Now before you all pick up your pitchforks let me just say, Doot Eternal is a good game, actually it's a hecking good game, a great one in fact and one that in area's is mechanically superior to 4.
However for everything Eternal does right, there are many areas where I believe it fails to even understand what made Doom 4 so special, so without further ado I wanted to go over the issues I have with Eternal and how I'd personally improve them.
It might seem a bit odd to criticize the story of a doom game, after all the series isn't exactly known for it's writing, and for anything pre doom4 I'd agree to an extent, however no matter how small a part a narrative plays, the fact that it's even been put in the game warrants criticism since it's part of the package. Furthermore both Doom4 and Eternal show a clear focus on their narratives, albeit in different ways, playing through Eternal it's clear that they show pride in this epic story but fail to understand why Doom4's worked.
Firstly let's look back on Doom4's storytelling, it's a relatively simple affair overall in terms of plot, Earth's resources are drained so Samuel Hayden uses his company, the UAC to take Hell's resources(Argent Energy) to fix earth's energy issues, while his protege the crazy Olivia Pierce studies hell eventually becoming a fanatic that aids the demons in their invasion of Mars.
The Doomslayer a mythical warrior from Hell's past is dug up during this period, waking up during the invasion and helping Hayden push back the demonic forces, hijinks ensue.
Doom4's story is simple but it's storytelling is perfect, the way a story is told is in many ways as important as the contents of it.
Doom4's storytelling is comparable to John Wick or Mad Max Fury Road, especially the former, we are told the story through action rather then words for the most part, Doomslayer and Wick actually have a lot in common, we're introduced to how they operate through their fighting styles, and the fear their enemies have towards them, the brutality of the slayer with his glory kills, the lack of a shit he gives about Hayden and his disdain for him shown almost immediately as he shoves away the monitor Hayden was bargaining with him on, the relationship between them throughout the game being a very big highlight of it all.
Doomguy shows more personality without a single word being uttered then most protagonists in gaming have with pages of dialogue.
Characters like Hayden are also well written, a well meaning extremist trying to save his planet but through fanatical means, putting him at odds with the slayer creating a strained partnership between the two.
The themes of the game also poke some nice fun at the treatment of workers in big companies with Olivia Pierce's personnel being told to lay down and offer themselves if caught in a demon attack, all pretty fun and cheeky stuff, and the overall plot about the dangers of some of these big energy companies too also works.
Doom Eternal tries to copy a lot of this without knowing what it is that made it work to begin with.
So straight off the bat Eternal's plot has problems, we start 8 months later, completely ignoring the amazing cliffhanger of 4, earth is under attack and Doomguy has a castle in the sky...ok.., so what's he been doing the last 8 months? Working out, looking for his castle, escaping from whether Hayden sent him? Hanging out with a cute doggo secretary on an island?.
These questions and more will never be explained!, the game wastes almost no time throwing you into the deep end, within a few missions we're greeted by the betrayer, a character who's relevance to the plot could easily be consigned to just lore logs and doesn't reappear again, considering we do fight his son this is a major missed opportunity for a proper new character to work alongside the Slayer and Hayden.
We're transported to other planets and more, I think the intention was to build mystery? but it throws so much at you as to fail miserably.
Later on in the game these questions are answered..but only halfway, for example we're never given a full explanation for what happens between games and in area's it downright doesn't make sense.
For example the Khan Makyr, god of the sentinels that doom-guy served with for years on another planet(bear with me here), appear to have taken control of UAC broadcasts, preaching to people about how theirs nothing to be feared from their “mortally challenged” friends...
this makes no sense, this wasn't a slow gradual invasion where the UAC tried to pretend the demons were friendly, it was instantly seen as a threat, the world was split apart and 95% of humanity is dead, they're broadcasting to no one with BS no one would believe, other broadcasts even refer to the hell-priests as like they are CEO's of the company.
No explanation is given for how they took the UAC from Hayden or why, in fact when Hayden returned to earth the invasion was already in full force, it's just a pale imitation of the UAC broadcasting in 4 which made far more sense in that context.
We find out how Argent energy is created from the souls of the damned and that Hayden just somehow knows all this information, In part because they seem to have changed his backstory from hyper intelligent human into a member of a god like race of aliens, who has also moved from good intentioned extremist to an actual villain given how he knew the origins of argent energy but continued to farm it anyway knowing it was built from human souls.
One of the worst examples of this is the doom-slayers backstory, now I have no issue with him being the original doomguy from 1 and 2...but please let it at-least make some sense, Eternal gives us a backstory for the icon of sin but makes no mention if it's defeat in doom2, likewise there is nothing to indicate a prior invasion of earth or the UAC moon bases in the game, this leaves the only explanation for doom-guy's presence as being multiverse theory with different earths but the game makes no mention of this or of any past encounter with the icon of sin so it's a major plothole.
Eternal feels like it's part of a trilogy that has skipped it's second part, it creates so many questions without answering barely anything and the answers it does have only create more questions, it introduces so much that it falls under the weight of it's grandiose plot.
Worse still the subtle show don't tell plotting is gone, massive lore dumps are heaped on the player and it gets to a point where you are being spoonfed information over intercoms, sometimes repeating information from lore logs you just read.
Doom-slayer is also a much weaker character here in part due to how over-explained he is but also due to some gameplay decisions I'll get into.
Also god-damn please tone down the exposition HAYDEN.
Eternal is an interesting beast in this department, the added expression work to the demons is great and on a technical level the game looks better..but i'm not digging this arcadey look, 4 had a much more metal and darkness to it's design and atmosphere that eternal just doesn't.
I think a great example of this is in some of the enemy types we meet in Eternal.
(Still..leagues better then 3's abomination of a design Shivers)
The cacodemon for example has a far more ominous and creepy design in 4, the dead no pupil green eye, it's red body is far more pronounced and it's teeth are yellowing.
Eternal does have some great monster designs for sure but it's good in a different way to 4's more dark and demented look, a lot of eternals monsters are straight up goofy at times such as the Tyrant.
This arcadey feel is also felt very much to me in the game's collectables which usually take the form of ? Marks. I'm not a fan of this, it feels..cheap to me, takes me out of the immersion of the game to just see the secret's designed in this way.
I'm also not a fan of the rampant fan-service placed in the game to a ridiculous degree, the plasma rifle from 4 had a far more appealing design, it felt like a change based on the idea of “it's nostalgic so it must be good”, weapon design in general looked a lot nicer and cleaner in 4 but the P.rifle is a pretty big standout.
Despite mostly good arena design, the environmental traps they placed in the levels are really jarring, no thought was put into world-building here, the game has fire rods literal fire rods from Mario just spinning around.
Doomslayer's hud is also a step-down from 4, which had a more Metroid Prime inspired design, information fed to the player on his helmet, a jarring decision eternal dropped for a more traditional hud.
As for other area's of design it's hard to place my thoughts, in some ways I like the look of the new area's, added colour of the different worlds can really change things up and the burst of colour upon chainsawing an enemy or setting them on fire does have it's charms, I do believe these elements of colour could've stayed in without too much detriment to 4's artistic design.
I wasn't originally gonna talk about the music much, if at all, mostly because I don't really have much to say, enough has been said at length about how amazing Mick Gordon's score for 4 was and for the most part that holds true for Eternal too, I did find the music less memorable overall but I didn't feel it right to compare the two much yet due to being exposed to 4's soundtrack for a lot longer and because the other design decisions in this game such as the more floaty combat might've also affected my mindset given the music directly works in tandem with it's fast, brutal gameplay.
That all being said, recent events have painted a somewhat worrying picture for the score's development and for Mick Gordon's future role in the franchise.
Now there has been some Direct messages on twitter and stuff that might be faked, saying that Gordon will probably not be working with Bethesda etc for future entries, those are too my knowledge currently not proven, but one exchange very much proven to be true has been about the mixing on bringing BFG division track to Doom Eternal, which was not mixed by Gordon and it seems a big amount of them weren't either. The whole thing is disappointing at best and at worst if the rumours are true, he could be leaving the series due to disagreements which if true..I think that'd honestly have me just lose a lot of interest in continuing playing.
Exploration/Combat Trials/ Upgrade System etc.
Let's get the big one out the way, rune trials are gone, instead you just collect them, no more fun little challenges such as get to the exit in time etc, no.
They have been replaced with timed battles, gore nests found throughout the world which give you combat points upon beating them...except here's the caveat, before the battle your equipment is not replenished soo if you've just had a particularly tough encounter, good luck, but even worse your health, ammo etc is not replenished on failing or winning the battle.
Some of these timed missions are truly hard too, involving high level enemies such as the marauder that you do not want to be fighting several times in a row if you fail, it's a ridiculous decision that I'm surprised got past testing on harder difficulties.
The other combat trials in the game are far more fun and very rewarding, you find a key in the overworld which unlocks a chamber that teleports you to a high stakes battle arena, kill all the enemies and you gain a key and some combat points.
These battles are tense, they're some of Eternal's best battles, scraping by on small amounts of life, god it's so much fun and the keys combine to let you unlock one of the games best weapons, an alt-weapon for BFG ammo that acts as a super powerful minigun, the only complaint about the slayer gate's is that there's only a few of them in the game.
Collectables come in a few forms, cheats, music and figurines.
Now ignoring the ? Design I actually like all of these, cheats are something so underappreciated in modern games(mainly because companies tried to sell them to us ugh), and being able to go back through Eternal's levels and use cheats while unlocking stuff you've missed is pretty damn fun so they also serve a gameplay purpose too, music to play around the castle is fun, albeit I'm disappointed we can't bring this music into battle with us, I was really hoping to battle demons to 3's awesome title theme and like 4 the figures are as delightful as ever, the slayer has a shelf in the castle for displaying them, little things like that are nice.
My issue with Eternal's secrets is in how none of them are new weapons gained early, or mass amounts of health and ammo, more so the former given how 4 had a less strict weapon progression, there's a lot of fun to be had in unlocking a weapon long before the game introduces it.
I also think a few of the secrets are badly designed, such as one in the final levels that requires falling down a shaft and dashing into a wall on the way down, even knowing where this is I had to try a good 10 times and each time you have to fast travel back to retry, it's super tedious and annoying.
The progression system starts out strong but falls apart quickly, most upgrades feel..unneeded or ineffective and some are outright missing,I mean there's an entire section of the praetor tokens dedicated to barrels, fucking barrels, oh but the upgrade to remove blast damage from rocket launchers is gone completely making it Eternal's most ineffective weapon barring the slayers weak mushy fists ahem getting ahead of myself here.
Point is, most of the upgrades in this game such as the health/ammo/armor upgrades, don't feel like they have much oomth behind them, exploration upgrades are damn near useless for the most part so the only real ones worth paying attention to are the grenades.
What's more, the game gives you so many praetor tokens that you will leave the game with excess amounts of them if you've been exploring half decently, some of the secrets end up just feeling meaningless as a result.
The sentinel batteries also lose their luster later on as well, since the majority of the hidden upgrades are just weapon mod's when you've probably found your favs by that point anyway.
Weapon upgrades can be a mixed bag, some of these such as the super shotguns flame meathook are super fun but do essentially become the go too weapon in most situations, but other ones such as the ballista upgrades feel quite super ineffective to me, they take so long to charge that the games fast paced gameplay usually has torn off half of your health by the time you've got a shot off, probably an overcompensation for how strong the Gauss Cannon was in 4. It leads to a question of, why use these weapons when I can do massive damage and regain armour by just using the super shotgun.
It is a bit better balanced then in 4 where certain upgrades were simply just better then others(looking at you chaingun), but there are still some pretty standout winners here that make the rest pale in comparison.
And here we get to the big one, the combat and Eternals new focus on platforming.
Now lets start off with the good stuff, on the surface a lot of the new features are an improvement, the dash is amazing, no complaints there super fun to use albeit more air movement would be appreciated for a game with this much of it.
I'm also a major fan of the new grenades and armour systems, grenades now take the form of normal/ice, ice freezing enemies, allowing you to collect armour from them while dealing increased damage and and regular grenade's dealing pretty good damage and stun.
The flame belch and the meathook's final upgrade also allows the armour system to really shine here, what was once a minimal part of doom4 is essential to survival here, setting off a flamebelch followed by cluster grenades is always satisfying.
Now I would like to say I like blood punch as a system and in some ways I do, however it needed to be better utilized, charging over time would help, but the fact that it relies so much on glory kills makes it annoying to use consistently late game where everything dies so quickly.
This is a big issue with Eternal's health system in general, for while you can gather armour very easily, health is mostly relegated to glory kills and just killing enemies, this commonly led to issues where i'd have tons of armour but no health.
A way around this would imo be the reimplementation of the pistol which was taken out of the game in a fully finished state and I fail to see why.
The reasoning seems to be a lack of ways to make it fun but I don't see why they couldn't figure this out, there are plenty of satisfying pistol weapons in gaming to choose for inspiration. For example replace it with a high precision revolver, something that does good damage on head shots and has an alt fire that can fire off all shots into a demon at point blank range, similar to Mcree from OW.
It could also be used as the bridge for glory kills, a weapon that doesn't kill unless you hit them in the head, allowing for you to go crazy without having to be overly caution of a grunt's health pool, the amount of times I needed a glory kill or blood punch, only to accidentally kill my prey within seconds is infuriating.
Also punching...why oh god, let me tell you about the basic punch. The punch does not deal damage, at all, the punch does not stun, the punch is only there to mock the player, to make the slayer feel weak against a single ghoul, I have no idea why the decision was made to nerf the punch so far.
What's more it deprives the slayer of a good “get off me” move when surrounded, due to how stun works in eternal it can be very easy to be cornered sometimes with no way to physically move away, a simple stun on this that pushes enemy's away would do so much to improve the flow of combat in Eternal.
The chainsaw is another element I find myself enjoying, but also wondering why the heck it was designed the way it was, the chainsaw is much more essential for regaining ammo in Eternal due to a very low ammo pool even at max, it has 3 charges with mooks like zombies or imps being trimmable at 1 charge and any other demon being available at 3, two charges does nothing.
For starters if you miss a shot, you get a short annoying animation that can really get you hurt, if you happen to hit a demon that cannot be chainsawed at your current charge, you might as well say goodbye to your health as the doomslayer might as well sit down and take a short tea break in the time it takes to get back to being able to shoot anything..did I mention there's some high level demons that look like imps at a quick glance.
Just..just remove those pointless animations that only serve to annoy the player if they happen to miss, and secondly I think a better system would be to make all demons sawable when in glory kill state, that way ammo can always be found if you're careful and close to your target.
Glory kills as well act a bit weird here, in 4 if you miss your chance an enemy will stay relatively near death killable in a few more shots, in Eternal though I think they regain possibly half or more of their health, it's pretty silly and just another design decision I really have to question why anyone thought would improve the game.
Enemy weak-spots are an interesting little mechanic I really love, especially early on where it makes the assault rifles scope add on super useful as it can one shot these weak spots, later on this becomes much more harder to pull of as combat gets more and more hectic but there's some situations it can be useful in.
The shotgun's sticky bombs also work to instant kill cacodemons albeit putting them in a glory kill state and taking a short amount of time to allow for the kill, it does help to keep it somewhat relevant against the double barrel but not always, an attempt was at-least made to try and give most weapons and upgrades a purpose here at-least, though it does feel like at times it tends to forget about giving some enemies weaknesses.
There's also some weird nerfs to weapons such as the assault rifle being essentially useless if you're not always hitting the head and considering it uses the same ammo as the chaingun, sans the occasional scope shot or micro-missiles it's basically heading for the trash-heap later into the game.
The ballista as mentioned before feels heavily nerfed and as a result it's usually just not that great to use outside of very slow moving enemies which are a rarity, the rocket launcher is near useless to me, sans a single boss battle where lock on is great, it's slow to use, its clunky and by the time you have it out the enemy is already up in your face and you're gonna take a lot of splash damage from those rockets.
I'd like to say I enjoy the extra lives system and to a point I do, but they are super easy to grind on mission replays or even just easy to get in gameplay itself, I think they would've worked better if placed entirely into the limited lives mode of the game, though their inclusion doesn't bother me too much, though it does serve as yet another reminder of Eternal's arcadey nature.
Oh also buff totems, I'm literally adding this in after finishing the blog because I forgot they exist, the first one is interesting due to a puzzle approach to get to it, but the other can be found in mere seconds, and even if you struggle to find it for whatever reason, once you do just reload the last checkpoint, it never changes location so it's easy to abuse.
Buff totems and the cue-ball enemy(a fun creature that can be launched to explode into others), are the most pointless additions to the game, the latter appears maybe twice?... in the game and the former is just so unnecessary and such a small part of the game that I forgot it exists.
Movement and therefore combat also tends to feel more floaty in Eternal, something probably implemented for the sake of platforming, I think a better dash system where you could move in any direction would help this, being able to dash down or up towards an enemy, this combined with the weakness of stunning and punches means Eternal's combat lacks a lot of the weight that 4's had, nothing feels as satisfying or as brutal as in 4.
Platforming itself can vary from fun and fast to annoying, the Khan Makyr's home-world is a good example of that, it never goes the whole hog with platforming though and thank god because it does not control as smoothly as they think it does.
Oh also a big ol fuck you to the radioactive waste and swimming segments, the first is a case of just because it's in the originals doesn't make it good and the second..well I'm not sure DMC1 style swimming segment is particularly what people were looking for in Doom's future.
Bugs/glitches an epilogue and live services?...
It seems like Bethesda's good ol knack for glitches is seeping into other games, Doom Eternal was a frustratingly buggy affair for me at times, especially late game, entire floors of enemies de-spawning, getting stuck in walls when climbing, combat encounters not loading or not going through completely because the marauder I fought...died in 2 hits?... it was weird.
The worst one of these has to be the slayer gate keys glitch, so I spent a good portion of the game finding all the secrets with ease but all of a sudden I began to have trouble, no matter where I looked I couldn't find the slayer keys, I chalked this up to higher difficulty secrets and moved on, mission from mission, until I got the final slayer key and really began to feel something was up after 30 mins of searching and friends telling me it was easy to find....I was livid, the game had not been loading the keys, I had been searching these levels top to bottom, no idea where or how far away these keys could be hidden and they'd been there the whole time, they didn't even appear on the map any-more.
From what I can tell this is a glitch to do with the fact that cheat-codes were selected for mission replays, which blocks slayer keys from spawning, all well and good...except these were brand new levels I was playing with no cheats possibly enabled.
Next and this is more theorization on my part, but one I believe quite strongly in given an increasing amount of evidence.
For all my issues with Doom Eternal what we see here seems like it could've been far worse, before launch there was theorization about micro-transactions and all that good ol triple A dumb-fuckery, which thankfully seems to not be the case!..least not so far, who knows any-more with these games.
I'm pretty certain though given how Eternal is built that this was intended to be a thing at one point, Eternal seems to have “series” and daily or weekly challenges, it also has a skin system for it's monsters/weapons and the slayer which is riiiipe for micro-transactions. I mean, they just released this thing...what IS, this..
ID if you have time to put out...this, then you have time to give us an official Doom-girl.
Maybe the industry has just made me cold and cynical, who knows but I don't trust the series future, not even this game's future since they could just add it all in one day.
And there is a precedent with games like Wolfenstein Youngblood for Bethesda adding these to franchises, and nobody in their right mind should trust Bethesda as a whole nowadays anyway, it's very possible that it was the very reception to Youngblood's micro-transactions that might've removed such features from Eternal, who knows!, old bethie does'nt like listening to criticism though so it's also possible there was a behind the scenes argument that resulted in them being taken out, or maybe they really were never in the game and they just...took a bunch of live service ideas into their mostly single player game...for reasons..I highly doubt that last one.
I truly believe that no matter what happened, Doom Eternal's development was rocky, weird moments such as taking the plasma rifle from a guard, ages after you've already gotten it, S.Hayden's repeated lines on the Icon of Sin, a meme at this point, this game feels like it's been shoved and snipped together in a lot of parts and if so it's kinda a miracle that it still turned out such a great game.
So in conclusion that is my thoughts on Doom Eternal, A great game but one significantly worse then it's predecessor in some really baffling ways, in some ways I do praise them for not sticking to 4's format and trying to do something a bit different, but at the same time we've not got many games on the market like doom4, and a lot of these decisions hurt the overall experience. Either way, both games are very much a delight, issue's aside.