Doom Eternal hands-on preview: Hell on Earth

The ripping and tearing comes home, as the Doom Slayer looks to save what's left of humanity. Shacknews goes hands-on with Doom Eternal.

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When we last left the Doom Slayer, also affectionately known as "Doom Guy," he was bringing pain and big guns across all of Mars and then straight into the bowels of Hell. It was such a visceral and invigorating experience that 2016's Doom became the 2016 Shacknews Game of the Year. But Doom Eternal won't just see players take the fight into Mars and Hell, because the demons are now bringing the party straight to them.

Doom Eternal doesn't go back to Mars, but rather cuts right into the middle of a full-blown demonic invasion of Earth. Humanity is in its final moments, as the invasion has engulfed the entire planet. The Doom Slayer sets out to put an end to the demon horde the only way he knows how: by blowing anything in his path to cinders. The settings are different, but the action is just as high-octane as ever, as Shacknews recently had an opportunity to play through the first few hours of Doom Eternal.

Doom Eternal hands-on preview

"This is very much our Evil Dead 2," id's Hugo Martin said during a press Q&A. "I think Evil Dead 1 was amazing, but Evil Dead didn't become Evil Dead until Evil Dead 2. It's where the tone of Evil Dead 2 really came together and I think that's what we're doing now. I think we really nailed what Doom is for this generation. Because the team was in place from the very beginning, we were able to hit the ground running much faster. We're just overall better at making Doom games, so we can make more content at a higher quality at a faster rate."

Those who have played the 2016 Doom should know what's in store. Eternal retains many of the hallmarks of the previous game, bringing back many of the previous game's weapons, abilities, and enemies. After a brief tutorial showing off the Doom Slayer's capabilities, it was time to head to Earth to confront the demon invasion. Eternal's action sequences also feel like something out of the previous Doom, with death metal music ushering in wild arena-style combat.

Players will use weapons like the Combat Shotgun or the Plasma Rifle to wipe out every demon in sight. Each weapon can be upgraded over the course of the game, with weapon attachments able to assist in battle in various ways. For example, the Combat Shotgun has an attachment for grenades, which comes in really handy against the classic Cacodemons. Each enemy has a weak point to focus on, such as the Arachnotron and its plasma cannon. Taking out enemy weak points is the key to either defeating them or making them much easier to tackle. At the very least, players should endeavor to weaken as many demons as possible, because having them at full strength when they're flanked by dozens of their friends is not something anyone wants.

Demons in large quantities segues nicely into the key component for Doom Eternal. Glory Kills are back in a big way. If an enemy is on the brink of defeat, players can cue the Glory Kill to viciously dismember them and recover some health along the way. In Eternal, this is now mixed with other finishers, all of which replenish a different resource. The chainsaw makes its return, which can slice and dice foes in a single strike. Chainsaw kills will help players refill their ammo for all of their weapons. The chainsaw does require fuel, which can be found throughout each stage. Deeper into our playthrough, we uncovered the Flame Belch, a scorching attack that weakens enemies with fire. As enemies burn, they'll drop armor.

Where things might get a little dicey is in keeping all of these finishers straight. Playing on a gamepad, I frequently got the Glory Kill and the chainsaw mixed up (some might be able to tell by watching our video footage) and that led to staggered enemies recovering and going right back on their rampage. But once players understand what does what and are able to balance the Glory Kill, the chainsaw, and the Flame Belch, they should fluidly be able to cut down the demon ranks as they run around the arena trying not to get overwhelmed by their strength and numbers.

The other key item that stood out about Doom Eternal was the noticeable change in scenery. Those who got tired of the red surroundings of the previous Doom are in for a treat. Players are going to explore a slew of new environments, starting with Earth. From there, players will journey to different planets in an effort to save what remains of humanity. According to Martin, this is to help reduce one of the big criticisms of 2016's Doom: repetitiveness.

"Every new location requires an art kit," Martin added. "We were able to have a lot more kits available to us. So that way, instead of just going to Hell, Mars, Hell, Mars, as you saw already in the first three levels, we're going to take you to tons of places and that will not stop. You will continue to see new things all the way up to the end of the game. So I think it's a real testament to the team that we have and how well we're all working together that we were able to produce so much content in the time that we had, to be able to provide you guys with these new experiences through the entirety of the 22-plus hour campaign."

New worlds mean new challenges and this will include a surprising amount of platforming sections and jumping puzzles. In-between demon hordes, there were a number of challenges that required jumping from place to place, with obstacles or enemy fire in the way. One of the latter puzzles I tried required hitting a door switch in mid-air, requiring pinpoint precision to avoid falling into the abyss below.

Even beyond the story (and there is a lot of story) there's plenty to keep players engaged. Upon reaching the end of the second level, I saw two divergent paths. One led to the end of the stage, another led to a Slayer Gate. The Slayer Gates are filled with additional challenges, which players can jump into in an effort to earn rewards. Anyone who doesn't feel like they're prepared to face a Slayer Gate can return later, with Fast Travel available for all previously-played levels.

Players will need all of the abilities they can muster, given where the story appears to be going. In the first two levels, the Doom Slayer sets into motion his plan to save humanity against the Khan Maykr and the forces of Hell. However, King Novik and the forces of Heaven appear to be displeased with the Doom Slayer's effort, urging him to resign humanity to its fate. The campaign looks to be a handful, even on normal difficulty. However, seasoned Doom players will be happy to know that Eternal will not only go all the way to Nightmare difficulty, but there's also a special roguelike difficulty, which will test how far players can go on Nightmare in a single life. Those who attempt to brave this difficulty will find markers throughout the game indicating where their friends died during their playthroughs.

In fact, Doom Eternal hopes to get social in more ways than one. During our playthrough, we ran into special "Enhanced Demons." These are standard enemies that killed friends on our friends list. These enemies will be clearly marked and will drop greater rewards once they're defeated. Likewise, if there's an enemy that takes you down over the course of your game, that enemy will be marked in any of your friends' games in the same manner. This feature is separate from the Invasion mechanic, which Bethesda and id are looking to launch shortly after Eternal's launch.

Bethesda and id disappointed a lot of Doom fans when Doom Eternal was delayed, but the game on display last week looks to be a significantly polished product. The environments look crisp, the action is intense, and the PC version appears to have no lag issues with dozens of enemies on-screen at a time. The scenery may look different, but this is very much Doom. Rip and tear until it is done when Doom Eternal releases on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on March 20. The Nintendo Switch version is coming soon.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 21, 2020 7:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Doom Eternal hands-on preview: Hell on Earth

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      January 21, 2020 7:05 AM

      Sounds awesome!

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      January 21, 2020 7:08 AM

      Was about to comment on the flood of DE articles on my newsfeed that the embargo must have been lifted....

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      January 21, 2020 7:15 AM

      http://chattypics.com/files/doompound_eo0c2hg13v.gif

      I am a bit concerned about the "lots of story" part. One of the great things about DOOM 2016 was the light touch story-wise. It was there, and there was more to dig into if you wanted to, but it was rarely forced upon you.

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        January 21, 2020 7:24 AM

        It sounds like it's still optional based on all of the interviews with Hugo.

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        January 21, 2020 8:42 AM

        What frantai said and also it will be just like the first game. You get as much lore and story out of the game as you want. Just like to kill? Well then skip anything resembling a narrative.

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        January 21, 2020 10:10 AM

        CAN'T WAIT TO RIP & TEAR GIVE IT TO ME NOW

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          January 21, 2020 10:11 AM

          oops was supposed to be a reply to main thread. :(

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        January 21, 2020 10:59 PM

        All cutscenes are skippable.

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      January 21, 2020 7:20 AM

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvjtrOJsmDU

      WTF is with all the platforming bullshit? Man, maybe this is what TMWTB was talking about.

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        January 21, 2020 8:50 AM

        Not something I was expecting or asking for but it's pretty good here... it's active and snappy enough it feels good overall in this game

        Most disappointing 2020 🙄

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          January 21, 2020 8:52 AM

          And then he proceeds to whiff a couple of times and it looks clumsy and awkward. If it really is done well and you end up not even noticing it then I guess I can just get over it, but I don't think anybody was asking for this from DOOM.

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            January 21, 2020 8:53 AM

            If it wasn't good I trust Hugo and co. would not have it in. It's skill based shit. I don't see the issue. OH KNOW MY MOVEMENT IS BEING TESTED!

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            January 21, 2020 8:54 AM

            Also... this is Brad we're talking about (no offense Brad but you aren't known for your high skill play) and it's his maybe second time playing since E3? Rarely do I watch a preview of a game journalist playing a game going "NOW THAT'S HOW IT'S DONE!"

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              January 21, 2020 10:07 AM

              If you had to record yourself playing a game for the first time and/or with input latency through five video devices and/or while carrying on a conversation, how well do you think you’d do? Honest question.

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                January 21, 2020 10:10 AM

                I’m not discouraging you at all! I totally get it! I was just using that as an example as to why you might have missed the jump or whatever! Seriously meant no offense and yeah I absolutely understand your position.

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                January 21, 2020 10:15 AM

                I know you get shit on a lot too (undeservedly) for your game playing and seriously just meant as rarely (and I mean once maybe twice) have I watched a game journalist preview a game and I’m thinking to myself “Wow they are really good!” I get the nerves thing, I get the any added pressure, things aren’t quite calibrated perfectly, it’s a new game experience, etc.

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              January 21, 2020 10:31 AM

              Saying “no offense” and then criticizing someone doesn't absolve you of criticism.

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              January 21, 2020 12:01 PM

              That’s because 95% of the time, we go into these game preview events totally blind.

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                January 21, 2020 12:05 PM

                I know! That's part of the argument I was trying to make.

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              January 21, 2020 1:21 PM

              i’ve watched Brad play a lot of games over the years and he’s a far, far better player when performing on video than I am sitting at home alone on my sofa.

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        January 21, 2020 9:14 AM

        wow that looks shitty, at 4mins

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        January 21, 2020 9:20 AM

        Wooof, that straight up turned me off to the game.

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        January 21, 2020 9:24 AM

        Are we going to have to jump on the cyberdemon's head three times at the end?

        I kid, it looks fun

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        January 21, 2020 9:31 AM

        Just noticed the Demon Prison aka "Ripatorium" (20 mins into the video) and that will be a great spot to try and figure out each demon's "weakness points". I wonder how much of those weakness points the game will show you, and how much you're left to (hopefully) figure out yourself.

        I love the hub!

        So far what I've seen has given me a God Of War (2018) vibe for the collectibles / puzzles, and Horizon Zero Dawn-inspired vibe for the weakness points on enemies.

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          January 21, 2020 9:33 AM

          Yeah as much as I dislike the enhanced platforming sections, I really love the weakness mechanic. I had a ton of fun with that in HZD and I'm cool with it being in DOOM.

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        January 21, 2020 9:31 AM

        1st person celeste on a game pad :( I don't like the look of this.

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        January 21, 2020 9:34 AM

        That makes me want the game more.

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        January 21, 2020 10:21 AM

        This all looks great to me! Especially when he played through that one 'upgrade' arena, pure frenetic Doom'16 action. The dashing seemed to help in chaining gory kills as well actually increasing the speed of gameplay if you so desired.

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          January 21, 2020 10:23 AM

          Yeah the only thing I've seen that I'm not a fan of is the platforming with double jumps and timed air dashes through laser walls. I winced when I saw the SMB style fireball spinny thinger. Everything else looks badass. Probably worrying for no reason!

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            January 21, 2020 10:31 AM

            If the entire game was that I would agree, but for now I'm content to trust it's only used as occasional traversal to break up the gameplay. For sure though, it is like seeing elements of Mario in Doom and it....sticks out a bit.

            Whatever, I'm more than happy to try out their new elements if it increases level exploration. This is sounding like a rather long game too plus it seems to have two SP DLC packs planned.

      • reply
        January 21, 2020 11:22 AM

        That looks fun. The real question is why blur is still on >: {

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        January 21, 2020 11:27 AM

        it looks like Celeste in first person

        in hell

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        January 21, 2020 11:40 AM

        Rudds - watched this and didn't hear you really say anything negative. did I miss any critical comments so far?

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        January 21, 2020 11:49 AM

        I'm cool with it!

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        January 21, 2020 12:09 PM

        This was also in nuDoom. It was fine and fun!

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        January 21, 2020 12:32 PM

        jumping puzzles is not what i was looking for in a DOOM game. ;[

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      January 21, 2020 8:22 AM

      Can you expand a bit more on the "weakness points" system? It's mentioned briefly in the article, but I didn't really understand what it was all about until I watched a gameplay video.

      Ex: To take out a Cacodemon quicker, you can throw a grenade its mouth and then that triggers a Glory Kill you can do.

      I still like sniping multiple Cacos at a time with the gauss rifle in Doom 2016.

      The interface is looking more game-y too I noticed. The way markers are no longer little white triangles but big, green triangles, etc.

      I think the platforming, even though the 2016 game has some of that, is going to annoy some people. I like the idea of it. I like how the 2016 game gives you breaks between the crazy battles to just explore and I expect even more here.

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      January 21, 2020 8:23 AM

      Nice

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      January 21, 2020 8:40 AM

      I am watching the footage rudds brought back now. I can't say I am sold on the platforming. It also looks like they are leaning into the arcade stuff more. I may wait for some reviews and for the Shack hype to die down before I buy this.

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        January 21, 2020 8:49 AM

        Yeah I have no interest in the platforming aspects whatsoever. My only hope is that they are few and far between. The puzzly aspect of doing double jumps to grab a power up mid-air that grants another air jump is a major turn off for me.

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          January 21, 2020 8:52 AM

          It's fine it doesn't bother me. It's just a different type of action challenge

          If you "listen" to what he says maybe you wouldn't be all "ugggggggh" about jumping.

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            January 21, 2020 8:54 AM

            Or maybe let me be concerned? Don't need to gatekeep a game that's not even out yet. I'm just going to wait and read reviews to see how much of the game involves this particualr mechanic.

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              January 21, 2020 8:56 AM

              No stop being concerned is the point I am making.

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                January 21, 2020 8:58 AM

                And what is this gatekeeping nonsense I keep seeing, lately? I'm not gatekeeping shit, I'm replying to your posts concerned about platforming that in the very video you are watching Brad is all, I wouldn't worry but you are all "Let me worry!" and I am all "I don't think you should worry" and yeah.

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          January 21, 2020 9:05 AM

          How did you feel about the platforming sections in Doom 2016? For example climbing the Argent Tower

          Spoilers obvs.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyNPz4XeOsQ&feature=youtu.be&t=30


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            January 21, 2020 9:07 AM

            Not my favorite. And doubling down on those with extra mechanics isn't something I was interested in.

            But yes, holy crap, I get it! I'd love to be wrong and have my concerns be unwarranted. I loved DOOM and I want more.

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        January 21, 2020 10:03 AM

        kudos to rudds for playing on a m/kb

    • reply
      January 21, 2020 9:12 AM

      Sounds great. I love the Evil Dead to Evil Dead 2 comparison. What could possibly be wrong with this game I don't understand who would think such a thing it sounds like it's goi g to be exactly what we all want out of another Doom game from this studio...

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      January 21, 2020 9:15 AM

      One thing I don't see anyone blowing their load over is the hub area! A hub area in my Doom!??? Sure.

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        January 21, 2020 9:16 AM

        Also implying the game is not 100% linear or at least helping with that issue of going back to get secrets from certain areas.

    • reply
      January 21, 2020 9:20 AM

      Digital foundry also just posted their look at it: https://youtu.be/ABlxGjNDZeU

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        January 21, 2020 10:59 AM

        that is a great review - cant wait for the game

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      January 21, 2020 9:34 AM

      Metroid Prime had the best first person platforming. I don't know why I felt the need to post this but here we are.

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      January 21, 2020 9:46 AM

      Everything I've read, watched, and heard sounds amazing. Anyone concerned, I remind them of 2016 and how concerned they were and how that turned out. I for one have zero qualms and 1000% expect the best Doom ever.

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        January 21, 2020 9:56 AM

        I have zero concerns. I am ready.

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        January 21, 2020 10:00 AM

        This is my opinion. They've earned the benefit of the doubt. Also, I'll never understand why they demo this type of game on consoles. I know that's the bigger market but it always looks clunky to me.

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        January 21, 2020 10:32 AM

        I'm not going to get over-hyped. All they have to do to satisfy me is provide something on the same level of quality as the previous game and I'll gladly pay full price for it.

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        January 21, 2020 11:50 AM

        Ditto. Lots of praise all around from the 3h reviewers and Hugo's interviews made me super pumped.

        Not getting Shack's sudden negativity about the game at all.

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        January 21, 2020 12:40 PM

        RIP AND TEAR!!!

    • reply
      January 21, 2020 11:27 AM

      I'm fucking losing it over here at Doom Slayer's bookshelf and DVD collection.

      https://i.imgur.com/vBhkG3b.jpg

      https://i.imgur.com/49Aqry3.jpg

    • reply
      January 21, 2020 11:34 AM

      My only gripe with doom2016 was how the game really started to shine only in the later levels.

      Looks like they changed that with this one, pretty fucking awesome.

      • reply
        January 21, 2020 12:23 PM

        Counterpoint: I felt the game ran out of steam in the back quarter. And I watched that NoClip interview with Marty the other day, and he was saying much the same thing.

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      January 21, 2020 11:51 AM

      Pre order placed

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      January 21, 2020 11:58 AM

      I hoped they'd get rid of the glory kills thing. The jerky start and stop gameplay got old quickly.

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        January 21, 2020 11:59 AM

        I loved them, but couldn't you turn them off in the last game?

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          January 21, 2020 12:00 PM

          I didn't play it long enough to find out!

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            January 21, 2020 12:08 PM

            That makes me suspect you didn't play long enough to appreciate how they fit into the gameplay loop as a whole.

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              January 21, 2020 12:09 PM

              Yeah, I love the glory kill :/

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              January 21, 2020 1:03 PM

              I played it for 5 hours. I got sick of entering arena after little arena where I'd have to kill a couple waves of enemies before I could continue. I dreaded the tedium of every new room. I wanted to like it, I just didn't! I'll still try the new one.

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                January 21, 2020 1:40 PM

                You only had to use the glory kills on the higher difficulties and even then it was not necessary. It was just another option on how to approach fights. If you don't like arena shooters in general though I can see how it won't be your cup of tea.

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          January 21, 2020 12:06 PM

          You could turn off the highlight and just not do them.

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        January 21, 2020 12:48 PM

        I clearly suck at Doom, but I am replaying it as we speak (2nd playthru) and I still feel like I NEED to do the glory kills to really survive. (And I am not playing on the two hardest skill levels.) Which I don't mind. But the very first time I played the game it was frustrating until I learned how To Play It Right.

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          January 21, 2020 1:11 PM

          (And to echo what TMWTB said, I love the glory kills too. Can't wait to figure out all the new weakness points in the new game).

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        January 21, 2020 1:55 PM

        I also found the glory kill to be jerky. You could turn off indicators and just not do them... That's how I played the game first time through. I found it's a much more fluid gunplay experience that way

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        January 21, 2020 5:56 PM

        Glory kills are why the game is great. The best choice when on the verge of death isn’t to hide and regen or hunt for health packs, it is to dive headfirst into a pack of enemies and rip them apart.

        Wtf Shack

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          January 21, 2020 6:24 PM

          Seriously, Shack is going mad today. Everything looks great -- March can't come soon enough.

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          January 21, 2020 6:29 PM

          And they have added to it in Doom Eternal: if you burn an enemy with your flame turret and then kill them with any gun they drop armor shards. Like Doom 2016 if you glory kill them you get health, and if you chainsaw you get ammo. So now you have a bunch of health, armor, and ammo dispensers shambling around.

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          January 21, 2020 9:40 PM

          This is so glaringly obvious I'm shocked someone doesn't get it. It changes the entire game in the best way possible.

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        January 21, 2020 5:58 PM

        I was hoping they'd get rid of all the guns and violence!

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        January 21, 2020 6:53 PM

        at higher difficulties the game goes REALLY fast, like faster than the cadence of an intense quake match. you actually want something to stop so you can get a breather otherwise it's just like being on all the time. it's actually very good game design.

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      January 21, 2020 5:54 PM

      I thought the platforming and movement was sick at E3, felt great, no idea what y’all are complaining about.

      My first thought after playing it is what someone who truly masters the movement and combat system is going to make Doom Eternal play like first person Bayonetta, and I mean that in only the best ways possible

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        January 21, 2020 6:50 PM

        It looks like Jumping Flash. Not sure if that's a good thing or not.

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      January 21, 2020 6:02 PM

      Okay I quit reading at "Playing on a gamepad..."

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        January 22, 2020 12:40 AM

        Playing first DOOM on gamepad was great. I'm not going to play games at home with mouse and keyboard after 8 hours of working with mouse and keyboard.

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      January 21, 2020 6:27 PM

      I can't believe Mick Gordon's new album comes with a free game!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAs0qsLeWh8
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Akx48dLnccQ

      Just 2 months!

      • reply
        January 22, 2020 12:14 AM

        That was posted a week ago and has almost 1.5M views already.

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      January 21, 2020 6:35 PM

      Freaking awesome!!!!!!! My body is ready \m/ :) \m/ I can already taste it and it taste so good.... it hurts!!!!

      Doom Eternal is going to be a day one must have for Me, I can't freaking wait!!!!!

      Also those who want to pimp out their game in Ray tracing your in luck: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2195&v=kZYY9ebOKdw

      Thanks for the write up, video and preview Ozzie \m/ :) #DoingItForShacknews

    • reply
      January 24, 2020 9:55 AM

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