Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: id Software
Release Date: 03/19/2020
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Doom (2016) helped resurrect the aging and dying franchise. Doom 3 was scary and atmospheric but lost the fast-paced action of the original games. Doom bought this back in 2016 with a rocking soundtrack, fantastic visuals, fast-paced shooting, and what felt like Doom brought into the future, it was nearly perfect. Eternal follows in the footsteps of Doom 2016 by trying to expand the lore, story, and combat altogether. It does a great job doing this, but it does bring about some problems that didn’t exist in the first game.
You are still Doomguy or the Doomslayer trying to stop Hell from invading Earth. id Software did a great job expanding the lore via a codex that has some interesting reads on the backstory of the Doomslayer and his origins and what the world is that he’s trying to save and destroy. The locations are more varied this time around with more back and forth between Hell and a mix thereof. Combat is basically the same as well as the demons you encounter minus a few additions. A new shoulder blaster has been added that can shoot fire or ice bombs as well as a flame. I feel this was probably the most useless addition as it’s one more thing to remember while you’re furiously trying to kill enemies. The ice bomb can freeze a group of enemies if you’re backed into a corner and the firebomb does a decent amount of splash damage. The flamethrower though…what was the point? On the other hand, you have a new super punch ability that can be used to knock out some demons’ armor and open walls for secrets. You also get a new dash ability as well which is used for platforming.
That’s another thing that’s been added is more platforming. You can wall climb on some surfaces and jumping from platform to platform works well enough but feels wholly unnecessary. Secrets consist of numerous items from songs to unlock to play in the Fortress of Doom, codex pages, toys, and an all-new upgrade system for the Praetor Suit and weapons. Weapons get two mods each and can then be upgraded with weapon runes. There is also a mastery upgrade that requires certain requirements to be met or you can skip the challenge with a mastery token. You can also upgrade your health, armor, and ammo with certain passive benefits. There’s a lot of upgrading and acquiring and I feel this is an excuse to make the game feel artificially expanded. I preferred the simpler game of Doom 2016 with regular upgrades found. I feel Eternal is doing too much for a game that’s supposed to be very simple. I also feel the new reboot series has run its course at this point. There’s not much else the game can do really.
The combat itself feels fine and is incredibly challenging and mostly unbalanced towards the last few levels. There are 14 missions so it’s much longer than the last game running about 10-15 hours if you explore every nook and cranny. I found exploring for secrets quite enjoyable and fun as everything is on the map and you just need to figure out how to get there. There are also combat challenges such as timed gore nests, and crucible challenges that give you keys to unlock a hidden weapon. You can find sentinel batteries to unlock rooms in the Fortress of Doom which is the new hub area that also has upgrade items locked away. It’s fine enough, a pain to navigate, but an interesting idea. I again feel that Eternal strays a little too far from the traditional Doom path in favor of more modern methods to make the game feel bigger and expanded when in essence most people come to Doom for the visuals, gore, and fast-paced shooting, and interesting levels.
Speaking of levels, the game does overstay its welcome around mission 10 and feels like it just drags as you chase the final boss around. Not only are they incredibly difficult and almost unfair, the levels end up being repeats of previous levels, and the Urdak level is boring to look at. I do like the first 8-10 areas as they are interesting to look at with demonic imagery, gore, and just overall interesting atmospheres. The demons are great to look at and fun to shoot and tear apart. The quick-time event animations are much faster this time around and more varied. Each demon has its own set of front, aerial, and rear animations. Blue for health and orange for more ammo. You also have your chainsaw with three fuel cans to get yourself a large number of orbs, but this also is one of my gripes with the game. You have to rely on using the chainsaw to acquire ammo and health from enemies more than you do picking them up around you. Instead of giving us larger ammo capacities, you have to constantly scrounge for ammo and it drives me insane. I understand you run out of ammo sometimes in Doom, but every 5 minutes? I would die sometimes because I ran out of ammo and chainsaw fuel so what do you do then? Use your super punch and hopefully have a weaker demon around for a scrap of ammo. This focus on ammo scrounging really needs to shift in the next game.
The multiplayer in Eternal is much better than Doom 2016 as PvP is out the window this time in favor of demons vs the Slayer. Two demons and AI bots versus one Slayer is kind of fun at first, but after about 3-4 hours in these modes, I was over it. It just doesn’t hold my interest like Unreal Tournament or Quake’s Deathmatches did. Doom was never really well known for multiplayer and while it’s much better here, I wish id would just focus on the single-player only. Overall, what we get is a great sequel to Doom 2016 with fantastic visuals, a rocking soundtrack, great weapons to shoot and demons to kill, and just amazing fast-paced shooting. The last few levels are boring and overly difficult and the added stuff to combat feels like filler and fluff to pad a game that was already great.