Game Review: Doom Eternal

Released: March 2020
Rated: M (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence)

Are you feeling angry at the world for not giving us a single break in four months? Looking for a way to take out that anger? Do you support the annihilation of demonic forces that would rather see you rot in Hell? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, id Software’s Doom Eternal is your next must-have game.

Continuing on from 2016’s Doom, you again don the suit of the Doom Slayer. A man seemingly made into a god with the sole purpose of protecting the human race from Damnation. Wielding some classic weapons, such as the super shotgun, alongside some new ones (the Crucible Sword is a personal favourite), you must hunt down the Hell Priests that seek to conquer earth. This includes the mowing down of demons for health, ammo, and armour along the way.

This is where you might ask, “Is that it? Just killing waves upon waves of demons?” To which I would reply “Yes, and it has never felt so good.” For those looking for a compelling story, Doom Eternal definitely has one, but in the form of codex entries; they recount the events of the wars between hell and the Doom Slayer’s warrior brethren called the Sentinels. The story is told during epic cutscenes, that are then further elaborated in collectable codex entries. This if of course entirely optional, as you can choose to skip reading and the cutscenes altogether. I found that pausing to read codex entries removed me from the high-octane action. However, if you like a bit of balance between ultra-violence and reading, then to each their own!

Speaking of gameplay -— speed is of the essence and idle movement will end you. With the addition of a few new mechanics, such as the dodge and flame belch, Doom Eternal is unforgiving when you forget to utilise all the weapons and equipment at your disposal. Every demon has distinctive abilities that also come with their own specific weaknesses. The Cacodemon, for example, a floating monstrosity that will make a meal out of you if it gets too close, can be instantly staggered with a will-timed explosive shotgun round to the mouth. 

Every single encounter helps you hone your skills for the next fight, putting your skills to the test when a new enemy shows up to the party. One of the most frustrating enemies is the Marauder; in the interest of avoiding too many spoilers, I shan’t say any more about his move set, just that you best be handy with that dodge button. Simply put, balancing your items has never been more imperative, as the gameplay forces you to keep an eye on ammunition management on top of moving like a genetically enhanced cheetah.

id Software has paid homage to the arcade games of old with the addition of ‘Extra Life Mode.’ Fairly self-explanatory, ‘Extra Lives’ will revive you upon death and can be collected through every level in the campaign. The twist? Once you lose all of your lives, you start at the beginning — the very beginning. This is a game modification for the seasoned player, serving as a great challenge on a second playthrough. Though difficult, ‘Extra Life Mode’ is also fair. ‘Extra Lives’ can be found in abundance in all levels and can be hoarded by replaying past missions. As a bonus for replaying, you get to relive one of the greatest-ever video game soundtracks. Composer Mick Gordon crafted a brilliant soundtrack that makes the ripping and tearing of Imps, Zombies, and Hell Knights all the more satisfying. 

Moving onto multiplayer —  an important aspect of any modern game, but one that 2016’s Doom couldn’t seem to grasp. I am thrilled to say id and Bethesda have come together to create a multiplayer mode that is so quintessentially Doom: Battle Mode. Pitching two demons against one slayer, it’s a classic 2v1, with added demonic NPCs. With a choice of five very unique demons, some are more offensive, others are tanks, and some operate as support, all equipped with the tools to end the Slayer. The goal for both sides is simple: don’t die and eliminate the other team. Sorry, did I say simple? I meant that in terms of concept, for the Slayer must actually eliminate the other team members in quick succession. Failure to do so means they respawn with full health.

While tutorials are available for the Archvile, Marauder, Mancubus, Pain Elemental, and Revenant, I’d recommend going in blind and learning the hard way! My least favourite aspect of the campaign was how it halted epic cutscenes before boss fights with a tutorial screen telling me exactly how to beat an enemy; it reduced my level of gratification when I took a demon’s insides and placed them on the outside.

Doom Eternal is the first must-have game of 2020. It improves on every aspect of its predecessor; adding layers of detail to keep the player on their toes at all times. The way enemies have their flesh blown off so you can see how much damage has been dealt, the dependence on the chainsaw and flame belch for ammo and armour, as well as the imaginative and over-the-top glory kills make Bethesda’s most recent first person shooting experience one for the history books. If this is one of the last games Bethesda releases on the current generation of consoles, they ended the party with a fireworks display for the ages. 

Final Verdict: 8/10

Words by Jacob Fleming

This article was originally published as part of The Indiependent’s May 2020 charity magazine, which is still on sale and is raising money for the British Lung Foundation.

Find out more here.

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