Doom 2016 was an amazing revival of a franchise that I revered, and I wondered if it would be worthy of the name. It was my game of the year. With Doom Eternal, I had impossibly high hopes, and, with a few exceptions, it’s managed to exceed them. It’s different than past Doom games, but, if this is the future, the Doom franchise is on the right track.
Doom Eternal greatly expands the lore and story. Doomguy’s origins are explored through minimal dialogue and by finding codex documents scattered throughout the levels. These little bits of history will talk about characters and places tracing a path to the present. I enjoyed them, but I’m torn. I’m not sure we needed to pull back the veil of mystique. Story bits are still mostly voluntary, so you can make that choice between encounters.
Doom Eternal evolves the core combat experience. It’s epically brutal and brutally epic with so many moments that make you look and feel like the godlike Slayer. It’s so freakin’ fast that other games feel slow. There are fights everywhere, but each of the massive levels has arenas that trap you until you clear all the enemies. They are arranged with multiple, multi-level pathways, portals to transport you from one end to the other, boosters to throw you into the air, and other ways to keep you moving.
One of the earliest lessons in Doom Eternal is that staying still is the fastest way to die. The beginning levels felt like I was learning to play the game, and I have the high death count to prove it, especially against the worst enemy in the game, the marauder. Whether you are taking melee or ranged attacks, they can bombard you and slam into you from all directions making it difficult to see let alone aim. If you back yourself into a corner, you could be looking at a loading screen.
Fortunately, those loading screens are fast too, and you are a walking NRA convention. You have tons of guns each with an alt-fire mode or two, a frost and frag grenade that’s switchable on the fly, a chargeable blood punch that turns enemies into a Pollock painting, and rapturous glory kills that rip and tear every blinking demon after damaging them enough in an experience that feels rhythmic. It’s so intense my hands were sweating as I played.
Combined with speed and firepower, Doom Eternal’s combat is more strategic than the last one. There seems to be less ammo, and you’ll need to switch guns far more often. A quick button press bounces between your last selected and current weapon, but it doesn’t seem like it will auto switch if you run out of ammo in both. That’s incredibly frustrating for the second you realize your river of pew pew has dried up.
Most of the time, you are choreographing a glorious ballet of blood. Each of those guns can be multipurpose, but many shine in a particular task. The pulse rifle can overload shields causing them to explode. The shotgun has a grenade that can be fired into a cacaodemon’s mouth (the ones that look like giant floating tomatoes with teeth) and make it ready for a glory kill. Guns are not the only ways to get the job done. Some weapons like the chainsaw and crucible energy sword have powerful but limited use.
Combining them all with grenades gives you a lot of options, and you’ll wind up using them all to stay alive. Especially in the beginning, ammo runs out quickly, but there are ways to get more ammo, armor, and health by using your available tools. I’m not saying Doom Eternal is the thinking man’s shooter, but quick thinking is rewarded.
The game is filled with powerups to keep you running and gunning for longer. Along with upgrading those guns and mastering those alt-fires, you can upgrade your suit with Praetor points, and you can upgrade your health, armor, and ammo capacity. Runes can unlock little perks that can customize your game by giving you a second chance after a fatal hit or letting you perform a glory kill from farther away. There are even cheat codes hidden in the levels. When you combine your runes, suit points, the right weapon, a quick blast from your flamethrower, and some quick movement, you can go from almost dead to winning.
The presentation in Doom Eternal is incredible. On the PS4 Pro, this game is silky smooth, and it stays that way. From the textures and visuals to the lighting, this game looks fantastic whether it’s showing a destroyed Earth, a nightmarish vision of Hell, or other dimensions that we’ve never seen in a Doom game. Technically, it’s one of the best looking games on the PS4.
The sound is another strong point. In general, you’ll feel the boom of the frag grenade and the auditory punch of the other weapons. There is a squish as viscera goes flying, and you can hear the roar and screams of some of your enemies. Tying all of this together is a rocking soundtrack by Mick Gordon with heavy guitar work and an industrial feel. Whenever it ramped up in both volume and intensity, I knew I was about to have a good time.
There are only two problems I saw. The first was that some enemies would temporarily be stuck in the environment. It’s rare and not a big deal. The only other thing was the new platforming mechanic. In the beginning, it was a minor change and very thrilling as I landed the next leap over an endless chasm. Towards the end, you’re having to throw yourself through the air, and it felt like an obstacle to keep me from the parts of the game I enjoyed.
If you want to play with friends, Battlemode is the new online multiplayer. It pits the Slayer against two demons who can attack or summon new enemies. It’s an interesting take and can be fun to play as one of several different demons, but I don’t care. It’s not why I buy a Doom game.
Doom Eternal is a must-play game of 2020. It’s different, but it combines so many great ideas so well with combat that feels so good against visuals and music that are some of the best of the entire generation. It’s already high on my GOTY list, and its biggest problem will be how they manage to top this one for the next entry in the franchise.
Doom Eternal PS4 Review
Overall - Must Buy - 9.5/10
Doom Eternal is the high-intensity experience you’ve been waiting for, and it’s worthy of the hype. The gameplay changes move the franchise forward and put an emphasis on more strategy, but you’ll still be ripping and tearing through demons with all the franchise’s reputation for gore. The platforming is not my favorite part of the game, but it’s a minor blemish on an otherwise excellent experience that looks, sounds, and feels amazing.
- Fast combat is intense and satisfying
- Visuals and sound are incredible
- Expanded locations and lore are interesting
- Who needs multiplayer?
- Platforming can be annoying
- Enemies can be momentarily stuck in the environment
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a physical version of the game bought at retail at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed on a PS4 Pro.