When you think of games that have made history, one name always comes to mind in the First-Person Shooter genre is DOOM. Originally made in 1993, this gory, fast-pacted, high-octane semi-platformer made waves with starry-eyed teens who caught hold of this masterpiece and the media agitators alike, portraying DOOM as the cultivator of a more violent, barbaric generation. The concept of DOOM, in essence, is an exceptionally simple one. Playing as a disgruntled, mentally unhinged Marine, you claw, shoot, stomp, punch, smash, and overall slaughter your way through infinite hordes of Demons from Hell, your endgoal being the eradication of the Demonic race entirely and destruction of Hell itself. In most media, Demons are portrayed as unstoppable, powerful, malevolent evils with no equal to their awesome might and cunning. In the Bible itself, Lucifer is the arch-demon, the Great Betrayer, the scariest and most dangerous being alive! Yet in DOOM, cadres of Hell's finest shocktroopers are mere gore-fests for your character, as the rage DOOM Marine possesses far outclasses the collective willpower of the Universe's greatest threat. DOOM's recent iteration, the March release DOOM Eternal, has not only improved on modern aspects of the franchise introduced in DOOM 2016, but has truly revived the spirit of the old games that championed this series into fame. Let's take a closer look at ID Software's addicting, quarantine-time consuming monument to badassery, guns, destruction, and Demoncide. Let's review... DOOM Eternal. DOOM Eternal's story isn't exactly an Oscar-worthy performance packed with A-Class Hollywood actors, recognizable brands, or unforgettable portrayals of characters that'll surely be etched into the American psyche. Like the overall series premise, Eternal's narrative is simple, though to its credit, it introduces a small layer of intrigue more than its predecessors: The Heavenly Realm of Urdak, once commanded by the benevolent Father (God, essentially), has fallen into the corrupt hands of the Khan Makyr, who enters an unholy alliance with the Demons of Hell. Hell launches an invasion of Earth, overtaking local defenses within a few weeks and nearly driving humanity to extinction, so that their souls may be used as raw energy to power Urdak's lifespan indefinitely, while Demons simply seek to satisfy their natural urges of killing. Only one hero stands in their way. Not a Peace-seeking Priest nor group of survivors turned rebels against this awful order of things, but one man. The one fear of Hell that even Demon Lords quiver in fear at... Doomslayer. Who just so happens to be the character you play as. Cool, right? While on the outset, Eternal's narrative is a clear-cut 'stop the villains, save the human race' type deal, there are lore tidbits you can collect throughout the story that hint towards a greater picture being painted here. Using Eternal's lore function, I uncovered the secret history of Argent D'Nur, an ancient human civilization that mastered technology and encountered the Doomslayer when he was simply a weak Marine. Eventually, Slayer rose through their ranks, becoming a respected and deified Warrior-King that even the most prestigious ranks of Argentum bowed in subservience to. Unfortunately, the game's secondary protagonists, the Hell Priests, masterminded Argent D'Nur's downfall. This is just some of the extra narrative content scattered about the extensive maps of Eternal, and are a must-read if you wish to gain more from the Doom Universe rather than a simple mass-murdering spree of Hellspawn (though if that's the experience you seek, fret not, this game provides that in spades.) Gameplay is divided into two primary segments, that being slaying hordes of demonic filth, and platforming. Both segments have a litany of sub-categories which further diversify and enhance the gameplay. Enemies in Doom Eternal should be taught in game development classes as standards for variety. You could be chainsawing and shooting your way through legions of mindless and relatively harmless Zombies and fireball-chucking Imps, before a genuine threat, such as an Arachnotron with its rapid-fire Plasma Autocannon, or Marauder, with his Argent-powered Axe, Deployable Shield, and Super-Shotgun arrive into the frenzy to ruin your day. The gameplay has always been the primary attraction for both veteran fans and newbies of the series, given that its high-octane dopamine rushes make you feel like a badass, but forces you to think with only the tiniest increment of strategy to ensure your character doesn't become Demon chow. You're always on the move, looking behind you, stockpiling on weapons and using your Dash ability to narrowly avoid death when your health bar sinks to a dangerous Red-Zone after tanking too much enemy fire. The terrain of Doom Eternal is all masterfully designed, giving you the leg room necessary to constantly flee to new locations and always have a secure piece of rock, grassland, steel, or what have you to flee from when your current position becomes unsafe. My first playthrough of the game was on the 'Regular' difficulty, that being Ultra-Violence, and even then, I never felt safe, especially in large crowds of Demons that usually contained three or more Heavy-Hitting enemies. In any given fight in DOOM, you're bound to take at least one spat of damage at your most cautious and prudent, and certainly doomed (see what I did there? DOOM, doomed? Hehe... Okay that was pretty bad) if you take no heed of your surroundings and charge in gung-ho. You'd think a game like DOOM requires no thinking, but it's my vested belief that it instead activates a hidden part of your brain specialized in handling extremely stressful situations. Each movement I make in DOOM, each dash, each bullet I fire into the skull of a Demon, is a careful segment of a dance with death. Each moment is powered by sheer adrenaline and testosterone, giving the player an almost drug-induced effect as he or she narrowly dodges destruction and grants these demons the most utterly tantalizing and gruesome of demises. Plus, the enemy variety never fails to disappoint in segments where it's most crucial. Arch-viles can summon ravines of magma and spiked rock in the earth to disorient you, or legions of Demons to assist in their battle against you. Manucubi use their Ballistic or Acidic Cannons to rain hellfire on you from afar, whilst Cyber-Tyrants fire coordinated missile strikes upon you and Hell-Knights rush towards you like angered bulls bloodlusted for a kill. If it sounds hectic, it is. And that was only a sampling of the enemies you'll encounter throughout your adventures. Platforming, on the other hand, isn't as special. It's simply gaining enough Rad Points to survive irradiated waters or avoiding pitfalls while clambering through bars embedded into the sides of rocks, walls, or wherever the Slayer happens to decide becoming a Monkey was on his agenda. Of course, these platforming segments also serve another purpose. During your epic battles against the Demon Horde, you can use these bars to jump through and fro the terrain more efficiently.
Weapons in DOOM Eternal are your bread and butter. If fighting Demons is the pillar of gameplay, this is... the other pillar. They're basically two sides of the same coin. From using your Flamethrower to garner armored points from downed enemies to blasting away at them with your Super-Shotgun or Combat Shotgun, while using your Sticky Bomb attachment to incinerate evermore of the coming threat, well... let's just say Eternal provides an innumerable amount of ways to dismantle your enemy in every way it hurts. Glory Kills remain an especially satisfying part of the game, seeing an enemy flash the trademark orange and blue hue is a practical guarantee for a cinematic finisher that'll make Rambo and John Wick proud. There's also the immensely satisfying BFG (Big F**king Gun)9000, the rapid-fire Chaingun, Ice-Bomb, Chainsaw, the Argentum Energy powered-Crucible, the precise Ballista, so many weapons to kill with, so little time to explain them all... And the best part, each of these weapons comes with their own branches, specializations, and skill-trees so you can embark on your favorite combos and kills to your liking. Multiplayer in Eternal is rather average. It's nothing special per say, but being able to play as and customize your own portfolio of Demonic enemies is certainly an entertaining venture if nothing else. With all the free DLC ID's been pushing for the game, it's a practical godsend that you're able to brand your Arch-vile, Marauder, Pain Elemental and more with the latest fashionable blings to make them truly stand out amidst the vile hordes sent forth by the Dark Lord to conquer the Universe. However, the most important piece of this masterfully crafted puzzle stands above all the rest, and unites these elements together. The soundtrack, Mick Gordon's tunes are a practical requirement for working out, attempting to get inspired and envision an apocalyptic scenario in your head, or, as it stands, goring waves of Demons. The intense heavy metal melodies mixed with the chanting of ritualistic phrases such as RIP AND TEAR or KAR EN TUK are enough to energize even the most drained office worker into a proper, hour or two long session of making the Forces of Hell regret their existences. Mick Gordon's career should enjoy all the attention and uplifting it gains from his participation in the modern DOOM games, he's truly earned it.
In the end, DOOM Eternal is everything you could ever want from a game. Of course, there are flaws, such as the weaknesses or underwhelming introductions and abilities of certain Demons, or the current imbalance that exists in Multiplayer, and the occasional glitch. But these negatives pale in comparison to the overwhelming positive, as DOOM Eternal truly stands as one of the best products to emerge from the chaotic haze of 2020. 10/10, highly recommend.