Doom Eternal Review: Ripping and Tearing Never Felt So Good
Doom Eternal is the perfect example of a game that firmly delivers on its promises and exceeds expectations in all the best ways. When you see a trailer or screenshot for Doom Eternal, it's usually dripping with blood, covered in gore, and full of brutality. That's exactly what you get when you play Doom Eternal for yourself.
It seems like all too often developers add monotony, backtracking, and tedious moments to pad out a game's length or entice microtransactions, so it's refreshing to sit down with a beefy and satisfying single-player shooter that's nothing more than a non-stop thrill-ride of death and violence.
We need more games like Doom Eternal.
Doom Eternal Review: Ripping And Tearing Has Never Felt So Good
From the opening moments in Doom Eternal, you're made to feel like a complete and total badass. During the intro cutscene, the narrating voice explains that only one thing has been sent to quell the forces of Hell and push back the tide of the apocalypse: You.
It's a powerful moment as the Doom Slayer turns towards the camera, begins to walk away, and pumps his shotgun with one hand in perfect rhythm with the heavy metal soundtrack. It's just campy enough to be cool and not cringey. Thankfully, that tone remains throughout the entire game.
In Doom Eternal you spend a lot of time blasting demons, obviously. You're given a shotgun at the very start, but soon after that you get the assault rifle and various other weapons as well.
To this day my favorite weapon in Doom Eternal is still the Super Shotgun. The very same shotgun I gushed about for four paragraphs in my E3 2019 preview? Yeah, that one. You get it around three hours into Doom Eternal, and it was my favorite gun until the very end.
You see, what makes the Super Shotgun so special isn't just that it's a better and more powerful version of your Shotgun (which it is), but it's also got a grappling hook attached to the front. This means you can use it to not only pull yourself towards enemies to finish them off with a blast but also to pull yourself towards platforms during jumping and platforming segments.
It's incredibly liberating and dramatically expands the possibilities in both exploration and combat.
But even if your arsenal doesn't keep you from dying, Doom Eternal does something interesting, and it's one of my favorite bits of the game. If you play online, the game tracks your death, along with everyone else's. When something kills you, there is a chance that creature is now more powerful in another person's game, which they're notified about.
It's a great communal system that rewards playing well by marking more challenging enemies.
The whole game is just a damn good time. Every single explosion of blood, punch, flamethrower belch, and grenade blast feels engineered to send a jolt of dopamine straight to your brain.
And the secret to why those jolts of dopamine don't progressively wear off as you play is how expertly the progression mechanics are mixed with almost perfect pacing.
For starters, each weapon can have different mods applied to it that add new functionality, such as turning your assault rifle into a scoped sniper or giving your shotgun grenades. After that, you can upgrade the mods and augments to make them even more powerful. On top of that, you've got suit upgrades for permanent stat boosts and there are also other tokens to redeem for new bonuses and upgrades.
There are lots of paths to improvement. It feels never-ending.
Just as you start to gel with a new weapon or new ability, you'll find something fresh to tinker with. Hats off to the QA team and whoever worked on game balance and pacing, because it feels almost perfect.
Some of the work done here breaks down a bit with how linear long stretches of the game end up feeling, not to mention some difficulty spikes that can really slam you hard in some fights. It's not uncommon to get bogged down in a big arena fight, needing to die and retry the same fight a dozen or so times.
It's a bit of a double-edged sword. One of my main gripes with Doom (2016) is that many of the levels just feel too large and are unnecessarily laid out as multi-floor mazes. DOOM Eternal fixes that by focusing on mostly linear levels with short environmental puzzle breaks sprinkled in to space things out.
But the result is that sometimes it feels like all you're doing is fighting waves of enemies through mostly straight-forward levels. It wasn't often, but every now and then, I had to step back and take a break because it would start to feel a bit repetitive.
Doom Eternal Review — The Bottom Line
- Gory and satisfying guns
- Fantastic progression systems
- Well-designed battle scenarios
- Amazing visuals
- Satisfying world-building to further establish the Doom Slayer
- Can feel overly linear at times
- Some difficulty spikes
Reviewing a game like Doom Eternal is sometimes a tricky proposition. I had already played about an hour of it back at E3 2019 and then another three hours of it at a press event last month. I had a very clear idea of what I'd be getting before even sitting down to officially play it for review.
Sometimes that results in a feeling of having already seen the best bits and forcing myself to sludge through it again before hitting something new. Not this time. Doom Eternal is the kind of game that you start to play and a few minutes later, you realize you're smiling from ear to ear. Maybe it's all of the gratuitous violence or bloody imagery of demons getting their skulls bashed in, but Bethesda and id have a truly special understanding of what makes a game feel good to play.
From the moment you kill your first enemy with the starting shotgun to when you revel in the explosion of blood from your final enemy, Doom Eternal is a nearly non-stop thrill ride that exceeds almost every expectation. It's easily one of the very best single-player shooter campaigns I've ever had the pleasure of playing.
It's going to potentially come off as reductive and simplistic, but Doom Eternal is just really, really good. If you enjoy shooters, want to see demons explode while gushing blood, and can handle yourself in a fast-paced firefight, there should be zero hesitation in your mind about picking up Doom Eternal.
[Note: A copy of Doom Eternal was provided by Bethesda for the purpose of this review. The multiplayer offering was not available prior to launch to test for this review.]