The DOOM name is synonymous with a lot of things… you know, brilliant shooting, slick level design, vicious enemies, and, of course, all-out brutality with its manner of killing. It’s just one of those franchises that’s legendary amongst gamers and it has been blowing us away with its action-packed battles against Hell’s demons ever since its original release back in the 90s.
Now, more than two decades on, it’s ready to blow gamers away yet again with DOOM Eternal. The latest release in the series has had gamers buzzed for quite some time, regardless of the delays it has suffered leading up to release. The wait has been worth it though – not only does DOOM Eternal live up to the hallowed name of the series, but it also offers one of the finest first-person shooting experiences in the modern era of gaming.
One thing that’s worth noting straight away is the fact that DOOM Eternal gets all the basic rights. Shooting feels mighty satisfying throughout and, of course, there’s no need to reload your weapons as you spray your bullets across the Hellish representation of Earth – reloading is for chumps, and we all know that everyone’s favourite Slayer is the true badass of the first-person shooting world.
Glory kills make a return too, giving players the chance to dish out a satisfyingly brutal melee finisher when they’ve weakened enemies that will make your toes curl with glee as you decapitate, pummel, slice and gouge your enemies’ insides in all sorts of vicious ways to teach them that they messed with the wrong video game hero. Add to that the quick pace that was established in its predecessor as well as the same impressive level design, and you’ll quickly find that DOOM Eternal will immediately feel familiar to anyone that played the previous game in the series.
That’s selling it short though, because whilst DOOM Eternal does feature the tried-and-tested hallmarks that are so dearly associated with the games, it has also evolved enough to establish itself as a truly fresh iteration in the series.
For one, navigation has never felt as satisfying as it does in DOOM Eternal, with the slayer able to run, jump, double-jump, air-dash, swing, and even using a grappling hook to get around levels this time around, all whilst continually shooting the wide-assortment of enemies that are stalking you throughout levels. 2016’s DOOM brought a new emphasis on quick movement and leaping around levels, but it’s really taken to the max this time around thanks to your new-found abilities and each level’s more open and larger designs. Remember the claustrophobic corridors of previous games in the series? They’ve been mostly replaced in DOOM Eternal with wide-open areas, and it makes navigation all the more enjoyable.
The best thing about it is that it feels SO good to perform in-game. Every action strings together with ease and whilst swinging yourself around the map in a myriad of ways might look a little intimidating, it’s so easily done that players will find themselves performing acrobatic feats and blasting skulls open in no time. It’s brilliant.
The larger levels bring with them all-new areas to explore too, with the series’ much-loved secrets in abundance throughout DOOM Eternal. It’s certainly one of those games that actively encourages exploration, with hidden areas and supplies aplenty for those who go scouring off the beaten path a bit. Secret hunters will be glad to know that there’s a fast-travel system in place too, which allows you to quickly zip between different points of the level without having to backtrack. I’d have never thought that a DOOM game would really require a fast-travel system, but it just goes to show how much DOOM Eternal’s levels have ramped up in size when compared to previous releases in the series.
That being said, I did have one issue with the Slayer’s new-found acrobatic manoeuvres and open-level design, with the game’s platforming proving to be a bit off the mark on some occasions. Now don’t get me wrong, nine times out of ten it was great to blast through DOOM Eternal’s platforming segments, but every so often I’d come up to an area that demanded so much precision and that was so poorly sign posted that it was hard not to get a little frustrated. What makes it even more difficult is that you’re normally getting ploughed with enemy fire during these sections too, so you rarely have a moment’s break to examine your surroundings and think your actions through. It’s not a game-breaker by any means and these sections were so few and far between that it’s hard to hold it against the game too much, but they still stood out enough for me as minor annoyances that I figured they’d be worth mentioning.
It’s not all running and jumping in DOOM Eternal though and players will certainly feel spoilt for choice with the wide range of weapons and gadgets at their disposal. As expected, many favourites make a welcome return including the Super Shotgun, Plasma Rifle, Chainsaw, Rocket Launcher, and the BFG, but there’s also room for new additions such as the Flame Belch which allows you to set enemies alight or the Ice Bombs which let you freeze and then shatter enemies.
Like in the previous game, you’re able to apply upgrades to your weapons and armour in order to improve them, with each weapon in your arsenal having extra abilities that can be unlocked with mods or by investing weapon points in them. You can also complete Weapon Mastery challenges to allow them to reach their full potential, which is something that’ll prove particularly useful when facing off against some of the tough boss encounters (which are a particular highlight of the game, but something I’ll leave for player to discover). There are plenty of runes to equip which give you various boosts too, whilst the collectible power-ups certainly help you out when going on a murderous rampage. Between it all, it has NEVER been more fun to kill in DOOM.
Of course, all the weapons and tools in the game would be for nothing if you didn’t have some enemies to blast them to smithereens with, right? Thankfully, DOOM Eternal has the largest roster of deadly foes that I’ve seen in any entry across the whole series. Long-time favourites make a return such as the Imp, Revenant, and Cacodemon to cause problems for the Slayer, whilst brand new faces such as the flying Gargoyles and super-quick Whiplashes will offer plenty of all-new challenges for the player to deal with. That’s just naming a couple of the new foes too, with plenty of nasty surprises to encounter on your journey…
One thing I particularly appreciated this time around was how enemies were more vulnerable to particular weapon types. Sure, it’s something we’ve seen in the series in the past, especially when it came to gunfire, but the addition of things like the Ice Bomb to shatter enemies or disabling enemy defences to take them out adds an extra tactical element to all of your shooting. It encourages players to utilise their weapons a bit more thoughtfully and ensure they have ammo spare for when they encounter particular enemy types… or, of course, you can just blast enemies away with any weapon you want. Sure, it might not be as effective, but this is DOOM – you know, the shooter that prioritises blasting enemies to smithereens through any means possible. It is worth noting that this is one of the tougher first-person shooters I’ve played in some time though, so any advantage you can get over your enemies is certainly worth exploiting.
I’d be remiss not to mention that DOOM Eternal has a half decent narrative, with the basic outline of it being that Hell’s forces have invaded Earth and it’s up to you to stop them. It takes plenty of twists-and-turns along the way though and there’s a cinematic vibe to the story’s presentation, whilst all of the nods to the series’ lore will bring plenty of smiles to the faces of gamers that have been playing since the very first game. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a story here that’ll have you heavily invested in what’s going on, but it certainly adds a decent incentive to all of your killing in-game.
DOOM Eternal launches with a two-versus-one multiplayer mode called Battlemode that sees two players work together as demons to take out a player-controlled Slayer. However, whilst the mode itself sounds like it will be a lot of fun, it wasn’t live at the time of writing this review so I didn’t get the chance to check it out. If it offers anything close to what the single player experience does though, gamers are in for a fun competitive experience – after playing as a demon in the last game’s multiplayer mode, I certainly can’t wait to check it out.
I can’t end this review without mentioning DOOM Eternal’s visuals, which are some of the most spectacular I’ve seen in any first-person shooter. A lot of this is owed to the level designs themselves, which aren’t just brilliant from a gameplay perspective but are also full to the brim with impressive sights that will have players in awe throughout. If this is what a Hell-invaded Earth is going to look like, I’ll start my demon-summoning rituals immediately. Hail Satan, right? Add to that the fact that it all runs at a slick and consistent 60fps on the PlayStation 4 Pro and you’ll quickly one that DOOM Eternal is one of the most visually impressive titles available on consoles.
DOOM Eternal offers more of the same brilliant and brutal action that made the series so beloved to begin with, but also evolves upon the traditional formula by bringing bigger and more open-levels to the fray that encourage a lot more acrobatic manoeuvres from the player. It comes together perfectly to make for a fantastic first-person shooter that not only lives up to the DOOM name, but boasts a more fleshed-out and expansive experience than any other release in the series before it. It’s f*cking awesome.
DOOM Eternal is simply one the finest shooters that has released in this generation of gaming, and if it wasn’t for some sketchy platforming sections here and there it’d be pretty close to first-person shooting perfection.
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC