DOOM Eternal is a Brutal Power Fantasy That You’ll Need to Work For

DOOM Eternal is a Brutal Power Fantasy That You’ll Need to Work For

Richard Walker

Killing hellspawn is second only to the joy that comes with killing a Nazi zombie, and, while DOOM Eternal is bereft of the latter, it's positively teeming with the former. Packed with creative ways to tear demons to shreds, DOOM Eternal is another 'power fantasy' in the same vein as 2016's DOOM, but it's one you'll have to work for, according to id Games.

“It doesn't just hand you that power fantasy. You have to earn it the whole way through,” says Executive Producer and id Studio Director Marty Stratton. “We wanted to get away from the mindless corridor shooter [label],” he continues, adding that DOOM Eternal is aiming to be a 'combat puzzle' that's “fun on the outside, smart on the inside.”

This translates to more moments of calm for the Doom Slayer, during which time you'll be engaging in tricky traversal sequences that are the antithesis of the demon-blasting mayhem that DOOM is typically known for. Suffice it to say, during this latest hands-on session with DOOM Eternal - in which we were given three entire missions to sample - traversal is the least enjoyable piece in the combat puzzle.

Leeching away the breakneck pace of the monster-slaying encounters, platform-jumping, wall-climbing and judiciously using your dash in mid-air can prove frustrating, especially after experiencing the unadulterated rush of butchering hellspawn in a variety of ultra-violent and inventive ways. Stratton says that this engagement “is big for us,” and it also comes in the form of more narrative elements within the 'DOOM Universe', delivered through cut-scenes and collectible pages of lore - codex entries that you can pore over, should you so desire.

Unsurprisingly, DOOM Eternal excels when you're removing a Cacodemon's green eyeball or lopping off a Hellknight's head, not bounding across falling platforms suspended above lava, evading flaming chains pivoting in the air, or solving exploration-based conundrums. For many, these elements aren't a reason to play DOOM, and as such, we're concerned that they'll be seen as a needless roadblock to reaching the good stuff.

This is what Stratton presumably means when he says you have to “earn” DOOM Eternal's power fantasy, because I know that no part of my personal power fantasy involves hopping between floating plateaus of rock. It's “like martial arts,” Stratton explains. “You have to master the Doom Slayer's skills to climb the mountain.” He adds that the game “should never feel unfair,” and on that front at least, DOOM Eternal succeeds.

If you fall to your death or get your ass handed to you by a Mancubus, Arachnotron, Revenant, or whatever, it's entirely your fault. DOOM Eternal actually requires more than a modicum of strategy, not least in its gloriously over-the-top monster murder, which remains singularly thrilling and gratifying. It's also remarkably challenging, demanding a middle ground between all-out assault and relative restraint, as charging in will see you coming quickly unstuck, while standing back will inevitably end in a grisly death.

Happily, there's a rewarding sense of progression in DOOM Eternal that's engendered in a variety of ways, from returning weapon points and mods that enable you to beef up your formidable arsenal, to new systems like sentinel crystals, which can be used to unlock new abilities that simultaneously boost health, armour, and ammo capacity. Tokens for your Praetor Suit, gifted by spectral knights, can be spent on upgrading your armour's attributes, bolstering traversal skills, offering an advantage when exploring levels for secrets (of which there are plenty), and a slew of other things.

What id refers to as “aggressive resource management” is important, too, just as it was in the previous DOOM. Chainsaw executions grant a shower of ammunition; glory kills on weakened enemies reward the gore with health; and setting your foes alight with the 'flame belch' spews forth armour pick-ups. Of course, thumping great big hunks of flesh out of the game's destructible demons is its own reward, and, with this one promising to be twice the size of DOOM 2016 – with larger levels and more demons than ever before – you'll likely be revelling in blood-soaked hellspawn homicide for hours on end.

It's clear that id Games wants to make DOOM Eternal a cut above its predecessor, Stratton asserting that it's the “best thing we've ever created,” like a “page turner” where you can't wait to see what's coming next. It's also “like junk food,” says Stratton, albeit junk food with substantial nutritional value that, in this case, means traversal challenges to overcome. Yet, despite aspiring to convey something more than straight-up shooting, we can't help but think that DOOM Eternal could do without the platforming. After all, since when did a bit of 'mindless corridor shooting' become such a bad thing?

DOOM Eternal launches for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on 20th March.

  • Man, Doom has been pretty heavy in the news recently And I love it! I am so hyped for this game
  • Ready for this GAME!
  • There's nothing like rippin' and tearin' as the DOOM Slayer in this totally awesome sequel!
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