Review: Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part One

So much has happened this year that you’d be forgiven for forgetting the large number of good games that came out this Spring. Doom Eternal was one such game, giving players a bloody good time across its meaty campaign. Since launch day, id Software promised the experience would continue via two single player expansions and here we are with the first one. Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part One continues where the base game left off, giving players even more Doom. Does The Ancient Gods – Part One provide more of that addicting gameplay loop or should it be left at the mercy of the Dark Lord?

Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part One takes place directly after the base game’s end. Despite defeating the Icon of Sin and stopping Hell’s invasion, the universe remains in turmoil. The death of the Khan Makyr has allowed the demons to invade Urdak, opening up new ways to invade Earth. To stop this, the Doom Slayer must find the Seraphim and orchestrate a plan to excise the demons from Urdak. While Doom 2016 kept exposition to a minimum and filled in the blanks via in-game dialogue and collectible logs, Doom Eternal dived headfirst into its story with plenty of cutscenes and lore. The Ancient Gods – Part One finds a happy medium between both worlds. Featuring quick cutscenes, in-game exposition and new in-game collectibles, the DLC weaves its narrative in a way that captures the better elements of both games’ story structures.

There are some interesting twists and turns, and the final revelation is sure to catch some players who haven’t followed the DLC’s marketing by surprise. The Ancient Gods – Part One is limited, however, because this is just part one of a bigger story. It abruptly ends, leaving players stranded right as the plot starts to pick up. The plot has always played second fiddle to the real star of the show, the gameplay. Though the story ends too soon, the actual DLC is a healthy length. In total, players are getting three new chapters that each last around an hour or more based on the selected difficulty. Each chapter takes place in a new locale, taking players to exotic locations not witnessed in the base game.

Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part One keeps all the same gameplay mechanics and design ideas of the base game. Players routinely swap between intense gunfights and careful platforming. Battles remain an intricate balancing act of dishing out damage, prioritizing enemies and managing resources. It was an often-satisfying gameplay loop that slowly built players up to the intense final battles. The DLC, despite being standalone, picks up right where you were left off.

The Ancient Gods – Part One starts players on the edge of their seats, throwing out a whole horde of challenging encounters right from the start. Enemies are brutally aggressive, testing players in ways that build on the base game’s difficulty rather than resetting it. Those who haven’t touched Doom Eternal since launch are in for a rude awakening, but it doesn’t take too long to get back into the rhythm. All three new locations are lovely to explore, adding plenty of new sights for players to take in. Less successful are the new enemy variants that do more to hinder that Doom experience than enhance it by forcing players to use specific weapons and particular mods. The new turret requires the precision of the Assault Rifle’s scope to destroy it. Meanwhile, the Spirit can only be eliminated with the Pulse Rifle’s microwave beam. Amidst all the chaos and enemies swarming you, having enemies that require specific ways to take them down slows down the Doom Dance.

The fact that The Ancient Gods – Part One is a standalone expansion is both its greatest strength and weakness. The DLC offers something they can jump right into for those who want the most challenging experience or who may have been put off by elements of the main game. Those who did put tons of hours into the base game, however, will find that nothing they did mattered. The Ancient Gods – Part One starts everyone off on an even playing field. Every weapon mod and ability, suit ability, and character ability is automatically unlocked regardless of what you did in the base game. Earned Extra Lives don’t carry over, nor will you ever step foot in the Fortress of Doom to collect or see new collectibles. There’s also no new weapons, equipment or abilities to collect, meaning there’s no sense of progression throughout the campaign outside of the story. Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part One is simply more Doom Eternal rather than anything new. Considering that Doom Eternal was good in the first place, this isn’t entirely a bad thing, though those hoping for more might be left disappointed.


Closing Comments:

Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part One is an addendum to the base game experience. The story, difficulty, weaponry and level design pick up right where Doom Eternal left off. It’s a pure expression of the Doom Eternal experience, excising progression and offering pure, rollicking gameplay that holds nothing back once it starts. For 3-5 hours, that’s precisely what you’re getting from The Ancient Gods – Part One, an adrenaline-fueled rollercoaster that rarely lets off the gas. The three new chapters take place in exotic new locations with many intense battles, but that’s about all they offer. The new enemies work against the formula rather than expanding it and the lack of new weapons or equipment is a letdown. We’ll have to wait to see how the story ends in Part Two. Though Part One’s story does have quite a few twists and turns that’ll keep players interested, it ends too soon with too many threads left open. Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part One delivers more Doom Eternal and it can be a devilishly fun ride as long as that’s all you’re looking for out of an expansion.