Doom has always been very metal. Id’s designer Adrian Carmack made no mistake about that in 1993.

27 years later, Doom Eternal, the sequel to the 2016 Doom reboot, also ticks every box on the metal checklist. Rolling skulls, creaky spines, visits to hell, visits to heaven, the fact that every screenshot of the game could have been an album cover by Slayer. But I really owe it to my position as a game journalist to first emphasize the music. Good grace, my heaven or hell, this soundtrack!

Doom Eternal is a metal album that comes with a free game. The song “The Only Thing They Fear Is You” should be in the Top 2000. Composer Mick Gordon is the only god the Doom Slayer would spare. Thanks to Gordon, the Doom Slayer is the only gaming protagonist with his own boss music. Doom and Gordon are now inextricably linked, the two should never continue without each other. There is only real “hell on Earth” if Bethesda makes a Doom game without Mick Gordon.

Doom Eternal better than Doom 2016

I have said and written a lot about Doom Eternal on this website. About the weak points of enemies that you can exploit. About how you get less ammunition in this sequel, making the combat arenas feel like quick chess games, also because you have a double dash and jump. About the daring introduction of the platform, with which the game strings the battles together. And of course about how good the previous part was. But I could not say what I want to shout for a week now: Part Two is so much better.

Just like Doom 2016, Doom Eternal is simple in design: popping dumb, made smart. Even more than Doom 2016, Doom Eternal is fluent. The game gives you new ways to move, but there are also more ways to attack. At first I found that quite overwhelming. A grenade launcher; a deadly melee attack; a flamethrower: do I really need all this? Like me, you may have a bit of trouble interweaving all those new game elements into your game. But that does not last long. After two hours of playing, I mastered the “new” gameplay, although I kept forgetting to use the grenade launcher.

The many combat arenas introduce moments of childish joy time after time. The meat hook on the super shotgun, with which you fly at enemies, the double dash and the double jump, you sometimes hang in the air for seconds. This game does things to you. When enemies are together, and you quickly deploy your flamethrower, you throw a grenade in the middle and you extinguish yourself in the opulence of armor that you get back, you feel excellent. When you fly down on a Mancubus in slow motion with the meat hook while taking out a Cacodemon mid-air by throwing a grenade in its mouth, you feel like a god.

That may sound strange, but I have rarely been so often impressed with my own actions in a game as in Doom Eternal. This game elevates shooting to experience. After Doom Eternal, Doom 2016 genuinely feels like you are being inhibited. This weekend I returned to Doom 2016 for fun, a game that I would call almost perfect on the gameplay front. After Doom Eternal, Doom 2016 feels slow and above all limited. Doom 2016 is still a great game, but Eternal is much more complete and takes full advantage of its own qualities.

This is mainly due to the agility of the Slayer, but also the weapon rotation is more ingenious. You are forced to learn to use every weapon in every scenario, but clearly certain weapons are best in certain scenarios. You use your heavy machine gun to hit weak points, with your plasma gun you attack enemies’ shields and because your gun with unlimited ammo has disappeared, the chainsaw is your best friend even more than before. Doom Eternal may look like mindless popping, but there is a remarkable amount of tactics and thinking behind this graceful morbid waltz.

In addition, your weapons and attributes can be upgraded many times. You can thus focus on your own playing style, for example by focusing on speed at the expense of health drops. That’s nice, but it’s a shame the game puts a limit of three runes on you. Some runes are therefore systematically excluded, while they are quite cool (the slow-motion runes, for example). The next point is not critical, but it is good to know: the game does not have a self-preservation upgrade, an upgrade that prevented you from harming yourself in Doom 2016. That means that in Doom Eternal you have to pay close attention to your own missiles and grenades.

Platforms

Doom Eternal waltzes during combat, but even without guns, graceful movement is the order of the day. After all, the combat arenas have to be woven together in the (large) levels. In Doom 2016 this was done with a lot of running gear and occasionally with platforms. In Doom Eternal, this is largely done with platforms.

Of course you have the double dash and double jump to familiarize yourself with, but id Software also introduces dash resetters such as in Celeste, climbable walls and even those revolving fire poles that we know from Bowser’s Castle in Super Mario. That may sound like overkill, but despite the first-person perspective, the platform really works out. In fact, because you are so agile in this game, the emphasis on the platform feels like a logical step. The checkpoints when you go off are also mild, and the platform is not difficult anyway.

Doom Eternal is a much “fuller” game. The levels are bursting with little secrets. It is going too far to call this a game with metroidvania elements, but it definitely pays to keep an eye on the map and take a good look around. Cheat codes, audio logs, extra upgrade points and tough combat arenas are spread throughout the level. They often require looking around, puzzling or platforms. I really enjoyed playing the levels again, but on a higher level of difficulty, for example. You usually come across something new that you have missed before.

Those levels in which you wander are top. Where in Doom 2016 you mainly walk on Mars (everything is red) and in hell (everything is red), Doom Eternal is more varied in design. Ice levels, large castles and some unexpected locations provide variety that I didn’t realize the Doom formula could use. You even kind of go to heaven. The story is fairly prominent, occasionally the gameplay is even interrupted by short cutscenes, but id Software knows very well what kind of meat it has in the tub. When it comes to Doom’s lore, id Software knows exactly what it may or may not get away with.

In any case, the writers of the (Wiki-like) Codex and dialogues have indulged. Take the audio logs of a scientist analyzing the Doom Slayer. In her speech, spread over logs on one of the levels, she is skeptical. Colleagues are trying to convince her that the Doom Slayer is the last salvation of mankind, but she should have none of that. If the Slayer wipes out monster after monster, despite its human origins, she can’t get around it. Science, too, now preaches the Slayer’s church, she explains. “All hail the coming of the Destroyer – The Slayers Time Is Now.” It has been done so well.

Doom Eternal better on PC

In addition, the game copes well with difficulty. It is possible at any time to screw the difficulty up or down, something that has no repercussions whatsoever. The game also introduces cheat codes if you want to replay levels, for example to unlock new things: that is also possible without any repercussion. That innovation is particularly welcome because Doom Eternal is much more challenging on the standard difficulty level (the second of four) than Doom 2016. The game tries to counter that with the introduction of extra lives, but a warning: you still often die.

Some enemies proactively withdraw from the center of your screen (your target or crosshair), so your aiming needs to be sophisticated. But even more annoying is the introduction of the Marauder. This enemy is only introduced late, but has a shield and is very defensive. It’s best to attack him when his eyes glow green. Marauders therefore require a lot of focus. He is by far the most difficult enemy in the game. That’s okay when he’s on his own – often it is, but certainly at the end of the game he is released several times in a combat arena along with other enemies. Then try to be effective …

Those levels in which you wander are top. Where in Doom 2016 you mainly walk on Mars (everything is red) and in hell (everything is red), Doom Eternal is more varied in design. Ice levels, large castles and some unexpected locations provide variety that I didn’t realize the Doom formula could use. You even kind of go to heaven. The story is fairly prominent, occasionally the gameplay is even interrupted by short cutscenes, but id Software knows very well what kind of meat it has in the tub. When it comes to Doom’s lore, id Software knows exactly what it may or may not get away with.

In any case, the writers of the (Wiki-like) Codex and dialogues have indulged. Take the audio logs of a scientist analyzing the Doom Slayer. In her speech, spread over logs on one of the levels, she is skeptical. Colleagues are trying to convince her that the Doom Slayer is the last salvation of mankind, but she should have none of that. If the Slayer wipes out monster after monster, despite its human origins, she can’t get around it. Science, too, now preaches the Slayer’s church, she explains. “All hail the coming of the Destroyer – The Slayers Time Is Now.” It has been done so well.

Some enemies proactively withdraw from the center of your screen (your target or crosshair), so your aiming needs to be sophisticated. But even more annoying is the introduction of the Marauder. This enemy is only introduced late, but has a shield and is very defensive. It’s best to attack him when his eyes glow green. Marauders therefore require a lot of focus. He is by far the most difficult enemy in the game. That’s okay when he’s on his own – often it is, but certainly at the end of the game he is released several times in a combat arena along with other enemies. Then try to be effective … I am very positive about the performance on PC: the game runs like a charm (GTX 1080 8GB, i7-7800X 3.5GHz). In the very sporadic vistas, the frame rate dropped below sixty, but never during combat or platforming. I would like to immediately mention that this game is much better with a mouse and keyboard. If you have both a console and PC, you need to buy this game for PC. Especially when shooting, fun with a controller is lost, because you are less manoeuvrable by the sticks. This game is perfectly playable on a console, but Doom Eternal is simply better on a PC.

The game also has a two-versus-one multiplayer mode, but unfortunately I have not been able to test it in the review process. For my grade, that hardly matters, but it would be nice if the online mode is fun – in Doom 2016 that was by no means the case.

Doom Eternal is so much fun

Doom Eternal is longer than I expected: according to Steam, it took me about 24 hours. That time includes a lot of looking around and searching for secrets in the level, and replaying two entire levels. It should be noted that the long duration towards the end of the game does not work to his advantage. The arenas then get a little more bored, and the final boss fight is without a doubt the weakest in the game. In order to hear legendary single player games, you need a little more as a shooter. At the end of the game, the negatives of the repetitive setup are exposed by the gameplay itself.

Ultimately, this has little influence on the total experience. I hope that echoes through in this review as I’ve rarely had so much fun while reviewing a game. The boss fights are as entertaining as the build, Doom icons (pun intended) are introduced with verve, there are countless cool settings, the gunplay is more or less the best in the genre, the combat arenas feel like morbid monkey cage games and the game wraps it all in a sauce of subtle humor and lots and lots of metal. Doom Eternal does nothing weird compared to its predecessor, but this game is much better in almost every way. And part one was already so good.

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