The Doom series is, without a doubt, my favourite gaming franchise. I’ve played every title multiple times, and I’ll probably play at least two of the core games once a year. I consider Doom 2016 to be pretty much perfect, so I jumped at the chance to get a Doom Eternal preview.
I got full hands-on access to a level of Doom Eternal, and I’ll be very shocked if I don’t end up nominating it for game of the year by December - except, astonishing and frustratingly, I had some issues with it. It was still Doom, and so it’s impossible for me not to love it… but I’m worried that id Software have overcomplicated things.
The part we played was set during the big Phobos-based scrap around the gigantic BFG10K - no relation to Quake 2’s, although it does bear some resemblance to that game’s Big Gun space cannon - and then from there cutting down to the surface of Mars, then to Hell. The demo cut about a bit for sure, and was more of a whirlwind tour of Doom Eternal than a straight playthrough - although it’s all apparently from a single level. Not that we’re complaining, since we got to cut a blade-wielding Baron of Hell in half with a chainsaw.
Aside from the tutorial (which actually was needed, more on that in a moment), it started in the Phobos facility - and lo and behold, there were actually humans here. You may have seen the amusing moment where the Doom Slayer enters the room and drags a poor scientist by the keycard round his neck to the door - then grabs a Plasma Gun off one of the stunned guards, who are wise enough to let him past.
From there it’s down into the corridors and out into the Hellish landscape of Mars, blasting demons along the way. There were several little “arenas” we encountered, filled with demons, and if anything these were even more insane than Doom 2016’s. They had jump-pads, several levels, and portals at least, so there was always a way to escape the carnage if necessary.
That’s not the goal of Doom though - you want to get stuck right in there. We got our hands on the Plasma Gun, Heavy Machinegun, Chaingun, Rocket Launcher, Shotgun, and Chainsaw, and every one was as fun as we remember. All had alternate-fire modes too, such as the scope which turns the Heavy Machinegun into a sniper rifle, or the Plasma Gun ray which temporarily immobilizes enemies - until their head explodes. Awesome.
As for the new enemies we encountered, the main ones were the aforementioned tougher Baron of Hell with a blade (which reminded me a lot of an oversized Halo Covenant Elite), Arachnotrons, Pain Elementals, Heavy Weapons zombies, and weird tentacles that sprouted out of the ground but didn’t take too kindly to a point-blank Super Shotgun blast. The Arachnotrons were particularly a delight to see walking about and crawling all over the scenery, and I love how their death noise is a lot like how it sounded in Doom 2. There’s even monster-infighting!
The Glory Kills from Doom 2016 are back, and they’ve been tweaked - which I’m a little worried about. Glory Kills - where a damaged enemy starts glowing and you can do an instant-kill on them to get health - were one of the cleverest and most inventive parts of Doom 2016, which turned fights quite strategic as you worked out mid-battle the best enemies to get health from. Likewise, just as before, Chainsaw kills get you lots of ammo - but was never really necessary.
So what’s the problem? The problem is the addition of a third power, the Flame Belch cannon, which gets your armour. So there are now specific separate kill types for health, armour, and ammo, and what’s worse - in the demo we had to rely on all three. There was little of any of them lying around, so you have to use Glory Kills, Chainsaw, and Flame Belch all the time - it got a bit annoying having to rely on all three and keep on doing them, and we’re worried id Software has over-complicated the perfect Glory Kills system.
Doom Eternal is due for release on November 22 on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and even Nintendo Switch. On PC it’ll be available on Steam, Bethesda.net, and even Google Stadia when that goes live.
I don’t want to complain too much about the game (this is only a preview of the game based on a brief demo after all) but I am also concerned about the jumping - or to give it its proper name, platforming. There was a surprising amount of it, and it’s not very Doom - which didn’t even get a jump button until Doom 3. There are jump pads, boost pads, double jumps, mid-air dashes, wall climbing, and even swinging on monkey bars. Half the people in my demo group got stuck on the wall climbing tutorial.
In general I’m worried about the game-y-ness, or the arcade-y-ness id Software seem to be adding to Doom Eternal. Yes, original Doom may have had floating guns and power-ups, but it never had extra lives, giant question mark secrets, boost pads, and monkey bars. Hopefully id definitely remember they’re making a first-person shooter and not, say, Super Mario Odyssey.
However, I have confidence that the final product will be fine and it’ll all make sense. Id Software have never really steered me wrong - especially with Doom. Here’s the key thing - while I’m not sure about the jumping, I am sure that the combat was incredible amounts of fun. I highly doubt Doom Eternal will be anything but my favourite game of the year when it comes out in November - just try not to over-complicate or over-game it please, id?
Most Anticipated Feature
New Doom monsters are always cause for celebration, so I can’t wait to see what id has planned. That, and the fun-sounding Battle Mode multiplayer.
About Chris J Capel
Chris joined us in 2011 and loves Star Wars, comics and bad videogame movies.