A delayed video game is always a bummer. By nature, players are an impatient lot, and it's always easy to assume the worst when a AAA game gets pushed back a few months for polish and further development time. While this is a bad sign for some games, DOOM Eternal is the perfect example of the old saying "good things come to those who wait.
Last Friday, I got the chance to play 3 hours of what's expected to be the final build of DOOM Eternal and to put it simply, I haven't had this much pure fun with a video game in a very long time. I'll admit right now that while I enjoyed the DOOM 2016, I didn't finish it. DOOM 2016 just lost my interest about 3/4 of the way through because I felt like I was playing the same room over and over with a newish coat of paint. DOOM Eternal fixes this and goes above and beyond with how fresh and familiar it feels throughout the few hours I played. Everything from the movement, weapons, and how DOOM Eternal trickles new moves and play styles to you while progressing the game in an organic and smart way is intuitive and fun.
In a Q&A session with the game's director Hugo Martin he stated that "We’re capturing enough of the player base to feel confident that everyone can learn and master the experience” when asked about the game's difficulty and pacing. Confidence is something I noticed first hand with DOOM Eternal. When the demo began I was having a pretty hard time plowing through the hordes of enemies and keeping my ammo and health above critical levels. While I'm not about to compare DOOM Eternal's difficulty and player skill progression to that one game everyone compares anything remotely challenging to. DOOM Eternal does an excellent job of letting the player slowly get better at the game and feel that sense of confidence when you can easily handle the same enemies that gave you trouble beforehand without having to rely on a stat boost or a "better" gun. The pacing and general player education through short stress-free tutorials and noncombat traversal areas really worked and within the first hour, I was playing the game more skillful and stylish than I was ever able to play 2016's DOOM.
At its core DOOM Eternal is a skill-based game and the best way I can compare its skill-based play style to someone unfamiliar with the franchise, is to compare it to an arcade racer like Initial D. While you may be able to upgrade your skills for larger splash damage or do some more damage from your weapon mods, ultimately player skill and how you aggressively traverse the combat arenas and exploit enemies weakness is how you'll truly progress and have the most fun with DOOM Eternal. I was able to play the game up until the 3-hour mark and in that time I was able to collect four weapons, a few mods and new abilities such as a double air dash and a flamethrower that enables enemies to dispense armor chunks. I also noticed that my gameplay was significantly more aggressive and fast-paced than when I had begun the demo just a few hours prior.
The story in DOOM Eternal seems to be a bit more in your face this time but also easy to avoid and ignore if you're just in it to shoot and slice some demons, but if you want to take a deep dive into the lore, there's a ton of backstory and profiles in your codex to keep you satisfied. The environments are substantially more alive and almost every nook and cranny is telling you a story of what happened before the Doom Slayer showed up. In the Q&A with game director Hugo Martin he stated that this time around the developers took the time to address the biggest issues with the first games pacing and overall repetitive environments and make sure that Doom Eternals 22+ hour campaign is full of fresh and interesting environments and encounters that encourage player exploration and experimentation. This was most evident in the few (extremely brief) platforming and climbing sections that served to not only break up the momentum between encounters, but also teach the player how to approach air dashing, strafing, and vaulting in a more interesting way than a boring tutorial. DOOM Eternal respects your time in ways most modern games don't.
DOOM Eternal is shaping up to be a major contender in a year full of heavy hitters. After my time with it, I'm beyond excited to see what happens next. More importantly, I'm pumped to see all the skills and gameplay styles I'll learn along the way. If you were a fan of the previous titles, or just want to try something that's fun, fast, and respects your time. Then DOOM Eternal is absolutely one to look out for this March.
TechRaptor previewed DOOM Eternal at a private press event held by Bethesda in Los Angeles.