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LONG BLOG

DOOM Eternal Blues: A disappointing sequel

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DOOM 2016, or DOOM4 as I’ll be shortening it to. Is probably my favorite game of all time. 

This isn’t a shock to anyone who knows me-I talk all the time about how much I love the game, how effective I find it, how good a time it is, etc etc. I adore it and I think it approaches perfection in my own personal estimation. It pops into my head at random, I think about the musical tracks randomly, it just fires me up and playing it is a good way to exhaust mental energy for me. 

This makes DOOME all the more...frustrating for me. Because as much as I liked it to start, as enjoyable as I found it the first time through….I’ve soured on it more and more. And now I’m at the point where I still want to think it's a good game but I have so many issues with it compared to its predecessor that it's harder and harder for me to make the case for that. 

Before the game came out, I tried to mostly avoid the trailers and avoid getting my hopes up too much-as the sequel to DOOM4 I was excited but I wanted to give it as fair a shot as I could without getting too revved up. But I broke and watched some of the trailers anyways and the music, the cuts, the way it looked...it all fired me up. So I was excited to finally get my hands on it, but I tempered myself before playing-I figured it was likely it wouldn’t usurp DOOM4 as my favorite of the series but it would at least be as good as it. 

The first level….wasn’t great. The game looked a little off, it ignored the cliffhanger from the previous game and it just threw me into the story without explaining anything. Eventually I kind of got into a groove with it and I was having fun. But as I neared the end I started to slow down and kind of get tired of the game in some regards. The more and more I played the game, the more the gnawing discontent started to creep in. I started a second playthrough and found the game was just...unsatisfying to play.

I have heard two good ways of phrasing some of the biggest issues with DOOME from two people-one was Lawman, who said something to the effect of noting that DOOM4 was clean and scientific whereas DOOME was magical and far less tight. The other opinion was from Gajknight who said that “I don't like the dumb tone either. Doom 2K16 could be silly but mostly kept it straight and cool, grounded. DOOME is just straight up dumb.” I find both of these statements to be ones I ultimately agree with and they kind of get to the core of the issues I have storywise.

DOOM4 is a tight, clever game with some brilliant storytelling and concepts. Fundamentally the story is straightforward enough: demons are invading, kill all of them and close their entryways to Mars. Yet the game elevates that-the scenes with the argent filters are brilliant and so darn funny they still make me laugh. Its also worth noting that on a deeper level, it’s a game about corporate greed prioritizing profit over anything else and the corporation trying to sanitize human sacrifices and rituals. It has a defiant streak about it where the DOOMSLAYER actively flips off the voice over the radio for most of the game. And it has small subtle moments of interesting character development, as well as some great lore dumps that build up the world in a scientific, tight way.

DOOME is not nearly as clever, in writing or presentation. And what’s bizarre is it tries to put its story more in your face than DOOM4. The game beings by just throwing you into it, and for a large portion of the game it barely gives the full context of what is going on. The story is just kind of boring and bloated-it gets worse and worse as it goes on, because it always dumps more and more lore on you that is shoved in your face.

The game has multiple cutscenes attempting to bring across this big weighty story but most of them are not really all that effective. They constantly take you out of the DOOMSLAYERs perspective for no real reason other than to show off that wacky custom armor. It breaks immersion and reduces the chance for them to show off his personality in game ala DOOM4. It also just doesn’t seem to understand the DOOMSLAYER as well-he doesn’t have nearly as much personality despite their weird desire to show off his face through his helmet constantly, and he does things that actively contradict his character from previous games. I can point to several moments I love in DOOM4 story wise-I can only point to one or two in DOOME, and even then, some of those moments are too similar to DOOM4 for me to give much credit.

On a deeper level, I don’t really think DOOME has much to say. The demonic consumption of earth feels kind of like an afterthought, the villains aren’t all that interesting or deep, and the UAC dialogue lacks a shred of subtly of clever thought. A good example of this sort of thing is how DOOME constantly makes the same tired joke-that being the resistance network or UAC calling the demons the “Mortally Challenged” which is less offensive and more stupid than anything, made worse by its repetition. The writing in general feels a lot less clever and far weaker than DOOM4, and it makes the story more of a slog to get through.

In DOOM4 the demons have agency, you can read their writings and listen to the logs narrated by their dark lord. In DOOME they just feel like a tool being used by some new character we’ve never heard of, and they almost feel less threatening or impressive. Hell the Khan Maykr takes up so much of the spotlight that they never even show or address the dark lord from DOOM4 who…kind of seems important to the overall affair? The hell priests and the Khan Maykr feel like they’re retroactively added in and made important, as if they’ve always been around but they’re not even brought up at all in the previous game so they lack much weight. They’re pretty generic as characters, and lack much in the way of interesting motivations.

The Nights Sentinels are also poorly handled-while they were set up previously in DOOM4 I always thought they worked better as a previous civilization that had fallen victim to the demons. But their backstory is far more convoluted and makes the world of DOOM4 feel less real-they’re basically aliens who have always been around, one of their societies is still around….its just dumb and it doesn’t really add anything aside from more bloat. Somehow the DOOMslayer wound up joining with them, and they’re the reason hes so strong essentially. Once again they provide an unsatisfying explanation to something that was better left vaguely hinted at. It just feels like generic fantasy schlock to me, and all the interactions with them lack any weight at all.  

And of course, the returning characters get done badly too. I’m not a fan of what they did with VEGA at the end of the game-him coming back and helping you was a good idea, and it was neat given that the Doomslayer saved him in DOOM4. But Samuel Hayden gets done pretty poorly IMO-they strip out most of the interesting parts of his character in order to make him super important but in a dumb way. In DOOM4 he’s obviously not a good guy but you understand his motivations and where he’s coming from as a character at least. In DOOME it heavily implies that a lot of that is actually not the case, and I think it accidentally implies that hes a far more villainous character given what he knew about argent energy etc. To avoid getting into spoilers I won’t get too into it but suffice to say I just hate how they take it.

Aesthetically, DOOM4 wipes the floor with DOOM. DOOM4s UI looks great, with a design that works on a helmet and just blends in well with the game in a very immersive way. The game is effective at using light and dark to contrast and highlight its environments. There’s so much little detail put into environments, onto guns, onto your armor, and the games just visually sumptuous. It still looks good even now, and I love its sense of style.

DOOME looks bad in my opinion. This extends beyond aesthetics on enemies and weapons-the game graphically looks worse than a game that came out 4 years before it. This isn’t due to actual graphical fidelity-I imagine DOOME actually ends up looking better than DOOM4 there, but its all in how you use it. DOOMEs usage of color and lighting is terrible-the game always looks blown out color wise. The lighting is always super bright and there’s no real effective use of contrast. The UI is also ugly; changing the color to UAC makes it more tolerable, but its still clunky and not really that good to look at comparatively.

Guns just magically float and are an ugly shade of green, pick-ups stand out in a bad way as just lazy looking floating question marks, and almost all the new demons look worse compared to their old versions. The only ones I liked aesthetically were some of the new ones, but all the new versions of old demons looked worse and have less complicated and interesting designs or colors to them. The only aesthetics I found myself liking a lot were the Maykr ones and even then, they are relatively limited in the game till the end. I do like how demons get physically torn to shreds as you fight them however-this is something that’s a positive for the game IMO.

Some of the new guns look good, some of them look ugly but most of them seem to not  have quite the same level of detail as before. Levels are generally solid in their design and have some really gorgeous vistas or views-though there are a few duds here or there. I think the levels not being interconnected persay helps contribute to them being more all over the place, and makes them feel a bit less real and tangible. Overall the Night Sentinels aesthetic isn’t that enjoyable to me and the Fortress of DOOM is a bit dry design wise though there are parts of it I like. I’m also not big on the new praetor suit-as soon as I could unlock the old one, I did and it was an immediate improvement.

The music is something that grew on me, unlike most of the game. I won’t get into the whole controversy here beyond saying that it s helped kill my interest in future DOOM content, and I’ll focus more on the music proper. And yeah, I like the soundtrack. It’s a bit more scattered but that’s to mimic the game so I can understand why it’s the case. Overall, its enjoyable and it’s a good soundtrack to what’s going on even if its not as strong and effective as the previous games. Plus it has Mongolian throat singing and that’s pretty swell.

Gameplay was originally the one thing I was willing to give DOOME. Yes, I had issues with the other aspects of the game, but the gameplay was fun, fast and an improvement on DOOM4. However, over time even this has kind of lost its appeal to me.  

What I like is the platforming. The navigation is generally fun and I think it controls a bit better than DOOM4 most of the time. It’s a good break between combat encounters and generally feels good, though I do wonder if it potentially speeds up the transit time a bit too much to take in surrounding environments etc. However this is partially in service to levels that aren’t really as interesting-it feels like theres less to explore, and with how easy it is to be able to see everything on the map hunting secrets doesn’t feel nearly as rewarding. It doesn’t help that you now get your guns in a set order-this means that the thrill of finding a new gun earlier than you thought you could is completely gone.

But of course, that’s side material to some degree. One of the most important parts of DOOM4 is the combat-it feels great, and its so weighty and viscerally satisfying. If that part was nailed, I could have forgiven a lot here. But honestly even here I think they seem to have taken a step back and in so doing fallen short of DOOM4.The combat just doesn’t feel as good, because it lacks weight. Initially I thought the dash would be beneficial to DOOM4s flow of combat and honestly I still do-but DOOM4 has weight to it. DOOME doesn’t feel as weighty and impactful, and it makes dashing around feel not as satisfying as I expected in the long run.

This problem extends to glory kills as well-the blade gauntlet seemed like a neat idea at first but…well I know this is going to sound psychotic, but I feel like it doesn’t feel nearly as brutal and crunchy and satisfying as crushing a demons head in with your fists. It almost feels like the glory kills go by slightly too quickly, and they lack the same musical sting as in DOOM4 which makes them feel less intense. Other minor issues crop up-the chainsaw is now an entirely mandatory tool which takes away from the risk reward aspects of using it, the sword feels a bit underutilized I suppose, and the game gives you so many tools that it can be a bit tiresome to juggle them before just settling into using a set of them for the most part.

Its also odd to me that powerups aren’t as much of a thing as they were in DOOM4-they’re still here but it feels like they’re more scant in when they appear which is odd given how this game presents itself. They’ve also added in buff totems which make demons stronger and in theory these are a way to make combat more difficult but in practice they’re an annoyance you go to find immediately, smash, and then you can get back to the combat.

In general I think the difficulty of this game isn’t ideal. In a way I think the devs knew this-you can get one-ups to keep fighting if you die, and if you die to a boss enough times then you’ll get super armor that makes the fight easier. I do wonder if that’s a symptom of problems with the difficulty as opposed to the game just being hard.  I found myself getting cornered far more easily and some of the boss fights feel like they’re not overly well designed-one of the bosses has enemies to kill for ammo/health but they require headshots and in a chaotic fight that can be a large annoyance. Its especially frustrating when these enemies exist nowhere else in the game. Theres also the odd decision to make the melee less useful-you have a blood punch that does a wave attack but your standard melee doesn't damage enemies, and its irritating.

The level design is generally enjoyable though being able to see all the secrets from the word go, and the lack of being able to find weapons deflates me a tad there. Still I legit like the aesthetics of many of the areas, theres some enjoyable arenas and I do love the Doomhunter base and Phobos. But there are more duds designwise and I wish things felt a bit more interconnected I suppose.

I mentioned earlier how the game shows off the Slayer to show off wacky skins. So, before I wrap this up I’m going to address that aspect directly. It seems incredibly likely that this game had mtx or something in it, and that they were hurriedly removed before launch. I have little proof that this is the case, but I suspect the overwhelmingly negative reaction to Wolfenstein Youngbloods mtx schema helped push DOOME away from having them, hence the delay. The reason I get that impression is that apparently some earlier trailers had point gates for new skins, and the live service feel of the game, as well as the prescence of seasons etc seems suggestive. I also have to point out that most of the skins are, in my opinion, awful. They just look terrible and they're just dumb in a bad way to me. 

In general, the game feels weirdly rushed and out of order as if something happened during development or as if the entire development process had issues.Voice acting in game is worse than in the trailers, some levels feel jumbled in terms of where they should have appeared in game, they left in things like getting the plasma rifle on Phobos despite the game moving away from good aesthetic choices like that, and the fortress locks skins and etc. behind little battery walls I can totally see being “point” gates. The game also has a live service feel to it-complete challenges to earn awful looking skins for battlemode and the main game, different seasons…its just unappealing.

I could go on, but I think that covers a fair few of my issues. DOOM4 is tight, smart, lean, and mean, a game I’d call all killer and no filler. Its beautiful graphically, with a fantastic UI and great use of color and light/dark. DOOME is fat, bloated, ugly, dumb and it just changes shit for no real good reason when it didn’t need to IMO. And all it results in is a game that is far less satisfying in basically every way than its predecessor. With the potential break between Mick Gordon and id (which I won’t get into since its developing but the net result remains the same regardless of fault), the constant blunders and awful looking cosmetics after launch, I’m just tired.

 I’ve beaten DOOM4 around 5 or 6 times and I will return to it again. I started a second playthrough and found the game was just...unsatisfying to play. That led to the day I started writing this-when Denuvo Anti-Cheat was added. It asked for permission to make changes on my computer and I just….was done. I deleted the game. And honestly...that's one of the harshest things I can say about it. That I was not willing to suffer through some Anti-cheat software that’s barely a step above malware to play more DOOME.

And though the anti-tamper may be gone now, update 2 has arrived and brought with it yet another change to balance the MP that also has to impact the SP, leading to grumbling and a reversion. I think one of the best indications of my feelings on this game overall is that I saw an update for it recently, update 2, and wondered why I still had it installed. Is what it is, one supposes. At least I can always go back to DOOM4, but I’m guessing this is the end of my interest in DOOM as a franchise.

- “If you don't like bacteria, you're on the wrong planet.” ― Stewart Brand


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About Gamemaniac3434one of us since 11:25 PM on 02.01.2013

Who am I? I'm an avid gamer, beer snob, coffee snob and aspiring microbiologist. I love all sorts of different genres of games and different games from different years and as of recent years I've tried to get more into multiplayer games. I also really love microbiology and if you get me started on it, you will never get me to shut up about it.
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