2016’s Doom from id Software and Bethesda was the much-needed revival that the series needed after 12 years in stagnation. It was bloody, it was fast, the metal was loud and thumping, and best of all, it was fun. After 2004’s questionable turn towards a more horror-driven direction with Doom 3, the return to the balls-to-the-wall bloody action that the 2016 Doom was was a breath of fresh, Hellish air. With 2020’s release of Doom Eternal, the next direct sequel, they took 2016’s formula and cranked the knob all the way to 15.
DOOM Eternal Shines in its Campaign
The story of Doom Eternal picks up just after where Doom 2016 left off. The Doom Slayer has made his way back to Earth in a floating space station embedded in an asteroid called the Fortress of Doom. The Fortress holds many upgrades for the Slayer and the Praetor Suit as you progress through the game, and slowly reduce the demonic invasion on a war-torn Earth. You’ll find collectibles scattered in secrets across each map called Sentinel Batteries that will allow you to unlock upgrades and custom suits in the Fortress, as well as unlock batteries through challenge completions during missions. There’s also a trophy room of sorts in the Fortress to view all your found collectibles.
As with 2016’s rendition, the music and sound production in Eternal is top-notch. The music score screams and thumps awesome metal riffs into your ear-holes as you rip and tear your way through gibs and waves of demons. Each demon has their own distinct range of sounds that you learn to identify the longer you play, and the voice work is as good as ever. The soundtrack alone is very much where the sound production shines, giving a perfect companion to the fast-paced action of the gameplay. Just as with 2016, the soundtrack of Doom Eternal is available as a separate entity for anyone who wants to keep the tunes thumping long after the game has ended.
Perfectionists and Collectors Will Fall in Love
Another aspect that long-time id games fans will love is the inclusion of a plethora of id-related Easter eggs. There are a handful of visual references in the environment to find, like the beloved Dopefish from Commander Keen, as well as a slew of collectibles to find. The collectibles in the game include the toy figurines much like the collectibles in the 2016 rendition, but they also include toy demons this time around instead of just different suit variants of the Doom Slayer. They’ve also included collectible vinyls in-game that when found, allow the player to activate music in the Fortress of Doom from old id Software games, including Doom 1 & 2, Wolfenstein, Commander Keen, and the various Quake games. There are also usable upgrades to the player to collect, along with cheat codes usable in return missions.
Beautifully Updated Visuals With Some New Faces
With the shift from 2016’s id Tech 6 engine that Doom was built on to the newer id Tech 7, Doom Eternal is somehow even prettier than its four-year old counterpart. The engine change was not drastic, but the level of optimization and care that id has put into Eternal pays off in spades when you’re standing in a red lit hellscape surrounded by pools of bubbling magma, metal music screaming in your ears, firing pulses of plasma rifle blasts at numerous fireball-flinging demons. If playing on PC, do your best to max out your framerate to get that buttery smooth movement; it’ll very much pay off in those frantic fights during boss fights or Slayer Challenges.
Almost all the enemies that made their debut in 2016 have returned, and they’ve brought along some new and familiar faces. Some demons from the old school Doom and Doom II have been revamped and included in glorious 4K for your slaying pleasure. This includes the Pain Elemental, the fan favorite green haired Zombie Soldier, the Arachnotron, and the ever-hated Arch-vile. There’s also many new creations crawling from the cracks of Hell, like the serpentine Whiplash, the tech-meets-hell Doom Hunters, and the very challenging and daunting Marauder. All of them offer their own unique challenges and will keep players on their toes as they dash and slash through the hordes.
A Revamped Multiplayer Mode
While the campaign is truly where Doom Eternal shines, they’ve also revamped and rethought the multiplayer aspect of the game as well. Gone are the Call of Duty inspired PVP modes and the strange players vs players vs demon modes of 2016. They wiped the slate clean and gave Doom Eternal one mode of multiplayer; Battlemode. The premise is simple, one player controls a decked out Doom Slayer, and two opposing players take the roles of demons attempting to kill the Slayer. The demons have abilities such as summoning support demons to attack the Slayer and help their teammate, and the Slayer has their own set of abilities to attempt to kill both player controlled demons. The Slayer must kill both opposing player demons within short order of one another or else the player demon gets to respawn at half health and continue playing. First side to notch 3 round victories wins the match. It’s simple, it’s hectic, and it employs a bit of MOBA-style strategy to it while still keeping the brutal simplicity that most die-hard Doom fans enjoy.
While the lore and story aren’t the #1 reason people generally lean into playing the Doom games, id did a very good job this time around crafting a coherent story that not only furthers the story started in 2016, but also ties in previous old-school games, and expanding universe lore through the inclusion of collectible codex entries. They don’t force the lore down your throat with lengthy unneeded cutscenes, but they also make it totally accessible to anyone who’s interested enough to read.
All in all, while it was ultimately decided to axe the Snap Map mode included in the 2016 iteration, Eternal still does not feel like it’s missing any features or like it’s incomplete at all. The inclusion of the fleshed-out platforming and puzzle solving sections between firefights allows for a breather for players and time to settle the adrenaline to prepare for the next onslaught. Some of the puzzles are a little confusing without feeling outright broken. I will admit, there were one or two spots where I wandered for 10 or so minutes wondering if my game had bugged out and not triggered the pathway to the next section because I couldn’t figure out where to go to progress. This might be one of the only flaws in an otherwise near-flawless action title. We can only hope that id and Bethesda have something up their sleeves for DLC this year to keep the action going long after the thrill of playing that Ultra Nightmare playthrough has worn off.