As more and more people across the country are forced and pushed to stay indoors and maintain “social distancing” a lot of people are taking solace in a number of things to whittle the time away. One of the big ones is inevitably going to be video games. Over the coming few months, there are going to be a lot of big releases that are going capture people’s attention. I myself am excited because 3 of the 4 titles releasing this year will all be released by mid-April. Resident Evil 3 drops on April 3rd, Final Fantasy 7 drops on April 10th and I cannot wait to sit down and play either of those games at all. However, last week kicked this whole thing off in style because DOOM Eternal was unleashed upon the masses on March 20th.
The Doom series is synonymous with rapid fire pulse pounding adrenaline shooting action that never stops from the moment you boot into the game. Minus Doom 3 which was slower paced and more survival horror in nature, the rest of the series places an emphasis on shooting first and asking questions second. I truly believe that the key to this series longevity is the distillation of the core mechanics of gaming down to its purest and simplest forms. DOOM Eternal is the absolute zenith of this mentality and makes a damn good case for being the first Game Of The Year contender.
When ID Software rebooted Doom back in 2016, it was just the shot in the arm this venerable series needed. It took the central concept of the original, applied a current generation coat of paint in terms of graphics, did some fine tweaking on its own developmental engine and released it into the world. Doom 2016 was released to almost universal acclaim. Fans praised its ability to do away with a lot of the bloat that games at the time seemed to be packed with. A lot of developers and game studios feel the need to pack their titles with filler and padding and tons of side quests in a bid to produce as much content as possible. Games like Red Dead Redemption 2, while a technical masterpiece, becomes almost daunting to sit down and play with the herculean amount stuff there is to do in that world. I have attempted many times to sit down and play Red Dead and almost always get no further than maybe a quest or 2 before I completely lose interest. Doom 2016 side steps all that bullshit, puts a gun in your hand and asks you to reduce each demon that crosses your path to a pile of blood and guts.
DOOM Eternal continues this tradition for the most part while adding some new mechanics and things as to not repeat itself from the previous outing. It never gets so wildly out of control that it becomes overwhelming. There are some new upgrade menus that allow further customization of the Slayer character with suit upgrade points, upgrades to your arsenal, permanent abilities in addition to the weapon upgrades. There’s a bunch to be had here, but it never overshadows the simplistic and entertaining as all heck game play. Let’s be honest, it’s said game play that really takes center stage in this whole affair. The story and plot are kind of superfluous with a few interesting plot points I won’t spoil here for the longtime fans, but this is not the game you play for great writing.
This is honest to god the absolute most fun I’ve had playing a video game since Borderlands 3 released last year. The thrill of upgrading my weapons and suit of armor to make myself as lean a killing machine as I can keeps me moving forward even when the difficulty spikes up considerably in the back half, and booooooooooooooooooy does this game get hard. Even on the easiest difficulty setting, these enemies will swarm you and back you into every corner possible. There will be times when it feels like these spikes exist solely to test your patience but I promise you that is not the case. There were a few parts where I wanted to quit and play something else but eventually I preserved and became a better Doom slayer because of it. There are a multitude of ways you can attack each level, and every plan of attack will yield a different reward even if you don’t always survive the encounter. Strategy is key in this game and you wouldn’t know it given its FPS nature but if you stand still and don’t move, you will absolutely die a horrible horrible death. Constant fluid motion and the ability to adapt to the ever changing surroundings will ensure that you stay on your feet longer. So while the difficulty is steeper in nature, if you plan it just right there shouldn’t be a need to resort to rage quitting.
DOOM Eternal is a heavy metal album cover come to life. Everything about this game is excess to the highest degree, but never at the expense of servicing one of the most exhilarating titles to come out in the last few years. The art work and graphic design are top notch and takes the current generation of hardware to the absolute limit. The run and gun gameplay feels more vibrant than ever while adding new layers of strategy to the mix that ensure no repeat play through should ever feel the same. The music is an amazing mix of heavy metal guitar riffs and deafening synth beats that will leave you wanting to shred a few solos of your own. DOOM Eternal is worth every penny of the investment and will never at any point leave you feeling like you wasted your money. The online multiplayer component leaves something a little to be desired and doesn’t honestly warrant much mention. There’s a battle mode in lieu of the typical death match, but there’s nothing much in terms of actual replayability. The battle mode consists of one player controlled Doom Slayer versus 2 player controlled hell spawn as they race to be the first to eliminate the other. It doesn’t detract from the overall package, but doesn’t really add anything either.
I promise this is a game you’re going to want to pick up. I know with the COVID-19 lockdown in place that it’s hard to go out and buy video games, but each console has its own virtual store so being able to buy a game digitally has never been this easy. DOOM Eternal is a white knuckle thrill ride that re-orients video games as the premier medium especially during these difficult and trying days. We face a time of helplessness as we battle a disease that is ravaging the nation without much in the way of counter-attack. Being able to slay an evil menace in service of saving humanity from its threat can feel very empowering in these stressful times. If that’s the case there is no game that does this better than DOOM Eternal. So strap yourself in and get ready, the denizens of hell have a new foe to fear.