Doom Eternal, the sequel to the unexpected hit that was Doom 2016, is upon us, here to save us from the dread and fear of real life. It is also much, much harder than its predecessor, requiring a slightly different approach from that game. Having just finished the game twice, once on Ultra-Violence (the gentleman’s way to play) and once on Nightmare, I feel like I got enough insight to help my fellow Slayers have a nicer, safer, and overall more fun trip through hell.
So rev that chainsaw, cock that shotgun, and get those itchy trigger fingers ready! Cause Corona is temporary, but Doom is Eternal baby!
Eternal is a video game ass video game, leaning harder on the arcade-y root of the series and forgoing some of the more believable elements that made ‘16. It knows it is a boomer shooter and more importantly, it knows it is a sequel to Doom. Ultra-Violence in Eternal feels like Nightmare in '16, and Nightmare feels like playing a casual game of Animal Crossing but Tom Nook wants to set you on fire (what do you mean that’s the actual plot?)! The game wastes no time introducing you to some of its new elements and asks you to juggle multiple balls from the start. Some are light, some are heavy, and some have spikes and are actively trying to turn you into gibs!
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it also gives you the tools needed to deal with the onslaught, and it’s just a matter of using them effectively. It’s definitely aimed at fans of the franchise that crave a challenge, but it has no intention of gatekeeping everyone else. Every difficulty is unlocked from the start (yes, even the “you only live once” Ultra-Nightmare) and you can change between them at any point in time with no penalty. Not only that, but exploring the levels will grant you cheats to use in missions you have already beaten, and again, there is no penalty to progress. The only exception being the Slayer Gates, but these are optional fights that throw everything the game has at you, so stands to reason that the game won’t let you cheesy them.
Now then. Let’s get to it!
The first thing you need to know is that this is not 2016, and you should not play like that. Ammo is drastically reduced, the chainsaw lost its “free outta jail” status (more on that later), hard enemies are introduced fairly early, and arenas have fewer pick-ups to encourage the game’s newfound style of “taking what you need”. That said, there are things you can do even before starting a new game to make your run even smoother!
The menu has a plethora of settings to customize the game to your liking. The first of them you’ll want to mess with is mouse/joystick sensitivity. You’ll be jumping a lot, changing angles a lot, and making on the fly decisions about what targets to prioritize. Make sure you adjust this setting for absolute control over your aim. While you're at it, rebind your keys! I don’t know how this works for my console brethren, but at least here on PC, I found it to be greatly beneficial. Having direct access to the exact weapon you want serves two purposes: it allows you to abuse the cooldown of guns in between shots (greatly increasing your DPS, something that will come into play real soon) and not breaking the action by bringing up the weapon wheel. If you must use the weapon wheel, be aware that it can be fully customized in the arsenal tab! Mess with that and see what works best for you.
Yeah I forgot to take screenshots myself again...
You can disable tips and tutorials. This is more for those folks that already played through the game, or, for the ones that would rather figure out the enemies by themselves. Use whichever you prefer. That ties into my next tip: eyes on the automap! The game is chock-full of secrets, so make sure to keep an eye on that map for collectibles, Secret Encounters and Slayer Gates. The former is a way to acquire weapon points faster, but whatever resources you spend doing them won’t be refunded in case of failure. If a particular encounter is giving you trouble, come back later for revenge! The Gates are slightly different. You’ll need a key to unlock the door first (the key is always close by). If you die, you respawn in front of the gore nest instead of the arena, allowing you to go away and come back stronger if needed. So don’t feel afraid of giving them a shot! If you beat all six, you’ll unlock an extra weapon just in time for the point of no return.
Sentinel Crystals replace the Argent Cells from ‘16. This time around, there are extra upgrades that can be acquired by getting the two upgrades linked to it. For anything below Nightmare difficulty, I recommend focusing on increasing your health, ammo and flaming belch upgrades first. For Nightmare and above, focus on ammo, armor and loot magnet. It sounds counter-intuitive, but evasion/mobility will be way more valuable than health in such high difficulties, since getting all health upgrades only really allows for one or two extra mistakes. When you hit said point of no return (the game makes it blatantly obvious) there will only be two Crystals remaining. If you’re missing any more than that, it’s either from missions or locked in one of the Fortress’ rooms.
This game's gorgeous by the way...
Speaking of the Fortress, once you get a nice amount of Batteries (the thing required to open those rooms), I highly recommend going for both Crystals first. Then the weapon mods, and then Preator Tokens. There are a lot of new upgrades to get for the suit, but you need not worry: there are more weapons and suit points available than it is needed to max everything. Explore well and try to do the mission challenges and you’ll be swimming in them!
For the suit, the Fundamentals tab is, very fittingly, fundamental. All are useful and should be bought sooner rather than later, but faster dashes and fast weapon/mod swapping should be prioritized in higher difficulties. Frag and Ice Bomb upgrades should not be neglected as well, as they have many uses that are not apparent at first. For the former, get cooldown reduction and stock up first. For the latter, also get cooldown reduction, then go for either Permafrost or Frost Bite. Another useful upgrade is barrel immunity. Self-explanatory and boring, but not having to worry about them is a weight off your shoulders in high difficulties. Last and definitely least, don’t bother with the Exploration upgrades. I found the base map to be more than enough to get all secrets, and the Auto Map stations are not hidden at all in this game. Throw in the fact that the game allows you to fast travel when a mission is about to end, and those become irrelevant really quickly.
That was a lot, and we haven’t even begun the killing! Eternal throws in a lot more of systems at you, and while it sounds overwhelming, it all quickly becomes second nature. Do you know what else becomes second nature? Your guns.
In Doom, violence is a song and your guns are the chords that conduct it. Unlike in Doom 2016, there is not much room to play favorites here. Enemies are varied and all require different approaches to be effectively slain. Add that to the reduced ammo count, and it becomes clear the game wants you to cycle through your weapons like a compulsive liar cycles through stories. So let’s meet them!
The Chainsaw is your lifeline in Eternal, and it is effectively your reload button. As I mentioned before, it lost its status as a panic button, as most of the stronger enemies are now immune to it. It now holds a maximum of 3 charges, with the first one always recharging on its own. Heavy enemies take all 3 charges to dispatch, while fodder only takes one. I’ve three tips to give. One: if you see a fuel pick-up, wait until the first free pip is fully charged, then grab it. Do that and you’ll have 2 pips instead of 1. Two: pressing the chainsaw button will instantly use it if a viable target is near. This also does that mini “teleport” that glory kills have, so you don’t need to be literally right next to an enemy to use it. Three: time your saws. You’re immune during the act, but not after. Much like Glory Kills, a mistimed chainsaw might just get you killed.
The Combat Shotgun is the workhorse of any respectable shooter, and one can reasonably judge the quality of a game’s arsenal by their shotguns. Eternal, being part of a franchise that defined what shotguns should feel like, nails it. Replacing the pistol from ‘16, the shotgun in Eternal remains relevant for the whole game, thanks to its solid damage and versatile mods! It’s a weapon you can always fall back on. It’s ideal for fodder! Your melee punch is pathetic in this game. You’ll lose a fistfight with a zombie, so punching fodder to get them to near-death isn’t an option. That’s when the shotty comes in! At point-blank it will one-shot most fodder, so if you want to weaken them for a glory kill, you’ll have to learn the sweet spot for that.
Next up is the Heavy Cannon! Back from ‘16, this bad boy is practically unchanged from that game, aside from looking and sounding beefier than ever! Your go-to option for mid to long-range combat. Like the shotgun, this is also an effective way to deal with fodder when you need a glory kill, with only two or three shots required for that. In that sense, it offers more control than the shotty, since you won’t need to worry about distance so much.
On the number 3 spot is the Plasma Rifle, which you get access to shockingly early. While visually the weapon returns to the style of the classic games, functionally this is a totally new toy for your arsenal, and yet another versatile tool! Its damage is still decent, but its primary use in Eternal will be overloading energy shields, dealing damage to both the fool using them and those around him. Remember that the plasma is a projectile, so lead your shots at mid-range and try not to use it at long-range. As a bonus, enemies hit by several shots in a short amount of time will explode into a burst of energy, stunning them and doing some nice AOE damage.
Let’s kick it up a notch with the RAWKET LAWNCHAIR. I mean, Rocket Launcher. It’s exactly what it says on the tin, and it makes things go boom good. It’s rocking a brand new hellish look that I personally love. The rockets themselves feel even slower than in ‘2016 but pack a much bigger punch, so lead your shots accordingly, and for the love of the Night Sentinels, don’t waste shots on fodder unless you’re killing a bunch of them at once. Bonus points if they’re also on fire for armor. Also, be extra careful of enemies that can close gaps quickly (like the Hell Knight) and the Carcass’ energy shields that can (and WILL) pop in front of you out of nowhere.
Best song for the best level.
Next, we bow to the return of a fan-favorite. The steeled barred sword of vengeance, the great equalizer, the wrecker of your shit. The one and only, Super Shotgun. And this might just be the best Super Shotgun in any Doom game ever, past or future. It definitely fires a tad slower than its ‘2016 counterpart, but more than makes up for it with the addition of the Meat Hook, allowing for a quick gap closer whose trajectory can be adjusted on the fly. There’s really nothing I can say about this gun that you don’t already know, it’s a staple of the series since Doom II, and should be mastered ASAP. You’ll acquire it on mission 3, so make sure to start saving points the moment you get there. When mastered, the Meat Hook sets things on fire, making armor farming the easiest thing in the world.
Taking the place of the Gauss Cannon is the Ballista, and it this game’s version of a rail gun and that description alone should tell you everything you need. This weapon is deadly, precise and slow. Damage should be supplemented by switching weapons in between shots, usually with an SSG or Rocket Launcher, depending on the distance. It can snipe weak spots, but that really isn’t it’s primary job.
When your dakka needs even more dakka, it’s a sign that you should pull out the Chaingun. Another staple of the franchise, this version of the weapon is an upgrade in every sense of the word. The weapon doesn’t need to rev before firing anymore, giving access to instantaneous damage, and thanks to its mods, you can go from offense to defense in a second. Extremely effective against Barons and Hell Knights.
BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL!
The BFG 9000, Crucible and Unmakyr are your three “I don’t wanna deal with this shit” buttons. The first is an AOE fuck you, the second a single-target fuck you, and the latter is a mix between the two. Ammo for all three is seriously scarce and can’t be farmed from enemies (BFG and Unmakyr share an ammo pool, while the Crucible has 3 pips like the chainsaw) and should only be used in moments of absolute necessity.
The BFG still works like it always did: the projectile itself will do massive damage when it connects, but increasing its travel time will allow it to dish more damage to more enemies. It only holds two shots instead of three this time, so be extra certain of when you fire it. The Unmakyr is a rapid-fire laser with a huge spread and should be used at close range. It will make short work of Super Heavies, but since it shares ammo with the BFG, most of the time I find myself ignoring it. Last but not least, the Crucible is that giant energy sword that was so featured in the trailers. It kills EVERYTHING in a single hit, save for the Doom Hunter (it takes one swing for the sled and one for his body) and bosses. Should be saved for the absolute worst the game will throw at you.
An arsenal is only as good as the enemies you get to tear with it. Luckily for you, Eternal has a fine selection of meat bags for you to slice and dice. But don’t be fooled, they are much more deadly than they were in ‘2016. To compensate, most have weak points that can be destroyed for massive damage and to remove any advantages of that particular enemy. They are separated into three categories: Fodder, Heavy and Super Heavy.
Fodder enemies are your source of supplies, and as such, should not be prioritized. That’s not to say they are not dangerous (all melee attacks in this game do considerable damage and should be avoided at all costs) but considering what you’re up against, they are the least of your worries. Just stay mobile and save them for Glory Kills and Chainsawing (preferably while also being on fire for extra armor). Shout out to the Makyr Drone for dropping both ammo and health when you kill it with a headshot. Also remember that Buff Totems are always in the same place, regardless of difficulty and that Tentacles can be chainsawed.
Heavy enemies are where your troubles really begin. These beefy bois can take the heat and require 3 chainsaw pips to take down, making them inefficient targets for supplies.
Let me help YOU to see, Marauder!
Super Heavies are effectively mini-bosses of their own, and the most dangerous spawn hell can conjure. Those fiends will require a lot of firepower and concentration to take down and as such, you’ll want to get rid of anything else in the arena before taking them down. Always remember to leave some fodder for supplies though!
And that is that! I’m not gonna touch on the real bosses here since they’re not too difficult and even then, it is way more fun to figure them out for yourself. And that would be a spoiler anyway, and your boy doesn’t do spoilers. I also decided not to touch on Runes, and my reasoning for that is A) this is already 5 thousand words long and B) they should reinforce your playstyle, not mine. Experiment and see what works for you! If you have anything else to add, by all means, leave a comment! I hope you had as much fun reading this as I had writing it. Now go rip and tear. Until it is done!