Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
March 20, 2020
Stadia), 2020 (Switch)
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC
In 2016, id Software revived the Doom franchise in spectacular fashion. The action was fast and frantic in all the right ways. The tone was a humorous mix of hardcore heavy metal and Saturday morning cartoons, which felt right. In short, it was the perfect revival for the series. After playing the opening three hours of Doom Eternal, I walked away with the sense that it could be a perfect sequel. Here are five reasons Doom fans should be excited to return to hell on March 20.
1) The core loop is still addicting
Doom (2016) put a creative spin on some of the best concepts from ‘90s shooters. Players were encouraged to get close and personal as they mixed it up in firefights. If you ran low on health, you could perform a close-quarters glory kill to gain a health boost, and if you were running low of ammo, you could rip through an enemy with the chainsaw for an ammo refill. Does any of this make logical sense? No, but after narrowly dodging a room full of fireballs and taking down a small army of demons, it’s hard not to throw up the devil horns in triumph. Eternal adds one smart addition to this combat loop: The Doom Slayer is now equipped with a shoulder-mounted flamethrower, which sets enemies ablaze and earns you some extra armor. Making clever use of both the flamethrower and the glory kills is the only way to survive some of Doom Eternal’s more challenging encounters. But once you master Eternal’s core combat, you feel like an unstoppable force of nature.
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2) Movement is your best friend
Doom is all about speed. While some shooters force you to find cover and take your time, Doom encourages you to dance across the battlefield. If you spend too much time in one spot, you’ll be doomed to an early grave. Eternal gives fans more traversal options to work with than ever before. For starters, you can now swing across monkey bars and climb up designated walls to reach new areas. The redesigned Super Shotgun also has a grappling hook that can be used to launch yourself toward enemies. However, one of the best new tools for navigating a firefight is the new dash mechanic. Not only can you dash twice in a row, you can dash both on the ground and in the air. Making good use of this maneuver makes you a hard target, and it can mean the difference between life and death.
3) You’ll want to use more than just the shotgun
Shotguns are easy to love – just point and shoot and watch your enemies tremble in fear – if they’re not exploding from the blast. The Doom series is full of great shotguns, and Doom Eternal is no exception. However, many of the other weapons in Eternal could give the classic shotgun a run for its money. In fact, many weapons have special use cases that make them the best tool for the job. For example, if you toss a grenade into the mouth of a cacodemon, it instantly enters a stagger state allowing for an instantaneous glory kill takedown. Likewise, the heavy cannon’s sniping mode can be used to instantly remove the rocket launchers off the back of Revenants, which practically neuters them in combat. Basic grenades can be toggled into ice bombs, which freezes enemies in place. I’m also a big fan of the redesigned plasma rifle and its microwave beam upgrade, which allows you to lock onto an enemy and pump them full of superheated energy until they explode like my tummy after Taco Bell.
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4) You can upgrade everything
A lot of games embrace RPG mechanics, so you can constantly level up your gear. Doom Eternal takes upgrading systems to the extreme. For example, weapons mods still allow you to do some great things with your guns, such as turn the combat shotgun into a full-auto Gatling shotgun. Weapon upgrade perk points boost individual weapon’s damage outputs. Meanwhile, sentinel crystals are scattered across each level; these can be used to permanently upgrade things like your health, armor, and ammo storage. Runes are a separate pickup, which can be used to augment your abilities, granting you the ability to slow time in midair or perform faster glory kills. I used a rune to give myself an ability that automatically slowed time whenever I was about to die, which saved my skin more than once. Finally, praetor suit points further enhance your abilities, revealing special items on the minimap, letting you mantle or switch weapons much faster, and making you immune to explosive barrels. There are so many ways to upgrade your abilities that I was a little overwhelmed at first, but I constantly felt like my skills were improving.
5) The story is bonkers in a good way
The story in Doom games was always a bit of a joke, but Doom (2016) embraced the joke, resulting in a humorous narrative that felt both entertaining and epic. After stopping the forces of hell from invading our system in 2016, it seemed like the galaxy could settle down for some relative peace. Naptime is over; hell is back, and the Doom Slayer is ready to make good use of his shotgun. In Eternal, players will gain a larger view of the Doom universe than ever before. They’ll travel through a battered version of Earth and push back the demonic hordes that seem intent on sacrificing our planet to a mysterious new force. There are even hints that the Doom Slayer might explore heaven for the first time in the series, which would explain these angelic-like figures we’ve seen in some of Eternal’s trailers. I’m a little surprised to say this, but I’m excited to see where this story goes.
For more on Doom Eternal, watch the new multiplayer mode in action or read our impressions from last year’s E3.