DOOM Eternal full review

The E3 demo for DOOM Eternal states its intentions pretty early on: as a skyscraper-sized gun fires into the sky, a computerised voiceover intones dramatically that the ‘BFG 10,000’ is active.

It’s a pledge that this sequel to 2016’s DOOM revival is going to be bigger, better, and generally sillier in every respect - no mean feat, since that was one of the biggest, best, and silliest games in years.

Now confirmed for a 22 November release date across PS4, Xbox One, and PC, DOOM Eternal sees you once again step into the oh-so-rugged boots of the Slayer, with an army of Hell’s loveliest there for you to shoot, punch, flamethrower, grenade, chainsaw (and more). Also check out our Gears 5 preview.

The core DOOM mechanics are here, most importantly the various systems that reward aggressive gameplay. While you’ll find pickups for health, armour, and ammo dotted around the map, the most reliable way to top them up is simply by charging up to a demon and doing your worst.

Whittle their health down for a melee Glory Kill to earn health, flamethrower them to pick up extra armour, and break out your trusty chainsaw to somehow generate ammo (!?!). As before, it means that every time things get dicey you have to fight the instinct to retreat and instead just hurl yourself forward. Violence, as ever, is the answer.

The combat itself is essentially unchanged, but if there’s a complaint to be had it’s that the layering of more and more mechanics pulls the game away from the aggressive simplicity that makes it so great. New weapons, mods, and special attacks are great in isolation, but taken as a whole it feels like there’s a little too much to think about and plan at any given moment, in a game that should really thrive on instinct rather than intellect.

Still, that’s from a brief 20 minutes with a section of the game intended to show off as much as possible, and I suspect the full game will introduce mechanics a little more gracefully and let them worm their way into your subconscious.

The final release should also diversify the settings a tad. The demo focused on jumping through a research installation and some floating platforms above Mars, which is basically the same ol’, same ol’ from a DOOM perspective. Trailers show fighting across a ruined Earth and even a journey into Heaven though, but I didn’t get to see any of that.

Early verdict

From what I’ve played so far, DOOM Eternal is basically More DOOM. The thing is, that’s a really good thing, because DOOM is bloody brilliant. Literally.

No doubt the final game will feature a few more surprises, and will delve deeper into the lore, but Bethesda has smartly decided to keep the core gameplay loop fundamentally the same: keep running forward, keep shooting, keep punching, keep chainsawing, and everything will be OK.

In times like these, that’s the kind of certainty we need.