There’s a lot going on at PAX East 2020 this year. But that didn’t stop Bethesda from doing its own thing with the Game Days event. It featured not only the new Wastelanders add-on for Fallout 76 but also a near-final build of its long-awaited Doom Eternal. And we’ll tell you right now – there’s a lot to look forward to.
Doom Eternal follows the events of the 2016 Doom, where the world has essentially fallen into Hell. You are, of course, the “Doomguy” that steps forth to clean house, using whatever weapons you can get your hands on. Though all the details revolving around the story mode weren’t available, hey, we got to rip and tear. That works.
Improvements to gameplay
What’s great about Doom Eternal is how much more balanced the gameplay feels. Sure, it’s essentially copying most of the mechanics from the 2016 game. But id Software really went all out to capture how much greater everything feels. There’s actually a give and take when it comes to balancing out your health.
Let’s say, for example, you’re low on ammo. Whip out the chainsaw – which you get partway into the first level – and saw someone in half. They practically shoot out a spray of rainbow-colored icons that refill your ammo for a pretty good portion. Likewise, if you’re low on health, you can shoot at an enemy until they’re flashing in color. Once they do, you can execute an incredible melee attack and get a little health for your trouble. Not once did we run out of the means to tear someone a new butt. (And yes, that’s a thing.)
This time around, the gameplay feels wonderful outside of that as well. The challenge level is just right, gnawing at you but not to the point of frustration. You’ll actually find yourself looking for precision aiming in spots to systematically take down an opponent. For example, there’s an arachnid robot breed that shoots consistent gunfire at you. You could just shoot away at it and hope for the best… or you could take out its turret and watch it scamper to stay alive. (Which, of course, it won’t.) This is just one of the examples of the “toughies” you’ll come across in the game.
You’ll also be able to equip mods, just like before, for your weapon. We only got a taste of these in the 20-minute demo we tried out, but they make a world of difference. The shotgun is capable of shooting sticky bombs or going full-auto, which you can switch on-the-fly with the D-pad. There are others available as well, building up as you move along and pry them out of the hands of waiting droids.
Along with the gameplay, Doom Eternal might just be the best-looking entry in the series to date. Yes, even outshining the 2016 chapter. It just ebbs and flows smoothly with a 60 frames-per-second frame rate throughout, with no missing performance to speak of. The levels are much, much larger this time around, with verticality to spare and new ways to get around. Don’t be surprised if you do a little exploring – even in hell.
There are also spectacular effects all around. The way enemies are taken out with gunfire and melee kills; the beautiful, harrowing lighting; the speed. It all comes together in a symphony of destruction that you’ll want to have several encores for.
The game’s audio is equally impressive. You’ll hear demon growls all over the place, along with cries for help and some atmospheric touches. It all works beautifully within the game, really giving you a sense of awareness. That’ll help when you have monsters coming at you from all sides, letting you aim and shoot with practicality.
Rip and f’n tear
We didn’t get much of a look at multiplayer (Battlemode) just yet. However, the single-player campaign of Doom Eternal looks to be the biggest and boldest of the series yet. That bodes well for long-time fans, newcomers, and streamers alike, as you’ll have a field day ripping and tearing into this one. The game arrives on March 20, and you can get it on Steam.
See you in Hell, players!