Platform: Xbox One
DOOM Eternal Preview - E3 2019
Taking the fight to Hell for the sequel to the franchise reboot
“You’re familiar with DOOM?”
That’s what was asked of me as I prepared to go hands-on with id Software’s new game, DOOM Eternal. “Yeah,” I replied, with more confidence than I really had. It was true, I did play DOOM, however, it has been years since then, and I wasn’t feeling overly confident about my ability to mow down hordes of demons. id’s shooters are unforgiving, brutally fast, and demanding of the player - and I had a feeling that even at E3, even in a simple hands-on preview, DOOM Eternal wasn’t going to let me off easy.
I was right.
I would say the DOOM Eternal is more of the same, but that isn’t doing it justice. DOOM Eternal is more of the same but turned up to 11. Heck, maybe even turned up to 12. Resources are going to be even more scarce in this sequel, forcing players to commit more of the violent Glory Kills, chainsaw kills, and Flame Belches to get more ammo, health, and shields. We’ve seen shooters pulling further and further away from the old style of cover shooting, with more focus going toward fluid and kinetic gameplay, but id seems almost driven by a sense of purpose to make Eternal the fastest and nastiest shooter yet.
The demo starts off with a quick tutorial, which was quite appreciated as it gave me a moment to get back up to speed. After a quick recap of the basics, I was quickly thrown into the action. id’s previous DOOM entry featured large, expansive areas that were painstakingly designed to push and pull the player in different directions. The spawning of monsters, and their positioning, all felt like they were decisions that had been obsessed over, and DOOM Eternal carries that same feeling.
In the first level, an Arachnotron, which looks like a fleshly brain with mechanical spider legs and a mounted turret cannon, sat in the middle of the area on a platform, making it difficult to focus fire on it. Part of the difficulty came from the fact that there was a swarm of demons flocking toward me. I started weaving, jumping, and doing anything to simply stay alive, pumping bullets into anything that moved, waiting for something to flash, signaling I had a chance for a Glory Kill. Then I would rush in to deliver the final blow.
After I cleared the room, there was a fun cutscene where the Doom Slayer made his way through a human command center. Everyone’s reaction to the Slayer was that of jaw-dropping awe. DOOM (2016) intelligently skirted around telling much of story and largely focused on its mechanics and level design, almost to the point of parody with the Slayer largely ignoring exposition and just killing demons because that’s what he wanted to do. DOOM Eternal seems to be the same thing. I wouldn’t expect a lot of talking heads, explaining the plot at you.
A while making his way through the command center, the Slayer noted that one of the scientists had an ID card around his neck. He grabbed the card and pulled the scientist to a nearby ID scanner, to open a door. Two guards made a move to stop him, realized who he was and quickly shut up, one even gave his weapon to Slayer.
Then the game because more intimate with an enclosed area, forcing me to move and react a little bit quicker. As demons flooded the small room, I backpedaled in a large circle, kiting enemies with me while pumping them full of bullets. After clearing the room, I skipped ahead in the level to the final section. Here I got a taste of the platforming in DOOM Eternal which is made of long jumps and seemingly endless falling. At the end, I was rewarded with a new weapon - a Super Shotgun which had a secondary function of a grappling hook that pulled me toward enemies.
I was then dropped (literally) into the most taxing encounter of the demo. Demons surrounded me and I quickly found myself strafing again, weaving through the level, jumping up on platforms and quickly falling to escape the demons in pursuit. I felt like I was doing pretty well, then a Cacodemon showed up and quickly put me in the dirt. But there’s a cool new mechanic in DOOM Eternal. Throughout levels, you can find extra lives that will let you resurrect. This allows you to keep going instead of having to restart from a checkpoint. It actually took me a few tries to defeat the Cacodemon, and after using that extra life once, it was gone and I had to try and finish the whole encounter without dying, which was easier said than done.
DOOM Eternal is more of the same ferocious action, but I don’t want to give the impression that there’s nothing new. The mechanics around the Glory kills and enemy drops have definitely seen re-vamping, and skills such as the double dash have also added to the game’s breathlessness. If you loved 2016's DOOM, chances are that you’re about to fall in love with Hell all over again. DOOM Eternal will launch November 22nd on PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.