I expected DOOM Eternal to be an amazing game by just being more of what I loved about the 2016 series reboot, and I was half right. DOOM Eternal is an amazing game, but it somehow improves upon the mechanics of DOOM 2016 – a game that I said had the best gameplay out of any first-person shooter I’ve ever played only a few weeks back – and gives you just enough story to keep you engaged in between the total perfection that is its firefights.
DOOM Eternal sees the Doom Slayer back in action after the forces of Hell have devastated Earth and slaughtered billions. It’s up to the Doom Slayer to do what he does best: kill each and every demon as quickly and violently as possible, possibly saving humanity in the process. You uncover tidbits of lore regarding the Doom Slayer’s past and a third faction throughout the game, and there’s some surprisingly great humor, but let’s be honest: you shouldn’t play this game for the story, you should play it to feel like a total badass that even Hell itself is terrified of. Every battle in DOOM Eternal is a gory, gloriously good time, just like its 2016 predecessor.
However, the combat in DOOM Eternal isn’t quite the same as it was in DOOM 2016. It’s still fast, there’s still a phenomenal metal and rock soundtrack blasting through your speakers/headset to get your blood pumping, and the overall theme of constantly moving and shooting hasn’t changed, but the more varied and nuanced adjustments to the gameplay make it feel like an evolution of what came before. DOOM Eternal’s demonic enemies are more challenging this time, and changing your tactics on the fly to weaken specific types before going in for the kill is a necessity. The spider-brain arachnotrons are a lot less dangerous if you snipe off their main canons with a shot from the heavy cannon’s precision bolt mod, you can set up a cacodemon for a glory kill – an action that instantly kills a stunned target and gives you a good chunk of your health back – after shooting a grenade in its mouth, and the list goes on. These weaknesses and exploits add a level of strategy that was seldom found in DOOM 2016 outside of its boss fights.
The Doom Slayer’s movement and map traversal has been changed too. You can dash, swing off of poles that are spread out among certain battlefields, and use the super shotgun’s meathook – which pulls you toward enemies from great distances, something I’ll never get tired of – to cover ground more quickly than ever before in a DOOM game. Anytime you need to glory kill an imp from twenty yards away or get to a health pack quickly, there’s probably a traversal method to get there that’s safer and faster than running.
In addition to changing your tactics and mobility, the wide array of monsters – who each look stunning along with the rest of the game’s visuals – in each encounter forces you to master your entire arsenal too. From new tools of destruction like the flame belcher, a shoulder-mounted flamethrower, to classic weapons with mild tweaks that make them more effective than in the previous game, the Doom Slayer’s weaponry is at its most diverse and deadly in DOOM Eternal. It almost seems like it’s too much at first, and I struggled to find that balance for a few hours even, but once I “got” the flow of the game and my guns, I felt like an absolute badass with every single victory thereafter. I can’t wait to practice even more as I look for the numerous secrets, cheat codes, records, skins, and upgrades hidden throughout DOOM Eternal that I haven’t found yet.
After that, I’ll probably dive a little deeper into the online multiplayer, which is pretty good from what I’ve played so far. Two players take control of higher-tier demons and try to survive the onslaught of another player controlling the Doom Slayer. The demons don’t handle quite as well as the Slayer, but they’re still a whole lot of fun to use. It’s a unique, solid multiplayer, but I don’t see myself losing a couple dozen hours in it like I will with campaign replays.
DOOM Eternal will almost definitely be among my favorites games of the year (I’m confident in saying that even though it’s only March) and is the best first-person shooter of the console generation, possibly even the best ever. It moves at a breakneck speed, delivers tons of brutal action, and is almost always incredibly satisfying to play.