Doom 2016 was one of the best first person shooters from the last decade and quickly rose to become a favourite game for many, us included. Joyfully wading through the demon guts, spent bullet casings and general carnage of that game in a recent playthrough, it really didn’t seem like developer id Software could improve on the formula for Doom Eternal, but we are thankfully wrong.
Picking up after the 2016 game, Doom Eternal sees the Doom Slayer returning to Earth to find it overrun by demons. This isn’t just a broken interdimensional portal or a mistake, but a calculated invasion by a race known as the Maykers, hoping to turn the denizens of the planet into the Argent Energy that was a main focus of the previous title.
Doom Slayer returns to fight them back with, surprisingly, mostly the same arsenal as before. While the guns are the same, players have more tools at their disposal: that gun on the Slayer’s back can douse enemies in fire as well as launch two different types of grenades. A fancy new blade is also featured on the Slayer’s forearm, and one or two extras that we won’t mention as they are spoilers.
The Slayer is also far more agile this time around with double jumping, dashing and wall grabs all available to get around the environment and solve the new parkour puzzles scattered throughout. There’s even monkey bars.
Throw all of this in along with a larger focus on the story, more context for everything that’s going on and a generous bump to the difficulty, and you have Doom Eternal.
In the moment to moment gameplay this new game is a mainline of dopamine. For those who haven’t played the 2016 incarnation, every second fighting demons here is an absolute joy. We really don’t think there’s another game series on the market right now that packs this much dumb smile inducing fun into every second of shooting.
In Doom Eternal, however, there are minute changes that have a massive impact on how every single fight plays out. Ammo this time around is severely limited with even short engagements requiring top ups. The increased damage potential and aggression of the demons also means that your health and armour levels will be dropping just as fast as your ammo reserves.
id has taken this into account and intends for you to resupply in the middle of combat. This doesn’t mean turning tail and running for pickups on the ground, however. Demons on fire will always drop armour when hit, Glory Kills provide health and using your trusty chainsaw will give you a healthy injection of all ammo kinds.
Every single time you start shooting in Doom Eternal can be seen (on top of being a piece of combat) as a frantic but fun balancing act of your resources being stretched long enough to kill everything on screen.
Other games do similar things (the ridiculously weapon degradation of Breath of the Wild comes to mind), but Doom Eternal does it best.
We’ve seen some people complain about things such as the limited ammo, but we really don’t understand that. Every single combat system in this game is designed to naturally lead into the rest. No weapon, piece of gear or ability stands on its own and must be used in conjunction with the others to survive.
This is a masterclass in game design and we hope other developers and publishers are taking note. Doom Eternal is not just a great game on its own, but something that will change the landscape of shooters going into the future.
Outside of combat there is a surprising amount of things to do.
The aforementioned parkour puzzles are, surprisingly, a lot of fun. They’re short enough never to be too frustrating, and the sounds and animations which accompany them are very satisfying. Doom Slayer isn’t so much gracefully hopping around the level, but smashing into it at high speed until the player reaches the next objective.
There is a obsessive amount of extra content and collectables on every level for those so inclined to look for it. This isn’t just pages of lore and toys to decorate the hub world (called the Fortress of Doom, which features a nice painting of Daisy), but also upgrades for the Doom Slayer and his tools. These become almost necessary as the game goes on and the difficulty ramps up, but we can see some particularly skilled players forgoing them entirely.
There are more cutscenes and world building this time around and all of it is a lot of fun. It very much reminds us of the super camp world of Warhammer 40K, but in a good way. Like the platforming these parts are very brief and you can skip them if desired as you objectives of “go here and kill / collect this” almost always stays the same.
We do recommend watching the cutscenes, at least on the first playthrough, because there’s actually a lot going on.
How long it takes to complete Doom Eternal relies heavily on the difficulty you have chosen and how many collectables you choose to find. Each bump in difficulty greatly reduces the challenge and amount of times you will need to restart, while the collectables are numerous and mostly well hidden.
On the replacement for medium (Hurt Me Plenty) and spending the time to collect between 70 and 90 percent of the collectables on every level, our first singleplayer attempt took just over 13 hours.
Last and very much least is the multiplayer Battlemode. Gone is the 2016 FPS arena multiplayer, something many players actually enjoyed, and to replace it is a 2-V-1, demons-versus-Slayer mode.
Battlemode sees two players as demons taking on one Slayer player. It’s much more complex than that as all parties have access to upgrades, more demons which can be summoned, pickups, upgrades and much more.
It’s actually impressive how much depth there is on offer here but it really comes up short at the end of the day. One demon or slayer on either team can either wipe the opposing side with a little bit of extra knowledge about how the systems work, and games can be over in a blink even with fair fights.
This makes learning the ropes here extremely difficult and almost necessitates private matches as a better way to gain experience.
SnapMap is also missing this time around. Combine that with a lack of mod support (and Denuvo DRM) and there will be little to no player-made content for Doom Eternal. We’re still flabbergasted by this as mods and unofficial content are a big reason why the original Doom and the series as a whole has such as a cultural impact.
Outside of these disappointments and focusing mainly on the singleplayer here, Doom Eternal is an absolute joy that everyone should play. Where the 2016 game had the element of surprise to impress us, Eternal takes its formula and just about perfects it to do the same.