Doom Eternal Review

Developer
Id Software
Release Date
March 20, 2020
Series
Doom
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)
Amazon Steam

Rip and Tear Until it is Done

Doom Eternal’s first moments make one thing very clear: Your next few hours will be nothing but high-octane, flesh-ripping, heart-pounding action. It sucks you in, putting you in a completely trance-like state as you take part in this delightful dance of death. The Doom Slayer’s rampant disregard for demonic life makes him the perfect avatar for players looking to enjoy some old-school, arena-based shooting.

 
 

Throughout the entire campaign, the love and care id put into Doom Eternal shines bright. The varied environments look fantastic, while the movement and combat feel viscerally satisfying. Tried and true veterans will very quickly reach a zen-like state of flow, underscored by a soundtrack that demands headbangs. While it may have small issues, Doom Eternal deserves to be celebrated for its unabashed commitment to making every player feel like a badass.

Doom Eternal is Your Playground

Doom Eternal Mars
Sometimes, you've got to go to crazy places to save the Earth.

In Doom Eternal's campaign, one of the first things the Doom Slayer does is cock his shotgun. The simple yet intimidating gesture sets the tone perfectly, as players can expect unbridled carnage and finely tuned shooting mechanics. For those familiar with Doom 2016, this sequel should fit like a glove with a couple of extra features.

Every weapon except the pistol returns, and they all feel as deadly as ever. With a smorgasbord of demon types to slay, each gun finds its moment in the spotlight, encouraging players to swap as often as possible. Additionally, the Doom Slayer has access to a hands-free grenade launcher—which can also launch freezing grenades—as well as a flamethrower. Combine that arsenal with his shocking mobility and the world is your oyster.

Doom Eternal Daisy Rabbit
The Slayer has a soft side, too.

Doom Eternal puts more strategic decisions in the hands of players. The gorily satisfying Glory Kills makes enemies explode with health while using the chainsaw yields ammo. On top of that, the aforementioned flamethrower makes enemies drop armor. No matter what, you’ll likely be starving for one of those resources, creating a sense of urgency in most major encounters. This near-desperation constantly encourages you to improvise, but eventually, you’ll start dictating the flow of battle. That triumphant feeling really can’t be beaten.

In the same vein of strategy, most larger demons now have weak points, giving players something to aim for to earn easy kills. From shooting off body parts to using a super-powered melee attack, these approaches add some variety and texture to every fight.

Dispatching larger demons quickly is never a bad thing considering how much damage they dish out in record time. Later levels like to throw a maelstrom of enemies at you, and you’ll often have to keep an eye out for escape routes. Luckily, the new short-range dash gives players another tool to bob and weave through demons, ensuring players can maintain an aggressive approach.

Streamlined for Convenience and Fun

Doom Eternal Corruption
Even when you're not ripping apart demons, Doom Eternal is beautiful to look at.

Much like its predecessor, Doom Eternal is chock full with upgrades to get. Everywhere you turn, there's an opportunity to earn more upgrade points, whether it's by stumbling upon easy-to-find secrets or completing challenges. It seemed like every time I paused, I always had some extra weapon points or Praetor Suit upgrades to spend. Luckily, this sequel takes things a step further, all for the sake of fun. For example, the Praetor Suit features upgrades that turn your frags into cluster bombs, while another upgrade makes red barrels in the environment respawn after some time. Why? Well, the more explosions, the better.

The weapon mods and upgrades work similar to how they did in 2016—you earn upgrade tokens by exploring and beating levels, and those can be put toward whichever mods you want. Once a mod is fully upgraded, you have to complete a mastery challenge to unlock its full potential. This time around, though, you can bypass the challenge by using mastery tokens, which are found throughout the world. This concession makes things convenient for players, letting them tailor the experience however they choose.

 
Doom Eternal Doom Slayer
You have to wonder if the Doom Slayer ever isn't scowling while under that helmet.

Overall, it seems like id championed convenience in this sequel. There’s very little fat to trim, and it feels like the developers wanted nothing stopping anyone’s fun. For example, falling down a pit doesn’t immediately kill you anymore. Instead, it takes away some of your health or armor. The punishment remains, but it doesn’t force players to sit through another loading screen. Unfortunately, the platforming-focused segments feature checkpoints that are more of a pain to work with. While it’s nice that a pitfall won’t kill you, sometimes you’ll respawn you on a platform that’s pretty far from where you fell. You might have to backtrack more than you’d expect, ruining the flow of a level.

Furthermore, there’s one enemy type, in particular, that tends to remove any sense of fun from every encounter. The Marauder, an ax-wielding powerhouse, can only take damage when you counter him. On top of that, he takes a lot of super shotgun shots to the face before he goes down. While the rest of Eternal tries to put you in an engrossing trance of destruction, the Marauder’s interruption can ruin an otherwise engaging encounter.

Selling the Doom Slayer Fantasy

Doom Eternal Khan Maykr
He may not look as tall as the Khan Maykr, but he's still got what it takes to intimidate it.

Marauder and pitfalls aside, Doom Eternal contains a symphony of carnage that welcomes you into its bloodthirsty arms. The combat delights in its exaggerated brutality, while the atmosphere and storytelling do their part to sell the ultimate demon-killing fantasy. When the Doom Slayer walks by mere mortals, they cower in fear. You tower over them, and they steer clear. Enemies may talk a big game, but the second the Slayer readies his weapon, they suddenly lose all that bravado. These are small moments in cutscenes, but they go a long way toward making the player feel like a one-man army.

The story itself isn’t necessarily anything to write home about. It’s easy to take it at face value because of its simplicity, while the codex pages flesh out the background for those who want to know. Beyond that, it’s a fairly basic story about one man saving Earth from the armies of hell. The writing adds some embellishment that plays up the rage and savagery of the legendary Doom Slayer, which comes off more as campy and fun rather than cool or exciting. That might be a good thing for some and a bad thing for others, but I enjoyed it for what it is. It’s not exactly memorable in its reasoning or setup, but the setpiece moments—especially the final encounter—will stay with me for a while.

 

Decent Multiplayer, but not as Eternal

Doom Eternal Faith
The writing here is a bit self-indulgent, but by this point, I was on board with this crazy power fantasy.

Much like Doom 2016 before it, Doom Eternal launched with a multiplayer component in addition to the single-player campaign. Instead of offering a slew of your typical deathmatch and capture the flag modes, only one is on tap: Battlemode. One Doom Slayer tests their might against two player-controlled demons, each of whom can summon lesser demons and use special abilities. The first team to score three wins comes out victorious.

Playing as the Doom Slayer should come pretty easily, considering it’s a near one-to-one recreation from the campaign. He doesn’t have all his endgame abilities—he’d be ridiculously overpowered, obviously—but most of the crucial bits are there. The demons, on the other hand, each have their own unique skill sets that take some getting used to. There’s a lot to manage between your inherent abilities and your little demon army.

My time as the Demon Slayer ranged from overly difficult to surprisingly fun. Early on, I was completely outclassed and overwhelmed by the sheer number of enemies. I longed for my upgrades and power weapons, but I eventually got the hang of things; you can earn the BFG 9000 in the latter half of each match. Once I got into the full swing of things, it almost felt like playing a level in the single-player side of things, although I had to be a lot more careful in my approach. Needless to say, if you want to play as the Slayer, you'd better be confident in your own abilities.

Doom Eternal Watcha Sellen
Is this a reference to Resident Evil 4? Or just an on-the-nose name for a now-defunct pawnshop? Probably the latter.

Playing as the demons was initially enjoyable. I explored playing as the Archvile and the Mancubus, and their novel control schemes were neat to toy with. They also have the ability to nullify all loot for a few seconds at a time, preventing our hero from picking up ammo, health, and armor. It’s a neat mechanic that adds some counterplay and spice to your everyday demon-slaying, and it’s enough to be a nuisance without completely crippling the solo player.

However, I could see the limits of enjoyment approaching much sooner on the demon side of things. There’s some excitement in controlling the bad guys and outsmarting the Doom Slayer, but at the end of the day, I’d rather be playing as the hero. It's a more difficult path, especially considering how overwhelmed you are, but that also means each earned victory tastes that much sweeter. Additionally, there isn’t as much depth to the five demons, while the one-man army simply has so much more going on under the hood. At that point, it almost makes more sense to just play the single-player mode again.

Doom Eternal Review | Final Thoughts

Doom Eternal Hell Spear
The environmental design just screams "industrial metal."

Doom Eternal, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is one of the most polished first-person shooters of the generation. With an engaging campaign featuring tons of upgrades and lots of carnage, there’s enough here to justify multiple playthroughs. The multiplayer may not be as strong, but the campaign more than makes up for it. The visceral pleasure of destroying an army of demons never gets old, especially when it feels this good. So ready that shotgun, get out there, and rip and tear—until it is done.


TechRaptor played Doom Eternal on PlayStation 4 using a code provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia.

Review Summary

9.0
Doom Eternal is pure, unadulterated mayhem that indulges in its own brutality, creating a sinfully fun first-person shooter. The multiplayer may be nothing to write home about, but the campaign deserves your undivided attention.

Pros

  • Killing Demons Feels Fantastic
  • Loads of Collectibles Warrant Multiple Playthroughs
  • Self-Indulgent, Campy Writing is Entertaining

Cons

  • The Marauder Ruins Certain Encounters
  • The Multiplayer is Middling at Best
  • Self-Indulgent, Campy Writing is Also Ridiculous
Robert Scarpinito TechRaptor

Robert Scarpinito

Features Editor

When I'm not talking about my love of Persona, I'm probably playing or writing about games. I'm waiting for the day I can be proud of the DC cinematic universe. Catch me on Tadaima: A Terrace House Podcast for some insights on the best reality TV show on Netflix.