DOOM felt like a landmark experience when it reintroduced the series back on the scene in 2016. It’s a properly classic shooter that manages to feel incredibly modern. This is thanks to ID’s signature gunplay and a super smooth framerate. DOOM Eternal moves the shooter needle sideways rather than forwards by introducing a larger focus on traversal and movement mechanics. Whilst these changes affect the flow of DOOM Eternal, I can safely say that this is still a no-bones-about-it first-person shooter. A perfect marriage of punchy gunplay and cleverly designed arenas offers a freedom that shooters often shy away from.
There’s something so kinetic about the way DOOM Eternal’s combat flows, and that was immediately obvious in my X019 demo. Once the short tutorial explaining the new movement mechanics was over, I was plunged right into the action. DOOM still does very little to explain why you’re there, but it doesn’t need to. It’s refreshing to play a shooter that gets straight to the point. The point of DOOM Eternal is to blow stuff up to an incredible soundtrack. The relentless guitar riffs and pounding drums do more than you’d think to encourage aggressive behaviour. DOOM certainly isn’t about hiding behind cover.
The new movement mechanics encourage you to try different moves out too. Eternal likes to introduce you to an open arena before throwing enemies at you, and double jump and dash abilities feel at home here. They reminded me of how Halo 5’s dash worked in enabling some last-minute air-dodging and chances to flank your opponents. The mechanics themselves aren’t revolutionary but they fit DOOM’s combat scenarios incredibly well.
When it comes to weaponry, once again, Eternal has you covered. The weapon wheel returns to allow variation in combat, and whilst most of the guns are from DOOM 2016, that’s not a problem for me. Marrying those existing weapons with new movement mechanics gives the old guns a new lease of life and Eternal felt fresh to play. Rest assured, shooting, jumping and dodging enemies feels fantastic, placing DOOM Eternal firmly at the top of the shooter pile.
However, the movement mechanics were also present in new, non-combat sections which at times, were rough. These play like first-person Tomb Raider, with marked walls to climb, poles to swing on, and treacherous areas to reach. The areas do provide a nice relief from Eternal’s often relentless shooting, but they felt a little clunky in first-person. Walls required you to be super precise, and I fell to my untimely death a few times. This was usually because I’d just missed the landing point. I’m hoping there’s just a bit of learning curve here, but I do feel like it wouldn’t be amiss to make clinging on in these areas a little more forgiving.
Overall, DOOM Eternal’s X019 demo left me wanting more. Whilst its incredible shooting is still the highlight, I’m intrigued to see how the traversal sections hold up throughout. ID’s recent decision to delay the game will hopefully give them time to iron out some movement issues. Having said that, I’m all for it in theory. One thing is for sure though, the shooting in DOOM is most certainly eternal.