Doom (2016) was a sleeper hit and a great many articles have been written about its unprecedented success. NoClip even did a brilliant series documenting the reboot’s creation process. So when DOOM Eternal was announced, expectations were high. It seemed, to fans, that nailing a sequel was a no brainer. After all, they didn’t love 2016 for its story or new characters, but rather its incredible FPS experience. At least that is what I can tell when browsing through forums.
DOOM Eternal then is a mixed bag but in my opinion, for all the right reasons. It has the same polished gameplay and gun mechanics that the 2016 game has but also manages to improve the graphics and variety of guns. However, unlike the 2016 game which had a simple albeit realistic verticality to its maps, Eternal brings a complex platformer vibe. It is no where near as challenging as a full fledged plat former might be, yet it combines the jump mechanics and map design of Quake, with its own hardcore FPS roots to produce something that is different and yet still very much DOOM.
The story and the world lore are also expanded upon. Though the game lets the Slayer retain his characteristic irreverence for anything in his path.
The soundtrack by Mick Gordon builds upon the same foundations, adding operatic choruses to the otherwise impressive and cool as hell, progressive metal tracks. However, as I lack any musical knowledge, I can only add that I enjoyed it a lot.
These new changes when thrown against the fanaticism that the 2016 game and the very original Doom inspired, leaves players split in half. Personally, as I have only really played the 2016 game, I enjoyed what Eternal had to offer. A fleshed out story gave me more to latch onto than just the notion of Rip & Tear that the slayer embodies. While the puzzle sections of maps gave me a breather from the otherwise relentless shooting.
That said, I did find issues with a few other aspects. The invisible walls were sometimes lazily applied, often present to force you in a certain direction. While I do not expect the game to be an open world, indeed I hope Doom never takes that turn, I do wish the maps were more focused. Currently they create the illusion of scale, only to limit you through the use of these walls.
I also did not appreciate the game taking camera control away to reveal doors opening or having floating icons for weapons. 2016 managed to be cheesy yet realistic, while Eternal leans perhaps too much on nostalgia for a game that does not really need to milk it further. Simply put, these stylistic choices make it seem dated. One can understand though that the developers did this because they saw how much the fans loved the return to the original Doom. Indeed, it could be because they loved the original Doom games too. In this regard, it was a fair thought to have, but one I found mildly distracting.
Aside from the invisible walls and the icons, my only other concern was the pacing. The gameplay is fast and smooth, no doubt. I love it. However, the story does not keep up with it. In one instance you are prompted by an NPC to hurry, but then must churn your way through many rooms, the whole time hearing the same prompt from the same NPC. This incongruence between what the story wants you to do and what the gameplay makes you do, breaks the suspension of disbelief. A problem that is far more common in RPGs than in FPS games.
Many have complained that Eternal forces you to use the chainsaw and the blood punch by limiting ammo drops. This is entirely true and intentional. Personally, I have no issue with it, I like it when a game challenges me to do more than just point and shoot endlessly. Eternal, by limiting ammo and health drops, makes you use your whole arsenal and you feel all the more badass for it. However, if that is not for you then I suggest giving Eternal a skip because it’s integral to the game.
That said, I blazed through the game and enjoyed at least 16 of the 18 hours I played it. It was rewarding, smooth, challenging and of course, badass. A must play for DOOM fans.