Doom Eternal stays true to its visceral, adrenaline-fueled roots and executes them with precision and polish that few video games in any genre could hope to match—but it’s still hard not to notice a little Doom Dad Bod showing through in the form of over-stuffed meta-systems, collectibles, and progression trees, not to mention the game’s uneven and nigh-incomprehensible, inconsequential, and clumsy narrative.
DOOM Eternal’s Meticulous Mayhem
Doom is an iconic PC shooter that has survived and perfected its formula for nearly 30 years, so it’s fair to say that its story isn’t generally why we’ve continued to play a series of games that all started with the death of your pet bunny rabbit (in the first DOOM game).
Doom Eternal, like all its predecessors, is about visceral, frenetic gunplay and relentless, exciting, and occasionally panicked running and gunning. The most vivid, memorable moments are born of killing swarms of demons in glorious, explosive gore using a ridiculous arsenal of weapons you’d need a portable wormhole just to carry.
Success is generally reliant 2 things:
- Never stop running. (Cardio!)
- Kill everything that isn’t you.
In other words, keep running, farm lesser demons (who spawn continuously until an area is cleared) for health, ammo, and armor, and pick away at the heavy demons (bosses, sub-bosses, mini-bosses) until they are smoldering piles of demon guts. There’s no camping, virtually no sniping, or stealth.
Break time: Platforming and Secret Hunting
Believe it or not, Doom Eternal isn’t just endless circle-strafing. In between laying waste to the hellish hordes frenzied and thrilling slaughter-fests, you’ll have time catch your breath, explore, and hunt for secrets.
Throw in a generous amount of puzzle-solving and platforming (and likely generous amounts of profanity, because these sequences can be frustrating), and you have a virtually perfectly paced game that almost never stops being fun.
Let’s talk about that DOOM Dad Bod
The only area in which ID falters slightly is over-stuffing DOOM Eternal with too many progression systems in what seems to be an effort to continue seasoning its relatively simple recipe. (Even my 14-year old son commented on this while watching me play).
DOOM Eternal injects weapon modifications (ALT fire modes), weapon points for upgrading said modifications, Praetor Armor points, and Runes—all of which basically just represent upgrades of one kind or another to your weapons and gameplay options. And they all basically lead down the same path, because there’s no real room to experience DOOM Eternal in different play styles.
In other words, all roads and trees lead to basically the same, ultra-buffed and potentially maxxed out Doom Slayer (i.e. you). The only slight difference is how you prioritize your upgrades as you progress through the game.
Oh, and there are also plenty of collectibles and secrets in the game as well. Virtual toys, skins, ‘cheat codes’ found on floppy discs, cosmetic items that decorate the Doom Fortress (your base between levels), and more— but most still feel like tacked onto the game because it’s expected.
Despite a few very, very minor blemishes, DOOM Eternal is still the bloody, demon-destroying thrill ride we’ve come to know and love.