DOOM Eternal: The Review – Battling a horde of demons will take brains and brawn as you fight for survival in a truly cerebral shooter, as the Survival Action genre is born.
NOTE: This article may contain content that is unsuitable for children, sufferers of heart conditions or those with a nervous predisposition.
Back in 1993, the gaming world was forever changed when five young game developers released an ultraviolent legend.
id Software, headed by John Carmack, graced the video game industry with a mind-blowing journey through a three-dimensional computer world filled with demons.
Since then, Doom has become a games industry staple and a franchise that consistently puts out great games, despite changing owners several times.
Making its way through various publishers such as Midway, Activision and now Bethesda, where it seems most at home, Doom has had some truly stunning incarnations.
Activision’s 2004 Doom 3 was the version that seemed to reignite the passion for the series, which ultimately led to HD remasters when it was acquired by Bethesda in 2012.
Since then, Bethesda has done an impressive job of rebooting the series with 2016’s Doom and has now returned with a sequel to the 2016 smash hit.
Following the events of Doom, Earth has succumbed to the hordes of demons unleashed onto the planet through the alien teleportation devices.
Approximately 60% of the global population has been eradicated and is now under the control of the corrupt organization Union Aerospace Corporation.
As the introduction begins, there’s an immediate sense of Hell on Earth, which is fundamentally the core principal of circumstance throughout the Doom series.
Such as any disaster scenario from TV, movies and other games, the obligatory news reports affirm the casualty statistics while various soldier reports are overlayed along with the screaming of the unfortunate.
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As the camera slowly moves from Mars, across the relatively small gulf of space and towards Earth, a disturbing vista reveals itself.
Earth has evidently been overrun by unspeakable demonic forces, as evident by the giant glowing Satanic pentagrams and esoteric symbols that stretch across large portions of the planet.
However, all is not lost, as high above the ill-fated world, a technologically advanced, artificial satellite station serves as an operational platform for Earth’s last hope – The Doomslayer.
Assisted by the station’s A.I, the Doomslayer suits up, boots up and locks and loads as the system informs of the location of the malevolent Hell Priest.
Of course, the excellently directed and animated cut scene gives way to a blast of death metal that attenuates to a progressively louder volume as the intensity of the scene escalates.
This has the effect of merging visual and aural performance into a sublime crescendo of the senses that facilitates heart-pumping excitement, as the teleporter is brought online and the Doomslayer cocks his massive gun.
The weapon system in this game has been overhauled to complement the new counter system of the vast array of enemies.
Rather than the usual “Run and Gun” experience that Doom usually offers, Eternal will force you to choose the right tool for the right job.
No longer is it possible to just blast away with a shotgun.
In traditional Bethesda style, enemies have weak points and armor types which drop different items accordingly.
As such, the signature floating pick-ups are few and far between, so utilizing the game’s new item drop mechanic is a necessity during combat.
For example, should you require health, you will need to dispatch a foe using the Glory Kill introduced in 2016’s Doom reboot.
In addition, chainsaw kills will award ammunition and armor can be obtained by burning kills.
While this may seem like a massive deviation from the usual gameplay of Doom and a lot of work to contend with upon first impressions, it actually works impressively well.
No longer can you brainlessly tear through demon after demon with a chainsaw, but the game now impresses a sense of cerebral instruction, even if it is a slight one.
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This brings a little more thought to the action of the game as you will need to constantly switch weapons according to the item of which you are in need of most or the enemy you are battling.
The overhaul implemented by Bethesda here has turned Doom Eternal into a quasi survival horror, or Survival Action game, if you will.
Even though it may not be on the same level as Resident Evil 2 for example, it does force you to figure out how to effectively stay alive.
This is no more true than when partaking in the game’s epic Boss Battles.
Bosses in Doom now have Bethesda style weak points that must be figured out in order to effectively take them down.
While the developers have taken care not to make this a Fallout 4 clone with a Doom face, there are vague RPG elements to the game.
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Bosses have weak points that can be targeted to cripple them in battle and it’s up to you to figure out just what that might be.
Pinky Demons, for example, are particularly weak at the back, Cacodemon has a large mouth that can be exploited and Arachnotron’s cannon can be destroyed.
Ironically, the best tactic when fighting these bosses is to do the exact opposite of how you would play a standard RPG game.
Rather than dispatching the supporting enemies first and then concentrating on the Boss, it’s best to attack the Boss and use the weaker enemies for item drops as and when you need them.
This is where the game’s excellent Survival Action game mechanic comes into its own.
An enemy’s weakness can be found in the excellent Codex that is full of lore about the Demons and the world of Doom.
The Codex will also point out what weapon mods are capable of effectively attacking a particular Demon’s weak points.
Weapons Mods can be applied via the Arsenal system and can be switched in real-time while playing.
For example, it is possible to load a sticky bomb into the Combat Shotgun and launch it onto a Pinky.
After the explosion, when the Pinky is staggered, you can then switch to the Combat Shotgun’s Full Auto mod to quickly dispatch the Pinky with ease.
Another RPG element to Doom Eternal is the perk system.
Anyone familiar with Fallout 3 and 4 will know the perks system well.
Perks are enabled via the Suit system and can add powerful boosts which can drastically alter the gameplay.
There are three types of upgrades.
Sentinel Crystal upgrades, Praetor Suit upgrades and Runes.
Sentinel Crystals include the Belch Armor Boost that will make Demons drop more armor while Loot Magnet will pull in items from further away.
Praetor Suit upgrades can be added using Praetor Suit points.
These include helpful perks such as hazard protection, explosion immunity, and faster weapon or mod switching.
Further upgrades can be unlocked using Runes that can be found and these upgrades need to be switched out as and when you need them.
Rune upgrades include Seek and Destroy that initiate Glory Kills from further away and Air Control that gives you better aerial movement.
All of these perks will be gradually needed as the story progresses and the gameplay inevitably gets more difficult.
I’m not going to sugar coat it, Doom Eternal is a hard game.
If you aren’t familiar with Doom or FPS shooters in general, then you will definitely want to start on the lower level, otherwise, you won’t enjoy the game.
For veteran Doomers who enjoy the fast-paced action and mayhem, you will love this game.
The only gripe that Doom fans might have is the Survival Action element that forces you to switch weapons a lot in order to get what you need.
Since you will be taking damage constantly, you will be required to often plan your attacks accordingly and that may detract from the traditional Doom experience at first.
It is safe to say that with this version of the game, you absolutely cannot win by trying to just blast away at everything with Doom Guy’s double-barrel shotgun.
The RPG elements of the game won’t get in your way of the usual Doom gameplay, and you don’t even have to use them, although this is not recommended.
That being said, all the expected action is there.
Once the metal soundtrack kicks in, along with the glorious ratter of a chainsaw while blood splatters everywhere, you will quickly begin to feel right at home.
The arena-like battle areas are excellently thought out as well.
While the combat is full of mayhem, the arena design serves to provide ample opportunity to catch a breath or get out of the way in order to plan your next attack.
Jump-pads and ledges, for example, allow you to get out of the way for a minor reprieve or upgrade switch.
Traversing the game’s world is quick and fun also, as each environment holds hidden secrets such as collectibles and lore.
This provides a nice break between battles, which, trust me, you will need.
Some of the environments in the gameplay out almost like a traditional platformer with elements such as ledges, climbing bars and sticky walls.
All of these obstacles are designed in such a way as to make exploration fun and serve to make it worth it when going the extra mile to grab a new weapon or mod.
While Doom Eternal is a direct sequel to Doom 2016, it is safe to say that it plays very differently.
Not only for the reasons I have mentioned but for the fact that the combat and overall design just feels way more intricate.
It is very clear that a lot of time has been spent trying to balance the gameplay between a hardcore shooter and a cerebral RPG.
However, this is not at all to the detriment of a Doom experience, of which everything you would expect is there.
In addition, an excellent multiplayer element has been added to this version and it’s wildly different than 2016’s online component.
In line with the increasingly popular asynchronous multiplayer genre, Doom Eternal: Battlemode challenges three players to an unusual death and survival mode.
In Battlemode, two players take on the mantle of demons and must hunt the third player who has to survive as long as he can as the Doomslayer.
Battlemode is fun for a while but tends to get old a little quickly, despite there being five demons to choose from.
However, I would expect more modes to be added to the online component with future updates in the coming months.
In the game’s main campaign, at first, the new game mechanics may take a little getting used to.
But, to be fair, after the first 20 minutes of play, you will find yourself breezing through hordes of Demons with a style not too dissimilar to the final action sequence of 2005’s Doom movie.
ChartX Games Score – 9/10
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Doom Eternal is by far one of the best FPS games of the last ten years and is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC, Nintendo Switch and Google Stadia.
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Michael is the sole writer and owner at chartxgames.com.
Many thought that his youth (and adulthood) playing video games was a waste of time but here he is writing about them for a living.
Michael has a background in IT and enjoys (apart from video games) building and repairing PC’s, digital artwork (Photoshop, 3DS Max) and has interests in too many subjects to mention.