Doom, Game Night, Review, Video Games

Doom Eternal: A Near Perfect Upgrade

In my review of Doom 2016, I expressed great excitement for Eternal. It was the sequel to one of my favorite FPS games! It looked sick as hell in every way! Out of all the games coming this year, this one was near the top of my hype list!

But the question stands: was it worth it? Or did it disappoint? Given the extremely positive reviews, you’d think the answer would be obvious, right? Well, not quite. It’s a bit more complex.

This game is definitely a step up from Doom 2016 in many ways. It looks better, controls better, the levels are more distinct, and it’s far more chaotic! However, if I had to pick which game I enjoyed more, I’d say 2016’s Doom in a heartbeat! There are a few gameplay additions in this game that drags it down for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love this game. Most of the time. But as the game went on, I liked it less and less. By the end of Doom 2016, I was disappointed that it was nearly over. By the end of Eternal, I wanted it to end. Like, desperately. I yearned for the game to be over so I could play something else.

Let me explain. Starting with…

Story: Rip and Tear, Blah Blah Blah

This shit is weird, dude. Honestly, I’m still not sure whether or not I like it. It’s such a bizarre and oddly complex story! Who wrote this and why did they write it this way?!

Eternal takes place sometime after Doom 2016. Hell’s armies have invaded Earth, slaughtering billions of people and decimating the landscape. In order to stop them, the Doom Slayer (whom they call Doomguy in-game and I love it), teamed up with the VEGA AI, begins to hunt the leaders of the demonic forces to stop the invasion and save the day. Rip and Tear until it is done, blah blah blah.

Also aliens. At least, I think they’re aliens. It’s never really explained. Unless it’s somewhere in the lore collectibles, I don’t fucking know.

I criticized the story pretty heavily in the previous game. Unfortunately, I’m about to do the same thing here. Because god damn, this story really isn’t that interesting. It’s so bland and forgettable that I’m genuinely struggling to write this section of the review! I can hardly remember anything that happened!

All the characters, new and old, are super boring and flat. None of them have any personality whatsoever! Samuel Hayden and VEGA still boil down to ‘exposition’. The villains are just maniacal “You can never stop us!” evil machines! The only interesting characters are the background extras that are afraid of you when you walk into the room!

The coolest thing this story does is try to connect it with the older games. We get a few hints about how Doomguy got to where he was. We even see the old helmet! It’s a nice bit of fanservice. Unfortunately, it’s inclusion in the story is so worthless that you can cut it out and you will lose literally nothing.

It also feels kind of pretentious, if that makes sense. For the first two-thirds, it only hints at stuff without explaining anything to the audience. Then they try to do a thing later where it all comes together through flashbacks. I hate this for two reasons. One: it makes the story so complex that it’s hard to follow/care about. Two: the ‘reveals’ aren’t even satisfying. Three: they leave several questions unanswered, all of which are pretty integral to the story. It’s trying to be more than it is and it falls apart.

We don’t need this complex narrative structure. No one cares. We just want to run in dick first and murder some demons. Stop trying to be clever. You can’t be stupid and smart at the same time. Either go all-in on the ‘who cares about a story, go kill demons’, or don’t make a Doom game!!

Thank God for the skip button.

Presentation: SO. MANY. COLORS!!

This game is mostly an upgrade in this regard. It looks cleaner, runs smoother (save for a few extreme frame dips, but that was likely on my PC’s end; maybe), and most importantly: it’s more colorful!

Seriously, Doom 2016 only had, like, four colors. This one is a refreshing change of pace!

Everything here is more visually distinct than the previous game. The environments are more varied and interesting. The enemy designs look incredible, from the revamped old ones to the brand new ones! All the menus now have this green, neon aesthetic and I love it! It looks amazing!

The big problem here is the music. To be specific, how it’s mixed. Because here’s the thing about Mick Gordon: the man is absolutely incredible. At least, when he’s allowed to do what he wants. Unfortunately, for reasons completely beyond me, one of the higher-ups at ID or Bethesda had all of his music remixed in the game.

Here’s why this is a dumb decision. One: it angered Mick Gordon enough to drive him to quit, so all future Doom stuff will no longer have his amazing music (chances of buying a potential Doom 3, dropping). Two: the music doesn’t hit nearly as hard as it did in Doom 2016. In fact, if you listen to the Mick Gordon mixed tracks you can find online, it’s like night and day! It’s so good that it makes the in-game mix sound terrible!

The in-game mix isn’t the worst thing ever. But it isn’t especially memorable. I have no idea what possessed them to change it. But I hope that they soon see the light and change it back.

They won’t.

Gameplay: Doom Souls

That was a joke. I’m joking. I only made it to emphasize that this game is harder than the last game. Don’t get mad at me.

Doom: Eternal makes a ton of improvements over the previous game. From quality of life changes, like the aforementioned ‘skip cutscene’ button and how falling off a ledge no longer instantly kills you. To the bigger stuff, such as enhancements to mobility, various new weapons and upgrades, and the addition of more boss fights.

Granted, they still aren’t good boss fights. But hey. At least there’s more than just three of them. Although, if I recall, there are only about two more. So there are five bosses this time! I think! Hooray!

The big change is the mobility. In this game, you can dash through the air, leap off of monkey bars, and pull yourself to enemies with a chain attached to your motherfucking shotgun! Combine that with your extremely high movement speed and you’ve got a game that is wildly fun to move around in!

You’ve also got plenty of new tools to murder with! Hit enemies with a flamethrower and make them drop armor! Blast ’em with an ice grenade to freeze ’em! Cut them in half with a fucking energy sword, like a more gruesome Halo! Exploit an enemy’s specific weakness to kill them quicker! God damn, killing shit feels so good!!

Now, like I said earlier, this game is much harder than the last one. Enemies take longer to kill, do more damage, and there are more of them. Thankfully, you also have extra lives, which let you respawn right after you die and lets you keep fighting. Make sure you gather as many of those as you can because if you’re playing on anything higher than the easiest difficulty setting, you’re gonna get your ass handed to you.

Because some of these enemies are fucking tough, dude. Particularly the Marauder. Or as I like to call him: the fun killer.

Okay, no joke, I fucking hate this dude. He is built in complete opposition to everything that makes Doom fun. Want to run around and kill shit, controlling the pace yourself? Too fucking bad, you have to wait for this guy to attack you first! Get too close, he’ll fuck you up. Get too far, he’ll fuck you up. Stay at the right distance, he’ll fuck you up. No instant killing him, no doing any damage greater than two shotgun blasts, no attacking when you want. When it’s a one-on-one boss fight, it’s fine. But then he becomes a common enemy. One that immediately ruins the fun whenever he shows up.

Remember how I mentioned how I wanted the game to end by the last few levels at the start of this review? Yeah. This guy is the sole reason why. I’m not even kidding. He singlehandedly ruined the game for me. Every time that I want to play more of it, I remember that he exists and that desire dies.

The boss fights all kind of suck, too. Most of them just become common enemies later. The ladder ones, particularly the final boss, are so chaotic that it’s completely impossible to tell what’s going on. They last too long, the fights themselves are horribly boring and uninteresting, and none of them feel like a challenge beyond a test of patience. I hate these boss fights more than anything.

This game is plenty of fun! But then it does something no game should do: it takes the fun away. By the end, I only felt frustrated and exhausted. It’s fun to run around and murder demons! Problem is, the game in the later-half insists that you aren’t allowed to do that.

Why. Did. You. Make. The Marauder. A common. Enemy. When. He. Sucks. So. Fucking. Bad?!?!

Conclusion

Am I being too nitpicky? Admittedly, it’s a possibility. But fuck you, I’m the one reviewing the game and I’m giving it my honest thoughts. If those factors I mentioned ruined the fun, then god damn it, I’m gonna call them out on it! When I play a game, I want to have fun! If I ain’t having fun, then I’m gonna criticize you for it!

I love this game! I really do! It was a ton of fun to play! But then the game decides to take that fun away! It feels like a parent that gives their kid a great toy, then takes it away not an hour later!

If you loved Doom 2016, you’ll enjoy this game! But I hope you have more patience than me. Otherwise, this game will beat you down by the end. By the time I finished it, I wished I was playing Doom 2016. But I’m well aware that I’m in the minority here. If you’re more patient than me, which you likely are (it’s a low bar), then you may very well enjoy this game more than I did.

Why do I feel dirty? Like I just committed a sin of some kind?

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