Game Review: Doom: Eternal

Release date: 2020
Version played: Playstation 4 in 2020

The much awaited sequel to 2016 semi-reboot of the series, Doom: Eternal is the fifth game in id Software’s first person shooter franchise. Once again controlling the Doom Slayer, now customisable with a plethora of unique suit designs, players must shoot, explode, cut, rip and tear through demons as they put a stop to hell’s invasion of Earth. New movement options are available as the Slayer can dash through the air, swing from horizontal bars and climb up (pre determined) walls for more verticality than the previous games. Collectables scatter every level and can unlock new toys, classic id Software soundtracks or cheat codes for use in mission replays.

+ once you get certain upgrades available in the game, it finally starts ‘click’. Ammo, health or armour are always close at hand with the chainsaw, glory kills and flame belch, respectively, available to turn any enemy into what you need at any given time. It is a shame it takes so long to get the upgrades that make these abilities useful
+ the battles themselves are longer and much more difficult, especially at first, as more demons than any point in the previous game will swarm you. Most enemies now have weak points to be exploited (such as shooting off a cannon to prevent long range attacks) and the mental speed you’ll need to prioritise mid-battle which monstrosities to clear out first is something I didn’t expect from a Doom game
+ the story is once again surprisingly involved, and makes a lot of callbacks and references to some aspects of the previous game you might not expect. Some new characters are introduced and/or given some more relevance, and even more plot points are hinted at to give the series somewhere to go in the inevitable future games. The only negative is a short missing time span between the previous game and this one
+ the new dash movement makes the game significantly faster than the 2016 game, and adding that to the new ‘monkey bars’ which let you swing across the battle field or find some out of the way secrets, the game feels more free and open than you may expect. The alt-fire for the Super Shotgun, the Meat Hook, let’s you zip form long distances towards enemies like Spider-man to blast them right in the face. It gave me flashbacks to Mass Effect 2’s Vanguard class
+ the soundtrack is perhaps not as good as DOOM 2016’d ripping and tearing, raucous heavy metal, but a few songs on this new listing do stand out: “Kar En Tuk” plays in the middle of a tough boss encounter, and if that doesn’t get you hyped nothing will  and the “Voices of Urdak” track is deeply unsettling

– my game was chock full with glitches, including the first appearance of the Marauder ending in literally half a second as he fell through the floor and despawned, with the game declaring I had defeated him (but I didn’t get the codex entry until I killed one for real). My fight with the final boss of the game took upwards of an hour because it just stopped taking damage (I had to check online at the half hour mark just to make sure I was doing it right – and I was, it just wasn’t registering). I’ve fallen through the map, had audio not play when the subtitles implied it should be and enemies get stuck inside architecture more times than I count
– cutscenes are a waste of time, and could instead simply be either (a) optional (yes, they can be skipped), or (b) just audio logs over the action. They break the flow of the game, and the third person use in the majority of cutscenes is appalling to me, and I hated it every time it happened. The least they could have been were all in first person, to keep it as a ‘single shot’ viewing, and the codex lore is simply far too much for any normal person to read as they are unlocked
– platforming segments go on for too long and are tedious, rather than fun. Doomguy, if I may be so colloquial, has never been known for his jumping and grappling, so why that was decided to be brought in is beyond me. Some mid-air portal directions int he late game are just garbage and caused me more deaths than the combat encounters on the level
– secrets are now large, obnoxious, glowing question marks rather than being items secreted away. This mixture of arcade style platforming/collectables and serious gunplay never meshed in a meaningful way, and instead I would say actively hindered both parts of the game
– I am not a fan of the way the chainsaw has been nerfed to work almost exclusively on fodder enemies, and only very sparingly on medium enemies. Having a regenerating chainsaw token to use was great, but that is balanced out to the negative by making the larger enemies entirely unable to be killed with the chainsaw. I don’t want games to decide for me what enemies are ‘allowed’ to be defeated in certain ways

> I absolutely loved the fake record covers each unlockable song has. I want so many of them as full-sized posters on my walls

Should you play this game: I was not a fan of this at all until about the two third mark (maybe 8-10 hours into the campaign) but unfortunately the numerous bugs and glitches continuously took me out of the game just as I getting my groove on. Without those annoyances, I may have enjoyed this more, because when the game worked it really worked.

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