Doom Eternal is everything that fans of first-person shooters could want, boasting a fantastic single-player campaign that soars far above its predecessor.
With an incredible world, phenomenal original soundtrack and necessary quality of life changes, Doom Eternal provided some of the most unadulterated fun I've had playing a video game in quite some time.
It's one of the best PC games you can play right now.
The story takes a backseat
Doom Eternal begins sometime after its predecessor as the Khan Maykr and her three Hell Priests have sent a demonic army down to Earth to syphon human souls. In the interest of ripping and tearing demon scum, Doom Slayer begins his hunt.
It’s strange that many of the events from the previous game don't seem to matter much anymore. VEGA is still around and Doom Slayer harbors no animosity toward Samuel Hayden. It's almost as if id Software decided to diverge from the previous game's cliffhanger completely.
One primary issue with the game's story is that there's not much context about what is going on. If you're not a Doom fan, the events that occur seem to come out of nowhere. The narrative isn't bad, but its attempts at being self-aware and goofy while also trying to tell a cool origin story about how Doom Guy became the Doom Slayer aren't always effective.
Doom Eternal understands the franchise too well, getting so wrapped up in its own memes that it's often difficult to engage with its more serious moments. As muddled as the story is, it quickly takes a backseat, wasting no time throwing the player into the demon-slaying action. Thankfully, the narrative builds toward the latter half and wraps things up in an epic fashion.
Exploring Doom Eternal's wicked hellscape is far more delightful than one would expect in a game that boasts brutality and violence. Players travel through futuristic alien worlds, metropolitan cities torn asunder by demonic corruption, and gigantic buildings taking inspiration from Renaissance-era architecture. Further heightened by its extensive color palette, Doom Eternal's environments are so staggeringly beautiful that every moment requires time to reflect and appreciate the sights.
Doom Eternal's presentation is made even better thanks to the fantastic original soundtrack by Mick Gordon, which jumps between industrial metal and electronic. With its slow, intense build up into a heavy metal orchestra, the menu music feels like it's welcoming players back each time they boot up the game.
Furthermore, the soft and repetitive ambiance of approaching a bosses arena, and the ways in which the music intensifies when murdering demons, does a phenomenal job of setting the game's tone. It's an incredibly gripping composition that's dark, heavy and atmospheric.
Improved quality of life
Doom Eternal introduces the quality of life changes required to make its gunplay more intense and action-packed than before. The chainsaw is an important part of combat now that ammo drops are sparse. Thankfully, the chainsaw attack is bound to its own key, allowing the player quick access in tough situations.
The Flame Belch bathes enemies in a hellish fire and, when punched, shot or Glory Killed, your hapless foes emit Armor pickups. Health and Armor drops are more practical than they were in Doom (2016) because they now provide five to 10 per pickup instead of one.
Additionally, the dash movement completely changes the fluidity of combat, giving players the ability to evade attacks with a swift sidestep. Health, Armor and Ammo upgrades also reward the player for balancing their stat distribution evenly by associating them with special bonuses. Additions like Quickdraw Belch, which reduces the cooldown of your Flame Belch, are awesome ways to encourage focusing on specific builds.
Each change forces the player to think strategically when using their ammo, Flame Belch, chainsaw fuel and dashes. There are tons of tools to halt the demonic corruption, putting the blame entirely on the player if they die at the hands of an enemy. The intimidating challenges never felt unfair, even when I played the game on Nightmare difficulty.
Doom Eternal's Nightmare difficulty is aptly titled, as it's overwhelmed by terrifying encounters and masochistic challenges. Firefights against the demonic presence can go on for extended periods and a split-second is all it takes for the Doom Slayer to meet death. It's incredibly stressful, especially since any decision the player makes could be their last.
This absolute nightmare is made even more hellish with Slayer Gates, which function as challenges meant to test the player's skill. There are six of them throughout the game, and completing them all unlocks the Unmaykr, a super-weapon that shares an ammo stock with the BFG.
Thankfully, Doom Eternal introduces bonus lives, which lets the player continue without having to restart from a checkpoint. If it wasn't for this system, I wouldn't have made it through certain fights as quickly as I did, and it's the only reason I beat the second boss on my first try.
Doom Eternal's boss encounters are designed with specific quirks, weaknesses and strengths, which force the player to use a handful of strategic paradigms. For example, The Marauder must be fought at a medium distance, and even though he's not technically a boss, he's still tough as nails to fight.
The player has to swiftly evade his devastating ranged attacks and be prepared to use the super-shotgun when he gets close. This meditative practice in patience forces you to think carefully about your movements rather than just spraying and praying.
The game's final bosses are also memorable, throwing the player into gorgeous battle arenas and asking them to showcase ridiculous feats of strength to overcome intense obstacles. I won't go into detail on the specifics (to avoid spoilers), but be prepared for an actual nightmare.
Hunting for collectibles in Doom Eternal is way more fun than it was in the previous game. Doom (2016) hides its secrets so well that you'll often spend long periods of time searching for them. These typically blend right in with the world, and, in some instances, are as discreet as a lever or a tiny toy hidden in a box.
Doom Eternal's map menu is way easier to read because it accurately shows things in a 3D sphere, with collectibles represented by a gigantic, glowing question mark. Additionally, once you're at the end of a level, you can freely fast-travel between areas to grab missing collectibles. This makes finding them way less distracting, and gives you more time to engage in the combat without having to feel like you're overwhelmed by the desire to be a completionist.
Messing around with unlocked collectibles in the Fortress of Doom is pretty fun, whether that involves trying out new cheat codes, playing an old id Software soundtrack or mulling over some adorable toys of the franchise's characters.
On the other hand, many collectibles are important to help build the Doom Slayer. Sentinel Crystals let the player increase their Health, Armor or Ammo. Praetor Tokens give access to a handful of special upgrades, like reducing the cooldown of the dash or increasing the time enemies stay frozen from an Ice Grenade.
Weapon Mods can give a weapon alternative fire options, like putting a sniper scope on the Heavy Cannon or turning the Shotgun into a grenade launcher. Runes function as swappable abilities or buffs. My favorite is Saving Throw, which gives the Doom Slayer the ability to survive a hit that would've otherwise killed him. And finally, Sentinel Batteries give the player access to new costumes, Weapon Mods, Sentinel Crystals and Praetor Tokens on the Fortress of Doom.
Whether it's collecting silly toys or upgrading your Praetor Suit, hunting for secrets in Doom Eternal strikes a good balance between fun and necessary.
Battlemode is OK
Unfortunately, Doom Eternal’s Battlemode is underwhelming. It pits two demons against a Doom Slayer, and although it sounds like a novel idea, it gets old fast. Playing as a demon just isn't fun.
Most of the time you'll be spamming your abilities to spawn minor demons for assistance, create radiation fields or place healing circles. Even if the gamemode focused exclusively on shooting at the Doom Slayer, the gunplay as a demon isn't great — movement is a bit sluggish and being stuck to one or two ranged attacks for the whole match isn't interesting.
Additionally, it's Doom Eternal's only multiplayer option. There's no standard Quake-styled deathmatch, which means you won't be able to play the game with more than two friends. This isn't a big deal, since no one's buying the game for its multiplayer, which is evident by how difficult it can be to find a match.
Furthermore, Doom Eternal's Empowered Demons system is not yet implemented, which would give other players the ability to invade worlds during the traditional campaign, assume the form of a demon and take on the Doom Slayer. This isn't in the game yet, so who knows how it'll play out.
Doom Eternal: PC performance
During my playthrough of Doom Eternal, I experienced some bugs that ranged from amusing to frustrating.
The most frequent one occurs when I Glory Kill a Cacodemon (the floating blobs with one eye) next to a wall. I would immediately clip through the world and be trapped inside a textureless void, where the only way to escape was to reload my checkpoint. This got annoying because reaching the climax of the game's long encounters is already arduous and bugs like this put a spike on the flow of combat. I've also experienced similar bugs where I would dash around like a maniac and suddenly fall through a piece of terrain.
Another frustrating bug occured while I was going through Cultist Base and my map showed that some enemies were still alive. I searched the surrounding area for a half hour, but not a single one could be found in the vicinity. This was frustrating since I was able to 100% every other enemy encounter in the game.
However, the worst bug I've experienced was during the last boss when I had chainsawed an enemy for some additional health and my arm got stuck in the air. I was unable to shoot or punch, but I could still use my chainsaw, Flame Belch and grenades. Considering how hard the boss is, and that I played the game on Nightmare, this was incredibly annoying.
Doom Eternal has a wide variety of graphical settings that you can tinker with. The list includes: overall quality and texture pool size as well as the quality of shadows, reflections, motion blur, directional occlusion, lights, particles, decal, water, volumetrics, texture filtering and geometrics.
Each setting can be adjusted to low, medium, high, ultra, nightmare or ultra nightmare. Resolution- scaling mode can go between static, dynamic or off. Chromatic aberration, depth of field and depth of field antialiasing can be toggled on or off as well. Additionally, sharpening and film grain can be adjusted on a bar between 0 and 100.
For subtitles, you can change the size of the font, whether or not it displays the speaker's name, and decide if it'll have a partially transparent background behind them. There's also a color-blind rendering mode and color-blind UI mode, which can go between protanopia, tritanopia and deuteranopia. The player can also choose to toggle in-game tips, tutorials, Glory Kill highlights and photo mode.
Audio settings give the player access to master volume, music volume, sound effects and voice volume. Audio mix options can go from headphones to speakers, while Doom Slayer's pain grunts can be turned off completely.
Within the UI settings, the player can change the UI to a handful of colors. Personally, I prefer the UAC color palette, as the cool blue and light gray work way better than the bright green of the original design.
Doom Eternal: PC requirements
I ran Doom Eternal on my desktop, which is equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 GPU with 4GB of VRAM. Throughout 95% of the game, I got a pretty consistent 60 frames per second at 1080p with graphic settings on High. At some points, however, the game would dip to around 45 to 50 fps.
It was difficult to determine a reason for the performance decline because it would occasionally happen even when nothing particularly eventful was going on. Furthermore, the game could not go above High, as the GTX 970 doesn’t have enough VRAM for Ultra settings.
I also tried running Doom Eternal on a gaming laptop with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU with 6GB of VRAM, and it hit 90 fps at 1080p with graphics settings on Ultra. You'll need more VRAM to play at higher settings. I also ran Doom Eternal on my Dell XPS 15 with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU. With graphic settings set to low, it hit 30 to 40 fps at 1080p.
Right now, you can purchase Doom Eternal through either Steam or the Bethesda Launcher.
The minimum requirements to run Doom Eternal include Windows 7, an Intel Core i5 @ 3.3 GHz or AMD Ryzen 3 @ 3.1 GHz CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1060, GTX 1650 or AMD Radeon R9 280, an RX 470 GPU, 8GB of RAM and 50GB of available space.
The recommended requirements include Windows 10, an Intel Core i7-6700K or AMD Ryzen 7 1800X CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, Nvidia GeForce 970 or AMD RX 480 GPU, 8GB of RAM and 50GB of available space.
id Software has perfected a formula. Doom Eternal's striking world serves as the optimal playground for slaughtering demons and hunting collectibles.
The game possesses some annoying bugs and its multiplayer mode is a bit underwhelming, but it presents fantastic bosses, great quality of life changes, a phenomenal presentation and a Nightmare difficulty that is equal parts intense and rewarding.
Doom is Eternal, and this is the excellent sequel fans have been waiting for.