It may feel like an eternity since our last romp through hell, but the divine feeling of demon gibbing is mercifully just around the corner with DOOM Eternal.
Now the supernatural forces of hell are on Earth, but they don’t really stand a chance against the kind of science-fiction arsenal that’d make Private Hudson blush, wielded by the DOOM Slayer who was inadvertently named by the world’s most beloved Scientologist. We took a quick trip to hell at E3 2019 and came away singed but impressed. After a recent three-hour hands-on with the unholiest of holies, we’re praying that March 20 rolls around a hell of a lot faster.
Stack the recent DOOM next to DOOM Eternal and this devilishly delicious dish has been spiced up in damn near perfect ways. The arsenal is more expansive and devastating. Combat spaces feel like proper puzzles spaces with multiple player-driven solutions. And the overarching story, which used to feature a guy affectionately named “DOOMguy”, now has a full-fledged and fascinating mythology that’s deep and engrossing.
Where DOOM used to be the Penthouse of games that nobody really enjoyed for the stories, DOOM Eternal is proving that world-building intrigue can be just as titillating as balls-to-the-wall blood-and-guts action. Refreshingly, unlike the last gore-dripping jaunt through hell, the solution for every increasingly threatening wave of hellish hordes isn’t the skeleton key-like Super Shotty that locks and loads flayed skeletons.
“…this devilishly delicious dish has been spiced up in damn near perfect ways.”
Instead, by default, the tweaked and expanded DOOM Eternal arsenal rewards you for playing to its strengths. Certain death-spewers work better against particular foes, and you can modify your pew-pews to bring the pain with a personalised touch.
About the only backwards step is what feels like a slightly slower movement speed, but this is offset by the early unlock of an incredibly handy dash ability. Despite DOOM Slayer’s slight cardio losses, dash combos with double jump, jump pads, monkey bars, and even the clever inclusion of an underslung grappling hook on the still-almighty Super Shotgun to add a greater sense of mobility and verticality.
While some of the platforming feels a bit forced and gamified – an occasionally jarring contrast against the steeped world-building – it’s a subtle reminder that “what makes this big f-cking fun?” is the guiding mantra that the id Software warrior monks incant around DOOM Eternal to forge a fully enchanting gameplay loop.
DOOM Eternal proves to be a tougher fight than its predecessor, but also a worthy and rewarding one. The delay has helped id tighten up the great potential of what we played last year. DOOM Eternal is on track to be a bigger, bolder, boomtastic brother to what came before and, ultimately, another shot across the bow for how to make a fun-comes-first shooter in the 21st century.