It has unbelievably been four years since the last Doom, but the wait is finally over and Doom Eternal is now here.
We've loved the Doom franchise for a long time, since the original released way back in 1993. A lot has changed over the years, yet some things have stayed the same: the classic demon-slaying and first-person point-of-view play.
What Eternal brings to the fore is more gore, more speed, more bells and whistles; the game promises to give you the "ultimate combination of speed and power" as you rip and tear your way through the game and, oh boy, is that an accurate description.
Gory, gory, hallelujah
If you played the last Doom, then you already have an idea of what you're in for. Only things now feel a whole lot faster, more fluid and insanely frantic. Unlike past games, Doom Eternal is also set on a demon-riddled Earth.
This new Doom outing has some features thrown into the mix to make things even more interesting. You get a new extended dash feature, the ability to climb certain walls and swing from overhangs like a gymnast, and a blood punch meter that gives you an awesome enhanced melee attack boost once filled through glory kills.
There are upgrades to your suit that include perks to enhance your gameplay, give you more ammo, health and armour, or improve your arsenal. You can also use runes to upgrade your abilities and make you a more efficient demon slayer.
Some of these upgrades can be found scattered around the levels, others are earned and others still can be found behind locked doors on your ship - which acts as a home base between demon-slaying outings.
The weapon upgrades not only make you more deadly, they're also used for specifics. Some weapons are more effective against certain demons - the plasma rifle, for example, is great for destroying energy shields - so it's worth knowing which weapon is most useful for what.
Those weapons also have additional mods, with ammo types and secondary modes that can be used to deal more damage. Whether that's fast-firing micro-missiles, a 'meat hook' that propels you to the demon you're aiming at, or other splendidly extravagant causes of carnage.
You can also destroy specific elements on some enemies this time around, such as targeting and blowing the guns off a Mancubus or body armour off larger demons to weaken them. A precision scope for the heavy cannon can be particularly useful for this.
As you might have gathered already, there's a lot of different weapons, many of which are familiar classics, including the BFG, super shotgun and chainsaw. Nearly all of them can be upgraded and improved.
Doom Eternal is much more of a thinker than it used to be though. Ammo is limited and needs to be used sparingly in the right situation.
You're very much encouraged to use glory kills whenever you get the chance. Weaken an enemy, until they start flashing blue, then unleash a satisfying finishing move on them. You're then rewarded with a rainbow-tastic explosion of colours as they splurt a fountain of blood followed by ammo and health all over the floor.
It's important to master this as there's nothing worse than running around a small confined map desperately searching for ammo and health while a massive monster angrily chases you down. More than we'd like to count we ended up with just a chainsaw and not enough fuel to deal with big brutes. Usually, the odd zombie, imp or possessed soldier will appear when you need them for easy pickings and a fresh bullet load though. Master smashing them up as quickly as you can.
You can also use a mix of other gear to ease this misery. Early on you unlock a small shoulder-mounted flame thrower than can belch fire at your enemies. When they're on fire, demons drop armour pick-ups that you can collect to keep yourself stocked on health while you finish them off. Like everything though, fire is limited.
Doom Eternal is best played at full tilt. Meaning you need to be moving, dashing, jumping and shooting at all times in order to survive. We found that even the easier difficulty settings are still tough going. Though it is worth noting that there's no penalty for changing the difficulty settings if you're finding it a bit too much and the unlocks you've acquired apply even if you up the levels too.
Parkour or death
Another way Doom Eternal puts a focus on movement is the addition of a lot more platforming than ever before. There's now a new ability to grasp onto designated rock faces or edges of buildings, jumping across vast chasms to either get to mission points or simply to pick up well-hidden bonuses.
We honestly found this element incredibly frustrating as we spent more time dying trying to master these jumps than we did at the hands of the demonic horde.
You need a fair bit of practice to dash, double-jump and dash again, or some variation of that in mid-air to get across great distances and grab onto a ledge or wall edge rather than plummeting to your death.
It becomes easier as the game progresses, but it's also not always immediately obvious where the next jump point is - which just means more accidental death. However, the checkpoint system is certainly a saviour.
More Doom than before
Alongside the main campaign, Doom Eternal has plenty of other activities to keep you busy. There are the usual secrets scattered around the map that you need to work out how to get to, in-game challenges for extra rewards, and all manner of unlocks to collect. You'll also find Slayer Gates you can access as you play, offering intense encounters that give you bonus weapon points for completing.
Then there's Doom Eternal's new competitive multiplayer mode known as Battlemode. At the time of writing this review there's no access to this arena. We'll update with more multi-player input as that service goes live on launch day, 20 March 2020.
The highlight for us, though, is just how polished this new Doom outing feels. Not only is it bug-free, on PC in particular it's a glorious masterpiece. You might have seen the developers claiming that the game could manage 1,000fps with the right hardware. We've been trying it out on various gaming rigs and managed 200fps on an Alienware M17 laptop, even with visuals set to "ultra nightmare" - which is quite remarkable.
Doom Eternal is, to our mind, a visceral masterpiece. Sure, it doesn't have the freedom of modern sandbox games, but it's fast, fun and full of first-person frolics.
The platform elements can be frustrating, but the game isn't designed to be a walk in the park, so you'll just have to suck it up and get down to demon-slaying business.
There's plenty of game to explore, too, along with masses of unlocks to collect and a multitude of glory kills to carry out. So if you even remotely enjoyed previous Doom games then you'll adore Doom Eternal. It's a wonderfully crafted update to the franchise.
This article was first published August 2019 and has since been updated to reflect its full review status