Doom Eternal (XBOX One) Review
Game Name: Doom Eternal
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bathesda Softworks
Release Date: March 20, 2020
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, XBOX One, Stadia and Nintendo Switch (TBD)
When I played Doom (2016), I was very surprised at the gameplay. I did not really expect much as I had played the BETA and it just did not really work for me. Then I waited for a sale and I bought it. The single player campaign was one of the best in your face action that I had played in a very long time. Here is the Doom (2016) review for your reference.
Now we are 4 years later. Can this game build on an already good game? Can it take it to the next level? Let us see.
The gameplay is similar to Doom (2016) but they tweaked various areas of the gameplay. Let us get into it.
In Doom Eternal you have the weapons that you know and you love with some new additions. The list of guns are as follows;
Super Shotgun - Meat Hook
As you can see the list is pretty big. There are a few things on here that I am sure that you recognize.
Everyone knows the BFG 9000, Super Shotgun and Chainsaw. However there were a few additions that really saved my bacon while playing.
Along with the Super Shotgun, the game introduced a Meat Hook add on. This makes the player feel like Scorpion from the Mortal Kombat series. The only exception is that instead of pulling the enemy towards you, it pulls you towards the enemy. It did take me a while to get used to it, but it saved me multiple times towards the end of the game.
This time around there is a new melee approach called Blood Punch. This will allow the Doom Slayer to perform a quick melee attack that kills or deal heavy damage to demons. This is based on a meter that you have. As you progress you will have this Blood Punch upgraded. When you kill enemies and you glory kill them, it will fill up your Blood Punch meter. This is very useful to get out of tough spots temporarily.
In addition to having the classics with some mods, there were some new weapons. The Crucible is one of the most potent melee weapons in the game. The way it works is that you need to pick up Crucible artifacts that will refill the swords meter. You have a maximum of 3 uses before you need to recharge it. This will kill any enemy (except Super Heavy Enemies in one shot). To be clear this did make an appearance in Doom (2016), however, this was not a playable item.
There are some weapons that appeared in random Doom games and they showed up here. This is the case for the Unmaykr. This was first used in Doom 64. According to some articles, this was supposed to be included in the original Doom games, but never made it. I believe the gun was slightly more powerful in the Doom 64 version as it was one of the rarer guns that one can find in the game.
I know that I did not go through each weapon in detail, but part of the fun of the game is finding out which one of these to use in certain situations. I will say that I used the Super Shotgun, Crucible, Rocket Launcher and Plasma Rifle a lot. Those were my go to's in most cases.
Like the weapons, there are returning enemies and there are new enemies. some of the weaker enemies include Zombies, Possessed Soldiers, Imps, Lost Souls, Gargoyles, Maykr Drones. These are really good to get health from and ammo very easily. These can determine if you make it out of a tough spot or not.
Then there are some heavier enemies which include Arachnotron, Cacodemon, Hell Knights / Dread Knights, Revenant, Plain Elemental, Whiplash, Pinky / Spectre, Prowler and Mancubus / Cyber Mancubus. These take longer to kill, but once you figure out their patterns it is not too bad.
Then there is a super heavy enemy list which includes Archvile, Baron of Hell, Doom Hunter, Marauder and Cyberdemon (Tyrant). These enemies are tough. You can learn their patterns but they will still be tough to beat and you have to be calculating on how to decide to deal with them.
There are bosses that you will need to fight which include, Marauder, Gladiator, Khan Makr and Icon of Sin. The bosses are as you would expect. Starts off easier and progresses to more and more difficult.
Those are a lot of enemies and yes, they can be tough. The main challenge with this is individually you will be able to figure out what the pattern and weaknesses are. However, when they all appear at the same time, you need to really be strategic in terms of who to kill of first with what weapon. This is in my opinion what makes the game so difficult. Although the pattern was similar in the previous game, here it seems to be cranked up a bit.
Like all other Doom games, you get to chose the difficulty. These include classic settings such as I'm Too Young to Die, Hurt Me Plenty, Ultra-Violence, Nightmare and Ultra-Nightmare. If it is your first time playing, I would suggest to start with I'm Too Young to Dir or Hurt Me Plenty. Once you get a feel for the game, or on your second play through, then you can put it at a higher difficulty. That is just a suggestion though.
Through out the game you will have the ability to upgrade your weapons and suit armor. While playing you can gain Praetor Suit tokens. These can be obtained by finding them during gameplay, and also completing level achievements. This will allow you to increase your health meter, ammo capacity and suit armor upgrades.
You will also find runes. In Doom (2016), these were obtained by completing Rune Trials. This time around, the mechanics have changed. Now, you can find these by exploring the environment. Runes will unlock certain abilities such as Launch into a Glory Kill from Further Away or Increases how long enemies remain in a staggered state. There are 10 that you can unlock in all.
I have said this on my streams before. Doom is like an 80's action movie, where people just go for the action and the story is just a filler. I feel that this is the case here. I will admit that, they did make a good effort in writing a back story that you can read in terms of collectable scripts. I found these very interesting.
As you probably know you reprise your role as the Doom Slayer (previously Doomguy). This takes place 8 months after the events that took place in Doom (2016) on Mars. Earth has been taken over by demonic forces and you are determined to get rid of this "infestation" on earth.
There are few humans remaining on Earth. The ones that remain are mostly working for ARC (Armored Response Coalition). This was a group created to stop the invasion from Hell's forces but unfortunately, they were unsuccessful. You, as the Doom Slayer are their only hope for success.
I could go into more detail, but the story is kind of convoluted and like I said, the story really takes a back seat here. I will let you guys discover the rest of the story for yourself.
Doom Eternal - Sample Gameplay
I must admit that with the recent issues that Bathesda has had, I was not sure how they would have handled this. I know that technically it was developed by id Software, but Bathesda is their parent company.
This is one of those instances where they took what Doom (2016) did really well and tweaked it to make it better. Overall, this is a better structured game than 2016. In 2016, the game felt like it was just a bunch of stages glued together and the goal was to just kill everything in your path. Here, the levels feel larger as a whole with smaller elements to them. It feels more like you are working through a story. Each fight within the level gets more and more difficult. The way that the fights are setup, you need to plan your ammo properly. If you make the wrong decision, the game will punish you for it. I know that it sounds harsh, but in the end, when you do get passed a section / level, it is satisfying.
The game looks amazing. When I was a kid playing Doom with all its pixelated glory, this is what I pictured I would be playing. The sky, lava, monsters and broken buildings just looks great and add so much to the atmosphere. Too bad, you do not get a chance to admire the surroundings much as the action is always around the corner. You can see that there was a lot of work that went in to the details. Even though it is an "Action" game, the visuals were quite stunning. Even the artwork collected during the game were very well done.
Another aspect that added to the atmosphere is the soundtrack. Since the original Doom, the soundtrack was always a pillar of the game. It has passed the test of time and it has become a classic. In Doom Eternal, they continued that tradition that was also showcased in Doom (2016). MIck Gordon who was composer for Doom (2016) returned for this sequel. The heavy metal, hard rock soundtrack gets your blood pumping. It was awesome and I hope that Mick comes back for future Doom games as well.
One thing that people like about the original games were the secrets. They are once again here in Doom Etermal and it is really fun to find these while playing. You can obtain toy figurines, soundtracks for various other games and cheats for the game. The most exciting things for me were the soundtracks and the cheats. I remember playing the original games with cheats and it was a load of fun. Here instead of adding a code, you obtain them and choose them before restarting a level. Just one disclaimer, when you are playing the game for the first time, you will not be able to use the cheats. This will only be available when you replay levels.
As for the soundtracks, this was great as well. During gameplay you can find some vinyl albums that you can hang in your Fortress of Doom (home base). When you are on your ship, you can play the soundtracks which is awesome. I do not think that you can change the soundtracks during the levels, which I think is a shame. The soundtracks include, Doom, Doom II, Quake, Quake II, Quake Arena and Wolfenstein 3D. There are many others but you get the idea.
The only gripe that I really have with the game is the difficulty of some enemies. I am talking in particular the Marauder. Even when you learn the trick to this enemy, he is very difficult to defeat. There are a few reasons for this. One, when he is moving around, he can his his staff on the ground and a holographic tiger will appear and run after you. If he catches you, you lose health. So, you are not just avoiding the Marauder's attacks, you have to fight his minion as well. Keep in mind, in most cases, you do not fight him alone as there are other enemies around.
The second issue that I have with the Marauder is the fact that his defence is too good. You can only shoot him when his eyes glow green. And even then, you can only get a few shots in. You cannot be too far as it will be tough to hit him even when his eyes are green. You cannot be too close as he will give a lot of damage with his melee attack. You you have to be at the perfect distance. I felt like I could take down any other enemy, even the Cyberdemon. If I did not, it felt like it was my fault. For the Marauder I found that it was too difficult and remember, I played on the easiest setting.
Other than that, I think the game has a good flow. the cutscenes are not too long and they add just enough to the story to make it interesting without making it feel drown out. The level design is also very well laid out. Although, some of the puzzles, at least for me, were not very straight forward. There were a few times where I was stuck for like a half hour. There was one stage in particular, where I had to jump in a void and use my dashes to get to a platform. However, this was not seen from the ledge / cliff and the in game map did not show it. So, I felt like that was unfair. This was the only time, that I had to look up the solution.
Let us start with the original question that I started this review with, can this game build on an already good game? Can it take it to the next level? My answer to this question is yes.
It was a fun ride and I think that I would play it again. I did not play the multiplayer as for me, I am not a fan. I personally think that the multiplayer does not add anything new to the table and it will fizzle out soon enough. However, I will be playing the campaign again on a higher difficulty to test myself. I think that for 80$ CAD, it is a little expensive. If you can find it as a Game of the Year edition or at a rebate, this will be worth it. It is much more difficult than Doom (2016), but when you end up beating the game, it will feel like an accomplishment.
What do you think? Was I off base? Let me know at the coordinates below.