Let me just say right now at the time of writing this (March 22nd) I have been unable to complete DOOM Eternal due to the same issue that has reared its head twice causing me to have to restart the game. Not only that but it has also corrupted my save file, this means that progress cannot be made and I have now played this game back to back. This problem has only brought more frustration as on the second occurrence… I was on the final level.
Needless to say the response I have gotten from the publisher in regards to this issue has been the same 2 responses, of which they took 24 hours to get back to me with. Excellent customer support guys. I dropped £80 on your game and you didn’t take the 24 hours to read my support ticket. At the time of writing this, the game remains uncompleted. Ultimately I have been able to gather more information whilst playing as a result but that’s not really my point. Anyway – on with the review.
|Intel i7 7700K||nVidia GTX 1080||16GB|
If you never played DOOM (2016) then firstly – You’re doing yourself a disservice but also you don’t need to know too much. You are Doomguy / The Doom Slayer / Doom Marine, ultimately the name isn’t important, what is important is that some big old robot dude saw there was an energy crisis on earth and thought to himself “I bet hell has a tonne of spare energy” and so, they developed the means to siphon energy from Hell – “Argent Energy” as it’s known.
Turns out that idea was as bright as lighting a cigar in a room filled with propane – Who knew? Whilst doing their best Indiana Jones impression in Hell, the UAC (Union Aerospace Corporation) come across a sarcophagus, in their myriad of bright ideas gone horribly wrong, taking this particular souvenir was their smartest move – or dumbest if you are the lead researcher. “Yes mars is literally infested with demons from hell, but look at all this energy we have”.
In a turn of events that someone maybe saw coming – one of the researchers (Olivia) goes a bit nuts and starts hearing voices. Being the most negligent company in the world, the UAC do nothing about this. The UAC care so little that this woman starts a cult that practices human sacrifice. Whilst this is all happening she is also overseeing the sarcophagus and its contents. This is when she realises that for her plans – maybe what’s in the sarcophagus should remain dormant.
Well it takes no time at all until this string of company negligence, dumb ideas and overall lack of respect for the human race as a whole comes back to haunt them in the form of a government inquiry. Nah just joking, demonic invasion. Who knew? Through the power “Deus ex machina” (god from the machine) you awake from the sarcophagus, break free the restraints and make your way through the complex guided by Dr. Samuel Hayden and the A.I VEGA. All the best comedy acts come in threes.
Hayden would really appreciate it if you didn’t destroy all his cool equipment whilst destroying the demonic invasion, yet that’s the only way to chase down Olivia. After a little chase, you are meet Olivia by a siphon of energy. She adheres to company policy and just throws herself into the torrent of hell energy taking her straight to hell. You, being the intelligent, level headed smart human being you are think “looks fun” and do the same.
In hell you do some learning and some killing before coming back to mars to meet your new boss – Dr. Samuel Hayden. Now the big issue with Crazy is: They don’t believe they’re crazy and will try to justify everything. Hayden does this but he also helps you. In a true manipulative move, helping you helps him more. Thus you do some more martian demon killing before going to hell (again) to find the Olivia.
It’s fairly smooth sailing to be honest. You meet some old friends and kill a few higher demons (as well as the Cyberdeamon – twice) and get a super cool crucible sword before finding your old pal Olivia. She proclaims she was promised so much and that what was happening was not what was promised. Who would have thought hell was filled with liars? She releases her canister of energy and in a very ironic twist, becomes the Spider Mastermind… who never saw this coming.
One boss fight later and you leave her.. it, laying there dead in all it’s glory. You are then teleported back to mars by Dr. Hayden who tells you that he can still fix this. He takes the crucible from you and… well he either freezes you or teleports you somewhere. Regardless you can’t exactly chase him. So with no crucible and no way to get to Hayden the credits roll leaving you ready for DOOM Eternal.
Do you know what made DOOM (2016) so good? Gameplay. The initial trilogy of games went as follows: Good, better, what is this? With a huge tonal shift the game still sold well and holds an average of about 9/10 on publication reviews. This however shifted from the fast action gameplay to horror, it worked but felt like a reboot. DOOM (2016) followed after and was a full reboot, holding an average of 8.6/10 with publications but a solid 10/10 with fans.
DOOM Eternal decided to take the amazing gameplay from DOOM (2016) and bring forward some semblance of a story. After the events of the previous game you (somehow) have a spaceship that is shaped like a castle. You also have your best bud VEGA – the A.I from the previous instalment. You start this game off mid mission on Earth looking for Hell Priests.
VEGA has managed to track down the priest and you are hell bent on killing all these priests. Before long you are introduced to the new cannon fodder of this particular instalment: the Arachnotron. These guys have to be the fastest and most annoying enemies (next to the Arch-vile) and show up in almost every mob. Atop this you also learn more about the actual story and what exactly is happening.
The hell priests are carrying out the will of Khan Maykr, the big bad of this game. Apparently, all the work done by the UAC previously was pre-ordained and you were just an inconvenience that was taken out of the loop. Now that you’re back in the loop, things are not going to plan and you must be stopped. Humanity must fall and you just have to deal with it.
Whilst all this is happening, you seek help from an old (but to us, new) friend from before DOOM (2016). He tells you that you should just give up. This happened to him and his people (the Sentinels) now it has to happen to humanity. The Slayer however… not having it. He’s out to save humanity. Throughout all of this, the Slayers exact reason for this is unknown but hinted at through dialogue.
Understand now I have given you the first half hour to an hour here. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you the story – but after such a minimalist story in the previous game, this game leans heavy on story. As such I wish not to go into any more detail about it. The overall plot is that you want to save humanity, most of them are on “The Arc”
Overall, the theme of this story is redemption. Doomguy is trying to redeem humanity whilst also trying to redeem himself. That’s not to say the story is rather basic (even though it is), but the story is very purpose built. It works well as through it we also learn about the protagonists past. There is a nice little theory about this game that states (with good evidence now) that DOOM Eternal is linked to DOOM64.
Some of the finer points in this game I would like to point out is going back to mars… to punch a hole into the centre of the planet. This also leads to the nice section in Taras Nabad where we learn about the Slayer and some of the foes he has put to rest. Even the section in hell where you ascend a spire in order to stop the flow of energy through hell. This game manages to take the flow of story and gameplay and interweave them seamlessly. Speaking of gameplay.
DOOM (2016) stars you off faster than a Bugatti Veyron and finishes with all that speed plus the ferocity of a starved hyena in an abattoir. Contrast this with DOOM Eternal where you start off with the ferocity of said hyena but the speed of grass growing. It doesn’t take long for this pace to pick back up though and before you know it you’re tearing through mobs like a plague.
Gameplay this time is split up between 3 distinct segments: Combat, Traversal and Puzzle. Each of these segments run in sequence, every time you finish one part you move on to another. The only downtime is when you are sitting through a brief story cutscene – but even then that is something. Let’s start by talking about the Combat.
The combat of DOOM Eternal can be broken down into 3 encounters: Mobs – your standard fights with a large group of enemies. Mobs come in many different ways. Starting simply with mobs in key points. These mobs can be found around specific parts of the level where you have a progression point into the next zone. Bosses – As the name implies there are boss fights that comes into the final mob, Trash. Often spawned in by the bosses, basically used for health, armour or ammo mid fight.
Combat is usually a flurry of glory kills, explosions and sheer carnage. This however can go on indefinitely when an Arch-Vile or Buff Totem is active in the area. Enemies become much more ferocious – faster and more powerful, even a lowly zombie can ruin your day. To make matters worse – enemies are just spawned in until the totem or Arch-Vile is taken out of play. Combat in this game is less like a flash mob and more like a game of chess this time round.
As well as this there are new Slayer Gates and require some exploration to find the key for. This in turn gives you a self contained arena with powerful enemies that come in waves. In order to to beat these particular encounters requires patience and quick reflexes. The sheer amount of enemies on screen coming at you as well as the enemies you need to focus makes for an overall testing experience. In the end you will receive a key that you can use in the ship to unlock a secret weapon
The combat is similar to the previous game with with some new additions and some quick combos to learn in order to maximize survivability. Fire will give you armour (courtesy of the new Flame Belch), Glory Kills will get you some health pick-ups and the chainsaw will get you ammo. These can be combined to get you two different pick-up types in 1 kill, excellent when you need a bit of both.
DOOM Eternal brings 2 new mechanics to the table: Climbing and Dashing. Though previously you could climb up a ledge, this time round you can actually climb on specific surfaces. This comes with swinging from pipes and specific bars in order to reach new areas. Though the climbable surfaces are specific for moving to the next area and used very little to hide things it still spices up the times between combat
Most climbable surfaces are either specific walls or floating items that are essentially timed. Spending too long on these items causes you to fall to your death. The dash is also used in conjunction with climbing and swinging. Used to get a further distance on those long jumps (as well as in and out of situations in combat), the dash can also be used to stagger some weaker enemies for an easy interrupt.
Whilst doing some of the puzzles, dashing and climbing is used to reach the next area. This combined with one of the mini power-ups (extra dash) can give you that extra help getting there. Alternatively, after a few playthroughs, you can find better lines in order to do some of these with less aid and shave some time off your particular run. After 3 attempts in less than 30 hours, I’m beginning to feel like a speedrunner with all the shortcuts I’ve taken.
Let’s talk about the weakest part of DOOM Eternal – Puzzles. The puzzles in this game can be split into 3 categories: Punch This, Shoot This or Grab this. Thought the puzzles can be rather challenging it ultimately boils down to punching a huge box or crack in the wall or switch (With a green mark on it). Shooting a thing (like a switch) that once again has a green mark on it, or swinging on bars and grabbing walls
Puzzles are mainly part of the traversal but they also do hide some of the hidden encounters and secrets such as toys, weapon mods, suit points and extra lives. Though most puzzles are straight forward, some do leave you scratching your head a bit but most of them are simply logic based. The answer is always right there and it’s not a case of scouring the level for the answer. The answer always starts in the room you are in.
A few small gameplay changes that I feel I should just touch on are: the lives system – you take so much damage now that you are guaranteed to die. As such many 1-UP helmets are dotted around the game world. The Meat Hook – found attached to the super shotgun, this can be used for traversal or just to close the distance between you and a demon. Crystals – these replace the energy orbs from DOOM (2016) but now every 2 upgrades are linked to an a permanent buff
Runes also make a return but unlike last time you no longer have to do a trial, instead you just find the rune and then select which of the 9 effects you would like. Unlike the weapon upgrades, runes no longer upgrade. This means the only upgrades are for the suit and the weapons. If you’re doing things right then the suit will be fully upgraded before the final fight. Can’t say the game about the guns though, you ultimately find your favourite mod upon your initial playthrough.
Remember this disclaimer?
…same issue that has reared it’s head twice causing me to have to restart the game.
Yes well we will touch upon that a bit later but for now I do need to praise this game a bit. To start with, the default API for DOOM Eternal is Vulkan. The previous title also had support for this API but you could switch between Vulkan and DirectX. I have been unable to find such an option this time round. Not that this is a bad thing. Most games with the option between these API’s almost always run better in Vulkan – you can crank the graphics up and keep a high framerate – you just win.
The game also looks stunning even on the medium settings I was using for the game this time around. Though my rig can certainly handle it on a nice mix or medium and high – it can’t when I’m streaming. This may be to do with the new id Tech 7 engine being used. This has pushed the recommended specifications to run this game up to more modern hardware than DOOM (2016).
This game ran smooth and still does. Apart from my obvious issues, everything else was perfect. I experienced no stutters, hangs or freezes and was able to keep the frame rate over 100 at most times. Streaming seemed to come with it’s own little issues, only with the cutscenes though and only on stream. I should point out that I have neglected to speak about the cutscenes as they are so short and are only used to show some backstory between Doomguy and the people he interacts with.
My own little issue comes not from the game, I can understand a game at launch having an issue or 2 and I can also understand a game being published by Bethesda having a myriad of issues extra. Remember, it’s the modders who fix the game after launch, not Bethesda. With all that being said – when I reached out to Bethesda stating my issue I was given 2 separate replies, twice.
Look at the image above and let me explain this to you: Image 1 is my first attempt – Launch day. I am told to submit a ticket – which I do. The response to this ticket is image number 2, as such I take to twitter once again after getting onto the final level and the same thing happen. I then get given the link that takes me to a document they clearly just copy and paste into an email. Needless to say I am still awaiting a reply but I understand due to current issues.
In conclusion to all of this I feel it’s time we wrapped this up. Looking at my screen here in Visual Studio (as well as the preview on the page)… this is already pretty long so I feel we should wrap this up with some scores. Having looked around – my issue was just on me, many other people experienced crashes were as I got 1 step further, as such this won’t hinder my final result.
As stated earlier the story is basic but purpose built – it is just very simple. Again, most of the lore is held within the codex entries. The cutscenes give us a look into the past of the Slayer rather than tell us what is to come. Performance wise, excluding my issues this game does run surprisingly well out of the box and the gameplay starts off slow but does pick up.
Overall I do recommend DOOM Eternal but maybe in a few months when some of the issues get patched out. If you do pick this game up soon though then get it on Steam. The Bethesda launcher has so little features (like cloud saves and achievements) that it hinders you more than helps. Anyway guys I hope you enjoy the game if you pick it up and I hope you enjoyed the read.
Edit-. Now on the 3rd playthrough – hoping it doesn’t crash!
Edit 2 – 7 hours 34 mins later. We did it
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