Against all the evil that Hell can conjure, all the wickedness that mankind can produce, we will send unto them...only you.
Doom Eternal is one of the greatest first-person shooters ever made, it really is as simple as that. All of what made the 2016 reboot so great is present in the latest entry of the beloved franchise, but everything is enhanced, added upon, and polished to perfection.
Upon booting up their copy, what will strike players first is how beautiful the game looks in motion.
Legendary developer id Software is well known for its technical prowess, and Doom Eternal once again raises the bar - the game world is beautiful and its impressively varied locations add splashes of colour to go along with the vibrant reds and oranges and dark corridors that the series is known for.
The game's visuals will be familiar for those who have played 2016's Doom (which was similarly magnificent), but it's in the increased range of its environments and the extra detail that Eternal really shines and sets itself apart.
The damage modeling on display is particularly superb - bullets tear off chunks of flesh to reveal the underlying bone and muscle on the series' iconic demons, explosions remove whole sections and appendages from their victims, the chainsaw literally rips demons apart in excruciating detail. The insanely detailed gore just serves to further engross you in the role of the unstoppable killing machine that is the iconic Doom Slayer.
Despite the impressive visuals and fine details, Eternal manages to maintain a silky smooth frame rate and even when an army of demons fill the screen and chaos breaks out in every direction, Eternal remains rock-solid and refuses to slow down or miss a beat.
The sound design is similarly spectacular, from the uber-satisfying racking of the combat shotgun's slide to the roar of a chainsaw tearing an Imp in half before its body parts clatter onto the ground.
The soundtrack is a beast all on its own, its extremely heavy metal guitar riffs making every encounter feel like the most epic boss battle you can imagine. The gutteral growling that is infused in some tracks in some of the areas of Hell infuses a heightened sense of danger and really gives you a sense of the history behind the cultish demonic enemies you are hunting.
Mick Gordon has once again outdone himself with the score and it's a game that begs you to crank up the volume when you play, its powerful riffs pumping you full of adrenaline as you rip through anything that stands in your way.
Of course, the gunplay is the biggest draw to the world of Doom, and once again, id Software have outdone themselves.
From the combat shotgun to the heavy cannon, Doom's classic arsenal is as powerful and satisfying as ever thanks to arguably the most responsive and punchy combat in shooter history.
There are of course multiple firing modes for each gun that can be modified and upgraded as you progress, just like in 2016. Clever additions such as the awesome meat-hook for the super shotgun, which lets you latch on to an enemy at range and rapidly pull yourself into them via its chain to deliver a crushing close-up shotgun blast, enhance the action and promote the game's focus on never-ending momentum.
Similar to the last installment, Eternal places a focus on constant movement and utilizing a variety of methods to kill your opponents, but with very clever enhancements. Movement is faster and easier than ever thanks to the dash ability as well as the afforementioned super shotgun's meathook, and a combination of different abilities serve to keep you stocked up on everything you need.
Glory kills return and are more brutal and satisfying than ever, with a plethora of new animations (many of which feature the awesome forearm-mounted blade) to ensure they don't grow old - just as before, damaging an enemy to near-death "staggers" them for a short period, causing them to flash blue and orange to indicate you can perform a glory kill by simply approaching them and pressing the melee button.
Doing so drops health and in a pinch, it's always handy to keep a few weaker enemies around in large battles in case you need a quick shot of health to keep you in the game. In many battles, glory kills serve as not just satisfyingly gruesome executions, but as your lifeline.
Ammo in Eternal is scarce, but initiating a chainsaw kill with the tap of a button will drop ammo to replenish some of your stock, with the catch that using the chainsaw requires fuel - a single bar (out of three) will slowly replenish over time and can be used to kill smaller enemies, while some larger foes can also be torn apart for a larger ammo drop if you have a full fuel bar filled via pickups.
A shoulder-mounted grenade launcher allows you to deliver grenades without taking your finger off the trigger and allows for either traditional explosives or an ice bomb to be launched, though instead of picking up grenades they now slowly recharge like other abilities.
A shoulder-mounted flamethrower, called the flame belch, is a completely new addition and completes the trifecta of resource gathering - while glory kills replenish health and chainsaw kills earn ammo, setting enemies on fire causes them to drop small pieces of armour for added protection. Similarly to the grenade, the flame belch recharges over time and is initiated with a button press that spews a quick puff of fire over your shoulder toward your targets.
In addition to all of the above abilities is the blood punch, which also recharges over time and is activated simply my meleeing an enemy (that isn't staggered) - doing so will perform a more powerful melee attack that sends out a shockwave which damages and pushes back nearby enemies, making it the perfect tool to create space if you find yourself backed into a corner.
The variety of weapons and tools available to you, as well as the plethora of alternate fire modes and enhancements for your suit and weapons, all serve to not only make the combat more exciting and varied, but also to encourage and reward tactical play - mixing the different abilities together and changing your tactics to adjust to the enemies you're facing is essential to survival.
While Eternal brings the power fantasy of being an all-powerful destroyer to a whole new level, it's a challenging game that often throws ridiculous numbers of enemies at you, particularly given the rather limited ammo you can carry compared to other shooters.
If you are just "spray-and-pray"-ing, the ammo scarcity in particular will give you problems - learning to focus on weak points and remaining precise under duress is thus highly emphasized and something that requires a bit of practice, but becomes more than worth it to master.
Targeting weak points on each demon type not only helps you take them down faster, but even limits their offensive capabilities - take out an Arachnotron's turret and you'll eliminate their ranged attacks for instance, or destroy a Mancubus' arm cannons to take out their most potent weapons.
Keeping calm amidst the chaos, fully utilizing the abilities and arsenal at your disposal, and picking your targets can mean the difference between taking out a group of baddies and feeling like a god, and getting overwhelmed and dying like a dog.
The game throws a ton of different enemies your way and constantly introduces new ones into the fray as you progress, naturally turning up the complexity and adding new wrinkles to the gameplay without forcing a noticeable difficulty spike on players - as you get better at the game and using the tools at your disposal, the game rises to offer more challenge to keep up with you.
Of course you can turn down the difficulty (particularly if you aren't great at shooters) and just have a blast without having to worry as much about your tactics, but embracing the plethora of options at your disposal and learning the systems inside and out proves incredibly satisfying and truly rewarding when you're able to rise to the challenge.
As an added bonus you can change the difficulty at any time without penalty, so if you're finding things too easy or too difficult you can adjust the settings accordingly without losing progress or missing out on anything.
Exploration is handsomely rewarded through the bevy of secrets and collectables strewn about each level, from cutesy Funko-esque mini figures of all the iconic Doom characters to cheat codes and upgrades for your weapons and the Doomslayer himself.
Many of the secrets are visible behind bars or blockages and entice you into figuring out how to reach them, whether they have well-hidden passages to be found or are only reachable by carefully timed double-jumps and other platforming hijinks.
Though platforming in FPS games tends to be rather sloppy and can often get annoying, Doom Eternal has shockingly good platforming mechanics. Levels are designed to naturally improve and expand on your abilities in this regard, and before you know it you'll be stringing together perfectly timed double jumps, monkey bar swings and air dashes to reach far away hidden goodies in no time.
Those hidden secrets become a game all by themselves as you scour the environment looking for ways to get these just-out-of-reach gems - being near one will place an icon on the map in the menu, while activating an area map reveals the location of all the secrets on any given level. Even when you can see exactly where one is on the map however, they often require a lot more work to actually get to. The collectables and upgrades essentially become mini-puzzles for you to solve as you play (should you so choose).
In a smart addition, near the end of each level fast travel is unlocked so that you can instantly warp back to various sections of the map to collect anything you may have missed before proceeding, a very cool touch that makes collectable gathering a fun and worthwhile experience rather than the chore it is in many other games.
id's masterpiece truly encourages you to play your own way and with your own style - if you want to just plow through demons relentlessly without a pause for thought, you're welcome to, while those that prefer to break up the mayhem with old-school exploration are generously rewarded for doing so.
The story itself is also surprisingly serviceable - foregoing the lengthy cutscenes and exposition-heavy dialogue of most gaming campaigns, Eternal instead tells a rather streamlined story that is much further fleshed out in collectable documents and its codex which automatically adds entries as you play. For those that just want to rip and tear, the story never gets in the way, while those that want more background on what's going on and the lore behind it have plenty to digest.
In addition to earning upgrades and mods for your weapons and suit, story documents, cheat codes, classic songs to listen to, and more, there are a variety of other systems at play to unlock even more rewards.
Secret encounters can be found that when activated, spawn specific enemies into the area near you that need to all be eliminated in a set amount of time in order to unlock points used to upgrade your weapons.
Slayer Gates can also be found in various levels, which require you to find a nearby key in order to unlock them - once opened, a chamber lets you activate the Gate and teleports you into a small battleground against waves of enemies. Completing the challenge room also earns you weapon upgrades alongside a special Empyrean key.
The Fortress of Doom, a satelite station orbiting earth, serves as your "hub" at various points between missions. A badass lair fit for a man of his demon slaying stature, the fortress features plenty of little easter eggs and lets you play various songs from classic id Software games by interacting with the album covers that adorn its walls after you find them during missions.
Not only does your pimped out fortress offer you a cool crib to check out your collectables and play your unlocked music in, it also features the Ripatorium which lets you take on a room full of demons to practice your slaying skills, a station to replay missions (with or without cheats activated) and add any upgrades and collectables you missed to your current playthrough, as well as another station to complete Master Levels which are remixed versions of some of Eternal's normal campaign missions.
Here you'll also be able to unlock additional upgrade/modification resources and different skins for the Doom Slayer by plugging in sentinel batteries, collectables hidden throughout the game's levels and also rewarded by completing challenges for each mission.
As you collect Empyrean keys from the Slayer Gates found in missions, you can place them into the makyr device on board the fortress; once you've collected all six keys and placed them into the device, you'll unlock the game's final weapon, the Unmakyr.
A laser gatling gun that's on par or perhaps even better than the BFG-9000 (yes, seriously, though they share the same ammo pool), the Unmakyr of Doom 64 fame (a copy of which is included for those that pre-ordered Eternal) is well worth the trouble of unlocking - you don't want to miss those Slayer Gates.
In truly every aspect of its design, Doom Eternal emphasizes good old fashioned fun above all else and it's all the better for it.
Unlike virtually every other modern game, using cheat codes you've unlocked does not reset or stop progress on your save file, with the one caveat being that you can't use them to complete the Slayer Gates. So if you missed a collectable or two and want to quickly explore a prior level, or just want to have some fun as a truly unstoppable producer of gore, Eternal gives you all the room in the world to do so at your leisure.
In addition to the typical cheats like infinite ammo, added armour, fully upgraded weapons and suit mods, there are also several codes that are purely for entertainment, from a cheat that causes killed demons to explode into confetti to one that inspires an invisible audience to cheer for you as you play.
After you complete the epic campaign, you can return to the Fortress to replay levels and collect any upgrades or secrets you missed, complete challenges, or just relive your favourite moments with or without your unlocked cheat codes active, all while keeping all of the upgrades and mods you have accrued.
The Master Levels are a neat addition as well but as of writing just two levels are available (only one if you didn't pre-order the game) - more are promised in the future in regular free updates however, which is a nice bonus for fans.
You can of course start a new campaign, such as one on an extreme difficulty level (like Ultra-Nightmare, in which case if you die a single time a marker remains to show how far you made it and the game is over), or the Extra Life mode which similarly causes the game to be over if you run out of lives (extra lives are found as collectables throughout the game) for an extra challenge to whatever difficulty you want to play on.
Considering how great the campaign is, it's well worth going back and experiencing again, particularly if you're a gamer that likes a challenge.
On the multiplayer front, it's a shame that the traditional multiplayer suite has been axed entirely in favour of only having the new 2-vs-1 BattleMode. I for one loved the 2016 incarnation of Doom's multiplayer trappings - a classic arena shooter with such a breakneck pace is hard to find and it filled the void extremely well, but unfortunately it didn't enjoy the success the single-player portion of the game had and the community quickly fell off after launch.
Likewise, Doom 2016's excellent and extensive SnapMap map editor that allowed players to create their own single-player and co-op levels with ease is similarly absent - despite its polish and creative community offerings, it didn't have enough longlasting support from its audience to warrant the work required for its inclusion, which is a shame considering how fun and unique (especially on consoles) it was.
Instead, we have the new BattleMode, which pits a fully equipped Doom Slayer against two demons.
Playing as the Doom Slayer is exactly like playing through the campaign, while each of the five playable demons to choose from has unique abilities, powers, and attacks to use.
A quick tutorial explains the basics and each of the five demons has its own tutorial to show players their unique talents and different feel, though players who dive right in will pick up the basics quickly enough.
In a first-to-three series of rounds, players can activate different bonuses after each round to buff their character - although the Doom Slayer is more powerful than any one demon, demons that work together and combine their character's abilities can easily turn the tide in their favour.
In addition to their unique physicality, movement, weapons and abilities, demons can also spawn lesser demons to join them in their fight using recharging abilities, can activate loot blocks to prevent the Doom Slayer from picking up loot for a short period, can activate healing zones and a variety of other things to aid them in their fight for survival against the mighty Doom Slayer.
To help the Doom Slayer stay alive, plenty of fodder enemies join the demons so that health, ammo and armour can always be replenished, though of course they also join in the assault and can help damage and overwhelm the Slayer.
Maps are of course taken from locations in the campaign and feature plenty of opportunity for the Doom Slayer to stay mobile, though there are plenty of areas to trap him in as well.
Demons can also choose from two different loadouts of abilities to use; one which focuses on more direct offensive abilities while another focuses on healing and summoning. Coordinating with your demon pal is important when taking on a skilled Slayer, and already a wide variety of strategies have emerged from both players as both the demons and the Slayer.
On paper BattleMode seemed more like a gimmicky game type that wouldn't be much fun in practice, but thanks to great balancing and a wealth of options for players to utilize whether they're playing as the Doom Slayer or one of the demon variants, the mode is surprisingly fun and recreates the hectic chaos of the campaign brilliantly.
As with any fast-paced twitch shooter, skill of course makes a massive difference in the outcomes of matches, as does intelligent use of the player's abilities and arsenal - so far many matches I've found myself in have been tense back-and-forth affairs, and even when one side gets blown out I still found myself having fun (whether I be on the winning or losing side) rather than getting frustrated.
Of course time will tell whether BattleMode will see lasting success or if it will fizzle out as the multiplayer portion of the last Doom title did - one aspect that works against it is the limited number of players in a game.
Most players prefer to play multiplayer titles with a group of friends on their team against strangers, or if they are a large group, against each other. With a maximum of just three players and only two being on the same team if they're the demons, that takes away much of the allure of multiplayer sessions for a large percentage of players that may hurt the mode's support in the long run.
I can't however fault the developers for trying something different and delivering a very exciting and unique new mode to go along with one of the greatest campaigns in shooter history, and am looking forward to what the team will have in store for us in the coming months.
Doom Eternal is an unabashed throwback to the beloved shooters of old that emphasizes fun and challenge above all else, but it still manages to push the envelope at every turn and doesn't sacrifice modern comforts to achieve that feel.
Featuring one of the greatest campaigns in shooter history, arguably the most satisfying and deepest yet streamlined combat systems in any FPS game ever made, brilliant level design and a soundtrack that could make a math exam exciting, Doom Eternal is as close to perfect as any shooter has ever gotten.
Pros +Beautiful and varied environments, impressive damage modelling, and fantastic art style +Superb sound design and incredible soundtrack that injects every encounter with a hefty dose of adrenaline
+Incredibly satisfying gunplay and brilliant gameplay mechanics along with tons of enemy types combine to add multiple layers to every encounter
+Old-school exploration is tons of fun with lots of upgrades and collectables to be found, with clever additions such as fast travel and a handy tracker to streamline the process
+Sports a surprisingly good story that never gets in the way of the breakneck pace, but allows players to learn more of the history involved if they so choose
+Lengthy campaign with tons of replayability and extras
+BattleMode is a unique and deep multiplayer offering that is plenty of fun and captures the chaos of the campaign well
-No traditional multiplayer suite
The Final Score: 10 / 10 Get your copy now on Amazon.ca