Doom Eternal (PC) Review

By Athanasios 17.03.2020

Review for Doom Eternal on PC

A few years back, and after some courageous redesigns during a pretty long development process, DOOM's hellish invasion finally begun. Hungry, thirsty, and lustful for anything related to the franchise, yours truly "followed" id Software throughout its marketing campaign, and saw the clear as day sighs of relief of studio director Marty Stratton, and creative director Hugo Martin, after this great, modern-meets-old-school FPS became a success. These people believed in their work, but were still anxious whether their vision would actually pay off. When it comes to the sequel, however, the key word is 'confidence.' From early teasers, and QuakeCon reveals, to trailers, and video previews, it became obvious that the Texan magicians had shaken off every trace of uncertainty about their next project. How could they not? DOOM Eternal is freaking fantastic.

The game boots up. The title screen appears. Man tears start rolling. The theme playing while nothing but the logo is in view, is an excellent remix of an iconic tune from the past. This perfectly captures how DOOM Eternal is an amalgamation of 1994's Doom II: Hell on Earth, and 2016's DOOM; a modern shooter, with retro sensibilities, and a pretty high respect to its source material. These even share the same concept. Hell is indeed on earth, and against all the evil that it can conjure, and all the wickedness that mankind can produce, stands the myth that is the Slayer. You.

When the silent protagonist of the previous instalment got out of his bed/tomb/cage to confront all those who were "rage, brutal, and without mercy," many witnessed an intro that was nothing sort of a masterpiece. In little over five minutes, the player gets a taste of things to come, is given a purpose, and is indirectly told that this cool person that has just smashed the tutorial screen, killed a bunch of demons like it was nothing, and finished his morning routine by cocking his shotgun at the sound of some fine metal music, is badass beyond imagination. How can this be topped?

DOOM's opener is still the better one, but second place isn't very far in this case. A half-shattered Moon; the Earth - literally - marked by the invaders; people can be heard screaming, crying for someone to help them. The Slayer watches the apocalypse from atop his flying fortress. He grabs his tools, puts on his helmet, and joins in on the fun. This whole thing has a strong, messianic aura, making you feel that you are indeed the only thing the demons fear, immersing you into the role of the saviour of humanity - just one that carries a shotgun rather than a message of peace and hope.

Screenshot for Doom Eternal on PC

It all begins, and you feel right at home, as it plays like in 2016, with the idea of "push-forward combat" being at the forefront. The weird thing? Everything is the same... yet somehow vastly different. Demons have become very aggressive, are significantly faster, and attack in larger, more diverse packs. More importantly, health, armour points, and especially bullets, disappear in mere seconds, and you can't find much of these lying around anymore. Inferno's minions are now your resources, and they can put up quite the fight. Luckily, Praetor Suit v2.0 is here to take care of that.

You need health? Stagger foes by doing a certain amount of damage, then use your shiny new Doomblade to Glory Kill them, and there you go. Need ammo? Cut one with a swing of the chainsaw, and they'll spill lots of it for you to collect. Need armour? Put those unlucky, mortally challenged critters to fire with your shoulder-mounted Flame Belch, and they will bleed green shards. A Swiss army knife, right? Oh, you have no idea! Indeed, the Slayer can pull off all sorts of new tricks, yet what truly separates this guy from his past iterations is that this time his weapons also act as tools.

The super shotgun isn't just a slower, and more powerful version of the single-barrelled combat shotgun. There's a meat hook attached to it, which can pull you close to your enemy in an instant, or propel you to higher ground. Found a soldier with an energy shield? Detonate his undead behinds by overheating it with the plasma rifle. The battlefield forces you to think much more strategically than before, and constantly swap between weapons and shooting modes, and while always on the move. Players need to view each encounter as a puzzle, and not simply as a chance to pull the trigger.

Screenshot for Doom Eternal on PC

This isn't an expansion, but an evolution that almost renders DOOM obsolete, at least in terms of mechanics. The latter remains a great, fun title, but it is "just" a shooter. This is something else entirely. Combat here is an art form. And it's hard! Those who never felt challenged by 'Hurt Me Plenty,' or Normal, for those not versed in satanic lingo, will realise that demons really want to kill you this time, which is why, apart from having tons of abilities, one can also find extra lives hidden all around, as these resurrect the Slayer on the spot, and don't send him back to a checkpoint.

From ranged, to melee attackers, monsters tend to overwhelm the protagonist very quickly, without ever giving him much of a breathing room to react. It should also be noted that projectiles are no longer aimed only where you are, but are sprayed around, or are thrown where the enemy thinks you'll step next. In other words, don't expect to survive simply by circle-strafing around danger. Here's the deal, though: while the increased difficulty is actually a very, very good thing, DOOM Eternal's chaos can occasionally become… well, a bit too chaotic.

The fact that the frenetic pace of DOOM has been turned to 11 isn't the problem. What is a problem is that the constant carnage will make this feel more like an online arena shooter; intense and entertaining, but maybe too intense at times, as you'll have a really tough time finding the chance to use some of your slower moves. To put things in perspective, there's a weapon ability that requires standing still for three seconds to charge it, yet doing so even for two is usually a bad idea here. DOOM, while definitely the inferior game, had a better understanding of how to balance things out.

Screenshot for Doom Eternal on PC

Imagine a massive Hell Knight coming towards you. Previously, the beast's momentum was impressive, but you had enough time to remain at a relatively safe distance from it. Here these won't let you breathe for a second - and they are never alone. This has gone a bit overboard with the mayhem on offer, as constantly having to check 10 directions at once can be draining. It's crucial to understand that this is all by design, though. This is a power fantasy that you have to earn. Moreover DOOM Eternal gives you all the things you need in order to succeed. So use them marine!

Your shoulder-mounted cannon can spit fire, but also lob grenades, as well as ice bombs that freeze enemies; Glory Kill a couple of times, and your fists will get powered up, letting the Slayer throw a Blood Punch that hits a lot harder; you'll even receive a demonic lightsaber that can hack the largest monstrosities in half; and finally, you can dash or double dash away from harm. Long story short, you're gonna eat lightin' and you're gonna crap thunder! You are Predator, Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Saitama, a ninja, and a Jedi master! This is a testosterone-induced, nerdy wet dream.

Of course, a hero is only as good as his enemies, and boy, aren't they a handful. Apart from the shambling piñatas, or zombies, from easy-to-go-down pests such as imps, and possessed soldiers, to heavier beasts like the flying Cacodemons, or the armoured freight trains that are the Pinkies, each and every foe has a particular use in the battlefield. It's also great how battles revolve even more around weaknesses than before, whereas the first game had only a few enemies with weak spots, with the rest simply being fire-throwing demons that behaved a little differently than the rest.

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Amongst the many blasts from the past, the cyber-spiders known as the Arachnotrons turn out to be extremely fast, although part of the, usually slower, heavy cavalry. One can fill it with lead or plasma, but a much better tactic would be to use the Combat Shotgun's Sticky Bomb mod, shoot an explosive shell at its powerful turret, blow it to smithereens, and make the rest of the Slayer's work much easier. Almost all demons have some sort of a tender spot, and the weapon mods available are there to help you take advantage of them in order to turn the tides of war to your favour.

As a means to decrease the challenge, this retains DOOM's upgrade structure, to the dismay of those who didn't want such a system in a Doom game. On one hand, this critic has always been amongst those who had mixed feelings about that. On the other one, however, one still needs to get good, and not just depend on boosts alone - and to be frank, it is kind of fun to modify your personal hell-razing machine, especially since this isn't tied to gathering XP. You need to work for your extra perks and abilities, by finding secrets, completing challenges… and taking care of your orbiting base.

The Fortress is basically the Slayer's man cave. Yup, you've read that correctly. He now has a man cave, complete with a gaming rig and chair, a bookcase, heavy metal posters that play older Doom tunes, and shelves where he places the toy figurines he collects between massacring hellspawn. Some may see this as an unnecessary inclusion; nothing but a glorified, level select screen. After all, why break the pace of such a wild ride? Well, because you don't want to break it during a mission, that's why. You need some place to relax, handle upgrades, and read all the lore you've found.

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As was promised, what you interfere with now is bigger than you can imagine. This release marks the beginning of the Doom universe, and as such, has an impressive amount of info about… well, everything, as it even explains the reason behind the demonic invasion. Is the plot any good? Surprisingly, it actually is. Some may be disappointed to know that this puts a lot of emphasis in the Slayer's past, but that part is interesting nonetheless, although many (reviewer included) will prefer how DOOM created an aura of mystery around its hero, but avoided saying too much.

Needless to say that the plot is just a side dish, as the main one is still the whole killing-everything-that-isn't-you thingy, and thankfully, despite the aforementioned issue of the craziness that ensues on screen, the action is awesome. The controls have reached absolute perfection, the speed of almost all moves has been increased, and everything has been heavily streamlined, wiping out what has been deemed unnecessary, like how the chainsaw is now a one-button rechargeable ability instead of a weapon, or how the pistol has disappeared from the Slayer's arsenal altogether.

….But this isn't only about ruining Satan's work. Although still far from the labyrinthine levels of the originals, this will please those who want a little bit of exploration served right next to the action, with many secrets to discover left and right - and up and down. The platforming segments have seen an improvement too, mainly because, aside from double-jumping, you can also dash around, and even scale certain walls. Sadly, this doesn't avoid 2016's flaw of the world being nothing more than a collection of arenas. On the bright side, maps are now much, much larger, and absolutely beautiful.

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The same way Doom 3 tried to be as realistic as it could be, DOOM Eternal embraces the more "game-y" aspects of the franchise, with the art style having a very strong, online Quake vibe. Hellish citadels overflowing with pillars of energy; decrepit, fantasy acropolises with gargantuan iron gates; ridiculously enormous structures that one can find in a sci-fi comic book; alien landscapes floating in the sky, with lighting constantly striking in the distance; and, as expected a speaker-blasting soundtrack by the superb Mick Gordon. Can this be any more metal?!

The same care that has been given to the world is also evident in the denizens of the combat zone as well. Every single enemy has an insane level of detail, and fantastic animation, and now the damage inflicted on them affects their appearance, as they progressively lose parts of their flesh, or outer shell. It's no surprise that this is twice as violent from its older brother, but it's so over the top that players are more likely to smile than wince at the sight of the Slayer… err, slaying demons in all sorts of imaginative ways. The rain of gore in here is cartoony - it's horror for the whole family.

If all this sounds thrilling, wait till you see it run. idTech 7 is simply out of this world. Everything runs incredibly smooth, without a single frame lost from all this madness, and with the GPU never really having a hard time rendering this beauty, even when the settings are actually higher than what they should be based on your system. As for the loading times - God! Bethesda should cut a really big check to the tech guys and gals of id Software. Excellent programming should always be applauded, and, even better, rewarded. This developer really cared about its creation.

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Apart from a stunning piece of work, this is also a complete package that is worth every penny, as players can spend hundreds of hours on it, whether by speed-running, doing completionist runs, trying out the extra challenges, torturing themselves with the Ultra-Nightmare difficulty mode, or checking out the - currently light on content - multiplayer aspect, and especially Battlemode, where you get to play 1-versus-2 matches against player-controlled demons. Later on you will even be able to invade other people's campaigns as the monsters the Slayer will have to confront!

Before wrapping up, it's important to clear any misunderstandings. Look really hard, and you'll definitely find some flaws, like how, in an attempt to solve DOOM's repetitiveness, this throws everything but the kitchen sink at you, but does so in a hurry, and at the cost of presentation, as the return of some iconic monsters has been handled in an unimpressive, just-another-demon manner. These are all just nit-picks, however. Let no one say DOOM Eternal is bad. This is an exceptional FPS; truly one of the best ever made - but, make no mistake, it's not for everyone.

The most important thing to remember is the aforementioned pandemonium that is the battlefield. Let it be said once more: this can be too intense at times, and depending on the player, this can even stand in the way of one's fun, especially if approached in the wrong way. In the end, what matters the most isn't if this is amazing or not (spoiler alert: it is), but who should actually play it. If you want to experience the most extreme, and finely-polished first-person shooter of 2020, and probably of the last decade, Cubed3's advice is simple: rip and tear… because it will never be done!

Screenshot for Doom Eternal on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 10 out of 10

Masterpiece - Platinum Award

Rated 10 out of 10

This isn't just a sequel. The demons are far more aggressive, their legions have been reinforced with some new baddies, and the Slayer has become an even more dangerous opponent, with more ways at his disposal to destroy everything on his path to the invaders. This almost feels like an entirely new experience, as every single aspect of its predecessor has seen an upgrade or revision. The concept of "push-forward combat" is even better this time around, forcing you to be in the moment every moment. In fact, the only real flaw here, if you can call it a flaw, is how excruciatingly brutal, remorseless, and chaotic DOOM Eternal can be. This simply makes everything else feel dull in comparison…




Bethesda Softworks


First Person Shooter



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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