Where do I start with this review? I’m not going to cover the technical side of DOOM Eternal or if it drops any frames at any point. There are many other sites for that. Instead I’m going to ramble for a bit.
I have loved every main iteration of DOOM since the 1993 original, including DOOM 3 which split opinion. I don’t consider myself an expert, but there is something satisfying about the series and I will play it whenever I get a chance.
I recently went back through DOOM (2016) on the Switch and had a cracking time and really wasn’t bothered about the muddy graphics and ‘worse’ performance. It was fun playing such a good game in handheld.
So I was prepared for DOOM Eternal and eager to get going. The recent entry flew in the face of modern shooters and hopefully this would be more of the same. And it sort of was, but also not.
The thing about DOOM is that you have pure action from start to finish, there is rarely any down time and if there is, it is purely to give you a moment to gather yourself before the next battle. So when I was presented with proper cut scenes to start DOOM Eternal I was a little taken aback.
Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t talking Kojimaesque marathons here. What you have a short snippets which attempt to delve deeper into the lore of DOOM. In isolation this is fine, it actually melds things together well. However, this is DOOM and not what you expect, you want action and Doomguy blasting hellspawn in the face.
It just feels odd. Not awful, not bad, just odd and out of place. It takes you out of the moment in a way most of the series doesn’t do. Now don’t get me wrong, we aren’t talking super serious story which changes things drastically. We still have the tongue in cheek telling and humour you’d expect. It is sort of akin to the recent Ash vs Evil Dead in tone.
That aside, what really matters in a DOOM game is the gunplay and for the most part it is as good as ever and even in some respects feels even better. That could be because I went from Switch to Xbox One most recently.
There are changes however. Gone is your starting pistol from the 2016 game. Instead you get a combat shotgun and if you run out of ammo, you’ll get to bring out the chainsaw to take down one enemy and get a small ammo boost.
This may go against the grain a bit, but I really like this change as I struggled bringing out the pistol manually and the auto switch to the chainsaw works so much better for me. You still get the limitations of course and you won’t be using it to bring down tougher enemies, but works great on grunts.
Why do I mention this? Well yes it is a major change, but from my experience of playing on the default difficulty, you’ll be using this a lot. DOOM Eternal is very stingy with ammo, you never feel like you have enough to deal with the situation which adds to the panic as you play.
Once again, this isn’t exactly a bad thing, it is just different. You will need to consider which weapon you are using against which enemy and being better when picking out weakspots to maximise the ammo you do have. This isn’t resource management like you find in the likes of Metro 2033 and you are never mere seconds from getting more. If anything it feels like the developers made a choice here to purposefully keep you on the edge and for me, it works well.
Glory kills are back and are just as satisfying and important as they were in 2016. You’ll have to make use of these to stay alive too, as the difficulty does feel like it ramped up in Doom Eternal. The enemy seem to swarm you more in this version and feel like they act as a unit rather than pure fodder.
The thing that does stick out like a sore thumb is the platforming and climbing sections. I sort of get why something like this might be included, devs want to add something new. But come on, this is DOOM, not Uncharted. It really doesn’t work. However thankfully it isn’t constant and is a minor annoyance more than anything. But, really. If they found a way to patch it out I’d be a happy bunny.
So, there has been a certain expectation built up as to what DOOM Eternal was going to be. This isn’t just a continuation from 2016, it is a sequel and there have been changes made. Some for the better and some not (the bloody climbing is so out of place), but most will just take a little getting used too.
The core game is still DOOM and has the feeling of DOOM, the action is exciting and you feel like a badass. There are still tons of collectibles and secrets to find and it still flows wonderfully, despite the ‘deeper lore’ added.
DOOM Eternal isn’t perfect and there are some minor missteps for sure. Overall though you are still shooting demons in the face and that never gets old and it still so much fun. At the end of the day, that is all that matters. There is something very cathartic about the violence.
Especially during these trying times (damn it, nearly got through without mentioning Covid-19… stay safe people and shoot some demons)