Out of all the hands-on demos I had at E3 2019, I think Doom Eternal is what I enjoyed the most. This isn’t to say that once all the cards are down and every game shown off releases it will be my favorite, but in terms of the demo experience, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than a game that drops you into a bloodbath of demon guts and gore.
Playing Doom Eternal is simply exquisite.
Guns and Gore
Let me preface all of this by saying that I didn’t finish Doom’s 2016 reboot. I enjoyed it and thought the gameplay was amazing, but it just didn’t pull me all the way through. After about four hours, I just got bored with the repetitive clear room, interact with thing, go to next room format. I barely made it through Bioshock Infinite for the same reason, but the story kept me going in that one. Not so much in Doom.
It remains to be seen if that same issue will apply to Doom Eternal, but after spending over half an hour with it at E3 2019, I’ve got hope. While the signature “move fast and shoot things” gameplay is all here in its excellent, bloody glory, there seemed to be a lot more variety this time around.
Granted, the demo took place partially through the game — so this wasn’t a new player experience — but I was very much not bored throughout the entire demo. Not only did all of the guns feel incredibly different (rocket launchers, grenade launchers, a shotgun with a grappling hook, giant rail gun-style laser cannons, and more) but the environmental variety was great, too.
I was double jumping and air-dashing to boost spots across floating platforms in such a way that it almost fooled me into thinking I was playing a heavy metal platformer for a few minutes. Subverting expectations is a great way to keep my interest.
Shotgun + Grappling Hook = Perfection
But let’s go back to the aforementioned shotgun with a grappling hook attached. Shotguns are my favorite type of weapon in a video game. They combine the one-shot power of a sniper rifle with up-close and personal danger, resulting in a downpour of blood that feels like the most satisfying reward imaginable for any budding demon slayer.
Doom more or less invented the Amazing Video Game Shotgun in the 90s, and Doom Eternal is here to make it even better.
It sounds simple at first, but hear me out: you can shoot a grappling hook out of your shotgun, like a hookshot from The Legend of Zelda series, attach to an enemy, and zoom through the air toward it. Upon arrival, just blow them to smithereens. It’s simple and effective.
The speed and intensity of rushing toward an enemy — that’s probably still shooting at you in the process — is exhilarating in its own right, but when you use the shotgun’s grappling hook as a new traversal mechanic, it really starts to open things up.
During one section, I landed like a meteor in the middle of a group of enemies and instead of back-pedaling to kite them while shooting like any skilled Doom players knows how to do, I instead bounced between them like a pinball zipping from one soon-to-be pile of mush to the other. It was a complete change in gameplay style that really felt good.
Doom Eternal threw another curveball at me in a later section when it put the next tiny floating island I needed to reach just far enough outside my reach that a double jump + air dash combo wasn’t enough to get there. But at the end of my air dash, as I was falling, I was just in range enough to grapple onto the enemy at the edge of the platform and zip to it as my shotgun blew its head off. They’ve turned the shotgun into a platforming tool, and I’m in love.
This might be a bit premature, but the new shotgun + grappling hook combo might be my new favorite weapon in any FPS game I’ve ever played.
Worth noting is that I died more in my Doom Eternal preview than any other hands-on session I had at E3 this year, and that feels extremely appropriate. These weren’t frustrating, “That was cheap!” deaths, but were instead errors in my movement, poor planning, or me not switching to the right weapon in time.
I had a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see more of Doom Eternal. It’s really hard to overstate how much I enjoyed this demo. I’m not the biggest of fan of “pure” shooters as they are usually a bit too simplistic for me — I’d usually prefer something with a more complex narrative or more thoughtful gameplay — but Doom Eternal sidesteps my usual complains with the genre by just throwing even more chaos at me without giving me a chance to breathe.
It was suffocating and incredibly anxiety-inducing, but I loved it. Get ready to rip and tear through Doom Eternal later this year when it releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia on November 22.
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