Review: DOOM Eternal – Where the release calendar in the spring of this year is becoming increasingly empty, one release is as solid as a rock and that is that of DOOM Eternal. You wouldn’t say it, but it’s been four years since a DOOM game came out and so we are now longing for a new one. It’s just hard to reinvent the concept of DOOM, let alone change it crucially. Still id Software dared to take a new direction with this DOOM, but at the same time they want to maintain the authenticity of the franchise. The focus of our hands-on was therefore mainly on the single player, which has been given a completely different interpretation this time. The feedback that the previous DOOM became repetitive in terms of single player over time was included and we were able to experience the impact this has on DOOM Eternal.
Raise hell and save the world
Luckily, the hands-on we got with DOOM Eternal was one that started at the very beginning of the game, rather than halfway through. As a result, we were gradually able to discover the possibilities ourselves and we were introduced to the many features that the game brings this time. Because there is quite a lot hidden in DOOM Eternal and we have noticed that you will play this game very differently from the DOOM of 2016. Marty Stratton, the executive producer of DOOM Eternal, even used the analogy of martial arts. During the game you will be taught what you can do, just like with martial arts and it is then up to the player to combine this and make it a real slaughter party.
For example, you have a chainsaw that you can use to extract ammo from enemies and with a glory kill they drop health. So it is not purely mindless slaughter, because you also have to keep an eye on what you need in your arsenal or for your personal state of mind at the time of killing. You combine all this with various options, including dashing with which you can move quickly forward. This is completely new to the DOOM franchise and provides new gameplay situations and actions that you have not experienced before in DOOM. This way you not only combine dash with escaping enemies, but also in levels to which puzzle elements have been added.
The hallway that you are used to from DOOM from the older times has been exchanged for varied levels with more surprise elements. 2016’s DOOM became quite predictable over time and the gameplay was more or less the same throughout the adventure. That will be different with DOOM Eternal, so you go to more planets than ever before (even the sky) and more thought has been given to variety in the gameplay. For example, in some levels you have to jump on different platforms that disappear under your feet and dash to walls that you can climb. That adds a new dimension to the whole and the same applies to the higher focus on the use of the possibilities to obtain certain content drops, such as ammo or health. Although the latter was also in the previous game, it has now been further refined and you are somehow forced to play more tactically, for example, ammo is now a lot more scarce.
A lot of switching
To give more interpretation to the martial arts analogy, you have to realize that you will switch a lot in DOOM Eternal. Simply upgrading your weapons and shooting them aimlessly is no longer the focus of gameplay. The game forces you to switch between different tactics, as it were, and therefore gives you multiple tools to work with. Dash is just a small element in this, because you get a lot more for you. This happens quite early in the game when you unlock the chainsaw, the blood punch, the flame belch and a frag grenade (an alternative is the ice bomb).
These are quite a few things to manage while playing and secretly you find out that DOOM Eternal was basically developed for the PC player. Keeping everything under control with a controller takes some getting used to, but certainly not impossible. However, when a lot of enemies are active and you have to manage the resources together with the additional possibilities, then it is a bit of a blow. All weapons also have a second shot option that you can upgrade separately, so during a fight with an enemy there are many more options than just hitting, sawing or popping.
More challenging than ever
DOOM was always a title where you could not sit back too much and with DOOM Eternal they have taken this to an even higher level. You really have to master a few things in the game if you want to enter an arena with confidence. The aforementioned switching to a combination that resembles martial arts is one of them, but the puzzle elements that you encounter also require some patience and insight. For example, we have already encountered areas a few times where trial & error is a given; Being able to jump right on a platform or overcome a gaping hole with the right timing and insight is more the rule than the exception in DOOM Eternal. This all coincides with tackling the lack of variety and predictability that characterized the 2016 part.
DOOM Eternal – Greater focus on the story
The levels in DOOM Eternal are also set up differently and you will notice that there are more open spaces, which gives an even greater sense of freedom. As we just hinted, you will go to heaven, among other things, because this game is no longer limited to Mars and hell, as was the case in the previous part. These locations are still there, but as the story has gotten a lot more attention this time around, you’ll go through more hoops than ever before to get answers and that means you’ll also build up a lot of frequent flyer miles.
With this, the world of DOOM opens up more than ever, because the background is also more prominent. You will learn more about the Slayer itself and because you want to stop the demonic influences on Earth, you will travel to different locations that tell you more and more about the origin of the demons, the Slayers and who was responsible for them. These locations all have their own influences and style, which we had a taste of for a while. For example, we got to see a planet that was covered with ice and that is new for DOOM, as the previous part mainly sought the heat with hell. A good variety in our opinion, also because it produces other enemies, new elementary influences and it also looks like a very beautiful whole.
DOOM Eternal – Conclusion
It is clear which direction DOOM Eternal wants to take, namely that of variation, strategy and being more than just a mindless shooter. As far as we are concerned, we have more than succeeded, without putting too much emphasis on it. Players used to classic DOOM games may take some getting used to, but the deeper you get into the game, the more you will appreciate the additions. The greater scarcity of ammunition and resources forces you to fight more strategically, so that the mindless is gone as far as we are concerned. Do you still want to be able to play relaxed? Fortunately, this can be solved with a lower difficulty setting, which is a lot more forgiving for your playing style. It is important to emphasize that the single player is no longer predictable and the fighting will also be more varied. Based on a few hours of play, the preliminary conclusion is that id Software has found the right balance in this, partly by adding more locations. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to review the technical performance on the PS4, but we have been promised that the game will run at 60fps on the PS4 and PS4 Pro. The improved version on the Pro is almost equal to ‘high settings’ on PC and supports 4K HDR, according to id Software.