DOOM Eternal Preview
I’ll get this out of the way right now. I loved 2016’s DOOM. Everything about it. The heavy metal tunes, varied enemies, gruesome kills, slick visuals, badass weaponry and visceral combat. Did I mention the music? Ah yes, those hypnotic angry metal soundtrack really kicked ass. So when DOOM Eternal was teased last year, I was pretty hyped. I mean, what’s not to like about more DOOM? One year later, I finally got the chance to go hands-on with Eternal and by the end of the nearly one-hour demo, I was exhausted, but in a good way.
Why mess with a good thing, right? That is definitely the approach id Software is taking with their sequel. All the brutally wonderful elements that made 2016’s Doom a huge hit are back, properly boosted with a heavy dose of crystal meth.
Ugh, Mars Again?
The demo I played took place on Mars, which isn’t my favorite setting in a video game, but at the very least this drab and dull setting allowed us to check out some of DOOM’s new abilities and control mechanics.
Before we started driving chainsaws into enemies and ripping heads from spines, we were greeted with a beefy tutorial which introduced us to some of the new (and old) controls. The double jump, new wall climbing, and boost sliding combo mechanics were all tricky at first, but it wasn’t long before I had the basics down and I was ready to sprint around maps to some deep guitar licks.
As usual, I wish I paid more attention to those advanced controls they taught us in the tutorial. Due to my brain cells being absolutely fried from E3, I seemingly forgot everything that mattered! So, I struggled, A LOT! Yet I still, barely, managed to get by.
Immediately I found myself running out of ammo quickly. Not to mention, health seemed in short supply. I’m not sure exactly where the dev team dropped us in the campaign but it certainly felt like it was towards the end of the story as it wasn’t a walk in the park. At least for me, it was. It had been a couple of years since I picked up a DOOM game, so I felt rusty.
Burn It To The Ground
There is a familiar yet fresh feeling to the controls. It will all come back as you whip around the map slaying an endless horde of grisly creatures. Some of the new mechanics and rewards for killing enemies are incredibly rewarding and satisfying. The new shoulder mounted flame thrower, for instance, was a neat new mechanic but it felt heavily underpowered and almost useless against the enemies. I imagine you’ll be able to power-up this item during the game, so there is some potential for an amazing weapon.
The rewards for killing enemies in Eternal are plentiful. As you take down enemies, they drop ammo, armor, health and rage power-ups. What items they drop depends on the type of enemy you take down. Also, it’s all about how you kill the enemy. This isn’t a mindless shooter at all. There are layers of strategy here that will probably go under-appreciated. If you just decide to shotgun everything in sight, you won’t get very far. As I quickly found out.
Other new mechanics include the Meathook mod for the Super Shotgun, which allows you to hook into a demon and blast them in short range. There are also new weapons like the energy-bladed Crucible and the powerful Ballista. You can vault monkey bars, punch holes in walls, break chains and more. Needless to say, I think there is enough new here to keep fans happy.
The pace is fast and frantic, so Doom Eternal really forces you to think on your feet. It is in these moments of sheer panic when you are running low on health and ammo, Doom really shines. Completing a level brings a huge sigh of relief. To the point, you just want to put the controller down, have a drink of water, go for a walk and return after you’ve collected yourself. And this is great.
It’s going to be hard for id Software to top 2016’s glorious Doom game but based on my lengthy E3 demo, signs are pointing towards an experience that, at the very least, should be on par with its predecessor. The combat, controls and game mechanics seem to have taken a step further. If the music, visuals and map design can also take a step forward, we’ll have ourselves a pretty incredible experience to look forward to.