One of the first games I played at E3 2019 was Doom Eternal. This sequel to the 2016 Doom is developed by id Software and published by Bethesda Softworks. Running on their latest engine, id Tech 7, Doom Eternal got a new trailer during Bethesda’s E3 2019 showcase, as well as a ton of new gameplay footage. So how does it play? Here’s my hands-on preview of Doom Eternal.
RIP AND TEAR
I’m happy to report that if you thought Doom 2016 was insane, you’ve seen nothing yet. Everything in this sequel has been either overhauled or improved. The combat still feels glorious yet there are so many more options available. Good thing too, because there are far more types of demons this time around and whether new or returning, they almost all have some nasty new tricks up their sleeves.
The demo I played opened with a brief tutorial showcasing some new mechanics, then jumped around between a few different campaign levels. Playing as the Slayer feels even more incredible, with more finishing moves, weapons and tools. One such new weapon is the massive blade strapped to your left arm, which can be used for a variety of gruesome finishing moves.
There’s also some interesting new platforming features. The Slayer can climb up craggy surfaces and jump from outcropping to outcropping, as well as swing from poles or metal bars. In combination with the new double jump and dash abilities, it gives this hulking warrior a sense of agility and momentum, aiding the sense that you always need to be in motion, ever-dodging, ever-strafing. The new movement takes a minute to get used to but is definitely a welcome addition.
The extra lives feature is also a welcome addition, encouraging exploration and hunting down secrets in order to find them. That renewed rush from thinking you’re done for, then getting a second wind, really keeps your adrenaline going through the fight.
Interestingly, the game is now broken up with cutscenes as well, shifting the perspective to highlight particular moments. Considering almost the entirety of the prior game took place under the Slayer’s helmet, it’s an interesting choice.
It should go without saying that the game looks utterly fantastic. Hellscapes and ruined facilities look breathtaking. On an Xbox One X, it’s running at 4K 60fps with HDR, though the Bethesda rep nearby mentioned they were still polishing and tweaking the framerate.
Since everything else has been ramped up, it’s only fitting that the gore has as well. The prior game is outright sanitary by comparison, as bits of demon fly off with every pull of the trigger. Chunks of flesh, exposed bone and ruined cybernetic weapons are all rent asunder the more damage you deal. This serves twofold: it looks really cool and it helps you know which targets to prioritize. If there are two massive, dangerous demons chasing after you, target the one who has visibly taken a lot more damage.
You can even destroy particular weapons, such as a Mancubus’ arm cannons or the turret on an Arachnotron, giving you a moment to breathe if you are low on health and can’t commit to completely killing them yet. It should go without saying that the finishing moves have also been ramped up: demons can be hacked in half, ripped apart, sliced, crushed, have their eyeballs skewered, are forced to eat their own explosives and punched into pulp through a new mega-punch ability that builds up. When I talked to the Bethesda rep nearby, she mentioned that “We don’t have a loremaster, we have a goremaster.”
If the slice of the campaign I played is any indicator, id Software and Bethesda Softworks don’t have a hit on their hands so much as an outright pulverization. With a full campaign, the Invasion feature and a fighting game-esque Battlemode, I cannot wait to play the full thing.
Doom Eternal releases on November 22nd, 2019 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Google Stadia. There’s a pretty impressive collector’s edition being released as well.