That we were ever gifted such a breathtakingly glorious DOOM reboot was nothing less than a miracle. As a critic, it saddens me that I’ve had to cut back on how many times I can refer to a game’s single-player campaign as “meaty” in my review of it, and that’s not only because it’s always a fun thing to say. For better or worse, we live in a time that’s seen the gaming industry creep ever closer toward a dystopian future where games aren’t games, they’re live services.
The modular nature of live services means they can make far more money than traditional games ever could, back in those crazy days when developers released finished products, or – and this may shock our younger readers, but it’s true – shipped games that worked without a launch week’s worth of patches and apologies.
Fun fact: this is why if you say “live services” into a bathroom mirror five times, EA’s Andrew Wilson will appear to explain how they’re the future of gaming.
It’s almost as if Bethesda’s recognized this ever-widening chasm in an industry I’ll love forever and always, as they’ve continued to invest more than most in keeping the solo flame alive with a steady stream of sufficiently meaty solo offerings coming from the Fallout, Wolfenstein, Elder Scrolls, Rage and DOOM franchises (RIP Dishonored). Of that list, it’s DOOM: Eternal that’s got my pumpedupedness raised to the max. Here’s why.
The End is Only the Beginning
…and by that I mean Bethesda’s already confirmed we’ll be getting single-player DLC. Not much else needs to be said about this, really. This is a departure from the publisher’s post-release plans for the reboot, which saw no such support for its solo players, outside of new features and additions to the level editor.
Be Free, Free As the Wind Blows
Movement has always been an integral part of the DOOM experience. Id Software’s legendary series is all about slaying demons on the go without breaking your stride, and 2016’s reboot made that a pillar of its design thanks in large part to its inclusion of Glory Kills. In Eternal, that idea’s been taken even further with the introduction of a handful of extremely welcome ideas, such as a nifty quick evade maneuver and a shotgun that comes with a hook shot for grappling onto unsuspecting Cacodemons.
The environment has changed, too, with new ways to interact with it in order to reach high places or high demons. Is there a Cyberdemon wandering about on a distant cliffside, innocently day dreaming sweet demon dreams? If there’s not a climbable wall in sight, perhaps there’s a strategically placed bar that can be swung upon so you can easily process him into mincemeat. Verticality plays a much larger role in Eternal, and I’m very much looking forward to taking full advantage of that.
Double the Enemies, Double the Fun
Math has never been my strong suit, but I’m fairly confident that in a game like this, twice as many enemies to lasagna-fy means there’s twice as much fun to be had. Even the act of liquifying demon faces and torsos with hot lead and laser beams has been made more satisfying courtesy of a brand demon-spanking new feature dubbed the “Destructible Demons” system. Its purpose is self-evident as it’s spelled out pretty clearly in the name, but you can see it in action in the latest footage. Just look at how each demon’s soft flesh reacts when it’s torn apart from a well-placed head or body shot.
Like any good sequel, this one’s going all out. This is true for the enemies, and it’s equally true for Eternal’s badass arsenal of over-the-top space marine weapons, of which there will be a myriad of new options to choose from. More enemies, more guns, and while we’re at it, I’m just going to throw in bigger environments. This is officially that point on every listicle where you, dear reader, will realize this probably should’ve been more of a Top 10 list, but I couldn’t do that, because 6 is a much spookier number.
It’s Hell on Earth!
Okay, I lied. There’s more to say about those bigger environments, because this time, one of the locations we’ll be stopping by to commit acts of demon genocide in is going to be a familiar one: Earth. In DOOM: Eternal, the demon menace has terraformed our beautiful home into a hellish landscape peppered with broken, hollowed out skyscrapers reaching toward a blacked out sky with unnerving, Lovecraft-ian tendrils poking through the clouds. It’s beautiful, in an end-of-the-world kind of way.
We’ll also get to make a stop in actual Hell and the Martian moon Phobos, the latter of which has been armed with a rather impressive-looking BFG-10000 cannon. There may be more than these three locales, though we’ll have to wait to find out.
For me, the biggest DOOM surprise to come out of the QuakeCon presentation was the reveal that the game has taken a page from the Dark Souls playbook. In Eternal, other players can invade your game world as demons. That’s a fantastic idea that ought to go a long way in making an already extremely replayable game even more so.
I realize the DOOM PvP multiplayer has plenty of fans, but I’ve never been able to get into it – mostly because I’m the absolute worst at it. The embarrassment I feel blindly flying about each thoughtfully crafted levels getting shot at by people I can’t see hidden in corners I don’t have the coordination to reach has only ever been overshadowed by the handful of shameful attempts I’ve made at trying the Gears of War multiplayer.
But invasions? Oh yes, I can handle that.
It’s Still DOOM
This is just a reminder that for all the many, many ways this series has evolved over the years, it’s still very much a DOOM game with one foot firmly planted in the 90s. It hasn’t lost sight of its roots in arcade action fun (new collectible power-ups and extra lives), or in being downright goofy (in the best way). We only catch glimpses of the game’s silly sense of humor – in the Hell on Earth footage, an intercom states “demon can be an offensive term, refer to them as mortally challenged” – but it’s there.
This is hardly an all-encompassing list of reasons why this game looks downright fantastic, but it’s a start. DOOM: Eternal appears to have just about everything a fan of this franchise could ever hope for. We’ll find out for sure when the game hits PC, PS4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch in 2019.