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DOOM Eternal

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: id Software
Release Date: March 20, 2020

About Chris Barnes

There's few things I'd sell my soul to the devil for. However, the ability to grow a solid moustache? I'd probably sign that contract ... maybe ... (definitely).


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PC Review - 'Doom Eternal'

by Chris Barnes on March 20, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

It's Hell on Earth and only one person can repel the demonic invasion. The DOOM Slayer is back to unleash his fury upon the legions of Hell with a host of powerful new abilities, weapons and fearsome demons to put them to work on.

Buy Doom Eternal

When a Doom reboot was released in 2016 — the same year as Gears 4, Overwatch, Uncharted 4, and plenty of other action juggernauts — it seemed like id Software would have an uphill battle. Despite the crowded space, its beautifully envisioned hordes of demons impressed everyone and proved why it's considered one of the pivotal masters in the FPS genre. Four years later, id Software has possibly outdone itself with Doom Eternal. I would've accepted more of the same, but id Software has built upon the existing formula in all the right ways to keep the combat fresh while still feeling like the classic shooter that we all know and love.

Unlike the sci-fi-heavy setting of Doom 2016, Doom Eternal takes the fight to Earth and introduces new art and level design. Breaking free from the biomes of Mars opens a number of doors. Whereas Doom 2016 felt like a long run through one continuous level, every 30 minutes in Doom Eternal feel different. Snow-covered mountain bases, gore-infested city blocks, and decrepit skyscrapers are some of the locations you'll rip and tear through. The evolution in level design extends beyond the art. Combat, exploration and platforming are broken up into just the right amounts, making for a well-paced game.

id Software has also added a bunch of content to Doom Eternal. With just about every mission offering 10+ hidden items (ranging from soundtracks to cheat codes) and three side challenges for each mission, there are plenty of reasons to explore every nook and cranny of the campaign. Players can even explore the Fortress of Doom, your Earth-orbiting spaceship, between each campaign missions. Players can spend hard-earned sentinel batteries, which are obtained during missions, to unlock additional cosmetics, suit upgrades and weapon upgrades. Every little upgrade must be put to good use if you wish to succeed in Doom Eternal.

In Doom 2016, it felt like I could get through any battle with a chainsaw, two fists, and a shotgun. That's not the case anymore. Doom Eternal throws hordes of enemies at you, so armor is more important than ever. To balance this, the Doom Slayer is equipped with a shoulder-mounted flamethrower. Shooting torched enemies drops armor pick-ups to help you hang on for a few more seconds. Moreover, every enemy has a weak point and is vulnerable to a particular weapon. This adds up to a combination of game elements to help you approach combat as a puzzle.

Doom Eternal's battle scenarios are visceral, relentless, and a downright blast to play. The combat demands that you constantly switch between weapons, seek out armor/health, focus on certain enemies, and leverage the various platforming elements to survive. Success in battle unlocks weapon upgrade points, which can be spent on various weapon traits. The crosshairs are a good gauge of which weapon mode is equipped, but it has you focusing on the UI more than the beautifully rendered weapon models. It's a minor nitpick for what's an otherwise near-perfect combat and weapon system.

The fantastic pacing extends beyond the gameplay and trickles into the narrative elements. Doom Eternal starts with Hell priests using their powers to open gore nests that spew demons into cities across the globe. Earth's downfall seems inevitable, and you're tasked with hunting down the priests and eradicating them before total civil collapse. id Software could have easily made this a simple "stop the invasion on Earth" plot and relied on the stellar combat as the backbone of the game. Midway through the game, I found myself buried in Codex entries and audio logs. This shouldn't scare away people who aren't willing to invest themselves in that plot style, though. You can still get a satisfying narrative stream through the main cut scenes. As someone who often passes over the codex entries in games, I was surprised to find myself so heavily engaged with the game's enriching lore.

With jaw-dropping visuals and performance that every developer should strive for, Doom Eternal runs like a dream on the PC. The id Tech 7 engine is a sight to behold. While I hunkered away in my office away from the wife and kid for three days, I felt like I was doing something naughty while playing on a 1440p monitor. Games aren't supposed to look this good and run this perfectly. After logging over 20 hours of gameplay, I don't think a single frame was dropped. This near-perfect performance isn't at the sacrifice of good-looking visuals, though. The dripping wet, gore-infested cities capture the vision that the artists seem to have laid out for the developers. Evocative of its classic '90s shooter roots, the beautifully crafted environments are also littered with bright colored pick-ups. This helps maintain the roots of the classic '90s Doom games that we know and love while offering up modern visuals that gamers crave.

After all of this praise, you must be wondering, "Surely there's something wrong with the game." No game is perfect, and there are nitpicks to point out, but they're few and far between. Some of the platforming segments can be mildly frustrating. Over-shooting a jump or missing a ledge grab are going to make you roll your eyes every so often, but the game respawns you with only a minor knock to your health. It slows down the fantastic pacing that the game otherwise maintains.

You may face the occasional environment glitch, too. Multiple surfaces cause you to slide off the side, even if they're totally flat. I even clipped through the floor after missing a jump, forcing me to reload from a checkpoint. Beyond this, there are a handful of invisible walls. In a title that heavily encourages exploration, the invisible walls feel at odds with the game's intent. These experiences were very infrequent, and they didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the game.

With all of the demons slayed and the campaign complete, I was pleased to find plenty of endgame stuff in Doom Eternal. I found a majority of the cheat codes and completed a good amount of the secondary mission challenges on my first playthrough, but there was still plenty left for me to unlock via mission select. For the bravest of the brave, there's also the option to replay the game on higher difficulties or take on the Master levels, which throw even more enemies at you. Having beaten the game on Ultra Violence mode, I am ecstatic to return at the hardest difficulty to see how crazy this nightmare can get.

id Software has also created a new online multiplayer mode that goes beyond a simple team deathmatch-style game. Instead of throwing a bunch of classic modes into the game, it's offering up Battlemode: a 2v1, best-of-five showdown between the Doom Slayer and human-controlled demons. The asymmetric multiplayer mode has been done before, but with jetpacks, rocket barrages, support characters, and tanks, there's plenty of diversity and fun to be had. Between rounds, you can choose between buffs that can help you and your teammate. This adds an additional layer of team strategy for a fun night of Doom and drinks with a buddy. With that in mind, there are some minor issues with the multiplayer. There was a fair bit of lag on certain rounds (critical in such a fast-paced game), HUD menus tweaked out multiple times, and none of my weekly or daily challenges properly registered. These are minor setbacks that id could resolve in short order. Considering the game's fantastic campaign, players can pass the time while id smooths out the online issues.

It's fitting that Doom Eternal is being released in the final year of this console generation. After 20+ hours played, there's still plenty left for me to chew on in this game, and I'm hungry for more. I'll probably dabble in Battlemode from time to time to rack up some experience and check off weekly challenges (once they're working), but it's the single-player where this game truly shines. I'm currently working my way through one of the Master levels on nightmare difficulty, and every death has that "just one more turn" feel to it. I know how the enemies work. I know which weapons to use. I know when to use them. It's just a matter of putting it all together and executing (pun intended). Doom Eternal is a hellishly frantic shooter that puts me closer to heart attack levels than I care to admit — and I love every second of it.

Score: 9.2/10

Reviewed On: Ryzen 3600x, RTX 2070 Super, 16gb DDR4 3200 MHz RAM

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