The Couch Boys: ‘DOOM Eternal’ is a gory gauntlet that never slows down

By Brennan Atkins, Arts & Features Editor

By Noah Barnes, Entertainment Correspondent

“DOOM” is one of the most pivotal franchises to ever surface in the FPS genre. The 1993 title revolutionized what MS-DOS could run, networked multiplayer gaming, and even allowed users to mod the game, forging a community of young game developers.

The franchise rebooted back in 2016 with the release of “DOOM,” which audiences and critics praised for its fast-paced gameplay, blood-pumping soundtrack, and modern-shooter approach to a retro series.

“DOOM” was an incredible accomplishment in terms of the shooter genre – standing still for even a second in this game will surely result in a rocket barrage from a Revenant, or a tackle from a Hell Knight. To an outsider, it would seem like a wild run-and-gun shooter, but it’s far more tactical than one is led to believe.

“DOOM Eternal” takes that foundation to astounding new heights – the sequel somehow improves on every single aspect of its predecessors, and you can tell that id Software put their heart and soul into this game.

The game revolves around the one-man army himself, Doom Slayer, and his violent voyage of demonic genocide. The armies of hell have practically destroyed Earth, and the Slayer is the only hope in saving what remains of the human race.

“DOOM Eternal” tells a story fit for everyone (over the age limit), and for that reason we won’t say much more. The narrative rewards fans of older “DOOM” titles with subtle references and major revelations, but also grips new gamers with a story of Biblical proportions.

One of the most noticeable distinctions between “DOOM Eternal” and its predecessor is the gameplay itself. At first, it felt odd that id Software would make such tremendous changes to what felt like an already polished engine. The decrease in “Glory Kill” opportunities and removal of melee damage felt like we were playing a weaker version of the Slayer, but it ultimately paved the way for a more strategic experience.

The Slayer can use his chainsaw to collect ammunition from demons, a flamethrower to replenish armor from charcoaled enemies, and finally, can use a Glory Kill to gain invincibility frames, health, and Blood Punch.

This creates a “rock, paper, scissors” mentality when making decisions in battle. The most efficient player is going to know what resource they’re going to need and when – running out of ammo at the wrong time is a fast way to become demon chow.

Decision making is an integral part of how the game makes you feel like a demi-god. Demons have certain weaknesses to particular weapons – the plasma rifles explode enemies’ shields, the sticky bomb makes easy work of the Cacodemon, and the sniper can be used to destroy all kinds of enemy technology. The quick thinking required to take out hordes is both visually appealing as well as mentally rewarding.

One feature introduced to the series is the new platforming mechanics. Now, the Slayer is equipped with a strong double jump, double dash, and fun monkey bars to swing on as the world slowly ends. This gives id Software a whole new philosophy when it comes to how they design their levels, as the Slayer has new ways of traversing through them. This allows for the inclusion of something that many gamers from the early 2000’s may miss – secrets.

While it may not seem like a big deal, this is where “DOOM Eternal” retains so much of its charm. The secrets can range from something as trivial as a collectible action figure, to an insanely powerful cheat code for unlimited ammo. All these neat trinkets are presented throughout the Slayer’s ship, and it’s great to have a visual reminder of all your progress.

2016’s “DOOM” was commended for its head-thumping, heavy-metal soundtrack, and once again, this game somehow trumps its predecessor. Our favorite track, “Final Sin,” composed by Mick Gordon, blends gladiatorial chanting with heavy guitar, all backed with a distorted use of bass to truly get the hype train rolling.

Anyone who has played a game in the “DOOM” franchise can tell you how vital the soundtrack is to the experience – the fast beats and absolute insanity of the guitar riffs have been a staple of the franchise ever since the first “DOOM” introduced “E1M1 – At Doom’s Gate.”

The visuals of the levels are all unique to one another, and are all breathtaking. Exultia is a Gothic castle in a hellish landscape surrounded by the remnants of giant demons and mechs – it is inherently interesting to look at.

Another feature brand new to the series is a customization option for single player. There are skins the Slayer can unlock via sentinel batteries, challenges, and events. The skins are another way in which id Software connects new and old fans.

More a fan of earlier “DOOM” games? Try out the Classic Doom Marine skin for a nostalgic ’90s feel. Maybe you were more of a fan of the gritty 2016 game, in which case the iconic praetor suit awaits.

Or if you’re feeling a bit sick of all the violence contained in “DOOM Eternal,” you can always try sporting a unicorn mask and pink armor with the DOOMicorn skin.

The multiplayer in the game, Battle Mode, is completely different from the 2016 Slayer vs. Slayer style. Instead, one player is given control of the Slayer while the other two can choose from five different demons to play as. The multiplayer is certainly more of a “fun with your friends” experience than a legitimate e-sport, but that works with the game’s single player focus.

“DOOM Eternal” may be one of the greatest single player shooter sequels to ever come out, and may be remembered as one of the franchises best. id Software continues to put content out in the form of “Master Levels” and a “Battle Pass,” but has also announced that two DLCs are coming in the future.

A+

Every “Rip and Tear” serves a purpose.

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