I wouldn’t count myself among the people who thought anything of 2016’s Doom when it was first announced during Bethesda’s press conference in 2015. Sure, it was great to see one of my favorite childhood games make a return, but little out of that trailer drew me in. Fortunately, the actual game proved me wrong, and I really got a kick out of it. Even the Switch version turned out great. So when Doom Eternal popped into the release radar, I assumed it would be as good or even better than the first one. Come on, the trailer had freaking demons from Hell invading what looked to be Earth, and the Doomguy ripped the eye out of a revenant and made him eat it. How crazy is that?
E3’s Doom Eternal demo was pretty lengthy and offered a sizeable chunk to play, so by the time I got to sit down and play it, I have had the chance to see others try it out while standing in short line that took surprisingly long to get through at Microsoft’s showcase the day before E3 proper opened. The action is still as break neck as before, and for the love of me, I’m just as bad at it as I was playing through the first Doom reboot. It opens with a tutorial room that taught me how to use some of the sub-functions for part of the arsenal in the game, like the rocket launcher’s guided remote rocket, as well as some of the trickier platforming that’s now in the game, such as wall-jumping, which for the life of me took longer to learn than I would’ve wanted.
The big thing for Doom this time is that the arenas in which you fight in measure your success via a demonic invasion meter that’s on the top right side of the screen, so the more you fight and destroy monsters, the more you fill that bar, until you are basically done with that particular part of the game. It works as a nice measure in order to keep track of what you can still do at any point of Doom Eternal, but it also helped play up my anxiety even more, given just how much there was to do in the demo and my limited time with it at the event. Still, even though I admittedly did not finish the entirety of what could’ve been played then, I tore through what I did reach many times. That’s because I died a lot while playing. I mentioned before how bad I am at this, right? Good.
The demo progressed through what I’ll assume is somewhere near the beginning of the actual game, since a lot of what took place in it was featured in the trailer that played during Bethesda’s presser this year and even some of what the announcement video showed last year. The Slayer — as the Doomguy is called in the reboot — made his way through what little there was of humanity in one of Mars’ moons (I’ll assume it’s Phobos), before shooting his way to a big freaking cannon, the BFG 10000 (hah!), from which he (of course) fired himself off as a human bullet, crushing all sorts of walls before landing closer to the ravaged surface of Mars, whose core was exposed and about to blow.
Enemy encounters felt fast, brutal, and extremely balls to the wall, as it’s expected of Doom at this point. I’m way more used to the slower pace of original Doom and Doom II, so even though I have played through a generous portion of 2016 Doom, I’m still slightly shocked at how intense these new games can get, so much so that I failed repeatedly at playing through this demo. That probably says a lot about me as a player than anything else, but maybe that had something to do with playing the game at an event, with people watching and with the little demon sitting on my shoulder, rushing me on.
Still, I managed to have a pretty good time, and considering how many times I replayed the same section over and over, I was able to see that demons do in fact behave quite differently depending on how you approach an encounter, but still pop up at the same locations every time, allowing you to plan how to act in case you fail the first time.
I appreciated how much Doom Eternal leans on not merely throwing a bunch of fireballs on you, but also letting you breathe in the chaos of all the insanity going around you. The level structure of the demo had me jumping from section to section in an unnatural pace, like a finger food platter at a fancy party, showing a bit of everything in tiny chunks. I got to see some of the new weapon sub-functions like the shotgun hook, and the precision rifle shot, as well as see plenty of the new glory kill animations and the gory damage that I managed to deal out, but not before I myself got knocked off my boots and accepted defeat.
From all of what I’ve played, it’s clear that id is pulling no punches when it comes to kicking in teeth in how Doom Eternal approaches combat, and by all regards, I’ll be happy to take it on at home, but as a demo to get through at an event, I felt that it was a bit too much for me. Honestly, though, it’s something that I felt would happen before I even sat down to play it, given how long of a time some of the other attendees took to finish it off, only proving true when my turn came. Still, I’m looking forward to figuring out encounters and pulling them off perfectly once I’m able to play the final version, calm and collected.
Doom Eternal will be dropping in on November 22nd, and will chainsaw the Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Glory to the Slayer and all of that jazz…