Doom Eternal for PC Review

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Doom is all about running, gunning, and kicking demonic ass. The classic games are some of the greatest first-person shooters ever made in my opinion. Doom 3 went in a different direction and Doom 2016 revitalized the series with some new mechanics like glory kills for example and contained an awesome combat system. It introduced “push-forward” combat which encourages you to always keep moving. It was my favorite shooter of 2016 and I’ve been eagerly awaiting a sequel. Developed by id Software and published by Bethesda Softworks, Doom Eternal was released for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Stadia, in March, 2020. For this review, I played the PC version. Doom Eternal basically picks up where Doom 2016 left off and introduces some new stuff.
After the events of Doom 2016, the Doom Slayer was teleported to an unknown location and the Earth has been invaded by demons. Now operating out of a satellite fortress known as the Fortress of Doom, he sets out to stop the invasion by finding and eliminating three Hell Priests who work for a being known as the Khan Makyr. The Slayer travels to locations on Earth, in Hell, and different worlds slaying demons in an effort to save the Earth. What you need to know is conveyed to you by NPC’s and VEGA, the UAC AI, and if you want more backstory and information, the codex entries you collect on your journey go into detail about various things. I love the somewhat campy and badass tone of the game and how the Slayer is basically treated like a God. If you were at all curious about how the plot and events relate to the classic games, including Doom 64, Doom Eternal does answer some questions.

Slayer can run, jump, double jump, dash, swing from monkeybars, grab onto pitted walls, and swim. Once you master the mechanics, you should be able to quickly, run, jump, and climb your way around the environments while engaging enemies on the ground and in the air without having to stop moving. Movement feels very fluid. Certain missions include RAD Suits which protect him from taking damage in toxic liquids. From the options menu, you can set your weapons to the classic pose so they’re centered on the screen just like in the classic games. Doom Eternal is extremely fast-paced and you should always be on the move. The game encourages you to engage enemies from a distance and up-close. If you’re not constantly on the move, you’re just risking death.
When an enemy is staggered, you can perform a glory kill which spawns health drops and you can use the chainsaw to chop up enemies which spawns ammo. Doom Slayer wears a Praetor Suit which is equipped with a Doomblade for stabbing and cutting up foes and an equipment launcher that allows him to launch grenades, ice bombs to freeze foes, and set them on fire with the Flame Belch. And using the flame belch will cause enemies to drop armor. Resources like health, armor, and ammo can be found in the environments and the ammo pickups are usually not enough to deal with the many threats you’ll have to face. Learning when to glory kill and use chainsaw are the keys to surviving. That and moving, dashing, and jumping like a madman. Standing in one spot for too long will only get you killed. I admit the lack of ammo pickups annoyed me in the beginning but it forced me to remember to use the chainsaw and over time I realized the enemies are the best source of resources. Once I came to that realization, it all started to click. Out of ammo? Use the chainsaw. Need armor? Use the flame belch. Running low on health? Glory kill. Take what you need from the enemies. In the end, I found the combat system to be very rewarding.

There are multiple difficulty modes to select from and for my first run, I got through the game on Ultra-Violence. After I beat it and collected everything, I did it again on Nightmare and it was definitely more challenging. One mistake can cost you your life. While it is challenging, once you have the gameplay loop down, things will get easier. In fact, there were some encounters I struggled with on Ultra-Violence that I was able to get through without too much trouble on Nightmare simply because I had a better understanding of the mechanics and what the enemies were capable of. On higher difficulties, I would say the beginning of the game is more challenging than the later parts and that’s mainly because you haven’t accumulated many weapons or upgrades yet. There are easier difficulties, an Extra Life mode, and Ultra-Nightmare returns. Ultra-Nightmare is a permadeath mode and Extra Life Mode is all about lives. If you run out of lives it’s game over. With that said, there is a life system in place on the standard difficulty modes. You can find extra lives in the environments and when you die, you’ll consume a life and just keep going. If you have no lives left, you’ll continue from the last checkpoint. Luckily, you can replay through previous missions and stock up on lives should you need them.
The Slayer can punch enemies, and once unlocked, he can perform Blood Punches which inflict more damage and are recharged by performing glory kills. There is no pistol in the game. You start out with a combat shotgun before getting your hands on more deadly firepower like the super shotgun, heavy cannon, chaingun, plasma rifle, rocket launcher, ballista, BFG-9000, Unmakyr, and the Crucible which is a powerful melee weapon that can kill foes instantly but requires pips to be used and they can be found in the environments. Some weapons are better against specific enemies and most of them have alternate fire modes or mods as the game calls them. The mods do need to be acquired first from Mod Bots. The super shotgun can launch a meat hook that will stick into enemies and pull you towards them. It’s actually pretty cool and also a fun way to travel. The combat shotgun can go full auto or fire sticky bombs. You can activate an energy shield with the chaingun and the heavy cannon can fire micro missiles. Most of the weapons have two mods that can be upgraded. Some mods are definitely better than others and I found myself using certain ones more often than others. For example, I would use the Plasma Rifle’s microwave beam more than the heat blast but each mod does have its benefits. As you complete encounters, you’ll earn weapon points that can be used to upgrade the mods to make them more efficient. Once you’ve purchased all of the upgrades for a mod, you can then complete a challenge to master it or make it powerful. However, if you find mastery tokens, you can use them to bypass the challenges and unlock the masteries immediately. Every weapon is extremely fun and satisfying to use and you’ll be switching between them often to deal with the various threats.
Most of the enemies from the classic games are present and some of the foes introduced in Doom 2016 were cut. You’ll engage familiar foes like Zombies, Soldiers, Imps, Hell Knights, Cacodemons, Pinkies, Spectres, Mancubus and its Cyber variant, Barons, Lost Souls, and Revenants. Some foes we haven’t seen in a while make an appearance like Arachnotron, Pain Elemental, and Arch-Vile. Arachnotrons are pretty large and are equipped with turrets. Pain Elementals will pull Lost Souls out of their mouths, hurl them at you, and they do explode on impact. Archviles can buff other enemies and spawn other foes. It can also utilize energy and fire attacks. It’s an extremely dangerous enemy. While Archvile was always annoying, it is nice to see him back because I love to hate him. There is a new foe that I absolutely despise and that’s the Marauder. This motherfucker is quick, unleashes ranged attacks, and summons some kind of wolf that will attack you. You only have a short window to attack him and you want to keep him at medium range. If you attack at the wrong time, he’ll block with his shield. It’s not so much that he sucks. It’s more like I suck against him. But he can be a pain in the ass when you’re being attacked by other enemies. That being said, I do think he’s a little ridiculous. Only because if you don’t hit him within the window, he can just block everything. That includes BFG and Unmakyr shots, even Crucible strikes. It’s ludicrous.

Some other new foes include the Prowler which can teleport around, a Dread Knight can create an area of damage, Whiplash is a fast-moving serpent-like enemy that will slither around and attack you with its energy chain, and Gargoyles will spit acid. Makyr Drones can fire projectiles and are great for resources. Carcass’ can be quite annoying when there’s more than one because they’ll deploy a shield from a distance blocking your shots. Then there’s the Tyrant which is not called a Cyberdemon even though it resembles one.  It’s huge and can fire rockets from one arm. Some enemies, like the Marauder for example, show up as what I call bosses first and then are thrown into the mix like common enemies. The Doom Hunter is another one. This thing hovers around on a sled, he can fire missiles, and he’s protected by a shield that can be broken through with the plasma rifle. If you’re not switching weapons often, you’re playing the game wrong and you’ll probably struggle to stay alive unless you’re playing on a lower difficulty. Every weapon has its ups and downs and is better for certain threats. You should be switching weapons frequently and using the chainsaw when you’re low on ammo.
Like Doom 2016, most of the encounters lock you in an area and force you to kill all of the enemies to progress. Some areas include Buff Totems which increase the speed and damage of nearby demons and enemies will endlessly spawn in until the Totems are destroyed. Certain enemies do have weak points that you can exploit. You can destroy an Arachnotron’s turret, blow off the Mancubus’ arm cannons, the Dread Knight is weak against the chaingun, the Cacodemon will swallow a grenade or sticky bomb and immediately stagger, you can easily destroy a soldier’s shield with the plasma rifle, and you can destroy a Cyber Mancubus’ armor with one blood punch. Destroying weak points not only does damage but also reduces their efficiency. You’re always going to be outnumbered and all of the enemies will be aiming at you. That is if they’re not aiming at each other because you’ll often approach areas and see enemies fighting each other. Imps will be running and jumping around all over, Cacodemons will be attacking you from above, Hell Knights will try and get you with their pounce attack, and then a Baron might spawn in and try to fuck you up with his flaming blades. There always seems to be an endless supply of Zombies around, at least until the encounter is completed, and they’re a good source of health and ammo. Some encounters are made easier thanks to powerups like Onslaught which increases the damage of your shots, Overdrive which increases your movement speed and gives you infinite ammo, and Berserk which allows you to instantly rip and tear any demon.
I found the game to be more challenging than Doom 2016. The encounters are a trial and error process and when I first started playing, I was losing lives as quickly as I got them. If you’re not careful, you can easily get overwhelmed, cornered, and killed. On Nightmare, that happened to me quite a few times. I also discovered that I needed to time my glory kills or they would just go to waste. There was a few instances where I performed one and my newly acquired health was taken away or I was killed because the enemy I glory killed was surrounded by other enemies, usually tough types. And they attacked me as soon as the glory kill was finished. Luckily, you’re immune to damage during a glory kill. As you progress, you can improve the Slayer in different ways. Sentinel Crystals allow you to upgrade health, armor, and ammo. Runes can grant you new abilities. You have three Rune slots and you can swap out Runes with any others you’ve acquired. The idea is to find a combination that fits your playstyle. For my Ultra-Violence playthrough, I chose one that temporarily lets you slow down time in mid-air, one that allows you to launch into a Glory Kill from further away, and another that lets you survive one death blow and briefly slow down time. There are others and you might want to play around with different combinations to see what fits you best. Then there’s Praetor Suit Points. Finding these lets you unlock new Praetor Suit Perks like glory kills refill your dash, barrels will leave behind ammo when destroyed, reveal all progression items on your dossier, killing frozen enemies spawns health, and other things along those lines.
Most of the time you’re running from point A to B. Sometimes you’ll have to find keys to gain access to new areas, jump pads will launch you high in the air, launch pads send you flying across the environment, there’s going to be plenty of platforming, you’ll shoot buttons to gain access to certain areas, break through certain walls, and you’ll have to solve some basic environmental puzzles from time to time. You’ll blow away enemies in various locations on Earth like on streets and in buildings and you’ll also battle through areas on Mars, in Hell, and other worlds. Many of the encounters take place in large areas with plenty of room to move around. Every now and then you’ll engage enemies in tight spaces but most of the time, you’re fighting in arena-like areas. The environments are well designed with a lot of branching paths and areas off to the side that lead to secrets. There’s always a reason to explore whether it be to find collectibles, Praetor Suit Points, Sentinel Crystals, Sentinel Batteries, Mastery Tokens, Extra Lives, and resources. You can bring up a map at any time and it can reveal the locations of everything so getting lost and trying to find where things are shouldn’t be a problem. Secret Encounters and Slayer Gates are available in several missions. Secret Encounters are optional timed encounters and Slayer Gates take you to areas where you have to complete intense battles. To access a Slayer Gate, you need to find the key first which is always nearby. If you manage to complete all of the Slayer Gates, you’re given a nice reward. You’re movement will be limited in purple slime or whatever it is and you’ll have to avoid hazards like fire, lava, toxic liquids, tentacles, explosives, swinging blades, and electricity. When you get to the end of a mission, you’ll unlock the option to fast travel back to different areas of the mission or level which is great if you want to collect any items you missed.
In between most missions, you’ll have the opportunity to navigate around the Fortress of Doom which comes complete with a Demon Prison known as the Ripatorium. This is where you can practice fighting the demons. You can explore the Fortress at your leisure, view your collectibles like toys, and listen to any music you’ve collected. The songs are from the various Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein, and Commander Keen games. Unfortunately, there’s no Slayer so the Doom Slayer will not be headbanging to Raining Blood. Most missions have a set of challenges to complete like finding specific things and/or killing enemies in certain ways. Completing all of the challenges in a mission rewards you with a Sentinel Battery and they can also be found in the environments. The batteries can be used to unlock different things around the Fortress like Praetor Suit Points, Sentinel Crystals, and armor. There are different kinds of collectibles to find throughout your journey like codex entries, toys, music, and cheat codes. The cheat codes can be activated from the mission select screen and used in any already completed missions. Best of all, they don’t affect progression but they do disable Slayer Gates. The cheats make it easier to collect items and complete secret encounters and challenges. It’s fantastic.

You can customize your Slayer and Demons which are playable in the Battlemode. You can change character skins, weapon skins, choose different podiums, and customize your badge. Many of the customization items need to be unlocked by reaching certain milestones. Some are awarded to you for other reasons like as pre-order bonuses or Event Rewards. As you play the game, you earn experience and level up and reaching certain levels unlocks more items. You can also earn Event Experience, complete weekly challenges, and earn event rewards. From what I understand, new events or event series will become available over time and I assume with their own rewards.
After completing the campaign, I was eager to jump into the Master Levels which are challenging remixes of the campaign missions and the game claims new Master Levels are added regularly. I was a little sad to see only two missions available at the time I played and one was only available because it was a pre-order bonus. Why the developers didn’t have an entire set of Master Levels at launch baffles me to be honest but I assume more are coming so it is something to look forward to. From what I played, the encounters include different enemies and more tough types like Tyrants. They are more challenging and I did enjoy them. But other than being remixed, there’s not much else to the mode. The game doesn’t even track if you complete them. You gain experience but there’s nothing to unlock or anything. I’m hoping the Master Levels receive more love in the future, especially since SnapMap was cut from Eternal which is a huge disappointment. I can foresee the Master Levels offering some great end-game content. One can only hope at least.

The Battlemode is the game’s multiplayer mode and I did play several matches although I didn’t always find one right away. One player fights two demon players. Surprisingly, there’s no traditional deathmatch or other multiplayer game modes which makes the entire multiplayer component feel lacking in my opinion. The demon players are encouraged to communicate and the Slayer will be attacked by other demons while trying to defeat the player demons. Each playable demon has different abilities and you can choose different loadouts. The matches play out in rounds and the first to win three rounds claims victory and in between rounds, you can select an upgrade that lasts for the rest of the match. The arenas you battle in are small but open with plenty of obstacles to use as cover. The Slayer will be able to easily run, dash, and jump around like he can in the campaign but the demons all play a little differently so you’ll need to play as each one to learn their strengths and weaknesses. I found the Battlemode to be fun but nowhere near as fun as the single player component. After playing a few matches, I started getting bored. They need to do more with this or at least add some more game modes.
Doom Eternal is a gorgeous and colorful game. The texture work and lighting are excellent, objects in the environments can be destroyed during combat, and everything is detailed. The Earth locations look as if they were actually overrun by demons. Structures are destroyed, some are on fire, and you’ll see demons flying around and some will be battling it out. Hellish growths will cover parts of the environments, blood and corpses are littered about, and demonic imagery is peppered throughout the game. You can see a portion of the Slayer’s face through his visor and whenever you acquire a powerup, you’ll see a reflection of his eyes. The Plasma Rifle looks a lot like it’s classic form and some of the enemies resemble their classic counterparts. I really like the design of some of the new foes. They all look devilishly evil. I love the look of the Dread Knight. The gore effects are beyond phenomenal. When you chop up and enemy, you can see its innards. But best of all, enemies show visible damage when they get shot. You’ll see chunks go flying, their bones and innards are exposed, they’ll be all bloody – it’s incredible and makes the combat feel ridiculously satisfying. The glory kills are a sight to behold as well. Watching the Slayer shove the Doomblade through a Soldier’s mouth or stab an enemy in the face multiple times while it groans in agony never gets old. It’s gruesome, satisfying, and downright awesome.

Some of the weapons do sound better than others. For example, I think the plasma rifle and super shotgun sound great, but the combat shotgun could use a little more oomph. I think several weapons could just be a little louder. Enemies will hiss, screech, groan, growl, and roar during combat and they can sound intimidating. Mick Gordon returned to score the game and the soundtrack is excellent. It’s full of kickass tunes that should get you pumped up and into the action. The soundtrack does a great job at making you feel badass and perfectly compliments the action. You’ll even hear some classic tunes thrown into the mix. Some of the tunes sound like they were borrowed from the Terminator or Terminator 2 soundtracks. I did encounter a bug where I was unable to progress which I resolved by restarting the mission. I kept all of the visual settings maxed out and the game ran perfectly smooth.
I had an amazing time with Doom Eternal and there’s plenty of nods to the classic games peppered throughout. Hopefully the Battlemode is fleshed out more with future patches and I have high hopes for the Master Levels, but the campaign is one of the greatest first-person shooter campaigns I’ve experienced in a while. The gameplay is fast-paced, brutal, satisfying, and rewarding. I like how it takes you on this demonic adventure through all these different worlds, letting you slay the armies of Hell in gruesome ways. The environments are diverse, the combat is fun, and the action is accompanied by an excellent audiovisual presentation. When I finished the campaign, I was left wanting more. I do find the lack of SnapMap to be a huge disappointment. Not that it was a true replacement for actual modding in Doom 2016 but it was impressive for what it was. From what I understand more content for Doom Eternal is on the way but a Doom game without true mod support will always feel wrong.

I would absolutely recommend Doom Eternal to everyone. It’s fun, it’s awesome, it’s an excellent entry in the Doom series. It takes the Doom 2016 formula and makes it even better. The action is fast-paced, the combat is brutal, and the gameplay is rewarding. I think the multiplayer needs more work but from a gameplay standpoint Doom Eternal contains one of the best first-person shooter campaigns out there. If you’re a Doom or shooter fan, you need to play Doom Eternal.

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