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Doom Eternal Review

During my teenage years, I spent a decent amount of time playing Doom over and over again. Its story was simple, but I loved it. The fast-paced action, the complex level design, and the dark tone all combined to give us one of the all-time great shooters.

The series was rejuvenated in 2016 with the Doom reboot and recaptured everyone’s love of the series. So many shooters in modern times took on a more serious tone and slower gameplay. The Doom reboot stayed true to its roots (for the most part), and now its sequel is here…but does it surpass the original?

Fast-Paced Action

Doom games have always been about the action first and foremost. Doom Eternal is no exception. But something about this game was different, I actually enjoyed the action more than any other shooter I can think of. In fact in terms of the FPS genre, Doom Eternal is possibly the most fun I’ve ever had in the genre.

Each encounter is an absolute thrill-ride. It’s like taking multiple energy drinks, while being slapped hard in face, and finally being doused by a large barrel of freezing cold water. That’s the feeling I had, and I loved it!

But what makes the action so great? It’s a combination of many things. First of all, the demons are all different in their own way. There’s some great variety with all the different demons you encounter along the way. But it’s not just their attacks that make them different, it’s the fact that a lot of them have weaknesses to exploit, meaning this game is about strategy just as much as it is about firing an insane amount of bullets.

When you’re faced with multiple enemies, all with unique weaknesses, it becomes a complicated juggling act working out which enemy to prioritise and which weapon to bring out. Once you’ve managed to work out the next course of action, you still need to be on the move to avoid every attack thrown at you. You’ll experience great relief and satisfaction with every kill you make, you’ll be facing heaps of demons all at once, and it’s not until you’ve finally survived the fight that you’ll feel the greatest relief of all. But it’s not just relief you’ll experience, it’s that feeling of being an unstoppable badass that this game does better than any other.

It’s not just the variety of enemies that keeps things exciting, but the variety of options at your disposal that really elevates this game. Obviously there’s a great selection of weapons you unlock throughout the game, and choosing the right weapon for the right situation is key.

But while you can upgrade your weapons, health and armour, the game really limits their capacity so you’ll never feel overpowered, at least not for too long. You’ll always be in need of something, whether it be needing to replenish health, ammo, etc. You’ll always be in a constant state of being low on something, and that’s what makes it even more exciting.

For example, you can go into a battle with full health, armour and ammo, fully confident and ready to go. In a matter of seconds, you might suddenly be in desperate need of armour, so you’ll urgently need to deal with that. Then all of sudden, you’ve run out of shotgun ammo you desperately need to take down a certain enemy and now need to worry about that. You absolutely must be switched on and be aware of what needs replenishing, and it’s one of the most thrilling feelings I had here.

So when I say the game gives you options, it’s not just a matter of picking items off the ground, but killing enemies in certain ways helps you replenish what you need. Using your chainsaw on weaker enemies has them drop heaps of ammo. Using the Flame Belch ability will light enemies on fire and drop armour for you. Glory kills make a return to help replenish health, and they’re just as gory as the original.

Having all these different options for survival, along with managing and prioritising your enemies, as well as staying on the move in order to stay alive, simply makes this one of the most exciting games I’ve ever played. I don’t say that lightly.

Level Design and Exploration

The reason I never got into FPS games post 90s was the more simplistic level design. Many shooters took on a much more linear approach and focus on realism and cinematics. I loved the old-school level design of the likes of Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, etc. and was hoping for the same here. It’s not quite the same, but it almost doesn’t matter, because I had such a great time thoroughly exploring every map.

Each level contains a good amount of collectables which range from toys to decorate your room, runes to give you extra perks, cheat codes, and much more. Pretty much everything is worth finding and that makes exploration all the more worthwhile. In fact, I refused to finish each level until I found every single collectable.

While you’re exploring, you’ll be treated to some real gorgeous visuals. The aesthetics are grotesque and you’ll need a strong stomach to handle some of the areas. The visuals do have a more ‘cartoony’ look to it, as opposed to the more realistic look of many modern shooters.

As you’re making your way through these stunning levels, you’ll notice it’s certainly not as straight forward as your typical FPS. Not only will you be travelling on foot, you’ll also be jumping, dashing, climbing and swinging your way around, and it only increases the fun of this game. It’s that extra effort the developers put into this that makes it special. They could have just made you travel everywhere on foot and the game would still be fine. But by introducing all the other elements into the levels makes it more than just a shooter. The platforming was done really well and I don’t know if I can enjoy another FPS without it. It has a surprising amount of polish to it all which is a huge achievement considering the genre Doom Eternal belongs to.

In between completing levels, you’ll occasionally return to your hub area- the Fortress of Doom. Here you can unlock more secrets and collectables to help improve your character. You can listen to music or look at toys you’ve found while exploring the main levels. It’s just a nice touch and a great way to just unwind after surviving each brutal level.

Upgrading Doom Guy

Not content with just being a shooter with fun exploration and platforming, there’s even more to love about this game with its RPG elements. There’s many different ways you can upgrade yourself and your weapons that really helps customise your experience.

Most guns can be upgraded which involves unlocking mods that gives each guns multiple secondary functions, and even mods themselves can be further upgraded. That’s why it’s really worth exploring levels and completing extra objectives. Being able to upgrade can really help you in tight spots, but also opens things up for more strategy, because certain mods can be used against enemy weaknesses.

It’s not just your guns either that can be upgraded, but also your suit and stats. The stat upgrades obviously aren’t going to be as complex as your typical RPG, but being able to improve your max health, armour, and ammo capacity just gives you that extra chance to survive the many battles. It’s yet another thing that adds so much to an already great game.

Story and Storytelling

If there’s one chink in the near impenetrable armour of this great game, it’s the storytelling. The story itself is just ok, which involves hunting down three Hell Priests to stop a ritual from consuming Earth. I never expected an immersive and complex story, nor was it really an important component, so it won’t exactly weigh heavily in my final thoughts of the game.

The main problem is that the storytelling is paper-thin. Very little in the way of cut-scenes or explanation is given, and if only a little more effort was put into this, I would have considered Doom Eternal a more complete game. There is a surprising amount of lore, even if it feels a little unnecessary. This game is all about being constantly on the move and just generally doing fun things, but stopping every now and then to read a slab of text about the game’s lore felt more of a hindrance than anything. I just simply didn’t care enough to read it all.

But all these criticisms are minor as they hardly held the game back from being the juggernaut of excitement it turned out to be.

Review Summary

Doom Eternal is not only one of the most fun and exciting games I’ve played in 2020, but also one of the most fun games I’ve ever played. As someone who never gave much attention to the FPS genre, Doom Eternal has surprised me beyond expectations.

The action is breathtaking, full of thrills, strategic, and just so much fun. Adding to that fun includes exploring for secrets which are all worth searching for. The platforming has you flying gracefully through the air and was surprisingly polished. The RPG elements allow for customisation and adds more depths to the experience.

My only real criticisms come from the weak storytelling, but that was never meant to be a main focus of this type of game. It doesn’t really detract from the overall game, but an improvement in this area would’ve made this game feel just that little more complete than it already is.

Doom Eternal is a near perfect gaming experience and one of the very best (if not the best) games of 2020 and will no doubt be in the GOTY conversation by the end of the year.

Score: 9.8

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