Before the DOOM reboot came out about five years ago, there was much trepidation in the media regarding the quality of the title. The multiplayer beta was not received very well, and Bethesda announced that review codes were not going to be available until launch. Doom and gloom spread about the shooter community as everyone expected the worst. However, upon launch fears were laid to rest as not only was DOOM not a disaster, but it was really flippin’ good.
History repeated itself with the Switch launch of DOOM Eternal. The game got delayed, there was little footage shown of the port, and the physical version of the game got cancelled at the eleventh hour. Of course, this obviously meant that the game was going to be a disaster, right?
Well, let’s find out!
DOOM Eternal’s story kicks off after the events of the previous title but don’t worry, it barely matters. There’s very little connection here to the previous game, which didn’t have much story to begin with. Eternal differs by embracing storytelling a little bit more, even including a handful of (skippable) cutscenes that help develop the story. Whilst this may seem as a big departure for the series, it is still pretty minimal and serves mainly as an excuse for the Slayer to be a badass in a variety of different locations: Three priests have headed up a demonic takeover of Earth, so you need to track them down and take them out – making sure to rip and tear into everything along the way. There are extra bits of story along the way, and a load of codex entries that help flesh out the lore a lot more, but none of it gets in the way if you just want to blast demons apart.
And yes, blasting lots and lots of demons is the main focus of the game, and the Slayer certainly has some great tools for the job. Gone is the pistol from the previous game, with the shotgun being the Slayer’s starting weapon. The shotgun is a far more interesting weapon and you will be using it pretty frequently all the way through the game. Your arsenal expands over the course of the game, and you end up with some pretty mighty weaponry that stand out as some of the best in the series. These can be upgraded too using weapon modifications that give them interesting secondary functions; the Super Shotgun, for example, has a meathook that can attach to any enemy and pull you towards them – allowing you to blast them in the face, or just to help you manoeuvre around the arena. Another standout mod turns the minigun into a super powerful turret, which can rip even the stronger enemies apart within seconds.
You will definitely be needing those guns too because your foes this time around are much more of a threat. Enemy encounters are frequent and more plentiful than the previous game, but to counter that they tend to have certain weakness that you can exploit to make them more manageable. It’s rarely essential, thankfully, but it can sure as hell make your life a lot easier, and gives every weapon utility. Arachnotrons have a head mounted turret that can be blasted off to make them far less threatening, but you can just as easily mount your chaingun turret and pummel them in the face. Enemies too are varied and are wonderfully designed, with a much more cartoony look that makes them more akin to their original models. It’s a welcome change and gives them a ton of personality, especially when you utilize the new glory kills to rip them apart.
Glory kills this time around are far more varied and impressive than in the previous title, and is used to earn health – useful considering resources on the battlefield are a lot more scarce than before. They take a little longer than they used to, but it’s a welcome change since it allows for a quick breather during a hectic fight, allowing you to evaluate the remaining enemy threat and strategically plan how to proceed. The chainsaw serves a similar function, as it breaks enemies open like a piñata, showering you in ammunition for almost every weapon; it requires fuel to use, but one unit of fuel will always slowly recharge when you run out, and there are plenty of fuel canisters lying around, so running out will never be an issue. Finally there’s also the Flame Belch, which will weaken your foes slightly and make them continually drop armour shards that will help increase your durability. Managing these three is essential for survival and makes the game feel quite arcadey. It’s quite overwhelming at first, but once you get used to it you will find the system rewarding since every enemy becomes a potential resource.
Rewarding is definitely the name of the game when it comes to the combat. Encounters are hectic, but they never seem unfair. You have some powerful tools at your disposal, and increased mobility too: the Slayer can dash, double jump, climb, and swing from monkey bars. This movement makes traversing the battle arenas fun, and also helps stack the odds more in your favour. Slayer Gates take this to the next level by pitting you in an arena fight against many tough foes in some fantastically designed locations; beating them not only rewards you with one of the keys that unlocks a fantastic late game reward, but also fills you with an exhilarating rush of adrenaline. The combat is definitely a highlight in Eternal, but these Slayer gates had some of my favourite fights in the game.
RUN AND GUN AND JUMP
With the additional mobility comes another welcome addition to the series: first person platforming. No, I’m not being sarcastic, the platforming in this is usually really good. The locations you visit are always suitably epic, so leaping around them between fights offers a welcome change of pace. None of it is too difficult, bar the occasional section where your path forward isn’t totally clear. I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of the platforming sections, although there’s one horrible gimmick that sours the experience a little. Occasionally you will encounter pools of purple goo that you need to wade through; it won’t hurt you, but it makes you move extremely slowly and removes your ability to both dash and jump. It looks nice and probably won’t bother you the first time you encounter it, but later on when you encounter bigger pools it can really bog the game down and ruin the pacing a little. Thankfully these sections are both short and very infrequent, but they never should have been included in the first place. Doom Eternal is a very fast paced game – more so than Doom 2016 – and this goop only serves to undermine that, which is unfortunate. At least it is possible to skip these with some well placed dashing, but you will unlikely be able to do this on your initial playthrough.
Also making a return from the previous games are collectibles. Hidden within the world are a multitude of collectibles to find, from useful upgrades to character dolls and even cheat codes. There’s quite a lot on offer and they are a blast to find, mainly due to how they are implemented. In the previous game, collectibles were hidden out of sight and you had to scour the map to find them; whereas Eternal takes a different approach: collectibles are usually in plain sight though not easily accessible, meaning you need to search for a way to get to it. This makes them far less frustrating than in the previous game, whilst still giving you a sense of accomplishment when you find them. It’s a pity that the retro levels from the previous game don’t make a return since they were my favourite part of the game, but there are still some cool things to find. Some of the upgrades are linked to suit upgrades, but you won’t need to find everything in order to max out and become an unstoppable force – very welcome for those who just to focus on the action.
HOME SWEET HOME
An interesting new addition is the Fortress of DOOM – a floating cathedral in space, which acts as a hub world. It’s a smart choice as it allows Eternal to have far more varied environments than before. One moment you will be on Earth jumping across trains, and the next you will be fighting your way through a frozen cultist base. It helps keep your interest throughout and there aren’t really any weak levels in the game.
The flying fortress itself has multiple functions, the primary one being activating portals to the next location; of course, if you want to explore then there are many more things on offer: collectibles you have found are viewable within the ship, there’s a training area where you can test out your combat skills, unlockable sections of the ship containing new collectibles (including the original DOOM armor), and more! There’s plenty to distract you between missions should that be what you are after, but if not you can simply load up the next level portal and be on your merry way. I would definitely recommend playing the Master Levels that are available from the main control panel; they are harder variations of levels from the main game, and are a lot of fun. Whilst there are only two at the moment, apparently more will be added at a later date.
One thing that makes this game particularly impressive is the fine work Panic Button has done in getting this on the Switch. Through clever use of dynamic resolution, they’ve made the game look absolutely stunning. When things are slow, everything looks fab and then things scale down a little when in combat. Things still look great, but you rarely notice the downscaling of thing in action. This magic not only allows the game to run at a pretty smooth 30FPS, but it also loads pretty fast too – especially compared with the eternal loading of Vampyr that I had to suffer through recently! The soundtrack is also of high quality, with some really pumping tunes for the hellish landscapes, but then can switch to something a little calmer like some Tuvan Throat Singing to generate a cultish atmosphere. There are also some great remixes of classic tunes that can be found as collectibles in the main game, adding to the already fantastic OST.
WEAK AT THE KNEES
ARACHNOTRONThese threats appear very early in the game, and can kill you with ease. Use a sticky grenade or precision bolt to take out the cannon on top to make it far less scary.
PINKYPinkies can withstand a lot of damage, but their tail is their weakness. You can dash over and try to get a quick shot off, but I find a short stun with the Microwave Beam should allow you to nip behind safely.
SLAY TO WIN
Here are some tips to help:
ALWAYS KEEP MOVINGA stationary slayer is a dead slayer. Utilise all your movement options to avoid getting hit or getting trapped in a corner. You can even use your meathook to swing around enemies for quick traversal.
WEAPON MODIFICATIONSPick the right tools for the job and you will have a much easier time. Sticky Bombs are near essential, but so is the Precision Bolt. The latter automatically locks on when you use it, so take advantage of it to quick-scope enemy weak points.
QUICK-SWAPPINGDid you know that by tapping the weapon wheel button you will switch to the last weapon used? Very handy when swapping between weapons to get a nice combo. It also helps if you learn the layout of the weapon wheel so you can select your important guns almost instantly.
One final thing to talk about is the multiplayer in the game. Gone is the traditional deathmatch mode, replaced instead with an asymmetrical demons versus slayer mode. Whilst that may prove to be a disappointment to some, it works quite well within the universe. The person controlling the slayer will get access to full upgraded weaponry (minus super weapons, of course); whereas the two demons get to choose from a handful of strong demon types, from Marauders to Pain Elementals, in order to take down the other player. There’s a tutorial available for people to practice with the demons, so you will never need to go in completely blind. I personally prefer being on the demon team, due to it being far less stressful, but many prefer to play as a slayer. The main issue with the multiplayer is that there is zero matchmaking functionality, so often you will be thrown against opponents that are vastly different in skill level – this can make matches either impossible or an absolute cakewalk. The Switch version also doesn’t seem to be heavily populated either, so expect long waits on occasion to even join a match. The multiplayer can be fun when you find similarly skilled players, so I’d definitely recommend finding friends to play with rather than searching for others. It’s also worth noting that visuals take a huge hit in multiplayer, with things looking blurry and extremely low in resolution; however, I never encountered performance issues online, so I guess this was just a compromise that needed to be made.
THE UPDATE OF THE DEVIL (EDIT)
Update ‘6.66’ (it’s actually 1.11, but it’s labelled as 6.66) added numerous additions, including an updated version of Battlemode that contains an extra playable demon, several new Master Levels, and even a whole new mode!
The new Master Levels are a step up from the two that launched with the game, offering a sharp increase in difficulty – but also a lot more variation in the map. Arenas may now have extra effects, or there may be arenas in places you did not expect. In addition, there’s a new ‘classic’ variation of the map that has you starting with your measly shotgun and you’ll gradually find the rest of your arsenal as you work your way through the level. It’s a really nice touch and another way to spice things up a little. There are plenty of challenges connected to these with plenty of things to unlock, so it’ll keep you coming back for more – if you’re tough enough!
The new mode, Horde, may initially seem like a lazy add-on, but there’s way more depth here than you may be expecting. There are three missions in total, each one being a single level from the game. There are multiple rounds to work through, each with numerous waves. You’ll start off with the regular shotgun, but after each round you’ll be granted a random new weapon for your arsenal. Waves are spiced up with extra modifiers, such as bounty demons that you have limited time to kill. You can also unlock bonus rounds, which require you to kill a load of demons in a limited time in order to earn extra lives. Not all rounds will be killing though, with some requiring you to traverse the arena to the exit. It’s a genuinely fun mode and pretty varied, even if the maps are the same each time. Hopefully they add more in the future, but the sheer amount of things to unlock will keep you busy for a while at least.
All in all, the updates have added a huge amount of content to the game, and they are still continuining to add more. If you were worried about the value beforehand, Bethesda have definitely worked to give you more than enough bang for your buck!
I regret waiting for so long to play Doom Eternal. I thought it would be decent, but I did not expect it to be such an exhilarating thrill ride. Purple goop aside, I had a blast all the way through the 20 hour campaign and did not want the experience to end. Not only did I enjoy this game so much, I think it has overtaken the original as my favourite DOOM game!
* All collectibles and a lot of the Milestones