More ripping. More tearing.
It’s all we could want from a sequel to id Software’s reboot. But Doom Eternal isn’t just your average entry in the franchise. Sure, it has all of the chaos and gore the series has been known for, but id Software knew it should give fans more. While some sequels simply add new enemy types, weapons, and locations, Doom Eternal takes the core “push-forward” concept of its predecessor and molds it into something so much bigger.
The Doom Slayer returns for this demon-killing romp, and, much like in his battle on the Mars research facility two years earlier, he takes no time jumping into action. Mere seconds after launching players onto Earth, they’re met with the first signs of demonic life. There is no long setup or tension-building exploration. It’s performing Glory Kills and laughing maniacally right from the get-go.
That’s a part of the charm to this action-packed sequel. Eternal may have a considerably broader story than the reboot, but it doesn’t force players to break up the action for the sake of the plot. Rather than show how Earth succumbed to swarms of hellbeasts, the game dishes out many of those details in recordings and dialogue spoken amidst Doom Slayer’s hunt for the remaining Hell Priests responsible for the invasion.
You aren’t going to be bored by long cutscenes and wordy exposition and very rarely is the demon-killing action broken up for the sake of a cutscene. Players that enjoy reading up on Doom lore won’t be disappointed, though. An expansive codex provides the information needed to fully understand the Doom Slayer, his role in protecting humanity, and the forces working against him.
It’s clear that id Software knew it wanted to build upon Doom’s story, but also understood why people typically jumped into the series. You can skip every cutscene, avoid collecting codex entries, and tune out the ambient dialogue and your experience isn’t going to change. It’s designed for purists that don’t want to get bogged down by story while also catering to fans that hope to learn more about the epic struggle between slayer and demon.
Doom Eternal does a fantastic job of taking everything we loved about the reboot and retooling it. At no point did anything seem entirely familiar as even Doom Slayer’s usual arsenal of weapons underwent a transformation to look less sterile and more like they belong on a war-torn Earth. Even common demons like imps and possessed soldiers were given a makeover, with the latter appearing more human like their 1990’s counterpart. Then there are the new demons taking the battle to Earth, including the snake-like Whiplash, the teleporting Prowler, and the return of the Arch-Vile from Doom II.
With a larger gallery of demons, id Software had a decision to make. Balance use of the classics so that the new fiends could shine or throw them all at the Doom Slayer and give everyone equal screen time. Considering the constant chaos of the very frequent firefights, it’s obvious that the masterminds went with the latter option. Every level is brimming with arenas where epic battles unfold, and id Software really tests your ability to manage your arsenal while demons come at you from all angles.
Even more-so than Doom (2016), Eternal is ruthless. There is no opportunity to quietly snipe demons from afar. Once they start spawning, it’s a constant stream of imps and possessed soldiers and Revenants until your fingers are sore. It can feel like a grind at times, especially when your arsenal is a little bare, but once you stock up on weapon mods, unlock all of Doom Slayer’s explosive equipment, and upgrade your praetor suit, it becomes more of a dance. A dance fueled by the bass and heavy metal guitar riffs of the incredible score.
The longer you play, the more confident you become in moving the Slayer about, landing crippling blows with the Super Shotgun and perfecting the assault rifle’s Precision Shot mod without stopping. Even when you’re overwhelmed by the demonic forces, your weapons are dried up, and your health is blinking frantically, there is always something in the Slayer’s employ to get out of such dire circumstances. In a way, it makes Eternal feel quite forgiving.
With the recharging chainsaw and Doom Slayer’s devastating Blood Punch, there is almost always an opportunity to carve out ammunition from bad guys or punch health from a swarm of zombies and imps. Since lesser demons constantly respawn so long as some of the heavy hitters are left standing, you are never without the resources needed to progress.
id even softened its penalty when it comes to falling out of bounds, which is certainly helpful considering there is a considerably heavy focus on platforming. As much as one may think platforming has no part in the Doom series, it’s how the near-constant action is broken up without leaving you traversing through dull, empty environments. Doom Slayer can now perform acrobatic feats, such as swing on conveniently placed poles and clamber up climbable walls. It’s not the best addition to the series, but the mechanics work well enough where they don’t hinder the experience. In fact, they play well into scouring for secrets, of which there are far more than in the original.
You’re sent on a hunt for familiar collectibles, from demon toys reminiscent of the Doomguy dolls of 2016 to runes that offer perks, but there is much to find scattered around the ruins of Earth. Slayer Gates and secret encounters thrust you into deadly firefights in exchange for weapon upgrades while Sentinel Crystals provide you with increases to your health, ammo, and armor. Other finds, like Sentinel Batteries and Vinyl Records, come into play in the Doom Slayer’s hub, the Fortress of Doom.
In between battles with his persistent hellish enemies, the Slayer returns to the Fortress of Doom to regroup, locate Hell Priests, use batteries to unlock mods and Praetor Tokens, pick up new weapons, or visit the Ripatorium and Demon Prison to test out new weapons and hone his skills. Exploring the fortress comes with its own little secrets and entertainment, making it an unexpected but welcomed addition to the series.
Everything about this fast-paced, chaotic shooter is bigger, more expansive, and far more elaborate than id Software’s award-winning reboot. Even boss battles are more complex and actually require you to time attacks or use specific weapons. The Marauders and Doom Hunter, both of which serve to expand the lore, will surely frustrate you until you determine their patterns. Bosses may be more difficult, but it does make ramming your wrist blade through their skulls that much more satisfying.
When id Software set out to make a sequel to Doom (2016), it clearly wasn’t comfortable with doing the bare minimum. Though Eternal could have been closer to its predecessor in terms of content and scope and still succeed, it went bigger; and in this case, bigger most definitely is better.