DOOM ETERNAL Review: Revising the Doom Slayer to Stop Hell's Invasion of Earth
Brant Lewis characterizes Doom Eternal as a fun and satisfying game that surpasses the original in every way.
Doom Eternal (2020), developed by id Software and published by Bethesda, delivers on its promises and gives players a hell of a time as the Doom Slayer mowing down hordes of demons on Earth, Mars, and hell itself. The game provides everything you could want out of a Doom game: fast-paced combat with ample weapon options, a surplus of demons and you’ll feel like a complete bad-ass. Doom (2016) rebooted the franchise to its original elements and Doom Eternal goes further with that formula while never forgetting why players love the series. Two years after its release, I continue to replay it and never get bored.
The Doom Slayer returns to stop hell's invasion of Earth by killing every demon in sight. On a basic level, that's the story in a nutshell, and its simplicity makes the story work. The game is about killing demons and it does need to go much deeper than that. The Doom Eternal lore expands upon the Doom Universe with added context that acts more as set dressing. There are no ten-minute cut scenes detailing world-building or why the Doom Slayer hates demons—what you see is what you get. Instead, it relies more on environmental storytelling with lore pages, holograms of cultists, and similar methods of discussing how hell conquered Earth. The expanded lore makes me excited for future games.
The story is lean making the combat the main focus, which Doom Eternal excels at. Simply put, you have to quickly move around the space in combat if you don’t move, you die. At first, the movement stays limited to double jumping and mantling ledges. There are boosts and monkey bars, making the stages into a jungle gym of sorts as you slaughter enemies and take on increasingly challenging demons. You’ll feel like the Doom Slayer as you zip around taking out monsters.
In combat, you’ll utilize weapons in addition to movement. I often favored the super shotgun due to its iconic status in the franchise, but the meat hook allowed me to grapple enemies quickly. The plasma rifle became a favorite due to its modification allowing a charge up of extra energy to unleash additional damage. In addition to weapons, you also have an equipment launcher that can release a grenade, an ice bomb, and a flame belch that can be used to farm armor from demons. The chainsaw can be used to replenish ammo from fodder demons. The glory kills from Doom return, playing a much more significant role in filling up the blood punch. Depending on how much you have charged up, the blood punch can seriously damage enemies or even kill some. You often have to cycle between the different weapons depending on the enemy type and the number of enemies to help you survive. The great thing about the variety of weapons and tools is that each can give you a different resource like health, ammo, or shield forcing players to decide what they need in their arsenal. The weapon changes never felt tedious and emphasized the strategy of combat. Some weapons are more effective against demons than others, forcing players to know the damage types and utilize everything at their disposal.
The third ring of combat is strategy. Players must decide which demons to exorcise first. There is no correct way to do it. The decision lies in how you want to play. Due to the variety of enemy types, decisions need to be made quickly. The great thing about variety is that some monsters have melee attacks, short-range or long-range attacks. Luckily, weak points exist on demons to disable the more devastating attacks. My Personal favorite is shooting the turret from the Arachnotron, which removes its long-range attacks. The demons are mean and bloodthirsty. Even minor fodder demons like the soldier can become a pain in large numbers.
Another strength of Doom Eternal lies in its art direction and tone. Everything is gorgeous and well laid out. The demons, world design, aesthetics, and small details showcase id Software's talent. There's a heavy metal quality to the art direction that suits the game well. demons are grotesque and disgusting but have a specific charm warranting further study of their designs. One might compare it to a Slayer or an Iron Maiden album. By forfeiting any sense of irony or self-seriousness to be "cool," the development team effectively makes the game that much more entertaining.
The power of Mick Gordon's score can’t be denied. His work on Doom feels like a warm-up to his work on this project. The music conveys the tone of the game and gets you into the rhythm of the gameplay. Often, I found myself nodding my head to the tracks and turning up the volume. The complex and aggressive score perfectly compliments the game's combat. It is a highly entertaining and well-made first-person shooter that carves out a nice niche to differentiate itself in the genre. Doom helped me fall in love with the franchise and this game cemented my passion for it. Despite its minor flaws, I consider it a perfect video game. You’ll have a hell of a time playing it.
Doom Eternal is available to play on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X | S, Microsoft Windows, and Google Stadia.