Doom Eternal Campaign Review

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Doom Eternal Campaign Overview

The highly anticipated sequel to Id Software’s 2016 hit Doom, Doom Eternal puts you back into the Praetor suit of the Doomslayer on his mission to hunt down and kill the Demonic Hell Priests, confront the Khan Makyr, and stop Hell’s invasion of Earth.

Like Doom II: Hell on Earth, Doom Eternal’s story takes place across demonic possessed Earthly landscapes, sophisticated technical facilities and even the shores of Hell itself and similarly sees the return of many of the series-fan favorite monsters to the franchise along with a few enemies making their series debut. To aid in the Doomslayer’s mission to turn Hell’s minions into demonic-soft-serve, you’ll be given destructive new weapons and methods to help you to rip and tear.

Plasma Gun and Demons
Plasma Gun and Demons = Fun

Doom Eternal mixes crazy fast-paced FPS action, item collecting, and some light platforming in a violent, gore-soaked, and beautifully designed package all while providing one of the best gaming experiences of the year that will keep you slaying demons for weeks.

Movement & Exploration

At first glance, Doom Eternal’s game-play doesn’t stray far from its predecessor: Keep moving, shooting, moving, glory-killing for health refills, more moving, and chain-sawing for ammo refills. Did I mention you need to keep moving? You. Can. Never. Stop. Moving. In. Doom. Eternal.

To help you get around, a newly implemented dash move helps you close in on distant enemies for that quick glory-kill or to help you get out of dicey situations in a hurry. The double-jump returns along with some new acrobatic bars conveniently placed throughout each level to let you swing to higher ground for a combat advantage or get to that hard-to-reach platforms when exploring.

Like Doom (2016), exploration is key for those looking to collect secret items such as cheat codes, Doom figures, and classic audio tracks from Id Software’s game history all of which can be viewed or listened to from the game’s central hub known as the Doom Fortress.

The piece de resistance in Eternal is the Meat Hook, a grappling hook attached to the end of your super shotgun that can pull you across arenas, swing you around the backs or above the heads of enemies and bring you in for a quick double-barrel blast when you need it. Just writing out the Meat Hook’s description made me feel like I was writing some kind of serial killer’s fan-fiction and I loved every second of each time I got to use it.

Combat

It’s insane to think that Doom Eternal’s combat could somehow be more frantic and frenetic than the 2016 incarnation but where Doom (2016) wanted you to play a certain way, Doom Eternal forces you to use all of the tools you have at your disposal to not be turned into Doomguy paste.

Doom Eternal’s limited health and ammo really forces you to double down on resource management during combat. While the chainsaw and glory-kill attacks were a part of Doom (2016), they are required skills for mastery if you want to succeed in Doom Eternal. Running low on armor? Use the Flame Belch to immolate the residents of Hell and cause them to drop armor shards up to and when they’re killed like a blood-bag-pinata.

Flame Belch
The flame belch in action

Another new shell in the combat magazine is the addition of enemy weak points. Several enemies have vulnerable points that can be exploited and disabled to severely limit their attack range. This not only hurts them plenty but also buys you time to plan your next move and makes it harder for them to use your intestines as jump-rope from long distances.

Defeating the Tyrant
Defeating the Tyrant… You don’t say

Each new ability explained above is slowly introduced in the early parts of the campaign to ease you in. In the later stages of the campaign, when the battles are at their hairiest, you’ll need to string everything together to progress.

As each new group or groups of enemies spawn, you’ll need to evaluate which enemies need to be taken out first, which enemies have weak points you’ll need to exploit, and which enemies you’ll need to farm for health, ammo, and armor all while shooting, killing, moving and being mindful of your resources and surroundings. Combat in Doom Eternal has a level of strategy and depth not seen in other shooters causing you to feel like you earn every win and are solely responsible for repeated death animation.

Story

As a franchise, Doom has never been big on narrative. In what may be the most over-used quote in videogame history, John Carmack, one of the original creators of Doom, famously spouted that “story in a game is like story in a porn movie: it’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.” While this is simultaneously the most 90’s quote about videogames ever and categorically false in 2020 where the “videogames aren’t art” discussions are really only held by boomers who still think Ms. Pacman is a feminist icon. Also it’s also not entirely untrue with Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal.

Doom Eternal does have a story backed by a rich lore and Eternal rewards players who care about that kind of thing with a TON of extra content to be collected and read (at the players leisure) in Codex booklets found in-game. But Doom Eternal recognizes that story must be secondary and in service to gameplay. You’re not bogged down by lengthy, un-skippable cut-scenes or required reading and the story that’s there, while good, is only there when you want it and never when you don’t. If you just want to rip and tear, you’re good to do so.

Presentation

Doom Eternal is gorgeous. I played on my standard XBOX ONE console and was in awe with how good it looks both in terms of presentation, textures and details. As Doom Eternal had announced it was going to be released on all consoles, including the Nintendo Switch – I debated waiting for the Switch version as it’s the console I play the most – but after playing Doom Eternal’s entire campaign, it’s clear that, if possible, this is a game you need to experience on one of the more powerful consoles or a high-end PC, if possible.

Each demon is meticulously detailed and visually creative including the returning Doom II monsters making their debut in Doom Eternal. Visually, Eternal only ever took a hit during the beta Photo Mode in which some of the Doomslayer’s details seemed to be missing when being viewed in 3rd person, but this is not terribly important and is an easy fix in the future.

The standout of Doom’s presentation is the music. Mick Gordon once again brings the heat following up his spectacular Doom (2016) soundtrack with another absolute masterpiece of metal, industrial, glitch and more metal. If you ever wanted to hear a soundtrack where a composer uses a lawn mower as one of the instruments, then Doom Eternal is the soundtrack for you. Like Doom (2016) and Killer Instinct before it, Doom Eternal’s music not only perfectly matches the game’s tone and feel, but it also changes contextually to ensure you always have the right music to keep you pumped and pumping bullets into Hell’s lowliest.

Overall

When I first played Doom (2016) I was fresh off the heels of games like Destiny and (insert generic FPS title here) I wasn’t very good. I sucked and I thought it was the game and I didn’t like it. After trying again, I learned that I sucked because I tried playing Doom like I was playing Destiny. You simply can’t play Doom like you play other first-person shooters and that’s why I loved it so much.

Doom Eternal takes everything I loved about Doom (2016) and cranks it up 666 degrees all while improving on the original in every single way. Eternal is more challenging, better looking, and overall, more fun than Doom (2016) and that’s saying a lot considering I have it in my top 5 games of the last 5 years. If you have ever liked or loved a Doom game, stop what you’re doing and play this game now.