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Doom Eternal – Review

 

Doom Eternal had my heart racing and teeth clenched from some of the most intense first person combat encounters I have ever played.  It’s also a game that I can’t recommend due to needing a high tolerance level for frustration and willingness to put up with some potential bullshitty, high blood pressure moments.

It’s skill level is certainly up a gear from Doom 2016, with many new movement and combat mechanics.  Doom Eternal is not afraid to challenge and beat you – but sometimes pushes too far with overwhelming the player, often putting them in impossible situations, and presenting too many tedious platforming sections.

The Demon Fight Loop

Battles are at their best when all the shooting and moving mechanics fall into place and the game (to quote Skill Up) is firing on all cylinders.  Completing an encounter can be greatly satisfying and exhausting.   Understanding the arena, knowing when to glory kill for health, chainsaw for ammo, and use the flame thrower for armor is key to victory.  As well as learning which enemy to prioritize and how to move around the area with dashes, double jumps, portals and jump pads.  When all this comes together then the player will feel legitimately skilled.

But for me this didn’t happen often enough – or didn’t always feel worth it.  It can take many, many deaths to figure out an approach that works, because the sheer relentlessness of spawning enemies makes it difficult to mentally map an area.

Some of the most frustrating deaths came from exceptionally long encounters where dozens of big, medium and small enemies attack relentlessly for what seems like an eternity.  Then some bullshit will happen and I have to start all over due to a cheap death.  The chainsaw might not register the intended enemy.  Enemies may trap the player by blocking all exits.  A Marauder may spawn – enemies which morph the game into an exercise in player harassment.

The  game gradually provides the chainsaw, flame thrower, double dash and jump abilities throughout the first few levels.  Meaning Doomguy’s is fairly disabled in combat for a couple of hours.

So much so that I had almost said ‘fuck it’ and uninstalled the game.  Instead I dropped the difficulty down from hard to normal, allowing me to get through some seemingly unfair feeling moments (such as platforming while enemies attack you from range).

Once I had all the abilities I felt the game opened up and I could keep up with the pace better, survive longer and experience more of the intense and exhilarating moments described earlier.

AAA Production…for better and worse

This is an incredibly well produced game, and my complaining aside, has a lot of merit and and potential fun.  But, there is nothing groundbreaking or too memorable about Doom Eternal.  The game looks amazing with well designed visuals all round.  The soundtrack is as intense as the game itself and fantastically appropriate.  But again – I’m taking none of it with me, and doubt I will ever play it again.

Doom Eternal presents a very shit story, told mostly through codex’s accessed on the menu screen.  Pages and pages of written fantasy crap that I mostly skipped because it killed the pace of the game dead.  I do not play Doom to stop and read D-grade fantasy.

There are in-game cut-scenes which usually involve dialogue vomited at Doomguy and often end with him killing someone.  These cut-scene’s are not interesting, and are made less interesting without reviewing the codex – which again, there’s no way I’m stopping to read in a fucking Doom game.

I suspect the platforming sections exist to pad out the game.  Or the publisher ordered them to be included to attract a wider audience.  They are frustrating,  and feel like homework when compared to everything else.

The Decider…

The potential deal breaker for Doom Eternal (and this is something that you need to decide) is that it not only requires a higher skill level than 2016, but also a higher tolerance for frustration.

For Example:

Low level enemies wander around arenas and are used for topping up health with glory kills, or ammo and armor with the chainsaw and flamethrower abilities.  They are quite subtle compared to ‘proper’ enemies (especially in a frantic battle) but also deal a lot of damage from very week looking swings and punches.  This in itself is annoying, but…

The Marauder is an elite enemy which the player needs to keep at mid range.  Otherwise it will unleash many, hard to survive attacks.  It absolutely needs to be the player’s focus.

Marauder’s are not very fun to fight, as trying to dodge their attacks AND also be ready to counter is incredibly difficult.  Often I had to just tank damage, shoot when the (very small) opening appeared, then scurry away for some health.

However, situations occur where you will be fighting other tough enemies (a lot of them) and one of these Marauder fuckers will spawn in.  The player absolutely needs to prioritize Marauders, while now having to deal with other enemies on the field that are around or behind the player.

This can be insanely frustrating and feels like the game is harassing you.  Marauders greatly restrict the player’s movement and shooting, but the other enemies are no less dangerous (and no less easier to dodge or kill).

The game goes from difficult and engaging to feeling unfair and trolling.  The player may admittedly find satisfaction in overcoming such difficulty, but I just didn’t feel the reward was worth the aggravation.    There were too many deaths.  Too many impossible situations where enemies decided to block all directions, or the Marauder decided to not give a vulnerable moment.   Too much time wasted.  Though the above specific scenario only happened 2 or 3 times throughout the game,  they stuck in memory and remain a persistent black mark.

Finally

Doom Eternal’s difficulty makes it intense, frustrating, and at times very satisfying.  Doom 2016 is this author’s preference however, as it was more straight forward and stream lined.  This new Doom jumps the intensity up a gear, but at the cost of some increased frustration.  Frustration to a point where I may hold off on any future installments.