Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part One is the first DLC released for id Software’s follow-up to Doom 2016. Building off the new mechanics introduced in Doom Eternal, The Ancient Gods Part One picks up shortly after the events of the base game, bringing a much more challenging and slaying-filled experience for players to sink their shotguns into. I recently finished up the DLC, and while it does suffer from a few issues, the overall experience is more than enough to get your blood pumping as you blast your way through horde after horde of enemies.
More Doom? No problem
At its core, The Ancient Gods Part One embodies everything that was good about Doom Eternal. Players start off with a fully upgraded Doom Slayer, as well as every weapon unlocked. The full arsenal is at your disposal and you’re going to need it if you want to make it through the three brand-new maps you have to explore in the DLC.
For the most part, combat is enjoyable – as it was in Doom Eternal and Doom 2016 before it – but there are a few rough edges that players will need to look out for. While the combat mostly feels fluid, there are times when you have so many enemies on the field, and you’re focused on other mechanics that you may find yourself pushed into corners or bumping against enemies. This can make the movement and combat feel clunky, but it’s something that you’ll learn to work around quite quickly.
If you weren’t a fan of the platforming in Doom Eternal, then you’ll probably find yourself shaking your head pretty early on in The Ancient Gods Part One. id Software has continued to build off the new mechanics that it added in the original release, which means there are plenty of areas where you’ll need to move between swinging from monkey bars and double-dashing across large openings. The game’s platforming wasn’t a favorite of mine and my disdain for it continues in the DLC. While it works, I much prefer not having to juggle timing jumps 100% correctly in an FPS game like Doom, so it always felt out of place.
Everything but the kitchen sink
If you finished up Doom Eternal wishing for more of a challenge, then boy I’ve got good news for you. The Ancient Gods ups the difficulty quite a bit, bringing more combat encounters to the five-hour campaign than most full retail FPS games strive for. The game itself feels like a gauntlet of combat, with encounter after encounter playing out. Remember when everyone said that the Doom Slayer was just going to make things worse? Yeah, I don't think they were joking.
The slower times between encounters from the base game? Gone. Complete replaced by smaller encounters. But the increased difficulty doesn’t stop there. The gauntlet is intensified even more thanks to id throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you. Marauders, Pain Elementals, Arch-viles, Doom Hunters, and Cyberdemons all appear in the fights. You name it and it’s here. That’s not all, though. The Ancient Gods Part One also introduces players to a few new enemy types with some interesting mechanics behind them.
Blood Maykrs are corrupted Maykrs that have an overshield that only comes down during powerful attacks. Time your counters correctly and a quick headshot will take them down. Spirits are another new entity. These enemies possess regular demons, making them much stronger. The kicker here is that you’ll need to use the Plasma Rifle’s microwave beam to destroy the Spirits after you have killed their hosts. Move too slowly and the Spirit will simply possess another enemy on the field.
Turrets are also another new enemy you’ll see throughout the game. If you look at these stationary enemies too long, or get too close, the eye that powers it will hide, forcing you to strike at the perfect opportunity. A couple of sticky bomb shots usually take care of these, though they can get annoying in larger fights.
If you thought Doom Eternal’s base game had a lot of combat encounters, then you haven’t seen anything yet. The Ancient Gods Part One takes all the enemies and throws curveballs like Totem Buffs in to help shake things up. The action is brutal and nonstop, so make sure you’re ready to go before you jump in because there’s never really a dull moment to be found here.
The best part about The Ancient Gods was the story and lore expansion. id Software has a fantastic way of weaving lore in with the violent and tumultuous action that is prevalent throughout the series. The DLC gives us an even deeper look into the Doom Slayer’s history and it was something that I was especially excited about. I don't want to give too much away, so I'm not going to touch on this one, but if you love the lore in Doom, then you're going to appreciate the depth that id brings to the story this go around.
While there are a few hiccups here and there, and I wasn’t the biggest fan of the new mechanics, Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part One does a great job of building off what id Software started with Doom 2016. Despite my own grievances with the steps the series has taken, I can appreciate the classic gunplay that’s underneath it all and the DLC delivers on that badass feeling effectively, even if it struggles at a few points throughout.
These impressions are based on a code provided by the publisher. Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part One is now available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Google Stadia.