I never expected jumping back into the role of Doomslayer was going to be a walk in the park, but the level of non-stop carnage and breathless, rhythmic gameplay still caught me off guard.
It’s been years since I rage-quit the acclaimed 2016 iteration of Doom (I’ll pick it up again, one day), but even if the game was fresh for me, I still would have been shocked at how much developers id Software unleashed within the first three hours of Doom Eternal.
Hell has now rained upon Earth via portals called slipgates, zipping various demons up from the bowels into a demolished world. As Doom Slayer, you’re job is to simply splatter the absolute f**k out of these beasts, which lack in variety but atone with brutality and sheer muscle.
And sheer muscle is exactly what you can expect from Eternal when it releases later this month. It’s not the type of muscle that has atrophied over the four years of Doom-less cartoon looters and action-RPGs; it’s the type of muscle that has been secretly pumping iron behind closed doors, making wicked plans on how to make hardcore adult gamers burst into tears and smash their controllers high-school-angst style.
The frantic “IDGAF if your hands hurt” combat of 2016’s beast has more or less been mirrored here. Nifty tricks like needing to melee for health and ammo are central, and hence add a lot more strategy to this constantly-ticking bomb of despair. Even the smaller scale combats are like trying to nail DragonForce’s “Through the Fire and Flames” on Guitar Hero on expert with two broken thumbs while your mum is shouting “dinner’s ready” for the thirteenth time. You will sweat – who said gaming wasn’t exercise?
Perhaps the biggest change is just how open these arenas are, maps built mostly vertically to add a bit more upward movement to these gun fights. Sure, the environment aren’t as immersive or tight as in the predecessor, but the loose approach has added more options to how you want to annihilate the hordes of spawns.
The overreliance on cooldown abilities can interrupt the flow at some times, which often has you running around trying your damn hardest to survive until you can fight back with absolute fury. I see this getting more frustrating as the game progresses in its unrelenting difficulty, but at least it adds another layer for those who like to perfect their performance.
Jumping up in voltage, it’s not hard to see why Doom Eternal will more than likely go down as one of the most intense shooters in this generational tail-end. Be prepared.
The author attended a preview session at Bethesda’s invitation in late January.
Doom Eternal is available from 20th March 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. A Nintendo Switch version will be coming later this year.