Doom Eternal – Review

Release Date
March 20, 2020
id Software
PS4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on
Review copy provided by

When we last saw Doom Guy, he was about to be teleported to parts unknown. Samuel Hayden wasn’t going to let the Demon Slayer get in the way of his plans. Crucible in hand, he intends to continue his work with Argent energy. This was only the beginning. The war is coming to Earth. And only the Slayer is capable of saving us in our time of need.

Doom Eternal is a fast-paced first-person shooter that rewards aggressive and risky play. Everything that made the 2016 game so memorable is back. And somehow, the developers managed to find a way to go even more All-In with this sequel.

Doom’s gameplay primarily revolts around movement and glory kills. Because all enemy ranged attacks are projectile-based, constant movement is the only way to keep oneself alive. A combination of double jumps and dashes is all the player has to stir clear of enemy’s attacks. Though staying too far way is more detrimental than one would think. With enough damage, enemies enter a stagger state. Enemies are vulnerable to glory kills while in stagger state. Performing glory kills results in enemies spawning in a bunch of health drops.

Doom’s combat encourages players to stay within melee distance. But that’s just the basics established in 2016’s game. With the introduction of Doom Eternal’s equipment launcher, the Slayer is now able to spew a searing jet of flames. Enemies on fire will drop armor packs. Killing enemies that are on fire, will drop a whole mess of armor packs. The launcher also chucks 2 different grenades on combat – a frag grenade and an ice bomb. Both are great at setting up the field for more carnage.

Using the chainsaw results in a pile of ammo to spawn in. This comes in very handy should the player ever find themselves hurting for some ammo. Do keep in mind that fuel is required to use the chainsaw.

That’s just messed up…

A typical level in Doom is split between combat segments and platforming segments. Combat consists of fighting off waves of enemies until they’re all dead. Most combat encounters are in an open arena where things like teleporters and jump pads are abundant. The hectic nature of combat necessitates the use of any means to keep one step away from harm. A typical battle may see the player jump into a portal only to reappear again behind a group of demons. Jump pads and monkey bars offer a bit of verticality in controlling the flow of battle. Outside of combat, these pads and monkey bars are used to explore the levels as each level hides a host of collectibles.

At the end of the level, the player is able to fast travel to certain points on the map. This much-appreciated addition makes finding hidden collectibles so much more bearable.

Speaking of collectibles; there are a bunch of them scattered throughout the level. Most come in the form of toys and albums and cheat codes. But that’s not all that’s found in secret areas. Items that boost the player’s performance are found in all sorts of places. Sentinel Crystals upgrade Health, Armor, and Ammo Capacity. Runes enhance abilities or alter playstyles to suit the player’s preferences. Using Praetor Suit Points are used to purchase perks that greatly help in fending off the hordes of demons. And finally, there are the Sentinel Batteries that one can use to unlock stuff on the Fortress of Doom – the Doom Guy’s base of operations orbiting Earth.

The Fortress of Doom is where the player spends their time when outside of missions. In Campaign mode, there are 13 brutal levels to select from. The challenges are enough reason to go back and play them again. Apart from that, it’s quite the endurance round. Using Sentinel Batteries, the player can open cells that hold useful upgrades and custom skins. The skins in particular carry over in cutscenes and during gameplay. At the very bottom of the Fortress lies the Demon Prison. It is a good place to practice certain tactics without the risk of losing precious resources.

The player may view the toys at their leisure in their personal quarters. The albums, on the other hand, decorate the walls. Interacting with an album allows for the option to replace the BGM with that specific album.

At the heart of the Fortress lies a very powerful weapon – the Unmakyr. A very powerful weapon in its own right, the Unmakyr is locked behind 6 locks that need Empyrean keys. The keys can only be found in certain levels where there are Slayer Gates. The Slayer Gates, in turn, need Slayer Keys to open. Slayer keys are just as hard to figure out as locating secret locations. It’s a very convoluted way to hide away keys but bears with me here. Inside of Slayer Gates is a combat encounter that dwarfs any encounter at that current level. Surviving the ordeals rewards the player with an Empyrean Key. (FYI, it’s totally worth it.)

Awwww… cute.

The other half of what makes Doom so great is definitely the arsenal of weapons Doom Guy wields. The game starts off the player off with the combat shotgun. As the story progresses, players will inevitably have access to 8 base weapons. With the exception of the double-barrel shotgun, all weapons have a mod that allows the player to counter specific situations.

Gaining mastery with some weapons is something one can do to even up the odds. Though it is possible to go the entire game with no upgrades… Honestly, where’s the fun in that? After spending weapon points earned in combat encounters, the player can spend up to 9 points in each mod to unlock the mastery challenge. Mastery adds a whole new flavor to the weapon’s attacks, nearly doubling the effectiveness of the gun’s upgraded mods.

The mastery challenges are manageable, for the most part. For example, the heavy cannon’s precision bolt mod only requires the player to do 75 heads to unlock it. Others are very specific in their requirements. Take the full auto mode of the combat shotgun. It requires the player to kill 15 pinky demons to unlock. Sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately, by the time I felt like doing the shotgun’s mastery challenge, there were already far too few pinkies at that point. That’s where mastery tokens come into play. These tokens allow the player to bypass the mastery challenge altogether. A much-appreciated addition to the game, in my opinion.

Doom’s graphics look better than ever. The level of detail alone puts many powerhouse games to shame. If you haven’t grown tired of 2016’s gory visuals, then expect more of the same in Doom Eternal. Only the flames and gore look so much better than they’ve ever been. That’s not all, the new locations in the game break up the visuals in new and interesting ways. The ancient cities of the Sentinels provide a constant somber reminder of glories past. In contrast, the Makyr home-world of Urdak is the most alien location in the series to date. Its otherworldly architecture certainly gives off a heaven-like feel.

Just a casual trip to the Gates…

The audio’s as top-notch as ever. When that metal music starts playing, you just can’t help but be pumped up. It definitely puts you in a certain mindset not present in any other shooter game. Unique to the series as well are the clear sounds of bones breaking and flesh tearing every time the Slayer performs a glory kill. It’s a definite high point in the game. The few issues I’ve ever encountered in terms of audio is the sudden screeching that sometimes happens when retrying a level. Another issue occurs when playing 2 audio logs. The lady wasn’t speaking at all. All in all, what problems I have with the audio are very minor.

The story picks up directly after the events of 2016’s Doom. Hell has come for Earth. Billions are dead in the initial wave of attacks. The survivors band together in hopes of countering the onslaught. Their efforts are in vain. In these most desperate times, the people look to the Doom Guy as their savior. Stories of his exploits against the Hell Priests and their Makyr masters fuel human resistance on Earth. Without it, all hope is lost. To them, Doom Guy represents the collective rage of a world whose people are dying. They’re not wrong about that. Regardless, Doom Guy will continue to rip and tear until Hell is no more.

Doom Eternal further refines the combat of Doom 2016. When comparing the two, it’s quite obvious that you need to be thinking many steps ahead. It’s more than just taking out who’s in front of you. A group of fodder enemies makes for a great source of armor when herding them into the right spot. All it takes is a bit of timing and that flame belch is worth its weight in gold. And you’ll be needing every bit of help when it comes to battling the larger demons in the game.

Excuse me. Coming through.

I don’t know… somehow the inclusion of an armor source prompt a new level of aggression with larger enemies. Hell Knights and Pinkies are more aggressive than ever. Seemingly reducing the time between attacks. At first, it was a bit jarring. But adjusting to the new normal meant that pulling off combinations of ice bomb to flame belch to frag grenade is all the more satisfying. Equally satisfying are the new weaknesses the demons have. This adds a new layer of strategy previously exclusive to some boss battles. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

With the new stuff, it also means that there’s a new kind of enemy that turns all sense of the flow of combat upside down. That enemy is none other than the Marauder.

The marauder is high mobility, constantly shielded S.O.B. that summons a spirit wolf every so often. He is one of the most obnoxious demons ever to set foot on the battlefield. Every encounter with this… the thing feels like a mini-boss fight. He commands so much attention that it’s not uncommon to randomly die to fodder spawn. Practically invincible when his shield is up, the only time he’s open to attack is at the moment when he’s about to strike. In that brief window of time, you better pump as much damage as possible into him. His attack patterns are just so random, there’s no telling when the next opening will happen.

Of all the demons to appear, this one demon is the cause of so much stress. And finally finding an effective strategy to kill him, makes me feel like I’ve beaten a hidden boss.

Take that… you S.O.B.

At the top of my head, what I really don’t like about the game is how the extra lives system work. So, one of the collectibles in the game are these extra lives that allow the player immediately respawn at their point of death. On paper, it seems like a good idea – allow the player to finish what he’s started without penalties. In practice, it’s very hard to keep a high number of lives. Especially when you’ve already started to mess up and instead of finding the time to recompose yourself, you’re thrown back into the fray. I’ve wasted so many lives on trivial deaths when all I really need is a chance to kill one specific demon to make the fight winnable.

One of the biggest complaints with the game comes during the final boss fight. In the current version of the game, dying at any point during the fight results in the game crashing. And because it happened during the boss fight, I had to replay the final mission all over again. This did not happen once… BUT TWICE. Imagine my frustration. I did eventually kill the boss, but at the cost of so much time and sanity. (The boss fight’s no pushover either.)

I also came across a game breaking bug when I was replaying the final mission. A summoner class demon was running amok. I used a super weapon to take it down fast. The problem was, taking him down didn’t seem to end the summoning spell. All sorts of demons, large and small, flooded the screen. I was speechless. What a ridiculous situation to be in. But kinda amused at the same time.

Yeah… This wasn’t supposed to happen.

What does one get for finishing the game. Nothing much. You can enable cheat codes during the mission select and mess around there. You are free to collect the things you’ve missed out on. If you’re feeling up to it, you can play Master Levels to further sharpen those skills. The levels rotate out regularly. There’s also the Battlemode where you and your friends can fight as Slayers and Demons death matches. In short, there’s still plenty of things to do post campaign.

I love this game. The rush of getting over an extremely tough encounter washes away any sort of resentment after failing so many times. Doom already holds a special place in my gaming library, not only for its gory visuals but in its hair-trigger controls as. Doom Eternal is everything Doom 2016 was, but even better!

However, I cannot overlook sometimes as serious as a game-breaking bug. Especially when the conditions for triggering it is something as simple as losing to the final boss. Add in the bug that constantly spawns in demons, and you’ve got yourself a game in need of a fix. If it weren’t for these technical issues, I would easily given this game a 9 or higher.

I still highly recommend this game for anyone looking to test their skills. Though this game is in need of a fix, it’s better that the game suffers from a temporary bug rather a fatal design flaw. Doom Eternal remains a must-have for players who enjoy the challenge. It is unapologetic when it comes to making the player suffer, but victory through adversity appeal with a certain group of gamers, me included. So, in the words of the Slayer himself, “Rip and tear… until it’s done.”

Doom Eternal – Review
Score Definition
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest on if you have some spare.
Intense, heart pounding action
Visual and audio are truly top notch
Rewards ultra aggressive play
Collectible hunting provides a nice break from the action
Shift from rune challenges to timed challenges
A host of much appreciated new features
Rough early game, especially for higher difficulties
Surprise combat segments
Extra lives are a neat idea, flawed execution
Game slows down on base PS4 with enough visual effects on screen (split second)
Minor audio issues
Game breaking bugs