Cue heavy metal orchestra music.
Rip and tear, until it’s done — again.
See those demons over there? Kill them in the most brutal way possible, for they will do the same to you. Rip and tear, until it’s done.
“Doom Eternal” is the perfect game for these trying times. It’s a glorified power fantasy, a brilliant bloody spectacle of carnage and gore, a merciless violent trek through the denizens of Hell with the power of pure video game bliss propelling you through endless waves of demons and Hellspawn to murder with bloodthirsty intent. Feel confined and trapped in your home as we wait out the Coronavirus? What better way to take out your frustrations fueled by a microscopic virus than by playing the best first-person shooter of this generation.
Picking up after the events of 2016’s “Doom,” this sequel drops the Doomslayer on an Earth overrun by demons, which have turned the planet into Hell itself. After hearing the anguished calls of the remaining surviving humans stuck on Earth, Doomslayer teleports into the ship of a Hell priest, whom he quickly dispatches in a coordinated effort to stop the invasion. Two more Hell priests remain in a world corrupted by the forces of evil. Rip and tear, until it’s done.
The story is simple, but the lore is extremely vast. Collectibles are scattered throughout the game that pull back the curtain and reveal a much grander and more expansive backstory than any “Doom” game ever deserved. Yet it’s so engrossing and entertaining. There’s so many details, from the secrets of the Hell dimension to the past of the Doomslayer that are fascinating. The story is there for people who want to dive into it and go down a Wikipedia-style rabbit hole of history. For those who just want to murder demons, there’s little story to get in the way of glorious action.
After replaying “Doom,” it felt hard to top the modern reinvention of the series, which essentially defined the first-person shooter as we know it today. The game already felt like the modern evolution of what id Software had created in 1993. Yet somehow, id managed to top itself with “Doom Eternal.” It took everything that made its predecessor so great — the relentless action, the fast-paced gunplay, the fantastic level design — and somehow improved upon them.
The individual missions are expansive and packed with the fastest and most frantic action you’ll see in a console game this generation. Even the smallest areas are larger than anything that was in “Doom.” Enemies pour in from all corners in an almost choreographed ballet of action and blood. Powerups, ammunition, armor and health pickups are strategically placed, so that the game never feels too overwhelming or too difficult — even on higher levels. But this isn’t just a mindless wave after wave of enemies you’re facing. Everything is perfectly designed to be approached almost as a puzzle. The beauty of the combat of “Doom Eternal” is that it can be approached in so many different waves, especially once you modify your weapons and improve on Doomslayer’s abilities.
For too long, first-person shooters have been funneled into two different types: the extremely narrow and carefully-controlled “Call of Duty” rollercoaster style or the “FarCry” style of open world gameplay with poorly designed combat areas that feel more like enemies were randomly placed, rather than carefully designed. Both have their place in modern gaming, but it feels so refreshing to enjoy a game that blends modern gameplay with old-fashioned level designs and philosophies. You have the freedom to approach almost any combat arena how you see fit, but everything is still carefully designed to give that sense of progression and accomplishment.
Graphically, it’s hard to find a better looking game that does what “Doom Eternal” does. Running at an almost rock-solid 60 FPS on the Xbox One X, the game is visually stunning. Massive, and I mean massive, areas look brilliant in checkboarded 4K resolution combined with id’s stunning art design. Even when the action picks up and goes crazy, which it does more often than not, the framerate barely moves. This is truly a technological marvel. The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro versions aren’t nearly as good looking, but are still amazing. The Xbox One S version can look a bit blurry, but still retains that smooth feel. This is a solid game, no matter which system it’s played on.
“Doom Eternal” feels like the culmination of nearly 30 years of design philosophy at id Software, and could serve as the studio’s magnum opus. It’s a fairly lengthy game with plenty of replay value for years to come. It’s one drawback is that it can cause motion sickness for those who are sensitive to such things. id has included numerous graphical options, including a field-of-view slider that might help. But the fast-paced action combined with the constant movement can cause issues.
“Doom Eternal” will no doubt stand as one of the best games of this console generation, even with new consoles on the horizon. It’s one of the best looking games on the market with gameplay and level design that surpass almost any game — especially first-person shooters — available. If you’re feeling a bit claustrophobic and need to let out some anger, feel no sympathy for the demons of “Doom Eternal.” Rip and tear, until it’s done.
“Doom Eternal” is rated M for Mature by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, and is available on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. As most stores are currently closed due to the coronavirus, the game is also available for digital purchase across all three platforms.
Josh Rouse lives in Lawton and writes a weekly video gaming column.