DOOM ETERNAL / DEVELOPER: id SOFTWARE / PUBLISHER: BETHESDA / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH (TBC), XBOX ONE (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 20TH
The direct sequel to 2016's Doom reboot is finally upon us, giving players the chance to take control of the Doom Slayer once again, ripping and tearing their way through Hell's demonic hordes in an all-consuming quest to save earth. Eternal is very much a bigger and bolder take on Doom '16, with larger environments, more ways to upgrade your abilities, an increased need for thinking on your feet during combat, and more than twice the amount of demons seen in the previous game.
Doom has always been known for its high-speed gunplay, and Eternal is no exception. Combat is extremely fast-paced, and you'll need to combine all of your abilities if you're going to survive. The Doom Slayer is much more nimble than ever before, now able to double jump, climb walls and vault through the air. Movement plays a big part in combat scenarios (stand still and you're dead), and there are plenty of other opportunities to test your prowess in platforming/traversal sections, some of which are necessary to move through each level while other lead to hidden areas and collectables.
Various moves can be performed to keep your supplies stocked up during these frantic firefights. Rip apart a weakened enemy with a Glory Kill to make them drop health (and build up your super-powerful Blood Punch meter which can take most enemies down in a single wallop), set them on fire before blasting them to bits if you need armour, or lay them to waste with your chainsaw to make them explode into a colourful shower of ammo. Juggling all of these, along with separate weapon and grenade mods and the need to keep moving at all times, can be a bit overwhelming at times but, when you eventually get into the flow of things, it's every bit as much fun as Doom '16.
On top of slaying monsters, there are tons of secret areas to discover, along with a multitude of upgrades to find. Slayer Gates lead to ultra-intense combat encounters, Sentinel Crystals boost your stats, Runes add passive abilities like longer-range Glory Kills or the ability to slow time while in the air, Sentinel Batteries can be used to unlock a variety of skins and upgrades in your main hub area, Mod Bots add functionality to your weapons (which can be further upgraded using points earned in combat), and even your armour can be beefed up using tokens which are often found tucked away out of sight.
There are tons of challenges to complete (kill a certain amount of enemies with a specific weapon, for example), which reward players with experience points. These in turn unlock various cosmetic rewards, many of which come into play in the game's online Battlemode, where players compete in 2 vs 1 “demons vs Slayer” matches. Unfortunately this hasn't been active before release, so we haven't been able to check it out yet, but getting to play as a demon should surely be pretty fantastic.
Doom Eternal is quite a busy game – there's an awful lot going on, but most of it really is first class stuff. There are some downsides, like occasionally being difficult to work out where you're supposed to go next, and a few difficulty spikes (even on the lowest difficulty setting) that are likely to inspire more than a few rage quits. Also, one particular new enemy, the fun-sapping Marauder, will have you pulling your hair out in frustration, and you'll come to dread his appearance purely because he's so awkward to fight. Other than that, Eternal is a fantastic follow-up to one of the current generation's most sublime shooters, and comes highly recommended!