DOOM Eternal follows closely from the story in its predecessor released in 2016, DOOM. In both games, you take on the role of Doomguy, a preternaturally powerful demon killer. You’re set on taking down a trio of demon witches who take you on a hunt from an overrun Earth to Mars and occasionally to your very own Fortress of Doom located somewhere in space. It’s trippy, to say the least, but DOOM Eternal embraces its angry teenager death metal aesthetic.
The DOOM series is the no-holds-barred first-person shooter that epitomises what concerned parents mean when talking about gratuitous video game violence. Doom 2016 did a good job of setting the scene in terms of mechanics and the iconic hellish atmosphere. DOOM Eternal takes it to another dimension with a clearer level of organisation and a storyline that makes sense.
DOOM‘s Lore is an Afterthought to the Action
The story of DOOM Eternal drops you off right where DOOM 2016 finished. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t remember all the intricacies of the lore; I just started shooting from the minute the game opened. DOOM Eternal’s story is more like a complimentary side dish to the real main course of blasting demons into pieces.
The creators at id Software did a better job in DOOM Eternal at cleaning up the narrative and giving your protagonist some purpose behind his unstoppable drive. Demons have taken over the world as well as Mars. As Doomguy, my only passion and function are as a borderline mindless soldier, pushed by vengeance and intent to demolish every satanic creature in existence. Maybe I’m trying to save the world, and maybe I’m trying to take it for my own as a crazed, triumphant God-killer. That’s not totally clear, but the air of uncertainty is purposeful.
DOOM Eternal is aware of its cliché existence, and it wants you to be aware of it too. Every impossible skull-crushing punch is intended to make your inner angsty teenager squeal with violent joy. Through the onslaught of demons, flying fire skulls, and monstrous creatures, I was aware that I was working toward killing off key enemies to scupper an overarching demonic scheme. The game so cleverly leads you through the main objectives that you forget you have any other purpose than to kill, kill, kill.
Killer Atmosphere with Impressive World-building
DOOM Eternal manages to stand out from a market saturated with AAA FPS because of the feeling the gameplay creates. With games like Call of Duty and Gears of War, I enjoy learning the equipment, figuring out each map’s angles, and scoping out a whole team from a safe spot (hey, it works!). DOOM Eternal won’t allow you the time to figure out maps or line up finesse shots. The tag line that got me to try DOOM Eternal in the first place was always the unforgiving sentiment that “you stand still, you die”.
Every level you move through is an ever-increasing barrage of demonic enemies, but the creators have injected method into that basis of madness. There may be giant robotic spiders shooting missiles at you, but if you keep moving, keep shooting, and keep killing, you can defeat anything. If you time your small kills properly, you can utilise slow-moving enemies as ammo and health dispensers while you focus on area bosses. In fact, this will become your main survival strategy.
DOOM Eternal may admit to its own satanic shooter hyperbole, but that doesn’t mean you’ll play mindlessly. I made careful decisions on which weapons to use on which enemies and which weapons to upgrade when I had the chance—bearing in mind the types of enemies I was likely to contact next. I had to reserve ammo in spots where there weren’t many easy kills and learn when to harvest a big enemy’s soul to my advantage. In short, not only do you need to keep moving, you need to keep your head in the game, or you will die instantly.
The environment forces you to interact with it too. Tunnels, climbable walls and cliff edges offered me a morsel of cover. The most difficult to reach spots are also the most likely to be hiding special rewards and collectables. If you’re an achievement hunter like me, bonuses and collectables are almost more important than the main objective.
This game creates an unforgettable atmosphere alongside its fast-paced shooting essence. I can’t imagine the main character or the invading demon horde of DOOM Eternal in any other environment. As you play through this elegant dance of fiery death and gore, you can feel the expansive world around you. id Software wanted DOOM Eternal to show off the leaps in development that they’d made since the 2016 instalment.
The environment feels unnaturally huge. It gives the sense you could walk in any direction for miles and never meet another human amidst the rubble of destroyed buildings and alien structures. I thought the platform sequences demonstrate this the best, as you leap across yawning great chasms that quite literally reach down to hell. DOOM Eternal has come a long way from the tiny, low-res hallways of the original DOOM! game.
This game demonstrates its enormous scope in order to drive home how overpowered your character is. Eight-foot demons are crawling out from the planet’s core, and you’ve got a shotgun and a cool knuckle-duster. Your fight is futile, but at the same time, you know you’ll succeed, quite simply because you’re a badass listening to a constant stream of heavy metal.
Strategy Shooting that Demands a Sharp Mind and Sharper Shooting
What I didn’t initially expect from DOOM Eternal is a puzzle game. The game brings in elements in its second half that, at first, only distracted me from the shooting. As I was forced to swim underwater while batting off enemies—seeking out a button to open the gateway to the next area—I realised something. DOOM Eternal’s puzzle-solving system isn’t meant to take you away from the arena-style shooting aspect. The real puzzle is managing your weapons, positioning, and enemy kill order. Finding the right spot in a wall to blast through and escape isn’t much of a challenge, and I’ve heard of some disappointment over the seemingly simplified puzzle-solving mechanics.
My experience was anything but disappointing, though. By strategising your kills and dodging various enemies to focus on the priority enemy, the health and ammo system is instantly revealed. You have to create a strategy that works with your shooting style amid the break-neck pacing and perfectly timed grenades into Cacodemon mouths.
Rapid movement through each level is also what’s made Doom Eternal one of the best-rated games of 2020. How you move through the barren areas is just as crucial to your survival. Jumping across chasms, double jumping up walls to reach hidden platforms, it all has a very Super Mario feel to it. I felt the platforming aspect of DOOM Eternal was unexpected but welcome. The game encouraged me to explore, test out pathways, try leaping to places that looked unreachable. I was always rewarded for my initiative with extra health, armour, or upgrades.
When it comes to combat, DOOM Eternal sets the standard for high-octane FPS. The combat methods aren’t difficult to learn, quite the opposite. You’re thrown in with such reckless abandon that you’re forced to focus and repeat what works best. Glory kills are another feature worked in to add a disgustingly gory yet cinematic feeling to your killing. Ripping out a demon’s heart is fun, and it’s insanely satisfying when it’s your last enemy in the arena, and you’re on your last health bar.
id Tech 7 Engine Brings Better Performance than DOOM 2016
DOOM Eternal feels like a love story about first-person shooters. Madman demon-killer meets invading demon horde. It’s a match made in heaven – or hell. Credit is due to id Software and the publishers at Bethesda for creating a self-aware title that ticks all the boxes. Made on the id Tech 7 engine, it pushes the performance to extraordinary frame rates—one programmer claims DOOM Eternal could run at 1000 FPS if your computer could handle it.
While I’m not so sure 1000 FPS demon-killing is something I’ll be able to reach any time soon, this game is a pleasure to look at, even at a humble 40-50 FPS. The graphics are beautifully unrealistic—not that I know what a demon priest or a satellite base looks like in real life, but DOOM Eternal depicts them both in glistening detail.
If I had to pick an offline shooter to play over and over, it would be DOOM Eternal. This is a game you’ll play more than once, and not just to search for missed collectables. Every moment of gameplay is packed with hardcore decision-making and glorious, satanic warfare.