Doom Eternal review: One hell of a party

Doom Eternal ups the ante from Doom 2016 by adding platforming, new mechanics, and new gadgets. But is this sequel a worthy successor to the throne? Our review.

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Doom Eternal is by far one of the most anticipated games of the year. Following id Software’s huge success with Doom 2016, many old and new fans alike are looking forward to diving into the Doom Slayer’s next chapter. There’s a lot to digest with the latest entry in the series – from new mechanics and weapons to the return of some iconic demon classes – and Doom Eternal is one hell of a good time.

Editors note: This review only covers the singleplayer campaign. We'll have an official piece on the Battlemode multiplayer soon.

Back in the saddle

Doom Eternal wastes no time thrusting players back into the action. The world is on fire – quite literally – and demons are piling in from Hell. The earth’s population is falling drastically and it’s clear that there is only one man who can stop it all from happening. Enter the Doom Slayer with a flourish of the series’ iconic heavy metal music. There’s no extended build-up here. No slow-motion entry point like we had in Doom 2016. Gone are the days of the pistol; Long live the Combat Shotgun.

This is one of the first big changes players will recognize between Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal. The infinite ammo pistol, which could come in handy during those dry spells when ammo was a bit tough to find, is gone. The Combat Shotgun is your basic weapon this time around, and you’ll find yourself coming back to it again and again throughout your playthrough.

Other weapons unlock at standard progression points, with the Assault Rifle, Plasma Rifle, and even the BFG-9000 joining your arsenal as you make your way through the campaign. As always, you’ll find yourself equipped with more than enough to take down the demons in your way. Unlike previous Doom games, which allowed you to pick and choose your weapons a bit more, ammo does get a bit scarce at times in Doom Eternal, forcing you to move through your weapon wheel in ways you might not have before. Enemies now feature defined weakspots, which when utilized can completely turn the tide of battle in your favor.

As someone who enjoys using the Combat Shotgun, and the explosive rounds that come with it, I often found myself having to move through the other weapons that I had available to me, as ammo can get pretty tough to find during intense fights. Still, the new platforming abilities, and the new dash mechanic made for a nice change of pace, giving you new avenues to get away from danger quickly if you found yourself struggling to stay alive.

And behold a pale horse

As far as FPS games go, Doom has one of the richest histories, with over 25 years across the series. Despite the success of Doom 2016, id Software needed to follow it up with something even bigger. To do this, new mechanics and even new enemies were added to the lineup to help freshen things up and throw some wrenches into the well-oiled cogs that made Doom 2016’s gameplay feel so good.

The game still feels great with the new mechanics. Platforming works out well for the most part and adds some nice touches to combat – allowing you to swoop away using well-placed bars around the various combat arenas. These new mechanics also open up new areas of exploration, allowing you to move up and through levels much more efficiently. Unfortunately, Doom Eternal falls into the very pitfalls that most linear shooters do, where players are forced to learn to play the game the way that the developers intended.

This isn’t a game that allows you to pick and choose where you want to go or how you want to approach situations. You are a murdering machine, armed to the teeth with weaponry, and you’re going to have to make use of it if you want to stay alive.

Platforming isn’t the only new device you have at your disposal, though. The Meat Hook – which is attached to the Super Shotty – allows you to grapple onto enemies, pulling you directly to them. This is handy during some fights, however I found it pretty useless the majority of the playthrough, as I was much more efficient at disposing demon hordes while moving around constantly. Of course, players more well-versed in the dance of Doom might find more use out of it in their own playthroughs.

The Flame Belch also adds a nice dynamic, allowing you to light enemies on fire as you battle around them. This creates little chunks of armor that fall off of them, allowing you to add some additional defense to your dance of death. I will admit that I wasn’t very good about making the most of this new device, but it did come in handy during tough fights with lots of enemies.

And his name that sat on him was Death

Doom Eternal does a really good job of building off of the god-like view that has come to surround the Doom Slayer throughout the series. In fact, as you explore the world, you’ll find various audio logs and broadcasts that seem to correlate with this thought – that the Doom Slayer is some holy avenger sent to protect humanity. It’s a novel idea that works well, and as you dive deeper into the narrative that id Software has woven here, it all really comes together.

I won’t spoil the exact nature of the narrative, as it’s something best experienced by Doom fans, but I was happy with the way that id Software brought everything between Doom Eternal and Doom 2016 together into a cohesive story. If you enjoyed digging deeper into the story behind the violence in the reboot of the series, then you’ll probably really enjoy the narrative direction that Eternal has taken.

What makes Doom so special for me, is the game’s ability to just make you feel like an absolute badass. While other games have tried to capture that same feeling, none have ever done it as well as id Software has with Doom. Unfortunately, there are a couple of points in Doom Eternal where this feeling is ripped from you. In fact, one of the later boss fights of the game takes away that feeling entirely, as you’re left to scrounge around the map for ammo drops, all while dealing with enemies that take multiple shots to kill. It’s a huge takeaway from the mainstay of the series, and it made the entire fight feel like a chore instead of a challenge.

Aside from that particular boss fight, though, the game does a very good job of making you feel like a force to be reckoned with. It’s a feeling that still feels great despite the 4 years that have passed since Doom 2016 revived the series.

Round and ‘round we go

It’s very clear playing through Doom Eternal that the developers have designed it to be replayed again and again. While the normal battle encounters won’t change, the way that the levels are designed opens up a load of exploration once you’ve become more accustomed to the different mechanics.

Slayer Gates and other secrets are littered throughout the world. These secrets include everything from Extra Lives to Cheat Codes that can be activated in Mission Select. There’s also the new Fast Travel function, which unlocks at the end of a level, allowing you to teleport back to key areas of the level to explore more. This all helps to encourage exploration and replaying of levels. If you were a fan of 2016's classic Doom levels, then you'll be disappointed to learn that I didn't come across any during my time with the game. They might be out there somewhere, but at the time of this writing I haven't come across any. All around, though, the exploration options in Doom Eternal are much greater than in 2016, with much larger levels and areas just waiting to be found.

Furthermore, the game has taken a heavy approach to challenges. Not only will you find the level-wide challenges for weapon points, but you’ll also find weekly challenges that all count towards an overall season experience level. It's unclear how the developers plan to extend the content beyond this first season, but it does at least leave a road for Doom Eternal to grow much larger after release. The game also features a slew of skins that you can unlock to change how the Doom Slayer looks in the singleplayer and multiplayer modes, so if you're someone who enjoys loads of visual variation, you'll find plenty on tap in Doom Eternal.

Not all Doom and gloom

While Doom Eternal does a good job of building off of 2016’s success, the game isn’t without its missteps. The lack of any form of deathmatch feels weird – especially when you consider the part that the Doom series played in the birth of the game mode. The lack of any form of Battlemode access during the review process is also somewhat troubling, but we’ll have more on that particular mode after it becomes available at the game’s launch.

As a whole, Doom Eternal is a solid game, and a great sequel. Unfortunately, it never goes beyond the scope that Doom 2016 set. While there are new mechanics and weapons, it just doesn’t offer that same sense of freshness that the reboot did. Platforming – while a strong addition to many parts of the game’s exploration – often feels heavy handed and forced. Some encounters require you to time dashes and jumps together.

Sure, I appreciated the puzzle-like nature of some of these instances, but others left me slowly losing armor or health as I plummeted to my death because it wasn’t very clear which direction the developers wanted me to go. I often found myself wondering ‘can I make that jump?’ only to discover that I couldn’t because it wasn’t how I was intended to proceed.

It’s very clear from playing through the entirety of the campaign that id Software has designed every encounter with a “right way” to play it, and going outside of the lines that have been drawn will cost you – whether it costs you a death, or just some health and armor, is all dependent on how quickly you learn to pull your crayon back inside the lines where it belongs.


This review is based upon a PC review copy of Doom Eternal provided by the publisher. Doom Eternal will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on March 20, 2020.

Guides Editor

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has been exploring the world of video games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys everything from large-scale RPGs to small, bite-size indie gems and everything in between.

Review for
Doom Eternal
8
Pros
  • Great gunplay and fast-paced action
  • Loads of exploration options
  • Platforming in combat adds a new level to encounters
  • Well driven narrative that fits within the fast-paced action
Cons
  • Platforming sections can feel forced at times
  • Game forces you to play a certain way by limiting ammo for weapons
  • Some boss fights feel like a chore
  • No deathmatch
From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 17, 2020 7:00 AM

    Josh Hawkins posted a new article, Doom Eternal review: One hell of a party

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 7:39 AM

      Great review, Josh. Glad you enjoyed the game!

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 7:42 AM

      THREE MORE DAYS UGGGH

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 8:15 AM

      Nice!

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 8:45 AM

      8 out of 10?

      So it's worse than Death Stranding?

      not a serious post

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 9:42 AM

      Great review! I can't wait to play!!!

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 10:20 AM

      Not sure its my type of Doom.

      • reply
        March 17, 2020 10:30 AM

        too much ripping or too much tearing?

        • reply
          March 17, 2020 10:35 AM

          Not a fan of "going only where the developers want to go" exploration route that many reviewers are commenting on. Doom to me has multiple paths and its up to you how you get to point a to point b.

          • reply
            March 17, 2020 10:45 AM

            How can a game built on keys to access parts of the map and backtracking be considered multiple paths?

            • reply
              March 17, 2020 11:16 AM

              I don't know, I'm going on what reviewers are saying compared to Doom 2016.

              • reply
                March 17, 2020 12:38 PM

                You said doom to you is about multiple paths, which makes no sense if you have ever played any of the doom games.

                • reply
                  March 17, 2020 1:42 PM

                  Maybe he got his copy of Doom mixxed up with his copy of World of Warcraft.

            • reply
              March 17, 2020 11:19 AM

              Yeah even if you compare Far Cry to Doom3 one was extremely linear and one was the more open world game. Never really considered Doom to be about freedom of choice on objectives.

            • reply
              March 17, 2020 11:45 AM

              Classic Doom (and 2016) had a critical path through the level. Get red key, open red door, get blue key, open blue door, exit.

              It also had copious optional content that was not on the critical path. D2M1 had a chainsaw, a rocket launcher, a shotgun, a pile of health globes, some armor and 2 combat encounters that were only available if you went off the critical path, and that map was TINY.

              So I guess it's not about having multiple paths, but about having the option to explore off the critical path that people are worried about. For what it's worth, the 2 reviews I read or watched mentioned that exploring for secrets is still in the game, and that doesn't sound remarkably different from what we had in previous Doom games.

              • reply
                March 17, 2020 1:28 PM

                Thats what I what. Its not like the typical call of duty experience.

                • reply
                  March 17, 2020 10:28 PM

                  Can I get a what what

              • reply
                March 17, 2020 1:32 PM

                This one is the same according to the lgr review

            • reply
              March 17, 2020 12:28 PM

              So my issue was that the game is very much built around the overall flow that the developers have set out for it. Yes there aren't multipaths in the usual sense of it, but that wasn't what I was referring to.

              Doom is and always should be a linear experience. It just fits. My problem was that the developers have created this flow for combat and if you don't follow it, you're penalized. I felt that Doom 2016 allowed me to experiment more, where as Eternal was very much "this is how you kill this. Do it this way or you'll run into issues". Does that make more sense?

              • reply
                March 17, 2020 12:36 PM

                It does in that Hugo has stated it killed him when people weren’t playing Doom right, like you said, and then would complain that they only needed the shotgun to beat the game. From what I gathered, your complaint is exactly what they were aiming for, they WANT you to play the game the way they designed it, not cheat it (essentially).

                • reply
                  March 17, 2020 12:44 PM

                  Anyway, I haven’t played the game yet, you have. I have no leg to stand on but am just going by what I heard from Hugo and what I understood of it.

                • reply
                  March 17, 2020 12:53 PM

                  Oh yeah, for sure. It's what they wanted, and that's fine. I just preferred being able to play the way I wanted a bit more. The game is still great, just wasn't what I wanted from the experience. Might be exactly what others out there want (aside from the devs) and that's great. This is just one opinion out of many.

      • reply
        March 17, 2020 1:06 PM

        If you like Doom and don't mind having to follow the flow a bit more than usual, then it's still a great game, and a great Doom game. But, if like me, you prefer being able to play 99% of the game using your favorite weapon, then you'll probably run into some issues.

      • reply
        March 17, 2020 2:56 PM

        The platforming stuff makes me question whether I should get it. I hate platforming.

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 10:40 AM

      Wish they'd release it early. I bet they could.

      • reply
        March 17, 2020 10:57 AM

        The problem with day/date digital/physical releases is that the digital release isn't allowed to go out until street date per the contracts with physical retailers. Not all retailers receive it early and have it stocked. Some don't get it until the day before due to shipping and logistics issues.

        • reply
          March 17, 2020 11:28 AM

          Are there any physical retailers still open to sell it?

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 11:17 AM

      Hey! You're that guy that does that daily pandemic map thing! Cool!

      • reply
        March 17, 2020 11:25 AM

        Also, given the lock in at ho e for the next bit this will be one of the few times I pick up a new release game. I usually wait for a deep discount awhile later.

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 11:18 AM

      I’m rest glad it’s reviewing so well! I wish I liked 2016, but more games people are happy with is always good.

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 11:38 AM

      While there are new mechanics and weapons, it just doesn’t offer that same sense of freshness that the reboot did. Platforming – while a strong addition to many parts of the game’s exploration – often feels heavy handed and forced. Some encounters require you to time dashes and jumps together.

      OH MY GOD! Some encounters require timing and skill!? Fuuuuuuuuuuuu

      Also the review isn’t even complete as they didn’t get a chance to try out the new Battlemode or whatever its called and then complained there’s no deathmatch.

      • reply
        March 17, 2020 11:43 AM

        Nope, Brisk. It's only an 8 out of 10. You're not going to enjoy it as much as Borderlands 3.

        • reply
          March 17, 2020 11:47 AM

          When I think of Borderlands 3, I think of freshness!

        • reply
          March 17, 2020 11:48 AM

          Damn.

          Reminds me of the time Jeff Gerstmann reviewed Half Life 2 and gave it an 8 point something and Halo 2 got a nine point something and people were losing their minds; “HALO 2 is better than HL2!? Fuck you Jeff!

          • reply
            March 17, 2020 11:51 AM

            I just realized we have a new Doom game and a new Half Life game coming out in the same month.

            Time to party like it's 2004! 🎉

      • reply
        March 17, 2020 11:46 AM

        This one better allow quick saves or people are going to rage out.

      • reply
        March 17, 2020 11:47 AM

        Well it’s not their fault, Battlemode isn’t live until next week.

        DOOM 2016 didn’t even get pre-release reviews. Like the reviewers got the game same time as everyone else. Usually this is a warning sign that the game is awful but not this time. I think they seriously weren’t done with it and in this day/age of online patching they can just work up until the wire. And I’m ok with that if DOOM 2016 is the result.

      • reply
        March 17, 2020 12:34 PM

        Yeah, I mentioned that we haven't touched Battlemode and would follow up with a piece on that once we can. That's a completely different piece of the puzzle. This review is based on the singleplayer.

        The lack of deathmatch is small, sure, and it isn't something I took off an entire point for. It was a small con that many of us on staff felt was worth mentioning.

        Encounters require timing. Right? how dare I be upset a game requires skill to be good at. I'm not.

        I'm upset that the developers got heavy handed with the platforming because "it's a new mechanic and its cool make them use it". That's how it felt to me.

        Did it still work out? Sure. But sometimes the jumps they wanted you to make required a wonky amount of timing to pull off, and sometimes jumps you thought you could make, couldn't be made at all. These are issues that all platforming games run into, and something worth calling attention to since the game focuses so heavily on the new feature.

      • reply
        March 17, 2020 12:41 PM

        There absolutely is no and will be no deathmatch. We already confirmed this fully. It's not even a point.

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 11:54 AM

      Sonic & Mario at the Olympics got a 9... Doom only an 8? Its the end of days!

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 12:46 PM

      I CAN'T FUCKING WAIT.

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 12:54 PM

      Hate to be that guy but the video quality is bad although i have set it to the 1080p, also 30fps for a Doom game. Last but not least, playing Doom with a controller for a community that is PC centric

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 2:10 PM

      Good review. Seems like it’s safe to preorder.

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 2:26 PM

      Didn't Shacknews stop assigning scores to their reviews for a while? Does it turn out scores drive page views or something?

      • reply
        March 17, 2020 2:49 PM

        Metacritic drives traffic. Metacritic only accepts scored reviews.

    • reply
      March 17, 2020 2:51 PM

      Honestly, I see that in this game. In Call of Duty MW 2019 I pinged it for the same thing. The second you wander off a predetermined path you instant die.

    • reply
      March 18, 2020 2:39 AM

      Urge to buy rising...

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