Before I talk about anything else, I have to say this: Can we just say how weird it is that two of the most revered shooters at the moment, for single player, are Doom and Wolfenstein. In 2019-2020? Really!?
Taking place after the 2016 game, the Doom Slayer rests easy above the Earth in the Fortress of Doom. A portal has connected Earth and Mars, and things haven’t gone well on Earth at all. It’s overrun with demons, and Doom Guy sets out to kill the Hell Priests summoning demons, and save the Earth once more. There’s more to the story, but truth be told, as it’s mostly told through codex entries that you find throughout levels, I left it behind after a while. One day I’m sure I’ll go through and read about the lore, or watch a youtube video where someone dissects it, but it never really struck me as what Doom Eternal is all about.
I’m here to rip and shred, and that’s what I’ll do. Combat is about as cerebral as you want it to be. Sometimes I’ll just move around a tonne, shooting as much as I can and killing demons. Other times, I’ll utilise all the games sub-weapons like the chainsaw to really make the most of combat. If you’re not doing one of these things, and it’s hard to reprogram yourself from cover-shooters with regenerating health of recent years, you’ll have a bad time.
The chainsaw replenishes your ammo, the Flame Belch forces enemies to drop armour shards, there’s also the Blood Punch, which charges on melee hits, which drops health. Using a combination of these things, and more, mean you’ll always have a bit of everything at your disposal. You’re encouraged to use all your weaponry too; myriad mastery challenges unlock by doing specific things with weapons, such as blowing the turret of the spider-like Arachnotron. The entire game feels very much like a smorgasbord of death, and I am into it.
Choice is very much the flavour of the game. Well, and blood. Between a myriad of weapons, mods encourage you to use the weapons you might be bored with in new ways, like a meat hook on a shotgun, propelling you towards a demon so you can really fill their face with lead. All of the enemies have weaknesses too. Learning their weaknesses, managing your ammo and health and flicking between your weapons becomes second nature as you progress, even as they throw new things into the fold.
Collectibles feel like a pretty big thing too. As you move through levels, you’ll be able to collect new upgrades, mods, runes to alter your own abilities, music and codex entries. These are good, but it feels a tiny bit at odds with itself. Combat feels really frenetic, but spending time solving puzzles to collect things breaks that up a bit too much for me. You could avoid them and come back later, sure, but you would have to run the entire level again. Fast Travel exists, but you only unlock it near the end of each level, and it doesn’t auto-unlock when you return to the map. Even leaving them until much later, after you’ve cleared the game…what’s the point? If you’ve cleared everything, some combat upgrades doesn’t sound all too appealing.
I did, however, absolutely love the Slayer Gates. These are small, hidden combat encounters, meant to be extremely challenging bouts that give you a reward if you clear them within the time limit. These really put you to the test, and I strongly recommend doing them.
Platforming is similar. It’s not bad, but falling when doing platforming, especially when it was due to a very small platform. There are not too many of these, but I just wasn’t a fan. I won’t say it feels as out-of-place as the collectibles (the amount, not the concept), but it just didn’t scratch the itch.
Level design is amazing though. There is plenty of stuff to do in every mission, even keeping to the main path gives you a compressed adrenaline hit that was really satisfying. Every combat encounter is tense and has your brain moving at full pace. You don’t see that much anymore in single player FPS’s, and it’s a reminder how much I missed it.
Doom Eternal isn’t a better or worse game than 2016’s Doom. I think Doom has better pacing, and Doom Slayer was all around a much better feeling character. In Eternal it feels like they’re trying to cram more story in that people want, and Doom Guy doesn’t react to much of it at all. The combat is much more interesting in Doom Eternal though, with much more you can do at all times and each combat being absolutely nail-biting. I’m not upset about my time with Eternal at all, but Doom left a sweeter taste in my mouth.