Listen. I didn’t expect 2016’s Doom reimagining to be good. I expected a cookie cutter, modern, first-person shooter style, demonic murder show. Doom kicked me in the teeth with heart pounding combat and a soundtrack to match. Sure, the story was almost nonexistent, but I’d gladly sacrifice a good story for feeling like a demigod. When Doom Eternal was announced, I expected Doom, but with more levels and some new weapons. Instead, id Software rebuilt the gameplay from the ground up. And gave Doom Guy new tricks to use to eradicate the demonic presence on Earth.
Similar to Doom II, Doom Guy is flung from the depths of Hell to Earth. He bears witness to a planet where the forces of Hell have slaughtered everything. Sure enough, the space marine is told he’s the only one who can fix the mess. In fact, Doom Guy is told to “rip and tear until it is done.” Doom Eternal drops the player into the middle of the action with all of the existing abilities from Doom such as the double jump. As a sweet bonus, the player starts with the chainsaw already on their side and a shotgun in their hand.
And rip and tear the player does. The combat has an added emphasis on movement combat. It has morphed into a beautiful dance between the player and the unending waves of demons. The battle arenas have an added vertical factor which allows players to leap off poles to avoid an energy blast. Players can also use this ability to position themselves to cleave enemies with the chainsaw.
Doom Eternal added two new combat abilities: blood punch and flamethrower. The blood punch is a super-charged punch that should be used to quickly eradicate a pack of weaker demons or shatter the armor of stronger foes. And the flamethrower applies a small bit of damage but forces the demon to drop armor chips to bolster the player’s defenses. The flow of battle left me in a trance, and everything became second nature, similar to rhythm games.
Aesthetically, Doom Eternal is similar to the band posters that covered my walls in high school. With a sound track to match. Combat may be Doom Eternal’s biggest strength, but the soundtrack gives it a run for its money. A mix of industrial metal, deep bass grooves, and demonic chants provide the perfect cacophony to slaughter demons. Doom has always been known for its music, but Doom Eternal raised the bar. The music perfectly matched and synced with the carnage Doom Guy inflicts.
As incredible as Doom Eternal made me feel, it did have some flaws. The story is almost non-existent. Most of the lore and story developments are masked as codex entries instead of actual information told to the player. Also the forced cutscenes overstay their welcome and feel more like obstacles to the actual game. I was happier with the parkour puzzles than I was for forced cutscenes.
The upgrade system doesn’t feel as strong as it should. I felt as strong at the beginning of the game as I did at the ending. I never felt like I got stronger or anything was useful. Upgrades felt more like a convenience than actual upgrades. With weapon grades, each weapon has essentially two paths to go down.
The player can swap between the two at will, but once the player has their own play style it is easy to ignore everything else. The freedom of choice is there, but there is no real benefit to swapping between the upgrades rather than a faster kill time. There is no penalty for preferring one style over another.
Doom Eternal felt like it was trying to reach further than it should have. The story felt forced and inorganic. While the combat is like fine wine, I could not find myself for playing for long spurts. There lacked a balance between combat, exploration, and exposition. And, unfortunately, the game suffers because of this. Doom Eternal felt one-sided. And while that side is astounding, the longer it went on the less interest I had.
All good things must come to an end, and the ending is a let down. After a decent final boss, Doom Eternal just ends. The campaign is only 15-20 hours and it makes the player feel like a badass. But once it’s done, it’s done. The victory feels hollow. There is no reward for the player besides a few cosmetic items.
Sure, there is plenty of replayability for finding cheats and secrets. It would be easier than most games to complete to 100 percent. But there is still an utter lack of conclusion. The game starts strong but isn’t able to hold itself up beyond being able to rip and tear. There is a season pass that promises additional missions and content, but the game feels incomplete. I would have preferred a cliffhanger like the reimagined Doom than a walk into the sunset.
Doom Eternal is a bigger, gorier, louder game than Doom could have imagined. Yeah, Doom Eternal sways a little here and there, but the experience is second to none. What the game offered is the most self indulgent game so far this year. Doom Eternal is a treat that should be slowly savored and not rushed.