Our Doom Eternal review was written after full game completion on the game’s Ultra Violence difficulty. Our Doom Eternal review was conducted on an Xbox One X.
If you told be back in 2013 that this generation would see first-person shooters return to frenetic retro experiences as tongue-in-cheek was they were colourful, I’d tell you to stop making shit up. Doom 2016 was the start of realising that dream: the return to form for id Software’s iconic “daddy-of-first-person-shooters” was also the return of an often sidelined method of presenting an FPS.
If you thought that 2016’s return to the demon-infested UAC was the true return to Doom, you haven’t played anything like Doom Eternal. While four years ago we were treated to a smidge of what the series could be again – complete with gruesome combat and pumping heavy metal – Eternal’s amp has been cranked up not just to eleven, but away past it.
While the last outing of the demon-massacring Doom Slayer ended with the raging marine being sent back to Hell, Eternal instead begins with everyone’s favourite angry-man tackling the rise of the demon horde on Earth. It begins immediately: after steadily shooting your way through a few linear paths, the open combat arenas begin to show their antsy faces.
Eternal’s first combat arena is by sure it’s smallest, but it makes a hectic first impression. In comparison to its older brother, this beginning section feels like a mid-game gore nest from Doom 2016. There are imps, zombie soldiers and even an Anachnotron to deal with. For the beginning of a game, Eternal holds no punches and as the game continues its arenas only get bigger, more populated and tougher.
That’s not to say that Doom Eternal ever becomes too difficult. We played through the entire campaign on Ultra Violence, this series’ version of hard mode. As the horde of demon foes expands to include Pinkies, Mancubi, Cacodemons, Tyrants, Archvilles and more, your arsenal of weapons will expand alongside them.
As you speedily skate out of the training level, Doom’s combat becomes a eloquent display of ultra violent gunplay amid grotesque homogenised environments that see their base design overwrought by the unstoppable infection of Hell. The strong core of 2016 lays the unshakable combat foundation that Eternal gleefully builds upon to craft the best shooter this generation has seen.
Each combat arena no longer feels like a beautifully choreographed dance; each fight is more akin to a glorious display of freeform combat parkour as you hastily rush to change your direction and approach in a split second. Your core movements of double jumps, mantling, boost-dodging, wall-climbing and monkey-bar-swinging are constantly in use as you skate around vast demonic warzones and blast away at the ever-oncoming danger.
Every gun, from shotgun to plasma rifle to rocket launcher, shreds away the flesh of your foes. Every bullet that blasts against the hardened flesh of the demons takes away a chunk of its target. Eventually, as larger targets with more health take center stage, their bodies become horrifying walking carcasses. It’s a gruesome, barbarous addition that never needed to be added, but it makes combat so much more visceral.
You have an array of new tools at hand outside of your core weaponry to make sure that the combat is always giving something back. The brisk glory kills have returned to reward you with health mid-combat, the chainsaw is back as an essential way to siphon a wealth of ammunition from your foes. The Doom Slayer is also equipped with a shoulder-mounted canon that fires both grenades, fire and icebombs; the latter two reward you with armour and health respectively.
There is a lot to keep on your mind at all times and early on it may feel a tad overbearing but once you get used to each weapon’s uses against each type of enemy, you truly feel like a force of nature that the demon army shouldn’t just be scared of, they should be terrified.
Everything culminates into a final level that feels just like a Doom game should. It’s Hell unleashed: a cacophony of gunfire, metal, fire and screams fuels your unstoppable barrage of fury. You feel powerful: after hours of ripping and tearing the game knows you’ve become a master of combat by this point.
Despite how much of Doom Eternal revolves around blasting every foe into glorious giblets, it’s not a title that’s just about combat. Each level has a small collection of secrets to find from extra lives to collectible toys and even cheat codes. If combat wasn’t rewarding enough for you – which it is – exploring will certainly make you appreciate every locale a lot more than those that just blast their way through.
Through exploration you can earn extra lives for instant respawns, find Sentinel Batteries to unlock costumes, weapon mods to unlock powerful alt-fire modes for your weaponry. If you wish to make your Doom Slayer an unstoppable force of nature, you can find runes, Preator Points and Sentinel Crystals to increase your fighting capabilities. If there was one negative, Doom Eternal has too many collectible Preator Points. There are so many that you’re bound to have some left over after completing the upgrade tree without picking up all of them.
For those that want a more challenging experience, keen explorers will be rewarded with optional timed firefights and extreme Slayer Gates that offer an almost traumatising level of intensity. There will always be something more for players to try out. Amidst everything, Doom Eternal is made for gamers who love to be rewarded.
Doom Eternal is the true return of id Software’s iconic first-person shooter series. If you thought that Doom 2016 was the ultimate return of classic FPS gameplay, look again. Compared to Eternal, 2016’s hardcore combat was just baby steps. This is the return of Doom: Long Live Doom Eternal!
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