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Doom Eternal Review

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  • Posted on 12th Nov, 2022 03:20 AM

From its action-packed opening mission to its blood-soaked final boss fight, id Software's Doom Eternal is a non-stop thrill ride.

p>The Doom franchise helped establish the first-person shooter genre as we know it today, but despite being such an important part of gaming history, there was a time where it laid dormant. There was a 12 year gap between the release of Doom 3 in 2004 and id Software's 2016 Doom reboot as the franchise went through an identity crisis and each new attempt to revive it was trapped in development hell. Luckily, with the Doom reboot and the newly released Doom Eternal, it's clear that the franchise is firmly back on track, and not only that, but it's better than ever before.

Doom Eternal is a direct followup to 2016's Doom reboot, retaining that game's art style and general gameplay mechanics, but it cranks everything up to 11. Doom Eternal is significantly more fast-paced and aggressive than its predecessor, overwhelming players with demonic enemies constantly and hardly ever giving them time to breathe. Players can't waste a single second while battling Doom Eternal's demons, and the result is a rare game that has zero pacing issues and is consistently fun from beginning to end.

Doom Eternal's combat is the star of the show, with players able to utilize an ever-expanding arsenal of deadly weapons to take on the hordes of Hell. Each weapon has a secondary ability that can be upgraded so players have even more tools at their disposal for any given enemy encounter. For example, Doom Eternal players can upgrade the Super Shotgun's meat hook so that it lights enemies on fire, dealing extra damage and also causing them to drop valuable armor pieces.

Doom Eternal forces players to constantly be engaging the enemy. Standing still is a death sentence, and trying to outrun enemies is rarely a good idea either. Players have to become masters of dodging attacks with the boost function while simultaneously firing back at large swarms of demons. However, ammo and armor are surprisingly scarce when it comes to just finding them in the environment, and so instead players have to farm them from the enemies themselves, like with the flaming meat hook.

The more they play the game, the more Doom Eternal players will get into a rhythm with the combat, automatically prioritizing the greater threats and keeping lower level demons around to farm for supplies. Lighting enemies on fire will make them drop armor, which can be done with a handy shoulder-mounted flamethrower that recharges over time, or with the Super Shotgun's flaming meat hook upgrade. Enemies that are defeated with the Glory Kill melee attacks will drop health, and enemies that are killed with the chainsaw will drop ammunition. Players will have to change up the way they engage with enemies on the fly and in the heat of combat to ensure that they have a steady stream of armor, health, and ammo.

The vast majority of one's time with the Doom Eternal campaign will be spent killing unheard of numbers of demons in blisteringly fast first-person combat, and since players are constantly given new toys to play with, it never gets old. Up until the very end, Doom Eternal gives players new weapons to use or makes it possible to upgrade their existing weapons to have new functionality. There's a healthy number of different enemy types to keep things interesting as well, and while having to engage in lengthy fights with shield-using Marauders repeatedly throughout the campaign can get tiresome, all the enemies provide a fair challenge and have something worthwhile to add to the proceedings.

There's no question that id Software absolutely nailed the combat in Doom Eternal, but that's only one part of the equation. Doom Eternal also has platforming, which is something that first-person shooters have famously struggled with over the years. But where other FPS games have struggled, Doom Eternal excels, offering platforming that can be just as fast-paced and fun as the first-person shooter combat.

Doom Eternal's platforming consists of swinging on poles, leaping from walls, and dashing across vast expanses. Some hazards that can only be described as Super Mario Bros.-like are thrown into the mix as well to shake things up, with players having to dodge spinning fireballs and avoid being crushed by timed traps. The only time platforming in Doom Eternal ever becomes frustrating is when it's not entirely clear where players need to jump to, and they wind up losing a precious extra life not because they're messing up any jumps, but because it's not readily apparent where they need to go.

This is rarely a problem, though, as Doom Eternal's levels are designed in a way that the game is almost always ushering players in the right direction to continue the story. And while some may mistake that as the game being overly linear, it's actually far from it. Those that want to just zip through Doom Eternal's campaign and rush dead-ahead to the ending are free to do so, but the levels are deceptively deep, with a slew of secrets to discover for those that want to look for them.

Hunting down Doom Eternal's secrets and collectibles is actually worthwhile, with players able to find a lot more than just dull files or worthless knickknacks like in other games. For straying off the beaten path and taking some extra time to explore, Doom Eternal players are often rewarded with special weapon ammo, a 1-up, or bonus combat scenarios that come with their own rewards. It's even possible to unlock the original Doom and Doom 2 to play in the game, so players get real value in exchange for thoroughly exploring Doom Eternal's levels.

Every time players complete one of Doom Eternal's 13 missions, they are shown how many combat areas they completed and how many areas they explored. Even when taking some extra time to really give a level a once over, more often than not, there are at least a few areas and enemy encounters that remained undiscovered. This gives significant replay value to Doom Eternal's campaign, much more than was present in the 2016 release, and it means that players will get plenty of bang for their buck.

Outside of the single-player campaign, Doom Eternal also offers multiplayer functionality through the Battlemode. Available in place of the more traditional multiplayer options from the 2016 Doom reboot, Battlemode is a 2v1 asymmetric multiplayer experience, where one player controls the Doom Slayer, and two other players take on the role of demons. What proceeds basically feels like a level from the campaign, but with player-controlled and therefore theoretically smarter opponents to contend with.

Doom Eternal's multiplayer Battlemode can be plenty fun, but it also seems unbalanced. Most players tend to select the Marauder demon, and we found that battles were almost always incredibly one-sided. Basically, if the Doom Slayer plays aggressively enough and is sure to constantly barrage enemies with the flamethrower, they will rarely lose, but Doom Slayers that play more defensively have no chance against the demons. It's an interesting idea, but it still would have been nice to have the more traditional multiplayer modes as options.

The lack of traditional multiplayer options is one thing keeping Doom Eternal from its full potential, but there is another issue as well. While it's unlikely that anyone is playing Doom Eternal for the story, it should be noted that some plot details will be nonsensical to someone who hasn't played the 2016 reboot recently, and that nothing that happens feels like it has any weight whatsoever. The cut-scenes almost feel like a waste of time, pointless window dressing that do little more than offer players a flimsy excuse for the carnage that's happening on screen. One's emotional investment in the game will likely be the same at the end as it was at the beginning, and that's a little disappointing as while the Doom reboot also didn't put a big emphasis on story, its plot was still a little more engaging than what's here.

Even so, the story in Doom Eternal can be completely ignored and one won't have any less fun with the game, so it's not a huge blemish on the experience by any means. Doom Eternal is a non-stop thrill ride, barraging players with incredible fast-paced action from the opening mission to its blood-soaked finale. Fans of the franchise should be thrilled with it, and anyone looking for a meaty FPS to fill their time can't go wrong with this game.

Doom Eternal is out now for PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One, with a Switch version also in development. Game Rant reviewed the game on PS4.

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