Doom Eternal - Hell on Earth Returns

I’ve played the first of the two Ancient Gods DLC packages over the last couple days and holy crap, it is just as hard as everyone says. I know that this is a major plus for most people, and I didn’t mind it as much as I was afraid I would. But oh man, that final boss is nuts. I died so many times I got offered the pity armor and ultimately, I took it and won. I ain’t proud. Give myself a little breathing time and see if I can knock off part two of the DLC.

Once once? :) I lost count of how many times I was offered that in my Nightmare run (of the main campaign). But I never took it.

I need to get back to the DLC. What difficulty did you end up playing Part 1 on? I hear Part 2 is considerably easier, btw. Which probably means it’s just about feasible.

It may have been offered more than once, I definitely noticed this time and decided to take it. I was playing on easy, basically where I ended the main game. I was kind of psyched out because I had heard the DLC was even harder than the last couple levels of the main game, which were plenty hard. And it was true! I won’t mind if the second DLC dials it back a bit.

I went back and replayed TAG1 a couple of weeks ago. I don’t think you’ll find a huge drop in difficulty going to TAG2, since TAG1 had a bunch of nerfing done with the release of TAG2 to bring it more in-line.

If you want your butt kicked original TAG1-style now, the Super Gore Nest master level is where you want to go. ;)

Who would have thought that Doom Eternal of all games would get me to sign up here?

I’m not sure what exactly to think about this one.

This is a situation where I think I’m finally enjoying it, but there’s also a lot that I really don’t like. Not only within the game, but surrounding it.

A lot of the discussions I see around Doom Eternal remind me of those that center around the Souls games - there is an audience for whom DE really clicks, and they react to any criticism as if the detractors in questions are absolutely, fundamentally wrong. They then go about trying to convince these detractors of their wrongness, as if Doom Eternal(or Dark Souls, or whatever)'s goodness and rightness is as sure and infallible as a mathematical proof.

(Sidenote - I’m getting tired of the whole “if you die it’s your fault” trope. It’s never universally true, and it was always meant as a general mentality, not a silver bullet that shuts down all debate and complaints).

Of course, who can blame DE fans for being so certain of the game’s rightness when its very developers had the same attitude? It’s kind of funny to see a developer crap all over their previous game (in this case Doom 2016), and then in the next breath be so certain that they couldn’t possibly have made any mistakes this time around.

But Doom Eternal does make mistakes. The early hours are not nearly as good as the rest of the game. The pacing, the tone, and even the mechanics take some time to come together and start firing on all cylinders.

I would also argue that the game is … not easier, but more manageable as you progress through it. There are a lot of skills and powerups that act as a sort of escape hatch to help you stay alive and deal with tricky situations. Without them, it feels like you’re fighting with one hand tied behind your back. I can do it, but it isn’t enjoyable.

On a similar note, this is one of those games where certain powerups/weapon attachments/etc are clearly better than others, and you can make a “wrong” choice that makes the experience more frustrating. For example, early on, I’d say that choosing the micro missiles over the sniper scope is the “wrong” choice. But it isn’t always obvious as to what the “right” choice is, and that can be frustrating for anyone who is already struggling.

I will say that I’m finally having fun with DE. I am likely to finish it. But I think it is a weirdly hostile game, and I don’t think I’d like it if all future Doom games were made with the attitude and headspace that DE was made in (I’d like to say it is too alienating to mainstream gamers, but allegedly more people played this one through to completion than Doom 2016, so what do I know).

This isn’t my read on either piece at all and it comes across a lot like you’re putting words in their mouths. You’ve narrowly focussed in to a couple of areas where the designers have made a considered change, are proud and happy with it and explain why, then increased the scope of that statement exponentially to being “the entire game is perfect”. I just don’t see that spelled out in either article. For example the 2nd link is about the entirely cosmetic locational damage system they put in makes it hard to go back to 2016 just from a purely aesthetic perspective - and given the nature of these games, I kinda find it hard to really critique that.

I actually agree with you in that DE makes plenty of mistakes, specifically at the start. I’ve said above that I don’t think it really ‘starts’ until you get the dash ability in the 2nd level. I could even accept the argument that the utility of the super shotgun’s alt fire is so integral to high-end late-game play that QED the 3rd level is really the start. But I think that this is an especially tough nut to crack and after honest consideration don’t know how else they could’ve done it. First time through the opening, DE was alienating and confusing even with the essential mechanics getting fed out in dribs and drabs. Dumping everything on you in one go? I can’t imagine that working out well at all.

The main problem I have with a lot of complaints I’ve seen about DE is actually somewhat addressed in the first link. Too many people, for whatever reason, see the whole ‘shoot a grenade into a cacodemon’s mouth for an easy glory kill’ as the only way to therefore kill a cacodemon. But the actuality isn’t like that at all, and in fact once your toolset expands this specific tactic just isn’t even worth bothering with unless it’s a strategic choice to gain health - the ballista and minigun just obliterate those guys so quickly you can ‘overkill’ them and miss out on the glory kill and thus health. That makes it an interesting choice - kill them rapidly, or stun them for the health drops.

I really like what DE is, overall. I certainly think it provides enough outs for people unwilling or unable to invest in ‘skilling up’ in it to a significant degree; the lowest difficulty is pretty forgiving and the ‘boss armour’ mechanic is a great idea to help players bypass deadlocks on those tricky fights. Consequently I have little sympathy for people playing at difficulties beyond their abilities and rage quitting over that. Though I do try to implore people doing that to just, drop it down a little, because DE really wants you to have a good time with it in a manner that other ‘git gud’ games do not. Even if it is also true that DE only really shines in the higher realms of ‘git gud’.

Ultimately I just don’t think it’s possible for a game to please everyone. It might not be for you, and quite simply - that’s fine. I really love the niche DE carved for itself. It’s almost totally unlike any singleplayer FPS title I’ve experienced, which is reason enough to me for it to be respected.

I like Doom Eternal, I like it a lot. I also find playing the game stressful, and kind of have to psych myself up a bit before a session. Sometimes I have to pause after playing a bit, because my hands get shaky. It’s kinda like a roller coaster, I think.

And I don’t consider that a bad thing. The difficulty never really feels punishing (ok, maybe the final boss of the first DLC did) even though I fully admit I bumped down to easy. I probably could put in the time and get better, but at a certain point I’m kinda only so committed to this whole video game thing. I’ll take the training wheels now and then.

And I like that too, that while the game expects you to play on its terms, it will meet you halfway. Just accept that the chainsaw is vital to keeping yourself supplied with ammo, flame belch is pretty critical for armor, etc. And even a mediocre to average FPS shooter like myself can find a way to muddle through and have fun.

It is. That’s why game design is a discipline that can be studied, and why certain games stand out.
Same as in movies you can study how to write a screenplay. It’s a language, it has its rules and reasons why they work the way they work.

Don’t confuse players who are good at playing but know nothing about game design, with what the game is and how it works. You can still be a great, competitive FPS arena player and still know very little on how it’s built.

The argument about the randomness is for Doom 2016 vs Eternal. 2016 is a lot, a lot more RNG.

As a general take, in Doom Eternal you aren’t supposed to be flawless, you’re supposed to accept dying as part of the experience. Same in Dark Souls.

The difference in Eternal is that you always have enough tools (even in the beginning) to handle the situation. As long you know what to do and how. You have space. In 2016 there’s a lot more RNG involved and death is a lot more erratic and unpredictable. So the outcome depends a lot more on how things develop externally rather than your performance.

In Eternal, the game design doesn’t expect you to be a good player. Rather, it demands that you accept the challenge. Accept the fact you’ll die a lot as part of the fun. Not as a judgment of personal worth, but as an experience. The difficulty is just a statement: it can be done. Now it’s up to you to find the solution. Same as walking up to a puzzle in The Witness and thinking it’s absolutely impossible. The puzzle is there to tell you there’s a solution. It’s up to you to search for it, to break the pattern, think out of the box. Same as The Witness, the puzzles sometimes can be so weird and so hard that you feel stuck. But without this, there would be no learning and no fun.

As I said above, I play at Nightmare not to signal that I’m good. It’s not for some ridiculous pride. I’m a rather bad/mediocre FPS player. I’ll will always be so. But I accept the challenge and I love dying over and over until I master and oil the mechanics enough that I can make progress.

(I’m actually playing at higher than Nightmare difficulty, now, through a mod)

This for some fans transforms into a weird pattern of gloat. They mock other players because they aren’t good enough and feed into a tribalistic pattern of pride. But the core experience here is that all Dark Souls players had to die hundreds of time to get better. The game doesn’t want to draw a line between good and bad players. Rather, between players who accept the experience, and those who reject it. It’s your choice. “Online” ruined these games because you are more likely to be judged, told that you’re “playing wrong”. But it’s you and the game.

These days, many games are built exclusively to gratify you. Gratification works exactly like undeserved flattery. There are non-games, like gacha, that build gratification almost exclusively through money. For everyone! Free! Instant gratification!

The main part of the game here is dying, because it builds experience. Without an high difficulty curve you won’t experiment, you won’t try different patterns, you won’t be pushed out of your comfort zone. This is the “zen” of game design: try new things, learn new stuff. When you stop learning, the game is over (mechanically).

The problem is of course when you move from a directorial kind of product, to an industry. The industry needs to maximize profits, and so it has to have a much broader, but more shallow, approach. You can go back to the release of the first Assassin’s Creed, on this forum, and see Charles complain how the testing, late in the development cycle, imposed them to add to the game all sort of clutter and waypoints and stuff that completely ruined to goal of the game (and the franchise), because the players were “confused”.

There will always be a tension between the goal to deliver a specific experience, and the industry requirement to water it down. Games like Dark Souls and Doom Eternal stand out because they are rare. Because the rules of industry usually prevent it to happen. They are outliers.

It is rare that a game with lots of money invested ALSO retains a strong direction that challenges the status quo. Usually money imposes that you conform. It’s the way it is, across all industries and mediums.

Doom Eternal isn’t even trying hard. It only slightly pushes players out of their comfort zone, and yet it stands out because it’s popular enough that more players make noise about it.

Without this specific aspect of game design, Eternal would be just like the recent Wolfensteins: mediocre FPS that you play for a few hours, have some fun, and immediately forgot they exist. Leaving no trace.

Summary: the “git good” isn’t about drawing a line on the ground between good and bad players. It’s instead about the PROCESS, not the result. These types of games are fun because the process that pushes you to become better is fun, is demanding, challenging, eventually rewarding. Once you got good, the game is done. The process, not the result. Same as in Dragonball the point isn’t about winning a fight, but the story that leads up to the fight, the training, the escalation of powers and the way they surpass each other. Getting good, not gotten good.

I’d challenge that because Eternal already escalates very quickly.

Even in a sequel, you cannot expect someone to get used to too many abilities at once. The slow introduction of things allows the player to get them ingrained one by one. Otherwise it’s either a total mess, or the requirement to replay the same 100 times until you got everything nailed down.

I’d actually argue the opposite, it’s fun from the first room. It doesn’t waste time, as long you disable the tutorials and pop-ups.

This isn’t my read on either piece at all and it comes across a lot like you’re putting words in their mouths. You’ve narrowly focussed in to a couple of areas where the designers have made a considered change, are proud and happy with it and explain why, then increased the scope of that statement exponentially to being “the entire game is perfect”. I just don’t see that spelled out in either article. For example the 2nd link is about the entirely cosmetic locational damage system they put in makes it hard to go back to 2016 just from a purely aesthetic perspective - and given the nature of these games, I kinda find it hard to really critique that.

You are right that the second link is not a great example. I found another interview, earlier in the week, that was a better example of what I meant, but I read it on another device and I couldn’t find the link.

Anyway, maybe I am reading too much into it/putting words in their mouths, but re-reading those pieces … yeah, I still can’t shake my original reaction. Blame it on me being a human, and thus having biases and tics that don’t make sense, even when I can recognize them. If I’m wrong about what they’re trying to see, well, that’s probably a good thing. This is a case where me being wrong would be for the better.

Summary: the “git good” isn’t about drawing a line on the ground between good and bad players. It’s instead about the PROCESS, not the result. These types of games are fun because the process that pushes you to become better is fun, is demanding, challenging, eventually rewarding. Once you got good, the game is done. The process, not the result. Same as in Dragonball the point isn’t about winning a fight, but the story that leads up to the fight, the training, the escalation of powers and the way they surpass each other. Getting good, not gotten good.

I appreciate your long response to my post, so please believe me that I don’t say this to troll, but I’m not really sure what to make of all your remarks in this thread. My read (and as we just established, my read of other people’s words may not be great!) is that you oscillate between “I’m not interested in judging how/what people play” and “I’m totally interested in judging people for playing gratifying, ‘low effort’ games”. It leaves me feeling a lot of whiplash.

I mean, upthread you flat out said “Btw, Doom 2016 wasn’t fun” in response to someone who mentioned how much they enjoyed Doom 2016. That’s exactly the kind of attitude that I spoke of as turning me off - the kind of ultra assertive claims with little to no wiggle room or interest in opposing viewpoints.

I mean I can tell you right now that I loved D2016 at the time. Even if I walk away feeling that DE is a better designed game, I don’t see anything in it that is going to make it match the overall feeling of joy and fun that I had playing D2016 back when it was brand new. Are you going to tell me those feelings are wrong? I’m genuinely trying to understand where you are coming from.

Nobody really understands HRose. It’s part of his charm.

Because most people generally write from point of view, whereas I’m descriptive. Emphasis on the descriptive rather than personal.

Reread what you write, and nowhere you mention that you liked 2016, or why.

What you mention is a list of Eternal’s flaws, without motivation. You say the early hours are not nearly as good, but you don’t say why. You criticize pacing, tone and mechanics, but still don’t explain anything about them.

You also say the game gets easier, and it’s something that objectively happens in 2016 significantly more. The early game is way, way harder, and it’s universally known. It even takes a few levels in 2016 to get double jump, that in Eternal you have from the beginning. But I’ve discussed all these in details (like how in Eternal you have damage protection during glory kills, whereas in 2016 you can be killed during them).

The wrong choice because you select micro missiles over sniper? That’s what, half a level before you can switch at will between both? Very arbitrary. (I actually prefer micromissiles because Eternal isn’t the kind of game where you stop and aim)

There are instead plenty of reasons why someone might like 2016 compared to Eternal. The aesthetic is a lot grittier and more serious in 2016. Graphics in general are better. Eternal is more silly, garish. The levels were more dedicated to active exploration, rather than being open arenas. They are so different as game types that it’s normal that as whole packages some prefer one and not the other.

Eternal is near perfect from a mechanical perspective. 2016 is a game in another genre, completely different, a lot more forgettable because it does nothing new, or different, and it has objective flaws like the game becoming much easier through the second half and being hugely more dependent on RNG rather than skill.

2016 and Eternal have different targets. Eternal is better at executing its own, than 2016. One can still prefer 2016, because it’s its own thing. Flaws and everything included.

Finally played this on PC GP. It’s nuts. Love everything about except stingy ammo reliance on Glory skills. Surprised how buttery smooth it is on 1080 Ti.

My counter point to that would be, going back and replaying from the start (as one is forced to do in ultra nightmare), I feel absolutely hobbled until I get the dash. If there’s a good reason the plasmaspiders got nerfed it’s probably because of how unforgiving their design was when coupled with the lack of player mobility in the opening sections.

Also, given that it is by far the least unique trick in DE’s book (i.e. a number of games have dash functionality), they probably should’ve worked that in much, much sooner.

Looking at it now, it seems a deliberate inclusion to assist fighting these powerful enemies early in the game. Once you get more abilities and a better arsenal, brute force is a lot more effective than using sticky bombs on arachnotrons and cacodemons, but it’s a good way of introducing threat to the player early on while also giving them an exploitable weakness. I think perhaps this was interpreted by some as a simple rock/paper/scissors approach to the entire game, which is not the case as the game progresses.

Started the second Ancient Gods DLC, and maybe I’m imagining it but it doesn’t seem like as big a step up in difficulty from the first DLC as that was a step up from the main game.

But I may be wrong - it had been a few months between ending the main game and starting the first DLC, so some of that was likely just being rusty. They introduce a couple new enemies that have their own challenge, plus give me a reason to use the full-auto shotgun mod just like those ghosts in the first DLC gave me reason to use the microwave mod for the plasma rifle.

But man, the jumping and swinging do feel much tougher. I’ve seen people using the super shotgun’s meat hook to do some elaborate navigation and shortcuts but hadn’t really tried it myself - and that’s something you’re required to get at least somewhat skilled at to work your way through the levels.

But it’s still Doom and still a lot of fun. I may just try playing again on a higher difficulty someday - I have a feeling I’m going to miss this when it’s gone.

I know that feeling well. I went Doom nuts, played 2016, then Eternal on Ultraviolence, then again on Nightmare, both the Master levels that were available, and even after that I couldn’t get enough so I played Doom64, Dusk, and Prodeus. Prodeus was the closest to Eternal in intensity and overall feel.

This is why Doom 2016 will always have at least one thing over Doom Eternal: the glorious insanity of snap map. I get that it had some problems; maps were a little flat and one note due to the limited prefabs on offer, but I’d loved to have seen it expanded. If only to get an updated sequel to Gary Busey’s cocaine adventure.

Alas.

Well, I did it, I beat the second DLC. And it did definitely add some complexity and difficulty after the first level - mainly with some tricky new enemies. There’s an infected imp that shows up and always gives me hell when it does - if it hits you, you’re cursed and can’t boost and have impaired damage, both giving and taking. Additionally, the only way to lift the curse is to kill the imp that hit you - and the only way to kill it is with a blood punch. So, often you’re stuck seeking out this one particular imp trying to find someone to glory kill to charge the blood punch. I got wiped out more than once by this trap.

And oh god, that final boss. If you don’t like marauders then you may want to skip this, because it’s basically the king of the marauders. It’s not even really all that hard once you suss out his attacks, and how to draw him out so you can attack him. No, the problem is how dragged out the whole thing is, it’s such a battle of attrition for two reasons: first, he’s got five health bars you’ve got to wear down. Second, if you hit him at the wrong time, or if he manages to hit you with an attack, he’ll heal himself. It’s such a tug of war. Luckily, there’s a checkpoint after the third health bar, you can quit out at that point if you need. And I did, I just got frustrated and stepped back. I still think the boss of the first DLC was more difficult overall, but this second DLC boss was just too much in my opinion.

But overall the whole thing was fun, challenging in (mostly) the right kind of ways, and an interesting learning experience. The game taught me how to play it, even if I wasn’t always the most attentive student. I will set it aside for a while, but I could see myself trying it out again. And in the meantime, there is always Doom 64.

I’d suggest digging in the mod discord, because there’s lot of player-made master levels and horde modes. There’s ton of stuff beside the official content.
(installing/removing mods is also easy)