In March 2020, the long-awaited new DOOM game finally came out. DOOM Eternal was the first new game of the legendary franchise since 2016, so naturally the fanbase had developed a thirst for something new.
Was that thirst satiated? Let’s have a look, starting off with the positives about the game:
Gameplay is absolutely exhilarating
Whether you play the game on the easiest “I’m not ready to die” difficulty setting or the “Ultra Nightmare” difficulty mode, a masochist’s dream, the gameplay will reward you right off the bat for the experience. This game makes use of every technical jargony word in the book to make the gameplay thrilling regardless of your difficulty setting. Monsters are visually amazing, both their demeanor in how they’re initially presented, and how graphic the gore is when Doom Slayer kills them, from up close or far away. Overall, whether casual or hardcore, you will love this game for its gameplay if nothing else.
The game has endless strategies and “builds” one could use for each playthrough of the game.
As the player progresses through the single player mode, they will acquire a finite amount of resources which can upgrade various weapons and modifications at their disposal. This has served to make intricate playthroughs, such as speedrunning, even more varied and competitive, but it also gives each playthrough of the game new life. You can deck out the basic combat shotgun you start the game with, or you can let that ride the bench as you improve the capabilities of your limited but much stronger plasma gun, for example. There are endless possibilities for how a player can equip themselves for the game ahead. Try one or a few out and see what works best!
Multiplayer mode is simple but very well developed
In deathmatch modes, two players who control large demons face off against one player who controls the Doom Slayer himself. The players using the demons have nigh endless armies of smaller demons they can summon to help them fight, in addition to various weapons and upgrades they can make use of. The Doom Slayer player fights alone, but is fitfully equipped with the weapons features in the single player campaign — including the famed BFG 9000 — to try and tear apart the other two players and their lesser AI pals. The gameplay is simple, but because of how many demons the demon side has to choose from, and how many different ways the Doom Slayer can approach a game, even changing their strategy on the fly to best combat the other two players, no two matches are ever the same.
Best of all, there is reason to “grind” in this mode, but there isn’t any real pressure to do so or punishment if you do not. Each week, a new ‘Event’ pops up where limited time aesthetics — various skins, introduction cinematic, celebration gestures — for the demons and Doom Slayer pop up. By simply playing the game, players will earn experience points based on their performance. After earning enough, the player will climb the battle pass-esque ladder and earn these neat aesthetics.
Finally, it cannot be stressed enough just how varied and fun the demon side is. Players can choose between five different demons: The Arch-Vile, Revenant, Marauder, Mancubus, and Pain Elemental. Each demon provides a unique dynamic and set of strategies a player could reasonably employ for each game. For example, the Mancubus may be slow and incapable of making up much ground, but it also has a ton of HP and dishes out some serious pain up close and far away. While it may be tough to tackle a Doom Slayer who plays keep away, your ally can easily select a speedier demon such as the Marauder or Revenant to compensate for this. In theory, the Mancubus can play the role of a meat shield for this ally, or the Mancubus player could make use of their greater survivability to continually harass the Slayer with barrages of demons, whom they are able to summon for a long time due to said survivability. There are no real limitations, so each game brings forth exciting new possibilities and potential!
The soundtrack is amazing
Each and every level, single and multiplayer, is as awesome as it is largely because of the supporting soundtrack. The soundtrack was so well received that it created an internet sensation of a meme based around pop culture icons in TV who suddenly lose their cool, with a given theme from this video game being played in the video when that takes place.
Overall, the soundtrack is simply amazing. Heavy metal fits this game like a glove.
For as great a game as DOOM Eternal is, it does have one flaw worth mentioning. Let’s go more in detail:
Multiplayer matchmaking leaves a lot to be desired, and multiplayer in general could be a bit more balanced
Generally speaking, if an equally-skilled Doom Slayer players meets two equally skilled demon players, the Slayer will probably win the battle. The Slayer is simply equipped with a load of unique, powerful weapons, can notably heal himself every time he kills a demon, which is something the demon players cannot do, and he is the only one who can make use of terrain mobility platforms, like teleporters or jump pads. This theoretically gives that player the tools to deal with mostly whatever the demons throw at them.
While that may sound unbalanced, the tradeoff is that the demons are, by a million miles, easier to pick up and learn how to effectively play than the Slayer. The demons are easy to utilize, have a numbers advantage on the Slayer, and because one of them will respawn a little after the Slayer has killed them, the other player just has to try and stall the during the 25 second timer until their partner can return to play. Only if the Slayer manages to kill that second demon before the 25 seconds does he win. Meanwhile, if the Slayer dies, it’s game over, plain and simple. The Slayer has to weave in and out between a constant spamming of demon hordes, making sure to keep an ample supply of health and armor drops left behind by demons he kills lest he get overwhelmed.
What this all leads up to is, because the demons are so easy to play and the Slayer is so difficult, people have naturally flocked towards playing the demons more so than the Slayer, even though the Slayer has the upper hand. This makes it so that matchmaking is a bit rough to deal with; a brand new player trying out the Slayer role can be matched up with two players who have been tried and tested in the demon roles since the game launched. The game then ends quickly and frustratingly for the Slayer player, who never had a chance from the start. This unsurprisingly leads to less people playing the Slayer role, and actually finding a match can take a bit longer than it should for such a popular, otherwise well received game.
While the multiplayer is theoretically balanced, the skill ceiling between the demon and Slayer roles is simply night and day. Finding a way to ease this a bit would help exponentially at dealing with the problem.
That’s the game’s only real flaw. It is unfortunately a relatively significant one. That said, I’d give this game a solid A. It’s enjoyable by a wide variety of players, even those lacking experience in first person shooter games.