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04/29/2020 14:25:36 •••

Solid But Not Eternally Memorable

Let's get this out of the way: DOOM Eternal is still leagues better than most of its contemporary FPS brethren, just like its predecessor was. The combat is fast, gory, and cathartic with lots of weapons and tactics to choose from; the setting's beautifully fucked up and has lots of interesting lore to it; there's enough collectibles to sate most any fan of that aspect of gaming, and they're all pretty cool; and, of course, the Slayer himself is a real G. I don't regret pre-ordering this game and setting aside a few days to play it in the least.

But while I was playing it, I found myself constantly comparing Eternal to 2016, and rarely favorably - somehow, most of the aspects that made that game so fresh and engaging aren't as good here, and not in the sense of "I've already seen this so it's not interesting anymore". Even with the extensive data logs and backstory presented, the story and characters don't feel as fleshed-out, compelling, and well-written as those of the "first" entry do; part of this, in my opinion, is due to cutscenes changing the camera angle to a third-person view rather than constantly maintaining a first-person shot from within the Slayer's helmet, which removes the element of constant immersion that 2016 had and feels unnecessary. There's also the fact that the new main antagonist, the Khan Makyr, just isn't as "worthy" an enemy as Olivia Pierce - both are absolutely terrible and self-centered people, to be sure, but you don't get to learn as much about the Khan Makyr's personality and history and her involvement in the plot lacks the personal weight of Pierce's fucked-up actions, so her eventual demise just isn't that satisfying, especially given how surprisingly NOT gory it is; I'd say this is in part due to her juggling screentime with a few other antagonists serving under her who you ALSO get to learn stuff about. Oh yeah, and the new UAC rep popping up in hologram form is just constantly annoying rather than funny like the guy on Mars, which would be more tolerable if you actually got to kill her at some point, but you don't. Per the overall story, something about it just keeps it from resonating as a personal battle like 2016's did, and the conclusion feels rushed and unsatisfactory in its method of keeping the story open for another entry, unlike 2016's ending that was just totally badass on all fronts.

As for gameplay, I rarely found myself getting a rush from combat as I did in 2016 and instead felt a lot of frustration toward the end of the campaign, which I would attribute to two things: enemy rushing and Marauders. The former would just chew away my health like no one's business and eventually drained all my lives (yes, this game has 1-Ups, but they basically work like Phoenix Downs rather than restarts so it's fine), even as I was playing on the lowest difficulty, while Marauders...the first time you fight one as a boss it's pretty fun and intense because it forces you to time attacks and keep dodging, but they just keep popping up in later missions while you're fighting OTHER strong enemies, which turns them from a change of pace enemy to a frustrating, groan-inducing sight as they keep blocking your attacks and pursuing you across the map. I really wish we'd just gotten the one Marauder as a boss to avoid that kind of frustration, I can't even imagine how bullshit they feel on higher difficulties.

All in all, DOOM Eternal's not a bad game or sequel, I've definitely played far worse over the past few years and I do think those involved put their best foot forward - but whether for a want of more development time or a misjudging of how far nostalgia goodwill can go, it's not entirely what I'd hoped for.

04/25/2020 00:00:00

I mostly agree with your assessment, with a the major addition that, as a wise man once said, the major threat in a boss fight should be the boss, not the floor the boss is floating over, and on that metric both the penultimate and final bosses of this game fail dramatically.

I applaud it for being willing to experiment instead of resting on the laurels of the 2016 title (that I keep wanting to call \"the original\" but know I can\'t), but I do hope future evolutions, if they exist, continue moving forward instead of dismissing all legitimate criticism of this title as whining.

04/29/2020 00:00:00

This is also true, at least for the penultimate boss in my playthrough - I actually didn\'t have much trouble with the final boss.

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