Doom Eternal is an exceptionally well-designed shooter with combat that is unmatched in it's freneticism and energy, just do your best to ignore the boring lore. This task should be fairly simple, given how much fun you'll be having slaying hordes of demons.
Doom is just one of those games that can do what it wants without justifying its actions. Robot demons? Please, go ahead, Doom. Ammo generating chainsaw? Be our guest, Doom! An unkillable, ever violent force of nature simply named “Doomguy” as our protagonist? You don’t even have to ask, Doom!
With a lineage as long and storied as what many consider to be the original first-person shooter (besides those ones that actually came before it), id Software’s demon-slaying murder fest is a legend in and out of the gaming industry. Considering the success of the 2016 reboot of Doom, there was a lot riding on the sequel to prove it wasn’t a fluke and despite some stumbles here and there, Doom Eternal is one of the best shooters available on the market.
Rip and Tear
Before leaping back into the boots of the Doomslayer, it’s important that you realise that Eternal will be especially demanding. There’s very little in the way of cautious starts and gentle guidance upon firing up the first mission; straight from the get-go, you’re expected to personify the legend that is Doomguy.
It can be a lot to process, being thrown directly into the deep end. Yet it’s also utterly enthralling, capturing the speed, ferocity and brutality of Doom 2016 but amplifying it tenfold. The first mission of Doom Eternal plays like the final mission of Doom 2016, if that’s any indication of the level of competency and intensity you can expect from what can at times be a thoroughly draining experience. Doom Eternal isn’t asking you to take it slow, it wants you to commit to marriage on the first date.
If you can fathom the energy to propose so quickly, Doom Eternal is a monstrously fun experience, maybe the most fun we’ve had in a video game all year. id Software manages to not only keep up the frenetic pace of the game from start to finish but manages to ramp it up even further as it progresses with a slew of weapon and suit upgrades, perks for more efficient killing and unlocks that turn the Doomslayer into the one man army he was always meant to be.
There’s a lot to find and unlock in Doom Eternal, it demands multiple playthroughs to careful scope the environment for secrets and hidden areas with nearly everything you find either being mechanically useful or thematically fun.
Which is the whole premise of Doom in the first place: mechanical fun. Everything you do in Eternal is designed to encourage your momentum, every action pushing you forward to the next kill. Every battle arena, weapon and piece of equipment is built in such a way to punish standing still or cowering behind cover.
In Doom Eternal, the safest place to be is charging directly into a fight and it’s utterly enthralling. Shout out to Mick Gordon for once again producing one of the best video game soundtracks as every riff and thud of the base shoves the Slayer forward in his endless quest for violence.
When the Shadows First Lengthened
Mechanically, Doom Eternal is incredible. One might accuse of it being a little too dense, especially when you’re forgetting about very useful equipment in the middle of a firefight, but the wide variety of abilities just makes for more diverse encounters.
Where Doom Eternal falters most is in its narrative which, despite having some stand-out moments, can’t support the weight of its own lore. While Doom as a franchise has never been about the story, Eternal seems intent on changing that direction by not actually telling a story but building a fleshed-out universe for the Doomslayer to slaughter his way through.
It’s a sound idea, in theory. If you’ve committed to your main character being as lifeless and empty as the Doomguy (despite some quirky personality quirks, some of which are shown off throughout Eternal) it makes sense to at least make the world around him compelling. Yet when all of that interesting lore is shoved into floating codex entries written in a way that’s emulating the back of an early 2000s Viking metal band’s CD, it’s instantly less cool. Races of ancient warriors, Hell Priests and Gore Nests are all really cool but if all I’m actually learning about them is through notes in a game built around moving quickly and killing aplenty, that’s not compelling.
While Doom Eternal does it’s best to prove how metal it is (and it is very metal, to its credit), a lot of the grandeur of its gods and demons are lost in the murder-fest. Not that this is likely to perturb many players; who’s actually playing this franchise for the narrative? Still, it’s clear that a decent amount of thought went into building a world for the Doom lore and it’s a little disappointing to see how it largely falls on its face.
Doom is Eternal
Yet despite those complaints, the campaign is still utterly captivating. You’ll have to search far and wide to find a shooter as mechanically rich and dense as Doom Eternal. It’s vicious, adrenaline-pumping and certainly not for the faint-hearted but if you can overlook some of the game’s initial steep demands, you’re in for an exceptionally fun experience.