Look, DOOM Eternal is ridiculously incredible. In fact, it seems almost downright rude that with its latest shooter sequel, id Software has so thoroughly bettered the genre’s previous golden standard in 2016’s DOOM – yet here we are. Much more than just a beefier version of what we had previously (although that would have been welcome also), DOOM Eternal meaningfully evolves its deceptively delicate, clockwork formula in ways that while not especially surprising, all nonetheless conspire to create the sum of the greatest first-person shooter of this generation. Simply put, DOOM Eternal is every bit as good as you thought it would be.
DOOM Eternal PS4 Review
The Best Shooter Of This Generation
It’s reassuring then that the central design DNA of DOOM Eternal remains ultimately unchanged from its predecessor. You will again at high speed, sprint-strafe through a variety of gore steeped levels, laying waste to an increasingly grotesque range of demonic aggressors with the sort of high caliber super satisfying firepower that makes you grin subconsciously like an S rank psycho, all the while the energising thrum of Mick Gordon’s heavy metal soundtrack rattles your earlobes in line with the on-screen slaughter.
Make no mistake then, while this is absolutely DOOM, it is also very much DOOM 2.0 in all but name too. For a start, DOOM Eternal massively expands its roster of monsters, both reaching back into its storied heritage while also conjuring up all-new horrors to fill out the ranks.
While the traditional DOOM vanguard of the various grunts, Imps, Cacodemons, Lost Souls and more all make a grand return, they find themselves in equally grim company as the Pain Elemental, Archvile, Arachnotron, and Hellified Soldiers from DOOM II all step up to try and smash the Doom Slayer into a fine red mist. As one might expect though, it’s some of the newest demons that pose the greatest threat to the player.
The new Carcass demon for example, which looks like a deeply angry bald man with horrific injuries that have been sown up by a blind man while also boasting a funky mechanical tripod where his legs should be, has a special shield that when triggered, makes him impervious to any damage from your rocket launcher – quite literally rendering one of DOOM Eternal’s most essential go-to armaments essentially useless. The kicker? He can manifest that shield at range, so sometimes if you try and put a rocket in his direction, the shield can appear in front of your face causing you to rocket yourself into gooey chunks. Fun!
Intertwining with the new roster of demonic bad dudes is DOOM Eternal’s new ‘Destructible Demons’ system where as you damage your evil foes more and more, the toil of your hellacious attack becomes apparent on their physical form, as all manner of gashes, torn limbs, flayed flesh and bloody, dangling appendages create quite the gory spectacle. In particular, destroying a Mancubus in this way produces quite the macabre result, as a shredded, blood-gushing spinal cord flaps in the wind whilst sat atop a pair of decimated, stumpy legs. Nice.
More than just a cosmetic change, there is also a meaningful and functional flip side to this system now too, as each demon has a weak point that when struck, can greatly reduce their attack power. Take the nightmarish Arachnotron for example – should you destroy the creature’s tail cannon, you can cut off its super deadly turbo laser attack, making the monster a much easier kill as a result.
Newfound Tactical Depth Elevates An Already Superb Formula
Equally as much as DOOM Eternal thankfully doubles down on the ear-ringing, smashmouth beats of its predecessor, so too is there’s a newfound focus on moment to moment tactical thinking too. Though the emphasis remains on ‘ambush’ style encounters where rooms effectively walls off and become a murder playground for you and the demons until you win (or die), every ambush and demonic battle encounter is essentially a reflex-based puzzler that plays out at breakneck pace.
At the centre of this new cerebral approach to combat is an all-new harvesting system that depending on how you kill enemies, will provide you with different supplies in return. The best example of this is the manner in which the iconic chainsaw has been overhauled for DOOM Eternal.
Murdering enemies with the chainsaw now allows you to refill your ammo for the rest of your weapons, however the Chainsaw runs on fuel and so you must be careful how generously you go around sawing your way through Hell’s legions. There is nuance and cleverness baked into this mechanic too, as even if you exhaust the chainsaw it will regenerate albeit slowly – demanding frugal application rather than greedy use as a result.
Additionally, Glory Kills of course still feature and are as much a satisfying showcase of splatter and flamboyant murder as they are a functional mechanism, with each successful Glory Kill providing precious health. Elsewhere, setting your foes alight with the flamethrower will allow you to replenish your armor and it’s only by deftly balancing all three to keep your armor, ammo and health topped up that you’ll make it through in one piece.
If the suitably gore splattered executions that the Glory Kills trigger weren’t enough to entice you, the new Blood Punch mechanic also provides a great reason to keep on using them. The more Glory Kills you pull off, the higher the meter gets and when fully charged, it allows players to unleash the Blood Punch – a massive seismic left hook that absolutely obliterates anything in front of it. Think of DOOM’s traditional Berserk mode with horrific AoE damage, extra sparkles and you’re basically there.
It’s at this point, when you’re in full command of DOOM Eternal’s suite of nuanced mechanics to keep yourself alive that you feel more empowered than ever. No fight ever feels completely hopeless because if you find yourself low on health, ammo or armor, there’s always a way to claw it back and stay in the fight and because of this, DOOM Eternal feels much more satisfying than just about any other shooter on the market today.
And all this is without making mention of DOOM Eternal’s absolute mountain of interlocked upgrade systems too. Inclusive of the kind of the transformative weapon mods we saw in 2016’s DOOM, through to perks that let you perform Glory Kills from further distances and smaller buffs that improve environment traversal and other mechanics, the scope for progression in DOOM Eternal is simply incredible.
Where DOOM Eternal possesses extra sophistication and a deepening of its systems, it always feels perfectly judged and never bloated or unnecessary, doing a great job of incentivising the player to push on and achieve more rather than creaking under the weight of its new systems. Certainly, id Software have managed the improbable in this regard – negotiating a perilous balancing act of providing extra depth without negatively affecting the simplistic purity of the DOOM formula.
A Much Larger, More Epic Offering That Outclasses DOOM 2016 In Every Way
A big part of the reason why DOOM Eternal’s progression systems are so compelling, is because each of them is tied directly into all the content that the game provides. From secret, hard to reach areas stuffed with secrets, to special encounters that reward weapon upgrades and a fast travel mechanic that lets you revisit areas you’ve missed, DOOM Eternal is absolutely a completist’s dream.
Speaking of completion, DOOM Eternal is absolutely rammed to the hilt with secrets and more easter eggs than a seasonal Walmart, with collectible action figures, soundtracks of id Software games (including Quake!), cheat code discs and much more besides that can be sought out and collected. Of course, it’s nice having all these doodads, but what’s better is having somewhere swanky to store them all in.
That’s right – for the first time ever in a DOOM game, we now have a hub area/man cave where the Doom Slayer keeps all of his collectible stuff (including a wonderfully old-fashioned MS DOS PC and a range of hell guitars). Looking like something out of Warhammer 40K, the aptly titled Fortress of Doom is more than just a showcase of treasures collected, as Sentinel Batteries which can be collected during missions can be used to unlock parts of the fortress, providing handy upgrades and loot in return.
Beyond its much enlarged and more impressive content offering, DOOM Eternal is a great deal more ambitious than its 2016 predecessor in every other way too. The aesthetic is given imaginative license especially, as DOOM Eternal’s depiction of Hell on Earth is one that liberally pulls from biblical and heavy metal archetypes with equal aplomb. The cages of rotting, twitching barely alive masses of meat and flesh writhe behind rusty bars while the Hellscape itself seemingly stretches into infinity as jagged, obsidian peaks and massive tentacled growths soar upwards, piercing swirling crimson skies with violent vigor all linger long in the mind.
When it comes to the narrative side of things the story of DOOM Eternal is as expected, refreshingly straightforward. The premise is thus – the mute Doom Slayer must track down and kill the three Hell Priests in charge of commanding the demonic invasion of Earth. Happily then, I can report that much like the gameplay beats to which the story is wedded, so too is DOOM Eternal’s narrative equally subversive and intriguingly nuanced at times – inviting other cultural mythological influences from outside its previously defined biblical sphere of storytelling to flesh things out – you can expect plenty of surprises too.
Jumping Jack Smash
Arguably though, the biggest change that DOOM Eternal makes over its 2016 predecessor is that there is more platforming in the game. Much more. This will likely prove divisive for some folks who would want DOOM Eternal to be nothing but a room-to-room shooter (which is fine), but in actuality, the increased prominence of platforming dovetails directly into the hyper-agility that the game affords to the player.
Certainly then, DOOM Eternal’s traversal is impressively enabled. Ensconced in its double jumping, air-dashing, climbing and pole jumping moves, DOOM Eternal is one of the most agile shooters ever made. You’ll need every bit of that newfound flexibility too as DOOM Eternal’s levels are riddled with platforming challenges such as rotating columns of flame, crumbling platforms and more that wouldn’t look out of place in a full-fat 3D platformer.
Again, your mileage on this may vary, but personally, I feel that DOOM Eternal’s newfound emphasis on platforming is a great match for its shooter fundamentals and is a perfectly well-executed and natural evolution from what we saw back in 2016.
Another area where DOOM Eternal is leagues ahead of its illustrious predecessor is in the size of the levels – DOOM Eternal is frickin’ huge. With each level taking between two and three hours to complete, DOOM Eternal sadly no longer enables folks to hop on and quickly burn through a level – though a generous checkpointing system does help to keep DOOM Eternal’s substantial duration nice and digestible.
Elsewhere, there is a much, much wider range of level designs now too. With environments ranging from vast, mossy medieval, stained-glass fortresses to bases locked in a snow swept tundra, post apocalyptic cities and… other places that I won’t reveal for sake of spoilers, each and every map in DOOM Eternal is a joy to explore and murder bad dudes in.
DOOM Eternal’s Battlemode Is A Welcome Change From The Norm
In retrospect, the multiplayer component of DOOM 2016 was always going to struggle with separating itself from its much more tenured and popular peers. So DOOM Eternal’s shift from a regular deathmatch mode to its new Battlemode is a welcome change indeed.
The basic premise for Battlemode is thus – you have two teams, with one team belonging to the Doom Slayer and the other team belonging to the demons, with two players taking up the reins of the demonic legion. Before each round begins, Team Demon can pick from a wide range of demonic dudes (with more arriving post launch) and each of them boasts their own unique powers, as well as the ability to summon smaller demon pawns mid-battle to do their dirty work for them.
The Doom Slayer on the other hand, is a super-powerful figure, as he boasts all of the unlocked weapons and mods from the main campaign, while at the end of each round, both sides unlock new abilities and perks that allow them to gain an advantage over the opposite team. Crucially, this mode, even at this relatively early juncture, feels well-balanced.
Though the Doom Slayer is super powerful and can massacre the opposing demons quickly, Team Demon can only lose if both members of its team are killed within a few seconds of each other. Additionally, Team Demon can also make life hell (pun intended) for the Doom Slayer by blocking him retrieving much needed health and ammo supplies, all the while bringing down a small legion of lesser demons upon him.
With fast and furious adversarial gameplay being a staple of this mode, which in turn is enabled a range of fiendishly designed maps, each with their own traps, nooks and crannies to take advantage of, Battlemode ably acquits itself as nice distraction from the main story campaign and a worthy change from the usual deathmatch fare seen elsewhere.
In terms of progression, Event XP is earned both in Battlemode and in the main campaign, but rather than being used to directly affect the game balance in competitive multiplayer, DOOM Eternal takes a leaf out of Overwatch’s book and simply uses XP as a form of currency to buy cosmetic upgrades and that’s it. You can’t moneyhat your way to success here.
DOOM Eternal Is Utterly Essential
Technically, DOOM Eternal is splendorous. Running at 60 frames per second at upscaled to 4K on PS4 Pro, DOOM Eternal is the best that the formidable id Tech 7 engine has ever looked, with a blistering, uncompromising framerate, massive worlds, insane levels of texture detail and more particle, lighting and shadow effects than you can shake a frag grenade at.
Complimenting the extremely high quality visual presentation is the music, which quite simply soars. The ear-rattling thunder of Mick Gordon’s expertly composed heavy metal soundtrack is not just absolutely fantastic to listen to but is intelligently implemented too, ramping up to a white-kunckle, head-banging crescendo when an enemy ambush springs upon you or if a massive new foe enters the fray. If you like to drop heavy, this is one soundtrack you’ll want to have in collection that much is for sure.
DOOM Eternal shows the godfather of the genre, id Software, at the height of its breathtaking creative powers. DOOM Eternal also reinforces, at the point of a blazing demon destroying buckshot, that the DOOM Slayer is one of most satisfying protagonists the industry has ever created. DOOM Eternal is one of the most essential titles of this entire generation. You know what you have to do.
DOOM Eternal releases on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia and Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.