DOOM 2016 shocked DOOM and first-person shooter fans alike as it took the series to an entirely new level of entertaining. The game’s focus on aggressive shooting mechanics and over-the-top explosive arenas slingshotted it to the top of many “best games of all time” lists.
However, this puts the development team in a bind as they not only recapture what made DOOM 2016 so unique but also introduce new mechanics in the latest entry of the series, DOOM Eternal. The developer isn’t giving the player “more of the same,” instead, they are expanding the scope of the series and introducing new mechanics that aim to give players something to master.
During a preview event, I went hands-on with DOOM Eternal to understand these new mechanics and dive back into this intense action series. Returning to hell felt like second nature as I played through the opening of the game. Then elements began to change.
I discovered that ammo wasn’t always readily available to me, which caused me to think about when to use my chainsaw to reload my arsenal. After the first three hours, this becomes even more strategic as you are continually switching through guns during arena fights and planning out when to focus on healing or finding ammo.
There’s a balance during all the action that is taught to the player during its early stages. Sure, you could burn all of your ammo on this huge boss, but maybe you should conserve some of that and take a more strategic approach.
In combat, you must use nearly every button on the controller, but you end up moving as if led by muscle memory alone. This makes battles feel exceptionally fluid as you begin to chain together weaponry. For example, jump towards a cacodemon and throw a grenade in its mouth to stun it for a takedown. All while shooting the turret off of a large enemy, and then swiftly turn around to freeze a group of enemies with an ice grenade, and then end the combo by glory killing the cacodemon.
It’s no understatement that this game is epic, and the arenas are full of different features that facilitate fast movement and creativity. However, some arenas slow the player down with a purple jell on the ground, which causes the player to be a bit more strategical about their approach to combat.
DOOM Eternal doesn’t only introduce new ways to approach combat. The game also expands the scope of the levels by including platforming sections where players need to utilize skills like wall climbing and monkey bar jumps to get around the levels. This also plays into the various secret areas scattered around a map.
Some of these areas can be as challenging as the combat at times. Creative Director on DOOM Eternal Hugo Martin explained to us, “All aspects of this game are giving you something to master. If any point, whether its the traversal mechanics, combat, or the weapons are easy to master within seconds, then they aren’t going to be engaging to the player.” He adds, “We’re okay with frustrating the player, as long as it means we have something meaningful to teach them that we’re betting they find entertaining.”
This statement reigns true as I found myself taking on some tough situations, but I never felt like I didn’t have the tools to get through them. Sure, I died a few times, but the mistakes felt like my own doing. Each death had me eager to jump back in and try new approaches to a difficult fight.
DOOM Eternal is trying to do something new. Players won’t be able to run through the game with one weapon anymore, but the way the game forces you to adapt to situations continually can only be described as impressive.
Was I frustrated? Yes, at times I was, but I never once wanted to quit or felt the game was being unfair. I’m interested in experiencing more of the game as we get closer to launch because there are many other mechanics that I have yet to try out. As it stands, DOOM Eternal is doing everything DOOM 2016 did, but much much better. I’ve never been this excited to go to hell.
DOOM Eternal is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on March 20.
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