We’re looking back on the last seven years of gaming to discuss the games that have resonated for us the most, whether that’s through story, gameplay, or something else. This time: we’re just shooting a hole into the surface of Mars.
I said this during my DOOM Eternal review, but I will repeat it here: DOOM Eternal makes DOOM 2016, one of the greatest FPS games ever made, feel sluggish and lightweight.
Eternal is everything you could ever want from a DOOM game. It’s loud (helped by Mick Gordon’s meaty rock/EDM mutants), violent, and oh so incredibly empowering. You will walk away from Eternal feeling like you could beat Cthulhu in an arm wrestling contest, and then do it again while you have Galactus in a headlock.
You see, beating Eternal just the one time really isn’t enough. No, the bloodlust will make you jump back into its gladiatorial arenas on a higher difficulty, or with other modifiers such as cheats, just to experience how versatile what might appear like a straightforward game really is.
The perfect example of this is The Marauder, probably the game’s most controversial inclusion apart from the platforming (which is great fun, by the way). On an initial playthrough, you will probably be howling at the moon in anger like The Marauder’s bullshit dog pal, crawling your way past his meta-breaking tactics. However, take the time to study Doomguy’s arsenal, really learning the intricacies of his different weapons and abilities, and you will be Ballista’ing and Super Shotgunning him like he’s barely worth a damn.
And it’s a game that you will really want to learn, just because your slaying progress is so palpable. You can genuinely sense an escalation in your skill as the campaign goes on, even when the stakes get raised and the cheese factor rises. I don’t usually play FPS games on PC because I’ve spent the best part of 25 years fiddling with sticks, yet DOOM Eternal acted not only as a great tutorial for its own mechanics and systems, but also the genre at large. I started my playthrough with saliva snaking its way down my chin while trying to reach CTRL and ending it like some kind of demon-slaying DJ on roller skates, my fingers doing a dance on the keyboard that could probably summon rain.
I could go on about DOOM Eternal’s combat forever, but there’s one aspect of it that I feel deserves a lot more attention: all its extra stuff. There are so many collectibles to find and secrets to unlock in Eternal that it feels like walking into a time machine. id Software really didn’t need to add vinyls that can be played back at your base, neither did they have to add toys that Doomguy places on his little shelf. They weren’t mandated to add cheat codes that you can naturally unlock, nor did they have to slip a Daisy into each level. The fact that they did all of that and more really makes the game feel like a love letter to DOOM and games of yesteryear.
This love also extends to the game’s story, which, while not Shakespeare, has much, much more depth than a lot of people give it credit for. The cutscenes never outstay their welcome, dumping quick exposition while providing quotable lines and then oops, you’re punching demon brains in again. You don’t have to engage with the storyline at all if you don’t want to, but the background lore you can discover in the game’s deep codex fills in so many blanks while asking so many intriguing questions that you will want to track down all of the many scraps of paper.
I think the biggest praise I can give DOOM Eternal is that I want to go and play it as I am writing this. This, after my ego was thoroughly bruised by The Ancient Gods. For me, it’s not only the best game of 2020, but also one of the best FPS games ever made. I just wonder how in the hell id are possibly going to raise the stakes for a sequel.
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