DOOM Eternal

DOOM Eternal

DOOM 2016 could once claim to be my favourite game in its venerable series, but it’s now going to have to share that spot with Eternal. The MO of this sequel is expansion; there’s simply more of everything, for better and for worse. The previous system of gunplay peppered with chainsaw kills and finishing moves that respectively recover ammo and health has been augmented with new melee options and a shoulder-mounted projectile launcher that includes an armour-restoring flamethrower. Furthermore, the incredible variety of enemies have been given unique weaknesses, and the system has been tuned to ensure your entire arsenal is useful, if not crucial for survival. It’s pushing just up to the complexity limit for a game this fast-paced – most of my early deaths were caused by choice paralysis more than anything – but the result is FPS gameplay that’s undeniably gripping from start to finish.

The production values are also top-notch. Aside from the general brutal splendour of the visuals, the extensive “destructible demon” physics and animation variants for melee kills go a long way towards keeping players engaged. Additionally, the industrial metal soundtrack is one of AAA gaming’s best, with pulse-quickening riffs and an uncommon electronic dissonance that distinguishes it from its peers. The controls work perfectly as well, which is surprising considering all of the new aerial movement abilities they have to accommodate. The image of the Doom Slayer gaily swinging from bars and climbing walls is an unusual one, and, along with an increased emphasis on story, it’s emblematic of a shakier tone this time around. The latter inclusion is especially misplaced, because the game isn’t very good at telling its story.

Finally, the standard multiplayer offerings of 2016 have been replaced by a chaotic asymmetric setup that attempts to replicate the “one vs. horde” feeling of the campaign. It’s where several of Eternal’s new ideas (as opposed to ideas that are just new to DOOM) have been placed, so it’s a lot more interesting than its predecessor. Unfortunately, it’s also ludicrously unbalanced; almost every match I played ended in a blowout.

8/10
8/10

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