Doom 2016 brought the franchise back into the mainstream by embracing old school mechanics and tossing out modern-day mechanics. Doom gave players all weapons to use all the time, large open arenas and tons of demons to slay. In-between arenas players could explore the world, perform parkour and collect hidden secrets. It was a near perfect formula for mayhem back in 2016. For 2019’s Doom Eternal, however, the question is how id Software can improve on that formula. Based on our lengthy session of the game at E3 2019, the answer is to make each arena more frantic and get players to use their tools more strategically.
Everything you loved about Doom is here. The vast array of weaponry is back with some getting new designs and functionality. For example, the Super Shotgun has a ‘Meat Claw’ that pulls your Doom Slayer right into enemies for an easy shot. Meanwhile, the Plasma Rifle’s gotten a new makeover. For the most part, though, if you played Doom, you know the excellent set of weapons you’re getting with Doom Eternal.
Eternal also brings back all the Slayer’s parkour moves. From double-jumping to double-dashing, the Slayer has all the tools needed to traverse Hell. These moves can be combined to traverse large crevices, swing off poles and wall climb. It’s all good fun, especially when using these moves to dart around an arena quickly. The only problem with the parkour lies in the wall climbing, which was finicky during the demo.
No, the significant change to Doom Eternal’s design and gameplay is, surprisingly, resource management. In Doom, arenas not only focused on how to battle demons but also how you maneuvered around the environment for health and armor pickups. That’s gone in Doom Eternal. Though you’ll still find the random health or armor pickup around arenas, they’re incredibly sparse. Instead, players now must rely on their tools to replenish resources.
To acquire more health, use a melee finisher. Need more ammo? Time to whip out the chainsaw. What about armor? Well, the new flamethrower causes demons to explode in a shower of armor picks upon death. Surrounded by enemies and need a quick attack to get out of a pinch? Perform enough melee attacks and earn a powerful Blood Punch. Doom Eternal ratchets up the resource management and it successfully adds additional tension to every battle.
Towards the end of the demo, our Slayer was put in a large arena packed with dozens of demons thrown at him. Marauders, Arachnotrons, Pain Elementals, Mancubus, Imps and so much more are thrown at the player. It was at this moment that players needed to utilize every weapon, every tool and every parkour move to make it out. It was Doom at its finest, but with the tension ratcheted up since we couldn’t rely on random pickups. The battle was exhausting, but walking through a magical blue portal at the end of the demo was such a satisfying moment.
Equally as satisfying is how beautifully brutal Doom Eternal looks. Playing on a PC, the game’s environments and characters look beautifully detailed at this stage of development. The best part of the visual presentation is, once again, the gun models and finisher animations. The guns are just as beautiful to look at as they are to shoot and watching the many ways Doom Slayer eviscerates demons are impressive to watch.
Doom focused heavily on the Mars base, Mars itself and the depths of Hell. Overall, there wasn’t much variety to the environments, something Doom Eternal hopes to correct. Now, Mars and Hell are both locations in Eternal, but there’s a lot more visual variety to them alongside some new areas. Humans are very much part of the game’s conflict, which means players will get to explore more human locations. For example, the first stretch of the demo took place on a ship under attack by demons. Later, the fight brought us to Mars, which looked as if it had taken a beating recently. Large chunks of rock floated about, creating unique platforming opportunities. Meanwhile, down in Hell, dilapidated Gothic architecture still littered the landscape, but the demo ended in an area with thick rivers of lava. It was a visually exciting way to end the level.
Doom Eternal has a lot to live up to considering the high bar Doom set. Although we only got to spend about 30-45 minutes with Eternal, it sure feels like it’s up to the challenge. The same silky smooth, run-and-gun shooting mechanics are back alongside the parkour. New resource management mechanics ratchet up the tension and make surviving each arena battle so satisfying. While we must wait to see how it plays on PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, Xbox One X and Switch, the PC version runs and looks good five months out from launch. We still have some time to go before the final product launches, but Doom Eternal looks like a worthy sequel.
Doom Eternal is out November 22 on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch. The game is a launch title for Google Stadia, which currently does not have a set release date.