive bonuses that greatly increase your versatility in combat. This helps keeps engagements fresh, allowing you to approach fights in a variety of different ways.
Battles are broken up by various platforming and puzzles sections that wonderfully make use of DOOM Eternal’s excellent level design. They’re never too complex, but provide just enough difficulty to make you stop and analyze your surroundings. Hidden away in these levels are a variety of collectibles such as adorable demon toys, music, cheat codes, and upgrades for your slayer. This makes hunting for the various secrets worth your time, as you’ll need these enhancements to survive some of DOOM Eternal’s later levels.
The big addition is a 2v1 multiplayer mode where users can either play on a team of demons or assume the role of The Slayer. It’s an inquiring mode, thanks to the demon’s ability to summon back up in the form of NPC allies. There’s a surprising amount of depth to playing as a demon since you can block The Slayer’s ability to gather loot, deploy traps, and even heal your allies. Inversely, The Slayer does what he does best – slaughter demons, specifically the player-controlled ones.
This crafts a nice back and forth dynamic as each side attempts to deal damage without being eliminated. Unfortunately, the mode just isn’t as engaging as the single-player component and I doubt it will grow much of a following. It’s a nice bonus, but I couldn’t see myself enjoying DOOM Eternal’s multiplayer for more than a couple of hours.
DOOM Eternal is an adrenaline shot of pure, hyper-intense action that will constantly keep you on your toes. Mixing classic FPS gameplay with modern visuals and upgrades keeps DOOM Eternal’s repetitive loop of killing demons and hunting for collectibles constantly engaging. While I do wish the story was told in cumbersome text logs, id Software has crafted a gorgeous, macabre world to fight in. If you’re looking for
Our DOOM Eternal Score: 9 out of 10