Doom might just be one of the most iconic franchises in gaming. Its return in 2016 was a shotgun-crack reminder of that fact, a relentless blastathon that had players killing wave after wave of demons from Hell. The next game in the series, Doom Eternal, looks to take that action even further.
Get Doom Eternal digitally:| |
Get Doom Eternal on disc:| |
Picking up an unspecified amount of time after the previous game,features the same fast-paced shooting as its predecessor but adds even more weapons and upgrades. Some of the new additions, however, almost slow down the action -- because once you get going, all you want to do is slay more demons.
This time around, Doomguy has to save Earth after demons invade the planet. One problem: A fair amount of the game doesn't take place on the planet. Most of that action revolves around the Hell priests that are behind the invasion and the Night Sentinels who once opposed the evil forces. It didn't dawn on me until I finally reached Earth just how long it took to get there because it was all a bit confusing. Once you're on the planet, everything starts to make more sense.
Doom Eternal is missing some of the earlier entries' charm. In early Doom games, Doomguy was a silent protagonist. Id Software put you in the boots of a muted space marine murdering hordes of demons. In Doom (2016) a lot of effort went into showing players how much of a gangsta Doomguy was. He'd bash computer panels, act totally oblivious to long-winded NPCs and just be a total badass.
Those snippets of personality are too few and far between in Doom Eternal. We see a lot of NPCs talking and Doomguy interrupting them by chopping their head off, but there aren't nearly as many of those moments until the latter half of the game, which is a shame because they were a real treat in the last game.
There are a ton of upgrades available in Doom Eternal. The tried-and-true weapons such as the shotgun, assault rifle and plasma gun each have their own upgraded versions. Each weapon also has secondary functions. Then comes the various suit, ammo, health, shield and ability upgrades. It's a massive amount that most players won't complete in their first run.
As you upgrade and there are more attacks at your disposal, the faster Doomguy gets. He becomes more agile and destructive, which is key because the number of demons and their ferocity will increase in kind. The game moves from running and gunning to running, air-dashing and blowing up several enemies at a time.
A lot of these upgrades are available while playing through the game, but some are only accessible when you find secret areas or partake in challenges within the levels. Secrets are a staple with Doom games and each area has them. Some simply require keeping an eye out for destructible walls while others will need some blind jumping to access them.
All of this adds to the overwhelming amount of unlockable content. There are also multiple difficulty options, including an ultra-hard option with one life to beat the game. Once you beat Doom Eternal, there are plenty of reasons to replay it.
Much like its predecessor, Doom Eternal has made its heavy metal soundtrack an integral part of the experience. Entering a seemingly peaceful area and then hearing the metal music hit is a true highlight that just elevates the action. You just want to throw up the devil horns and shoot everything moving.
On the other hand, I'm simply not having fun with all the platforming. Each new area starts and finishes without any loading, unlike the previous Doom game, and that is impressive. Even better, the level design and progression makes sense. You move from inside a building to the outside without using some magic door but instead through a window breaking or a demon busting down a wall. It's all connected, however: Some of those connecting areas require a lot of double jumping, wall climbing and air dashing to traverse across big gas and other obstacles in order to proceed. To put it simply, I was expecting more Doom and less Super Mario Galaxy.
It's not so much that it kills the momentum, but it's enough to make you think, "just let me kill something already!" Adding to the frustration, certain spots appear to be accessible with some clever jumping. But in reality, they end up being out of bounds.
Doom Eternal ups the visuals from the previous game by incorporating bigger landscapes. Certain levels will have a backdrop of the Earth in decay. There are few viewpoints that could easily be on the cover of a Slayer album. It's beautiful.
For the most part, Doom Eternal improves on the previous iteration with more gore and destruction with hardly any slowdown.
One component of the game not available during the review period was Battlemode. This is the multiplayer mode that lets you either fight as some of the more powerful demons or as Doomguy. It won't be available to test until the game releases fully on Friday.
Doom Eternal gave me what I wanted with a new game in the franchise. It gave me more demons to kill and more ways to annihilate them. What I didn't want was having my heavy-metal-blaring-run-and-gun destruction interrupted in order to jump around for a few minutes.
Doom Eternal is out March 20 for PC, PS4,and Xbox One.