Oh, the friends you'll make in Doom Eternal!

Fantastic review! I didn’t think you were going to find anything redeeming in the game even though I skipped ahead (as I always do) to see the star rating. So I wondered if maybe you clicked the wrong number number of stars LOL. Then it switched tone and I was like “ahhh I see!”

Turns out this space castle is nothing more than a place to leave.

LOL. This review is spot-on (though I’d give it 4 stars myself).

It feels bad saying this but I like the 2016 one way better. I felt like an unstoppable force in that game. In this one I always feel like I’m about to die and it’s a bummer.

Objectively they improved on pretty much everything. The levels look amazing. The monster models look better. The weak spots make the fights more interesting. The weapons feel better to use.

You’re right on with the ammo comment. I’m having fun mowing down assholes with my chaingun and I run out of ammo after a few seconds. They spawn these little pukes that are there to farm pickups, they even tell you these guys are here for you to farm, and it just interrupts my fun. Excuse me Mr Mancubus, I’ll be right back to continue blasting off your bits once I find some shithead to chainsaw for more bullets.

I’ll finish it but I’ll go back and replay the other Doom when I get a hankering for gore.

My only gripe was the marauder. He seemed a bit out of place, felt cheap, and wasn’t much fun fighting. Other than that best shooter I’ve played in years.

Which one is the maurader? The sword hand guy or the bastard with the shield? Because I hate the guy who spams shields.

EDIT: I just googled him, I haven’t fought him yet. I’m only on level 4!

Yeah, it felt like dirty pool to introduce an invulnerable dude who can only be hit if you master a timing gimmick. That said, by the time the game was over, I’d gotten pretty handy at taking him out. The arbalest was good for a hard-hitting quick reaction to his eyes going green. You might realize this, but I didn’t know I could follow up hitting him with another hit if you’re quick. He’s staggered just long enough that you can maybe get in a second attack. Also, you can kill the ghost cat he sends after you. Because it seemed incorporeal, I thought for the longest time it was invulnerable. Nope. It dies pretty easily.

-Tom

This goes back to my comment about Doom Eternal miscommunicating things but what it really wants you to do here is combo him by weapon switching and skipping lengthy weapon reloads e.g. Arbalest shot -> rocket -> supershotgun blast.

Or, uh, just do this (yum, cheese).

Ah, right, I bet the meat hook while he’s staggered is just the ticket! Why didn’t I think of that?

-Tom

I got to him last night and what an absolute bullshit opponent. He’s in this tiny ass room with very little maneuvering space, and the second you shift your focus to a peon demon to heal or his dumb dog he charges in to kill you. This guy feels like a design mistake.

I had to drop the difficulty off Ultra Violence to kill him, because my old man reflexes aren’t up to it.

It didn’t feel like a follow up to Doom 2016 so much as an experiment in how they could take the massive success of Doom 2016 and fill it with the maximum amount of annoying new features that no one asked for while still staying playable.

I quit before the 2 hour mark because I didn’t want to miss the refund window. It was just a melody of shortages and MMO-style cooldown juggling and I wasn’t having fun with that. The breaking point (besides the refund mark) was when I was only in the 2nd level and the game had already forced me to go through like 3 purple slime segments by then.

“you wrassle with them,” is the funniest part of any game review that I’ve ever read.

@tomchick as an aside, any chance we will ever see a return of Shoot Club? This review reminds me a lot of the old shoot club columns.

“Trevor vs Aliens” should always be on the front page.

I literally have my favorite part of that copied to gmail just in case the Shoot Club entry somehow vanishes from the internet!

“Excuse me for a moment.” I head for the restroom and close myself into a toilet stall to call my house on the cell phone. Someone picks up. I hear the sound and the fury in the background. A pulse rifle and then, “Hello?”

“Who is this?” I ask.

“Who is this?” Trevor says.

“It’s me.”

“Who’s me? Whoa, whoa, hey you bitch, stop shooting me, I’m on the goddamn phone! Hello?”

“Trevor, it’s me.”

“We’re still at dinner. Becky brought her sister along.”

“Man, you are so lucky. That’s cool. How come a chick never did something like that for me?”

“It’s not like that. So how’s the game?”

“It really rocks. Game of the year, all the way.” He tells me about Survivor mode, where everyone’s a Marine except one player, who’s an alien. When a Marine gets killed, he respawns as an alien. Gradually, the tide turns and the Marines are outnumbered. You score by staying alive as a Marine as long as you can. Cowering in a corner, evading the aliens’ pheromone tracking. Holding them back with the biggest weapon you can find. Banding together with the other surviving Marines and covering each other’s backs. Watching the walls, the ceilings, all those inscrutable duct openings, the readings on your motion tracker.

“It’s just like the movie,” Trevor beams, “If I had a nickel for every time someone said ‘remember, short controlled bursts’ or ‘I got movement’.”

“How are the weapons?”

“Man, there are some really cool ones. The aliens have these new abilities, too.”

“And you can still eat the heads off the humans, right?”

“Yeah, they got that effect with the teeth. Get this, you can be a face hugger.”

“No way. What do you do, impregnate your victims?”

“Yeah.”

“Then you eat the bodies, right?”

“Yeah, for health.”

“Look, don’t let anyone leave. I’m going to try to get home as early as possible.”

I come out of the stall and there’s a man staring at me like I’m some kind of freak. He must have heard stuff about eating human heads, impregnating victims, and not letting anyone leave. “It’s this game we play,” I start to say, but I figure that just makes it sound worse.

@tomchick

I couldn’t tell if you were including the 2016 game here, but I actually think Eternal is pretty different from the previous one in this respect. Max shotgun ammo in 2016 was like 60. In Eternal I think the max shells is 28. And where 2016 was clearly trying to leave enemies alive for glory kills at times with the way weapon damage is balanced (read: reduced from the levels one might expect from a shooter), you could still run around and reliably kill shit in a manner one might expect in an shooter. Eternal is an order of magnitude. . . well I might say more obnoxious if I’m feeling uncharitable. . . about this. Someone was terrified you’d accidentally take out all the fodder and run out of ammo. So there is no carnage, no slaughter, except the next boorish glowey dude enemy you noodle slapped into submission. Doom Eternal is Dragon’s Lair 2, with more freedom of movement.

Eternal’s weapons largely shoot variously sized wads of rock salt, in primary mode. Alt mode being the actual primary mode in most cases sort of removes what’s supposed to be super cool about the system (and it should be a cool system). And then there’s stuff like the “machine gun” sight being used to snipe weak points. You can do that sometimes. It’s useful, sometimes. but you can’t do anything that way that you can’t more easily do with a blood punch. Or just saying “fuck it, I’ll worry about it mid fight after I clear out some other stuff” and it’s just as easy. With the the number of ambient enemies/“vanilla shooter level clearing” dialed down, and the weapon damage being “adjusted” as it has been, I think the shooting overall feels worse than 2016. I find it surprising people like it more, even though many of the alt fires are satisying to use.

When you combine those stark differences - leaning into ammo caps and arena encounters - you get a game that feels like a step back from 2016 in some ways. In others, it’s superior. The storytelling might have been goofy fun but holy shit did they fuck all of that up. “Hey, here’s the betrayer he BETRAYED HUMANITY oh you’ll never even read about him after this point” lol wut. The DOOM SLAYER is the most bad ass person ever, because he’s literally fighting all of hell with squirt guns I guess? The “high point” is mid game when you hear a series of voice logs from a Scientist™ and she’s talking about the capabilities of the slayer and in the last one finally she’s like “I understand it now. I believe. The slayer. . . he is DOOM” and the word is capitalized and in a different fucking font in the subtitle. It felt like someone was trying to kill Art and Irony and Subtly all at once. Why? I’m afraid of the answer.

I don’t mind the progression systems, since unlike you* I don’t hate all mechanics that don’t exist in actual board games and I also happen to have good taste. But they’re not especially well designed. Modern doom is like modern D&D (with Doom 2016 being less like it). Rather than give you a set of tools (some of which you chose as you go or grow in power as you go) and then provide you with challenges you need to overcome and you chose the tools you want on the fly and sometimes your hand might be forced but not always, it’s “here’s a set of tools but you MUST USE THEM ALL THE TIME IN SPECIFIC CASES”. Not doing it just burns ammo. That and the barely any pickups thing don’t matter of course since you have a gun that creates ammo fountains on demand.

Also, the improved movement is inferior to Shadow Run 2’s, and the hit boxes for movement stuff are drunk as hell (you can’t dash upward but if you dash near but below a wall you’ll magically hit it, and the distance you can cover vertically is significant). Which just adds more weight to the “why did they even bother with so called platforming sections, seriously this accomplished nothing”. Also, you can chainsaw shit from like 200 feet away when airborn. At first kept falling from walls because if you don’t dash at them you have to manually grab them and like why? What purpose does this serve? One highly educated producer clearly wanted more movement, but another one clearly felt like the game wouldn’t be interactive enough if I didn’t have to press a button to grab a wall sometimes or glory kill EVERY ENEMY IN THE GAME. Stunning interactivity.

Eternal has been fun, but it’s JJ Abrams fun and not deep or especially interesting. Consuming it simply leaves one hungry for something of substance. It’s going to make a ton of 2020 Top-10 lists, and will also be a popular overrated candidate.

  • I kid.

Ha ha, you listened to the audio logs and read their subtitles!

I so want to steal those lines.

I’m assuming you mean Shadow Warrior 2, right? In which case I’m glad you brought it up, because there’s a lot that Shadow Warrior 2 does wonderfully that Doom Eternal does poorly.

Great, now you’ve made me accidentally talk myself into reinstalling Shadow Warrior 2.

-Tom

I know. This was about the time in the game where I said “no more”. I was deliberately waiting to do a “lore binge”. But I got cured of that idea probably around this level. The story and lore feel like someone trying to create a comic book story but their only knowledge of comic books is a child’s explanation of an Axe Cop cartoon. Which, again, why even bother? Especially on the heels of 2016?

Gah yes. And agreed on that. There are things Shadow Warrior 2 could do better, but I still feel like it effortlessly does some things Doom Eternal tries so hard to do while only getting part of the way there.

The world will be a little bit grayer until another Shadow Warrior graces us with it’s presence again (and, uh, Saints Row 5 too).

Pfff, I was thinking the Shadow Warrior reboot was cooler than the Doom reboot back with the originals!

Wow, that’s an incredible achievement, congratulations! I played through on ultra-violence and that was tough, so nightmare with one life? Hooo.

Yeah! That opening temple gave me a nostalgic buzz I didn’t know I had in me.

So the general plot beats are spot on for a Doom game (take out hell priests, take fight to the source, rip and tear until it is done etc.) but the lore, of which I collected it all and read it all, is so weak and overwrought. I feel like a more flavourful Solium Infernum or Dark Souls light touch would have been so much more evocative and effective.

The mini-cutscenes mid-level are totally unnecessary. Stuff like walking into a room, losing control and the camera panning up to show you what you would have looked at anyway. That never didn’t annoy me. I’m not sure we needed all the third-person cutscenes either, don’t recall many of those, if any, in 2016.

The progression system and pick-ups are needlessly fussy. Weapon points, praetor points, mastery tokens, sentinel crystals, sentinel batteries, slayer gate keys, empyrean keys, weapon mods, runes, challenge gore nests. It’s just a big stew of stuff that equates to upgrading things. The upgrading I had no problems with, although the economy there is a bit whacked. I had so many mastery tokens at the end but not enough weapon points to access the masteries (and I got all the weapon points!). I love the toys though and being able to admire the art of the 3D models (in any game!).

The Fortress of Doom is so game-y, despite how cute some of it is (the man cave). Like, why am I finding batteries to open up rooms in my own fortress to access stuff that’s going to help me out?

The tips and tutorials explicitly telling you how best to dispatch certain demons before you’ve even had a chance to work it out yourself. That felt a bit eh. (Some of the later tips are funny though ‘Shoot it until it dies.’)

The map I think is too generous/revealing. I recall 2016 being a lot more vague so you had to really dig those secrets out. 2016’s reminded me of Metroid Prime’s. In fact, the varied environments, increased traversal mechanics, light puzzling and some of the ambient music in Eternal feels very Metroid Prime. Exultia in particular. Like in Metroid Prime too, none of the first-person platforming really bothered me. It felt very intuitive after the first level or two.

But despite all those issues, the core fighting loop is laser focused and so hypnotically rhythmic and satisfying. Some of the setpieces/moments are a thrill and hilarious (the revenant and Phobos bits made me laugh out loud and the ‘factory level’ had a very cool structure). I think the weaponry is better (bye pistol!) and the demons are more varied and well designed to pressure you in different ways (they’re also more faithful to some of the original designs). I think the final levels/boss were brilliant compared to Doom 2016. I did miss the 2016 style credits though!

I spent a good 30-40 hours playing and scrubbing the levels, and I still want more, so the master levels and future DLC will have to see me through on the solo front (or nightmare). The battlemode multiplayer sounds very cool and a good fit for the direction of the game. Really want to give that a go at some point.

So yeah, there’s a lot of nonsense in here but I still absolutely loved it, perhaps more so than 2016. Either way, it’s a monster of an FPS if you click with the design.

Listening to Hugo Martin (and Marty Stratton) on the weapons and demons and how they affect play I found very interesting. I particularly like how he says heavies are there to give the little guys a window to attack you without you noticing, which is totally what happened to me on UV.


There are lots of issues with Doom Eternal, but only one has been a deal-breaker.

@tomchick, I read the review but I didn’t see a deal-breaking issue. On the contrary, it sounds like the game kinda-sorta won you over in the end.

Correction:
“There’s really no point [in] saying”