Doom Eternal - Hell on Earth Returns

You should try it on your computer. I’ve heard Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal can run smoothly on potatoes.

Another advantage of Eternal not mentioned is that I’m playing Nightmare + extra lives. Or how it’s called.

That means the failure state is gradual, and that means you again have more space to learn and adapt. Comparing the very beginning of both 2016 and Eternal, 2016 is “flatter” as a difficulty curve. The first room was absurdly challenging for me, but after I beat it, I also beat the rest of the level dying a few more times, but easily. Right in that first room I was getting one shotted and couldn’t even figure out how everything worked. There are imps that jump on pillars and shoot you. I was shooting them buy they didn’t flinch and didn’t die, making me think they were in some kind of invulnerable state. The game, coming from Eternal, felt WEIRD. The truth is that they seem harder to die. In Eternal I think with a couple of shots they already light up for a finish, in 2016 they are more resilient.

The result is that Eternal throws at you more enemies, but right from the first room those enemies aren’t a problem, they are a resource. Use a melee attack and they replenish your life. In 2016 there are less enemies, but they seem more resilient and give you back far less health. Even if Eternal pushes so much more sheer caos, it also makes it more manageable because all the enemies spawning are a constant health resource just waiting to be harvested. So in 2016 I was pushed to a more defensive approach because health was a thing that I needed to preserve. You can’t go crazy and jump in the chaos in the same way I was doing in Eternal.

(That’s also my guess why everyone says that 2016 is much easier: it was harder for me because I had to unlearn Eternal. I simply assumed it was the same game, easier. It’s much more different at a radical level.)

The feel I got is that for damage received in two games is similar, maybe 2016 has it even increased. But the real difference is that if I’m low on health, in 2016 I need to put A LOT more effort and time to go back up. Of course, on the other hand, 2016 has a lot less enemies to worry about.

For perfect balance (but I don’t know how it works as the game goes on), I’d give the player, in Eternal, a little larger health pool. Leave the number of enemies and sheer chaos the same. That’s perfect. But it’s a big toy that is fun to play, so it’s fun if you have space to flex. If you die too quickly then it’s problem. But that’s why I think the extra lives option is perfect.

Some more observations about 2016, coming from Eternal:

  • I spent quite some time at the beginning of level 2 to find the access to the classic Doom door. I understand that some people enjoy this aspect in a game, but in Eternal and with the goal of replaying these are really out of place.

Then right in the next room I hit another substantial difficulty wall, and there are many aspects about it:

  • When I succeeded, I didn’t play any better or didn’t find any pattern. It was just chance. I tried many different things through the various attempts, but nothing really worked.
  • Many times I died because I was trying to move forward, and I couldn’t. I was locked in place because of some mysterious reason. Turns out the imps have an habit of jumping in front of you and crouch so low that they are OUTSIDE the view. Without double jumping there’s no way to move past them.
  • I’ve died many, MANY times during a glory kill animation. I might misinterpret, but is this even possible in Eternal? I thought the animation gave invincibilty frames. I remember one particular occasion where I had my eyes on the health, I had 40 left, and died right in the middle of the animation. Many other times I died with a +30 health shown on the corner while the screen was going black.
  • I was out of ammo and without the chainsaw it’s really a bad place. The pistol would be completely useless if there weren’t explosive barrels to trigger.
  • In general I felt overall swamped. No chainsaw, no double jump. I was getting constantly cockblocked by some monster. No applicable strategy or flexibility to win the room. With glory kills not giving invincibility and imps throwing explosive balls everywhere that can one-hit kill me, it’s really a game of chance with very little control.

So I’m here thinking this hellish experience depends entirely on not having the mobility of double jump, and flexibility of ammo from the chainsaw, and that the game will become different once I get there… Right after this room I got the chainsaw, finally. And here’s an even bigger disappointment:

  • There’s really no shortcut for the chainsaw?!? You have to press a key to switch to it, press another key to use it, then press another key to switch back to a weapon. That’s THREE, for what Eternal needs just one. It makes all the difference.

No extra lives, no immediate chainsaw, no invulnerability frames, very little health from glory kills, much more cramped spaces with worse mobility… How is it possible that 2016 is easier?

I’ve researched this some more and while I cannot confirm how it works in Eternal, it’s definitely very poorly designed in 2016.

Glory kills, at higher difficulties like Nightmare DO NOT give you any form of invulnerability during the locked animation. The AI “shouldn’t” shoot at you, but any charged attack plays out just the same. This means that if an imp is charging a fireball, or the fireball is in the air while you start the glory kill animation, you’re going to take the full damage from it.

But even worse, the glory kills don’t provide any mechanical advantage. The health a kill gives back is only proportional to how low is your own health. But that means a “normal” kill just works the same as a glorious one.

That means that at Nightmare the glory kills PENALIZE you, since they make you vulnerable during a locked animation, without offering any real advantage.

And this doesn’t even acknowledge that you’re vulnerable to damage during the animation itself, not just after it.

This also confirms my impression that 2016 is harder at the beginning:

(and I can see why people have a BIG problem moving from 2016 to Eternal, proportional with mine going from Eternal to 2016. In 2016 the glory kill is an optional “cool” animation that gets boring after 5 minutes, in Eternal it’s the PRIMARY mechanic to stay alive! And why me playing aggressive in 2016 just isn’t working. Aggressiveness LOWERS the difficulty in Eternal.

It all makes sense now. When I hit the difficulty wall in 2016 I started doing more and more glory kills, in the hope to stay ahead on health regeneration. I didn’t know this is precisely what made me MORE vulnerable instead. This is TENET, the game design. 2016 is like walking BACKWARDS. Only that for me Eternal is the “normal” way while everyone goes in the other.)

I’m triggered that I can’t pick up blue potions while at 100 health.

Ultra-Violence was okay through the first level, I guess. There are times where I think I’m playing effectively and then get blasted all at once by ranged enemies. I want that dash.

The Glory Kill mechanic was the only weakness in Doom 2016 and is the sole reason I have yet to buy Doom Eternal. I really hope id starts to see reason and adds a mode that doesn’t include it (while being reasonably balanced without it of course).

A few more observations by going through 2016 (playing Nightmare):

  • After the first half of the second level, the game suddenly became FAR easier. This because of new weapons and two upgrades to health. The new weapons especially (and I forget to use most of the stuff anyway).
  • I still die a lot, but it takes only some retries before I win the battle. The problem with this is that when I win I haven’t played any better: the game is heavily governed by chance. After a few retries I simply get a pattern that is favorable and I win. There are battles I’ve failed so many times, only to win them with full health.
  • Because of the above, most deaths are unfair. Something that hits me from behind, or that blocks me. In general many deaths that just happen because of bad luck and without any time to react. Nightmare difficulty isn’t that hard, but when it is it’s often the bad kind of difficulty.
  • What I said before about glory kills doesn’t translate well from theory to practice. Glory kills are still necessary in 2016 (on Nightmare) because not doing them means wasting more ammo. The big lesson for winning these battles is to avoid groups of monsters. Running away from them and picking them on 1 to 1 basis makes everything fairly trivial… as long you get lucky and don’t get 1-hit killed while going through the motions.
  • The combat still has no flow. When the fighting areas are large enough the game gets quite easy. Just pick a direction and keep going. Whenever a monster happens to appear ahead, you focus shoot until it dies. If you see three or more, you steer away and run in different direction (and throw something explosive before steering away). It does feel like playing Pac-Man. It’s the old school pattern well executed, but it doesn’t really offer anything meaningful.
  • The chainsaw not only is slow to trigger, but doesn’t recharge as in Eternal. So it isn’t really integrated and part of the system. Just an extra.
  • The third level has a really annoying checkpoint system that heavily influenced my playstyle. It saves right after a battle. That means that it saves when I’m especially low on health. What happens is that I win a battle, go for an exploratory session that can last quite a few minutes, then go into the next fight, die, and the game resets me to the previous checkpoint. That means I have to repeat EVERYTHING, only to get to the point where I can retry the fight. That was so bad that in the time I needed to do all the exploration, I could instead repeat that fight three times if I went straight to it.
  • The point above meant that, even if I can have health going up to 150, all the fights I won were at 100 health or LESS. The upgrades are pointless because there aren’t enough pick ups and I don’t want to waste the time hunting for them at every retry, I almost never hit those caps. And there’s so much randomness in the fights it really doesn’t matter anyway. I win battles much faster by ignoring the resources and just repeat the fights until I win. It’s all feels like rolling dice until you get the lucky hand.
  • With lots of explosive tools in the arsenal, now the clusters of monsters aren’t really a problem anymore. And that was pretty much all the difficulty the game had.

The conclusion to all this is that 2016 is hard in all the wrong ways. Not pushing me to get better, but just repeating things until I get a favorable pattern. Damage received is so high there’s basically no leverage, an unlucky hit and you have to repeat. So, considering all this, I’m not even sure the Nightmare difficulty really has much to offer. It forced me to repeat a battle 5, or 10 times. But it’s not like I’m doing something different.

Because it’s all based on resources you pick up around a level, it breaks completely the pacing, as you scour the level for those resources. But because it takes so long, and the combat so dominated by random chance, in the end it’s better to ignore the resources and just doing the fights. And because I cannot waste the time to pick up stuff properly, all the upgrades offered (health, armor, ammo) are essentially useless, because I run all the time far from the caps.

Here’s why Eternal is great: in Eternal the resources are IN THE FIGHT, not outside of it. Your ammo and health pick ups are the monsters themselves. So gone are the slow and repetitive exploratory sections. You fight and fight, with some momentary pause to catch your breath. And glory kills give health aplenty so that you aren’t in perpetual scarcity. In Eternal you are pushed into the fight, and the consequence is that the difficulty is more fair and about actual performance.

Those few mechanical changes are enough to completely turn the table. 2016 is a by the numbers shooter that is well executed but that doesn’t really stand out in any meaningful way. It has a great engine, pretty good level design, it looks great and is smooth to play. But you just go through it in a flat way. Eternal instead offers (and the imposes, if you let it) a different way to PLAY a game. It’s arcade gameplay made king. 2016 is about moving from point A to point B and enjoying the sights. Eternal is a a choreographed dance where every little flourish you perform is mechanically rewarded. It tells you that you can fly higher, and when you do it, it feels great and liberating.

And that’s all through those few different mechanics: glory kills that give plenty of health, chainsaw ingrained in the flow with an immediate trigger. Instead of running away to handle the difficulty spike, here you can only tackle it by diving in and keep rising the stakes. In 2016 you resist the gravitational pull, in Eternal you accelerate.

I think this game is kicking me in the crotch and humbling me. Ultra violence may be too much. Damn things move quickly and the spider dudes with the turret on top is brutal.

I agree. I’ve been stubborn so far, playing it occasionally, trying to make slow progress on Ultra Violence. After all, I finished Doom 2016 on Ultra Violence, why can’t I do it here?

But progress it too slow. I’ve had the game since launch, and I’m not too far into the game.

Maybe I should turn it down.

Edit: Or try playing it with mouse and keyboard. shudder.

With some perseverance, quite a bit of dying, and getting better at sniping the cannon off of the spider creature I made it through the first mission.

I love some of the music in this game!

How does fast travel work? I missed 2 items in the first mission, and I got a message saying fast travel is unlocked. Can I fast travel from one mission to a different one?

No. Unfortunately if you want to fast travel you only get that small window before level end to do so, and only for that level.

You can replay the level after completing it and use the fast travel at the end again if you did totally miss something, though.

Try the sticky bomb upgrade for the combat shotgun. You’ll thank me later. :)

Stick at it, I think the game gets a little easier after the first couple of levels once you start to get a better repertoire of tools and abilities, and you start to learn how to more effectively use them. You at the very least want to find the weapon that was hidden from you. You’ll know when you find it.

Does that blow the turret off the top of the spider when it explodes?

I did decide to bring the difficulty down to hurt me plenty and it is probably a better match for my skill level. Some areas I get through my first try and some it takes several, but I don’t have to try a dozen or more times in some of the most difficult spots so far.

This game is great from a technical standpoint. Super smooth framerate and when I die I’m back in in a couple seconds.

It does, though it needs to stick on the turret to do so. That said it’s pretty generous with snapping on to it, aim high.

I’ve completed 2016 at Nightmare and now trying to play Eternal… But I have a BIG problem: it’s buggy.

In particular I’ve got a reproducible crash to desktop. If I go into a chainsaw kill, and I press Q during the animation (to swap weapons) it crashes in 1 every 3 or 4 times. It already happened three times.

I think another time it crashes because I was pressing the key to glory kill right when it already started the chainsaw animation.

I don’t know, because it seems way too common to not be widespread as a problem. But in the 25+ hours I spent in Doom 2016, not a single glitch or crash.

Maybe some conflict between mouse and keyboard. I use the shoulder mouse buttons to glory kill and chainsaw, and sometime mix with keyboard too. I don’ know, but it’s very annoying.

I tried to search through google, and only this came up:

I can only confirm it crashes even in the middle of glory kills, not just the chainsaw animation.

This game reminds me of my experience with Doom 2016: it starts off a bit slowly, then I feel like it’s too chaotic, and then finally toward the end of the game, I know what I’m doing and I can finally enjoy the game.

Doom 2016 didn’t quite reach the “really liked it” level. Eternal has a chance. Only 3 missions left though.

I know I’m late to the party, but that’s the worst last boss I’ve played in years.

Oh well. I liked the systems and it seems like a game I could invest some time in to get good at and enjoy it. But I don’t plan to do that.

I played through the whole game on the second hardest available difficulty, but dropped it to baby mode for the last boss just so I could wrap things up. I normally hate boss fights anyway, but I especially hate long boss fights.

I had… well not quite the opposite reaction, but I enjoyed it precisely because it didn’t feel like a boss fight. Ok, you have to shoot at the big bad, but the rest of the time you’re having a blast surviving in the arena with everything the game is throwing at you. Felt appropriate. The Khan Maykr on the other hand, ugh I hated that one with its cheesy “the floor is randomly lava” mechanic.

Just had the much heralded Marauder turn up. Shame, as I had got some momentum back over the last mission and now I don’t have much desire to pick it back up. I’ll give it another go in a bit I suppose.