Doom Eternal is finally here, and serves as a sequel to the excellent Doom, or Doom 2016, which gets a bit confusing, but hey, thank god it's not called Doom 2, right? I say Doom Eternal is a sequel, but interestingly, it's not just a sequel to Doom 2016, but rather a whole host of other games in the series. This is interesting to me, as Doom 2016 was considered by most to be a reboot to the series, but Eternal throws that concept away and directly follows up on concepts seen in older games, without giving too much away.
Doom Eternal picks up some time after the events of Doom 2016, with the Doom Slayer heading back to Earth on a giant space station known as the Fortress of Doom. When he arrives back on Earth, however, he finds that hell has come along for the ride. 60% of the population are dead, and most of the planet has been taken over by the tendrils of evil.
Technologically though, Doom Eternal bases itself on, and improves on the excellent Doom 2016 in every way. You'll find all the same game mechanics here, but upgraded or improved, especially in terms of your ability to climb, double jump and now dash. Exploring the game's world is excellent fun and much more intuitive than Doom 2016. Eternal feels much more like a traditional Doom game than Doom 2016, heck, of any Doom game since the original and the second, in my opinion. There's a wider variety of environments, and being set on Earth adds for much more concepts for level designs than the 2016 game, which could get a bit samey at times. I mean Mars is just a big red rock, after all. On Earth, there's lots of Gothic inspired architecture which really takes me back and feels really Doom-like. The levels feel much more open and exploitable, especially in combat, than the 2016 game. One thing I would suggest turning off however is the tutorial mode. If you've played a Doom game before, you really don't need it, and it just serves as an annoyance in the early part of the game.
Interestingly, you start off with a shotgun instead of a pistol this time around, which I suppose makes sense, as the pistol was always the weapon you never wanted and ultimately never used again after you upgraded to something with more oomph. Oh, you now also start off with the chainsaw, so right from the get go you're ready for some hugely satisfying combat. It's nice not to have to slog your way through the early game to grab some decent weapons.
There's still plenty to look forward to though, as you can now upgrade your weapons throughout the game, which helps keep things fresh. One good example is an upgrade later in the game that turns the heavy assault rifle, which returns from Doom 2016, into a sniper rifle. Also returning is the Plasma Rifle, Rocket Launcher, Super Shotty, Chain Gun and, of course, the obligatory BFG 9000. There are new weapons available, too, such as the Balista, a powerful rail cannon that also shoots lethal electrical blades at hoards of enemies, and proves very useful for crowd control. One of my favourite upgrades is for the shotgun, which adds a meathook that you can use to grapple onto enemies and drag yourself towards them, before executing a lethal takedown. Another new weapon is the flame belcher, which has it's own hot key separate from other weapons and is always available, which lets you get the upper hand on enemies before using your primary weapon to finish the job.
You'll need the fire power, too, as there's twice as many demons and lots of upgrades for weapons, suits and more than there was in Doom 2016. If you like upgrades, then this game is for you. Melee combat is also improved, with the new Doom Blade making close quarters combat much more satisfying. Combined with the meat hook, the melee combat really comes into it's own in this game. There's also a mighty fine sword available towards the end game known as the crucible which, while only giving you three swings per charge, is a hugely satisfying instant kill.
You're going to want to use a keyboard and mouse for this game, especially on higher difficulties. Beyond the easiest levels, using a controller is asking for a world of pain. This is a brutal game and there's a huge difficulty spike about 1/3rd of the way through which you won't be prepared for. It's wonderful though, it's really not for the faint hearted and feels like a true, hardcore first person shooter.
One tip I'll give you is to make sure you collect the newly introduced extra lives. They're very, very rare and hard to find, and as the game has no quick save, you're going to want to try and stock up for that inevitable boss fight death or unexpectedly difficult hoard of enemies. There's consequences here, folks. You really need to look hard for these extra lives, so make sure you do so.
One new feature in Eternal is your home base, a space station which you can use to show off your collectables, and even customise to your heart's desire with unlockable skins and other feature. I didn't spend too much time here, I prefer to play the game old school and ignored a lot of the extra bells and whistles, but it does have some cool uses.
For example, there's plenty of collectables hidden away as you'd expect. Apart from the extra lives, my favourite hidden items include floppy disks that you can collect to unlock various cheat modes (remember those? No, not the floppy disks, cheat codes...) and vinyl records to unlock songs from classic Doom titles. I wont give away the secrets and unlockables, but what you do collect will be available for display in your space station, which will eventually become something of a Doom museum if you're diligent enough.
The game now features a satisfying practice mode too, available from your space station, which can be used to hone your skills before you continue the main story or enter an online game, which is great. Practising along to the original Doom first level music is a really nice touch. Ah, the nostalgia.
The game will give you about 15 to 20 hours of single player gameplay, depending on how any rabbit holes you want to jump down, and the soundtrack is suitably Doom-esque with the expected eclectic mix of epic orchestra and heavy metal, which really feels much more Doom-like to me than the 2016 soundtrack. All in all, while in my opinion Doom Eternal is best played like a traditional Doom game, there's a lot of nice fan service and extra things to do in this game that will keep you coming back for more.