May 28, 2022

DOOM Eternal – PlayStation 4 Review

After grueling over DOOM Eternal’s Nightmare difficulty for a week and successfully overcoming it’s challenges, I feel prepared to informatively review the sequel to 2016’s critically successful soft reboot. DOOM Eternal released on March 20th, 2020, developed by id Software and Panic Button Games, published by Bethesda Softworks.

Now, how one derives fun from a product tends to be highly subjective. Therefore ALL forms of review are opinionated, and should be taken with a grain of salt (this included). So let’s review DOOM Eternal through the lens of more objective metrics such as; Graphical fidelity, characters/story, content/length, controls & gameplay, then finally, sound design and cinematics. This product was reviewed on a launch model PlayStation 4.

Can DOOM Eternal stand tall beside its 2016 predecessor, or does it fall short of expectations? Let’s review and findout.

Against all of the evil hell can conjure,

Against all the wickedness mankind can produce,

We send unto them… only you.

Rip and tear, until it is done

Graphical Fidelity

My initial thoughts on the visual aspect of DOOM Eternal was wildly impressive. Especially when one considers, that the PS4 is now aging hardware struggling at times to keep up. That being said, the PS4 fan was screaming from the menu’s alone. Eternal will certainly make your 7 year old console sweat. I imagine it runs exceptionally better on pro versions, though there were no major frame drops that were noticeably detrimental to the experience. Although as much as it struggled, Eternal ran smooth as butter. Optimization for the PlayStation is incredibly well done, with no tearing or visual artifacts, although the motion blur is disgusting. My advice is to turn it off. DOOM Eternal is a gorgeous looking game. Shadows and reflections look great although, particle and lighting effects sometimes look compromised. For example: looking up close on the enemy bodies decaying, or the purple bubbles in the slow goop doesn’t always look the best, but sacrifices must be made for performance. Explosions, however look great with chunks of debris flying in all directions. Doomguy looks menacing, as do the fodder we call enemies.

Immense effort has clearly been put into crafting the environments and unit models, with minor tweaks and changes that players may notice from 2016’s. The beautiful range of scenery is absolutely fascinating. From massive metallic technological structures, to grim and hellish looking temples – it’s all immaculate. The atmosphere is near perfect; there were times where I had to consciously slow myself down just to smell the roses and truly appreciate the attention to detail. One of my favorite visual changes is the addition of an enhanced and dynamic gore system. I must admit: there’s just something so satisfying about blasting chunks off of an angry meatball (Cacodemon) before delivering the final destructive blow. Shooting enemies in different limbs and regions won’t quite dismember them, but it will flay them to the bone. DOOM looks great and performs well, striking a fine balance on aging hardware. In all my time so far spent with Eternal, I only had 2 glitches or crashes. One was a glitch where the Slayer had no gun, which fixed on death (this happened twice). The other, was a texture glitch where everything went blurry and the game crashed. These were fairly isolated incidents that had little to no consequences.

Characters & Story

DOOM Eternal continues the story from 2016’s, I won’t spoil anything but it’s surprisingly satisfying. It’s nothing risky by any means, but a solid testosterone fueled continuation. My only point of contention would be the non-explanation of events between the two games, but that’s a bit nit-picky. DOOM has never really been a character driven franchise, but the Slayer and Samuel Hayden return with some newly introduced antagonists as well. We have the hell priests (who remind me of the prophets from Halo for some reason), and the Khan Maykr all skillfully voiced and finely animated. While the story doesn’t have the complexity of a Shakespearean play, it’s a concise and focused plot that should keep players hooked until the credits. I won’t go into further details, but the story was certainly better than I’d expect from a DOOM title.

Content & Length

As previously mentioned, a new single player story mode is available for players containing 13 levels. This includes new upgrades, abilities, enemies, modifications to weapons and alt-fires, environments and bosses. Depending which of the four difficulties players choose, gameplay length can vary from 15-25 hours. A variety of difficulties include: I’m Too Young To Die, Hurt Me Plenty, Ultra-Violence, and Nightmare. Ultra-Nightmare is also available, in which players must beat the game with perma-death active. Similar to DOOM 2016 yet expanded, are plenty of adorable collectibles hidden for players to scavenge. These include music, usable cheats, toys and more. Additionally Slayer Gates have been added as a fun bit of challenge, as well as ‘secret encounters’ for players to discover. For a PlayStation game, there are plenty of settings in the options menu. From complete controller remaps, to minor graphical, video, or audio settings, it’s fairly robust.

Within DOOM Eternal is ‘Battlemode’: a new form of multiplayer. While I applaud the attempt to breathe new life into the multiplayer scene, I don’t feel it’s inclusion is worth the exclusion of DOOM’s level creator SnapMap. Battlemode takes a “hero-shooter” ability-based approach in a Slayer vs. Demons 1v2 match based system, with no other standard multiplayer modes available. While it’s not bad, I’d substitute it for a horde/survival mode any day if the intention was to create long-term replayability.

Controls & Gameplay

Right off the bat, I’d like to extend a formal fuck you to Bethesda for forcing players to create a Bethesda.net account. Not cool, guys. That being said DOOM Eternal itself is one hell of a game. (I’ll see myself out)

With Eternal being a movement based shooter I found it immediately imperative to switch from classic, to bumper-jumper control schemes. Even with familiar controls, DOOM Eternal is intent on breaking standard FPS muscle memory. Controls are highly responsive. Gunplay feels simultaneously crisp and fluent. Alternatively Its gameplay loop is a pattern, with many of it’s engagements resulting in if/then reactionary scenarios. Players must prioritize targets, and are encouraged to utilize particular strategies for specific enemies. Everything has a counter (aside from plenty of bullets) but the difficult part is keeping focus under pressure and properly implementing a strategy. It’s a strange balance where effective gameplay dictates decision making. On lower difficulties this isn’t as necessary – because the Slayer is meant to make players feel like a merchant of death. Horror elements haven’t made a re-occurrence, as the Slayer has nothing to fear.

Something about DOOM Eternal scratched a power fantasy like God of War’s Kratos – but with a shotgun. It’s hard to explain, but higher difficulties demand reactiveness and on-the-fly thinking to punishing degrees – when it clicks it is mighty satisfying. The payoff for submitting yourself to near masochistic difficulty is an almost souls-like sense of accomplishment. For those who may be struggling with the presented challenges, Sentinel Armor becomes available after a few consecutive deaths. This function is similar to Metal Gear Solid 5’s Chicken Hat, without the crushing embarrassment. I do, however, wish players had the ability to turn the offer off though. Because the last thing a player wants when they’re determined to overcome a challenge, is a patronizing handout that (in my opinion) undermines the accomplishment, reminding them of their failure.

Along with the aforementioned enhancement of the gore system, is also the addition of enemy weakpoints. Players with sharp aim can now disarm or weaken demons, altering the flow of combat. Much like DOOM 2016, executions (called glory kills) give players health – becoming a vital tool of one’s arsenal. Not only that, but a shoulder mounted flamethrower/grenade launcher and a nifty arm blade has been added to the Slayers tools. The flamethrower in particular has become necessitated for the acquisition of armor in Eternal. Players will find less armor lying around, but killing enemies that have been recently set ablaze by the flamethrower will shower players in plates. Beware, however, that: gone are the days of infinite ammo – as the pistol is no more. If the slayer ever runs out of lead, worry not, (and don’t ask me how) his trusty chainsaw generates more on kills. That said, when players are out of ammo the Slayers punch probably won’t help much in this title. I’d noticed that aside from (hopefully) staggering opponents, melee damage is minuscule and unreliable. There was a multitude of times where I died trying to punch an imp into glory-kill state. For a guy who can rip demons in half with his bare hands – he sure hits like a wimp.

On another note and for, better or worse, there are plenty of puzzles and platforming sections to pad out the levels, and try to make traversal between combat segments more fun. Certain segments allow a spiderman-like wallclimb, and while these areas aren’t poorly designed, they just feel like filler busywork for the player. Some of them are kind of cute, others are just tedious padding in between the real fun (specifically the platforming sections). The level design is just clever enough to make these segments work, although cheeky players will find shortcuts and exploits. I’m just so not sure anyone has thought “DOOM needs more platforming”.

Initially I was apprehensive of DOOM Eternal’s gameplay, as many of the trailers presented itself as more of the same. (But your shotgun has a hook now!) However, after delving into a multitude of frenzied, adrenaline fueled firefights – this just isn’t the case. Eternal is a deliberately crafted refinement of DOOM 2016’s core gameplay loop. It manages to carve out it’s own playerbase in a genre saturated with carbon copies, and trendy clones. Through the different ways of generating essential health, ammo and armor, combined with the variety of encounters players face, DOOM Eternal creates a unique shooter experience.

Sound Design & Cinematics

All hail Mick Gordon and his gut-smashing, demon massacring compositions. DOOM 2016 was one of my favorite OST’s of all time, and while I feel Eternal doesn’t quite hit the same heights, it’s outstanding nonetheless. It perfectly harmonizes the audio and visuals of the non-stop violence, culminating in a ballad of chaos and destruction that dances at your fingertips. My only complaint would be the preset volume balances – I found the music got drowned out by shotgun blasts, grows, and explosions. This is easily remedied however, simply lower effects & voices to give that music a much deserved boost.

In regards to voice acting, it’s all the high quality work that one would expect from a AAA release of this caliber. I especially enjoyed the sarcastic and darkly comedic ramblings of the UAC spokesperson, littered throughout different levels. Alternatively, Darin De Paul does a consistently good job as Samuel Hayden.

DOOM starts off with an imposing introductory cinematic that succeeded in building anticipation, and getting me excited to play. All of the cinematics in the story are a treat to behold. The Slayer is presented as an intimidating beast, truly feared by demons. It’s mighty entertaining viewing, I must admit.

Conclusion

DOOM Eternal achieves exactly what it should: It makes players feel like an instrument of destruction. Gunplay is smooth and the fights are glorious. It runs well on the PlayStation 4 and the story is better than expected. Eternal makes some welcome refinements to the DOOM 2016 formula that differentiate DOOM Eternal from the crowd. While the ammo, health, armor “loop” may not be to everyone’s tastes, I believe it helps further define DOOM as a shooter. There’s honestly so much to talk about I couldn’t sum it up here without a small book, so I’ll cut this review off here. Well Earned 8.6/10 Rip and Tear

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That concludes this review, what did you think of DOOM Eternal? Let us know in the comments. We’d be glad to hear from you. If you enjoyed this content, why not check out our Borderlands 3: Moxxi’s Heist of The Handsome Jackpot Review.


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A Violently Delightful Time
  • 8.6/10
    Score - 8.6/10
8.6/10

Overview

+ Quality of Gunplay As Good As Ever

+ Satisfying Story

+ Looks and Runs Fantastic

– Disappointing Multiplayer / No SnapMap

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