by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
Rip And Tear, Again
Itís only been a few short years since 2016ís reboot of the DOOM franchise. They said it couldnít be done, that the timeless classic couldn't be reborn in a modern shell and still retain the thrills of the early 1990s. When DOOM 3 attempted a soft reboot of the series, it came across as more of a horror title than an action experience that left fans divided. After that instance, it was many years before the series came back in full force, and wow did it ever. Players carved their way through Hell's legions as the Doom Slayer across the surface of Mars and the demonic realm itself, leaving gore, blood and bullet casings in their wake. It was a near-perfect FPS game and only a few things held it back. A multiplayer mode that was predicted to be short-lived, but surprisingly still has a small but dedicated following and an over-emphasis on Glory Kills.
Today I come to you, like a prophet singing the Doom Slayer's praises, to tell you that DOOM Eternal isnít just the best DOOM game to date, itís the best FPS game ever made. Period. No exaggeration. Turn the lights off, weíre done here. Oh, youíre still here? Well then gather around the open flames of your nearest portal to Hell and let me elaborate on what may be mistaken as a bold opinion forged in adrenaline and hype.
Green Man Goring
This couldíve been a disaster. Attempting to double down on every aspect of 2016ís reboot is risky business. We know a lot of games that suffer from sequel syndrome, where too much is changed in an effort to keep things fresh that it sacrifices the original flavor. Vice versa, games have also added too little which makes some sequels feel like a glorified expansion pack. DOOM Eternal is what a sequel should be. Lets start first with the Doom Slayer. DOOM was all about keeping things fast paced when fighting with the demons. How do you make that experience better? You give our protagonist new bells and whistles. Providing more usage to the Chainsaw as a backup weapon, introducing the Flame Belcher and a shoulder mounted grenade launcher, turning him from a walking force of nature to a god.
Now I know what youíre thinking, if heís become godlike then the game will be too easy, right? Only if you play on the lower difficulties. Go in on Ultra-violent or harder and youíre going to feel the burn of Hell. Id software felt there just werenít enough demons to go around in 2016, so now theyíve literally unleashed the hoard. Every single encounter will have you on the run from some demons while youíre in hot pursuit of others. Your finger is barely going to come off the trigger and youíre rarely going to have full ammo. This is a bloody ballet and you have to utilize all the tools at your disposal. This time around glory kills feel like more than an extra aspect, but a required tool of survival. Lighting enemies on fire with the Flame Belcher makes them drop armor, glory kills contributes to restoring your health and carving enemies with the chainsaw restores your ammo quickly to get you back in the fight.
Your enemies range from cannon fodder to real challenges and battles often throw a mix of both at you at once. The fodder as both inconvenient obstacles between you and your main opponents, as well as a quick respite for health and armor. The game also has a handful of boss battles, each one easily topping the boss battles from the last game. Of all the enemies large and small though, I think the definite show-stealer is the Marauder. I wonít go into much detail here to avoid spoilers but throughout Eternal, it's an enemy youíll face several times and they employ a number of the same tricks that you do.
The Sights And Sounds Of Hell
Visually, the game is beautiful and incredibly fluid. Despite all the action, I never had a dip in frame and there's a wide range of environments. While weíre all too used to the tight corridors and puzzling hellscapes, these new level designs feel more open and catered to big battles. Youíre no longer fighting in the blood spattered halls of a UAC base and glimpsing the shores of Hell. Youíre experiencing hell on earth, seeing the effects of demons across different worlds. In the opening missions alone youíll go between Earth, Hell, the Sentinel city of Exultia and to back to Earth's arctic north. Snow in a Doom game? Pine trees? Blue skies? Yes, itís possible and also beautiful, so if youíre worried about a lack of red, that will change when you start dumping buckets of blood.
Often youíll move so quickly that you canít really stop to soak in the maps' finer details, but when you can catch a breather make sure you look around. I was surprised to realize one area's floors was a bunch of human bodies fused together with contorted, pained looks in their faces. I was more surprised to see that some of these were still alive, their subtle groans mixing into the background music.
Speaking of music, Mick Gordon has nailed it again by coming up with a soundtrack that is distinctly DOOM in every way. Do you remember how strong tracks like BFG Division and Rip And Tear were in DOOM 2016? Because nearly every track in DOOM Eternal is firing on all cylinders to give each battle the music-induced adrenaline boost.
The Last FPS Game Youíll Ever Need
While itís unrealistic to say that DOOM Eternal will be the last FPS game youíll ever play, youíd be hard pressed to convince me that there will ever be one to top it. Iím not even sure another entry to DOOM could push the genre further than DOOM Eternal has. Itís beautiful destruction, a hurricane of violence, a symphony of being a pure, bonafide bada**. Itís a love note to the 90s and a lesson to modern FPS games that vintage and modern can live side by side, and when done correctly makes a legend for the ages. DOOM Eternal is the best first-person shooter and thatís the bottom line.
Intense combat, smooth gameplay, beautiful world design, killer soundtrack, blood and gore by the bucketful.
Itís going to be hard to go back to other FPS games after this.