The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

DOOM Eternal: Opening Impressions and Reaching the Doomhunter

“Against all the evil that Hell can conjure, all the wickedness that mankind can produce, we will send unto them only you. Rip and tear, until it is done.” –King Novik

The Doom Slayer returns to Earth and finds it overrun by dæmonic forces; the UAC’s efforts prove insufficient, and over three fifths of the population have been wiped out. Aware that the dæmonic invasion is being orchestrated by three Hell Priests serving the Khan Maykr, the Doom Slayer has already killed Deag Nilox and travels to a Argent D’Nur and Hell itself to first collect the parts needed to build an apparatus called the Celestial Locator for locating the Hell Priests. With the working apparatus, the Doom Slayer next fights through a UAC facility that cultists have taken over, acquiring his old Super Shotgun in the process and eventually reaching Deag Ranak. While Ranak has successfully reconstructed a monstrosity called the Doom Hunter in a bid to destroy the Doom Slayer, the Doom Slayer defeats these beasts in combat and confronts Ranak; while Ranak pleads for his life, the Doom Slayer kills him and leaves, intent on killing the remaining Hell Priest. DOOM Eternal, sequel to 2016’s DOOM, thus returns in a big way. Upon hearing about a new DOOM game, I’d been excited until said news also entailed the fact that there’d be DLC. Suddenly, it became more prudent to wait; previously, I bought Ace Combat 7 shortly after launch and felt shafted that there’d be a DLC campaign; the Deluxe Edition would feature the additional content on top of the base game, and during a sale, could be had for considerably more reasonable prices. I thus elected to wait for DOOM Eternal to go on sale and determine what the Deluxe Edition would entail. This patience was met with reward, and during the summer sale, I ended up picking up the Deluxe Edition for a mere 40 CAD, where it normally goes for 120 CAD. Besides the base game, DOOM Eternal‘s Deluxe Edition also comes with both instalments to The Ancient Gods. Considering I’d bought 2016’s DOOM for 48 CAD, suddenly, it became clear that I was getting a considerable deal here. With DOOM Eternal purchased, I immediately set about making my way through the campaign. The first mission was admittedly underwhelming; ammunition was scarce, and I found that I was running out after almost every firefight. Punching enemies had no impact, either, and the lack of a pistol meant I was forced to waste limited shotgun ammunition dealing with individual zombies. However, I was merely an hour into DOOM Eternal, and so, I persisted, eventually picking up a chainsaw, heavy assault rifle and plasma rifle to help things along. As I made my way through the early levels, my arsenal grew: the Doom Slayer adds an ordnance launcher and shoulder-mounted flame-thrower to his load-out, along with the highly lethal Blood Punch.

With increasing tools to utilise, and a deepening sense of understanding of what DOOM Eternal intends for players to do, it becomes clear that DOOM Eternal is a straight upgrade over its predecessor in terms of combat. In DOOM, it had been sufficient to gain an understanding of one’s map, and then continue moving around while engaging enemies with whatever weapon one had on hand. DOOM Eternal, on the other hand, is more unpredictable and unforgiving. Certain weapons work better on certain monsters, and starting a firefight without an understanding of one’s tools is highly punishing. Attempting to attack a Cacodemon with the heavy assault rifle will simply waste one’s bullets, and Arachnotrons initially are mini-boss fights in their own right, requiring almost all of one’s shotgun ammunition to handle. However, enemies in DOOM Eternal now have distinct weaknesses that can be exploited: Cacodemons are particularly vulnerable explosives, and if they should swallow a round from the explosive shotgun mod, they are instantly staggered, rendering them open to a glory kill. Similarly, Arachnotrons possess a plasma rifle on their scorpion-like tail, and if this were destroyed by explosives, or sniped from a distance, they’re suddenly less threatening. DOOM Eternal thus encourages players to pick their fights accordingly, switch weapons appropriately and manage their resources well during each firefight, actively reacting and adapting to whatever the situation calls for. Every firefight requires thought going in, but if one is caught unprepared, with the wrong weapon and mod in hand, creativity can still get them out. Not having explosives against a Cacodemon, for instance, is forgiven by the fact one can still use their grenades to briefly stun one. The addition of weak points and resource management transforms firefights into a thinking man’s game: while map knowledge, smart movement and swift reflexes remain as essential as ever, this additional layer adds depth to each encounter, making every victory feel more rewarding. This is where DOOM Eternal excels in its combat, and having now spent six hours learning the basics, I feel confident in using the mechanics in DOOM Eternal to prevail over my foes and stop Hell’s invasion single-handedly.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • According to the blog’s archives, it’s been five years since I’ve last written about DOOM. Back then, I’d just finished graduate school, and after joining a medical visualisation/data collection startup, I began learning iOS development in Swift to complete a project for a computational oncology company in the States; prior to that, my work had been using the Unity engine to do cancer visualisations using similar techniques that I’d developed for my thesis, but the world of startups is very fluid, so I ended up picking up Swift so I could work on a mobile app that would be used to collect survey data from patients. Unfortunately, that particular company suffered from a lack of dedicated in-house mobile developers, and my first-ever commercial app was never properly maintained, eventually becoming obsolete and removed from the App Store.

  • I took those learnings to build several more-successful apps for the start-up I was with, and with my coworkers, we chatted at length about DOOM and its revolutionary design. I enjoyed my work, but this startup ended up kicking the can two years later from a lack of interest in the concept and the corresponding angel investors. The apps I released were pulled from the App Store, since no one was around to pay the Apple Developer program fees needed to keep the apps up and running. However, despite this disappointing outcome, I would leave my first startup with a better command of what app development entailed, and now that I knew where the gaps in my knowledge was, I was able to vastly improve these skills with my next position.

  • In this way, I was able to become very confident, and more competent, with things like UIKit, protocols and delegation, auto-layout, completion handlers, network calls and NSNotifications, to name a few – at present, I am able to build an entire app from front to back, from laying down the first storyboards and setting up build configuration files, to creating pixel-perfect UI elements based on what designers provide. Of course, my knowledge is constantly changing, and what I am working on now is learning more SQL and database design, as well as JavaScript, so that I can eventually build my own databases and the endpoints to communicate with my apps. This is about the gist of what can happen in five years, and it’s clear that for the developers at id Software, their craft over the past five years have improved dramatically, too.

  • For DOOM Eternal and future gaming posts (barring Halo Infinite), I have decided to switch over to hosting my images through Flickr – I’d previously hosted all gaming images through WordPress so that readers can see my exploits in higher resolution, but after nearly a decade of blogging, I am finally beginning to run out of space. Flickr’s image hosting solution has proven to be the most robust and versatile, and I’ve had no trouble with anime screenshots, so for the future, this is going to be the approach I take – while the gaming screenshots won’t be as crisp or sharp as they previously were, they should still get the job done.

  • DOOM Eternal‘s first mission entails fighting one’s way through a ruined city on Earth as Hellspawn continue to tear the place apart. The level of destruction is apparent, and the world we call home is unrecognisable, and indeed, this first level is reminiscent of DOOM II: Hell on Earth, which was similarly set on Earth. However, this is about the only similarity: in DOOM II, humanity had constructed spacecraft with which to flee the planet, and ends up venturing into Hell itself to fight the Hellspawn’s leaders. Conversely, by the events of DOOM Eternal, even the UAC are unable to slow the onslaught.

  • One of the aspects about DOOM Eternal that I really liked was the fact that the game sent players to locations with a distinct high fantasy feel to them: the second mission is set on Argent D’Nur, an Earth-like planet with coniferous trees, snow-capped mountains and moody, overcast skies. In DOOM, the Doom Slayer was sent off to a more hellish part of the planet that was corrupted, and here, the goal is to repair the device needed to track the Hell Priests. The Warcraft-like castles belong to the Night Sentinels, a warrior group who existed to protect the Wraiths, powerful beings who granted them the capability to oppose Hell’s worst.

  • By this point in time, I’d unlocked the Dash and Blood Punch abilities, as well as the Flame Belch. Initially, I found DOOM Eternal‘s HUD to be a shade too cartoonish for my liking, and the colours were quite distracting. However, DOOM Eternal offers extensive customisations, including the choice to alter HUD opacity, colour schemes and crosshair settings, among other things. While I’d not modified anything initially, at the time of writing, I’ve since changed the HUD colours to the UAC default, making it resemble the colour scheme from DOOM, and with this single modification, my screen feels like it has less visual clutter.

  • The second half of the mission sends the Doom Slayer to Hell itself; the Doom Slayer is in search of the Betrayer, a Night Sentinel who was briefly mentioned in DOOM and had committed the crime of striking a bargain with a Hell Priest in order to resurrect his son by allowing him an audience with the Wraiths. The Hell Priest deceived him and ultimately was able to mount an assault on Argent D’Nur, and returned to the Betrayer his son in a hideous, monsterous form. Upon meeting the Betrayer, the Doom Slayer promises to help him lay his son to rest and in turn, receives the Celestial Locator.

  • Hell is defined by grotesque surroundings, with blood, organs and skeletons from vast beasts lying scattered about. The massive scale of monsters in DOOM and DOOM Eternal bring to mind Lovecraftian horror, where cosmic beings beyond comprehension and the inability to know them creates terror and madness. While DOOM and DOOM Eternal don’t use Lovecraftian principles per se (the monsters are, after all, in a form players are familiar with), a part of the horror in DOOM comes from seeing the sheer massiveness of these long-defeated monstrosities.

  • With the Celestial Locator in hand, the Doom Slayer prepares to return to the exit portal. The last portion of the mission entails some careful platforming in order to pull off, and here, a special power-up that instantly refills the dash is visible. Having access to the dash gives players the ability to create a great deal of forward momentum very quickly, and in conjunction with double jumping, allows for perilous chasms to be cleared. Flaming chains reminiscent of those seen in Super Mario can be seen: as a child, the fortress levels terrified me owing to the fire-bar hazard, and seeing a modern equivalent brought back memories of these times.

  • The next mission sends the Doom Slayer to the Arctic, where the cultists have converted a UAC research facility into a base for the Hell Priest Deag Ranak. The facility itself might be a cutting-edge research centre, but it bears the Gothic architecture characteristic of high fantasy settings, as well. Here, the Doom Slayer will fight Mancubi for the first time: unlike their DOOM counterparts, whose dual flame-throwers are completely natural, the Mancubus of DOOM Eternal more closely resembles its DOOM II counterpart, and its powerful flame-throwers are vulnerable to fire. Once destroyed, the Mancubus can be dispatched with relative ease. The alternate for engaging Macubi is to hammer them from a distance using the rocket launcher.

  • I ended up unlocking the precision bolt for the heavy cannon first and picked up the micro-missiles attachment after, while for the plasma rifle, I opted for the microwave beam purely on the virtue that it looks cool, and generally found the plasma rifle in DOOM Eternal to be a superb close to medium range weapon, capable of staggering enemies in a few shots and vapourising them outright when killed. I tend to use the heavy cannon for weak enemies like zombies and imps, while Hell Soldiers, I prefer using the plasma rifle for.

  • The architecture in DOOM Eternal is contributing greatly to my enjoyment of the game, and I am constantly reminded of an old friend from high school who was very much into this sort of world back in the day: he’d contributed to my enjoyment of Nightwish and got me into Half-Life 2 at a time when none of my other classmates or friends had a computer powerful enough to run Half-Life 2 and its episodes, although we drifted apart in university, and it’s been a shade under a decade since we last spoke. With this being said, I’m certain that DOOM Eternal would be right up his alley.

  • The first segment of the third mission has the Doom Slayer ripping and tearing his way through the UAC Cultist facility in search of his old property. The Super Shotgun is an old-school double-barreled shotgun capable of obscene damage, but it gains a new utility in the form of a grappling hook called the “meat hook”, which allows for the Doom Slayer to latch onto an enemy and pull himself towards it. In this way, it is possible to, in conjunction with double jumps and dashes, traverse large distances very quickly. The utility is reminiscent of Agent Under Fire‘s Q-Claw, which was a superbly flexible tool in multiplayer, and I’ve heard that in Halo: Infinite, Master Chief will be equipped with a grappling hook, as well: in the trailers, players seen using it to pull in fusion cores and tossing them at Covenant.

  • I suddenly wish that such a feature was present in DOOM Eternal, since there are explosives lying around in some areas that can make it easier to clear out hordes of enemies. I’ve opted to run with the sticky bomb mod for the shotgun: being able to lob explosives is an ability that has saved my skin on several occasions. The alternate mod is an automatic fire mode that turns the shotgun into a short range death machine, but it also burns through ammunition at a very high rate. I’ve heard rumours that the automatic fire mode will replenish ammo whenever scoring a kill, although having tried this for myself, I didn’t find it to be the case.

  • DOOM Eternal‘s rocket launcher is considerably more powerful than its DOOM counterpart, sporting more damage and a larger blast radius. In exchange, one can only carry a maximum of thirteen rockets at a time (previously, one could carry a maximum of thirty-five rockets). The changes mean that the rocket launcher is to be used more strategically, and I prefer saving the rocket for tougher foes like the Mancubus. Here, I’m just about done clearing out one of the arenas outside, and readers will notice a bar filling up on the upper right-hand side of the screen.

  • Weapon upgrade points make a return from DOOM, being earned for clearing out enemies. Whereas DOOM only had a maximum of five points per level, DOOM Eternal offers up to ten points a level: five are allocated to standard combat, two for secret encounters and one involving a Slayer Gate challenge, which pushes players to their limits given their current familiarity and arsenal. There are a total of six Slayer Gates in DOOM Eternal‘s campaign, and I ultimately did end up going back to replay the second mission so I could complete the one I missed.

  • DOOM Eternal‘s story component is more prominent than it had been in DOOM; when reaching areas for the first time, the game will pause momentarily and introduce a cutscene which explores what the Doom Slayer’s actions have resulted in. For returning players, these are easily skipped. The inclusion of these cutscenes is a solid way of presenting story to first-timers like myself, whereas returning players can very easily hop over them for the main attraction. It is clear that player choice is very much a central part of DOOM Eternal, and for me, having the cutscenes really immersed me into the world’s impressive lore.

  • If the current DOOM universe ever received a Tolkien-style legendarium, I’d totally read them: there’s so much depth to the world that the in-game codices provide, and I’m fond of reading them as I find them. Towards the end of the third mission, the Doom Slayer boards a train and heads towards the installation where Deag Ranak is hiding. While he exudes a defiant personality and is confident he’ll survive an encounter with the Doom Slayer, the Hell Priests themselves are still flesh-and-blood, leaving them vulnerable to the violence that the Doom Slayer excels in dealing out.

  • An impressive-looking facility, the Doom Hunter Base feels like a location on Azeroth, or perhaps Northrend. I’ve been speaking about this for months, but I definitely will be aiming to explore Northrend on my private server very soon here; back in April, I finally made good on an old promise and completed Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, beating Alduin in Sovngarde. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to back up my screenshots of the experience, and my current save files for those particular levels were overwritten, so I don’t have access to Sovngarde without using console commands.

  • With this being said, I did have a great time finally bringing my journey to an end in Skyrim: even more so than DOOM Eternal and other Bethesda works, the lore in a given Elder Scrolls game is immersive and thorough. Beating Alduin means that I’ve now finished Skyrim, an experience that lasted me a total of 55 hours over the span of eight years. Overall, the experience was well worth it, and while the gameplay now feels a bit dated now (when I bought Skyrim, it’d only been two years old and felt very smooth), the lore and exploration remain unmatched. To finally smash Alduin means I can explore the world at my own pace now, and I’ll likely save this for rainy days where travelling to the mountains isn’t possible.

  • Elder Scrolls VI was announced three years ago, although Bethesda have indicated that it’ll be coming out in the future, after 2022’s Starfield, an all-new franchise. As such, I’ll return my focus to DOOM Eternal, where I’ve entered the heart of the complex. Even though the screenshots aren’t as sharp as the screenshots from my previous gaming posts, it is apparent that the visual fidelity in DOOM Eternal blows anything I’d previously played out of the water. Even without real-time ray-tracing enabled, the game looks absolutely incredible even though I’m on an eight-year-old machine.

  • Having not played a DOOM game since 2016, my platforming skills have somewhat deteriorated, and so, when I encountered an unlock for runes, I immediately opted for the rune that increases control while airborne. This didn’t stop me from making my share of mistakes, and here, I accidentally missed a jump and fell into the molten metal; the Doom Slayer will reference Terminator II and do a thumbs-up, just like in DOOM, which was a clever touch. DOOM Eternal adds extra lives as a mechanic, allowing players to instantly respawn should they die in a spot, and falling into a pit now only pushes players with a small reduction in health and armour on standard difficulty.

  • I’m currently playing through DOOM Eternal on “Hurt Me Plenty”, the default difficulty. Players initially reported being decimated on normal difficulty, I imagine that it’s because they were trying to play DOOM Eternal like they did DOOMDOOM Eternal requires a slightly different mindset going in, and once this mindset is cultivated, DOOM Eternal becomes more fun. It certainly doesn’t become easier, since the game will expect that with more experience, players will be able to handle increasingly challenging situations).

  • By the fourth mission, players will have access to enough of an arsenal and their Prætor’s full abilities (Ordnance launcher, Flame Belch, Dash and Blood Punch) to navigate open areas and top off on resources during firefights. DOOM Eternal stops holding the players’ hand here and opens the floor up to creativity, and while DOOM Eternal is very much a linear game, the amount of options available means the missions actually feel quite open in their design. This is the sort of thing that all FPS fans love to see: while the end destination might be the same, there’s enough choice in each level so everyone will reach said destination in a slightly different manner.

  • One of the things I loved about the Doom Hunter Base was how Deag Ranak and the level design itself would tease at what was upcoming: an ancient monster, torn in half with its spine and internal organs dangling precariously, is gradually shown to be assembled, and Ranak himself will declare that this monster is probably going to be something that impresses even the Doom Slayer. Having gone through DOOM previously and possessing a modicum of knowledge pertaining to what the Doom Slayer is capable of, these remarks suggest that players will be given their first challenge of DOOM Eternal.

  • Reflecting this, the levels’s dæmonic corruption bar (i.e. the indicator that shows weapon point progress) appears differently, with the ticks on the far right organised into one group. A boss fight is coming, and this moment is a milestone in DOOM EternalDOOM previously had three boss fights (one against the Cyberdemon, one against the Hell Guards and then the final one against the Spider Mastermind). Each fight had its own mechanics and felt surprisingly fresh, involving a combination of movement and accuracy to overcome.

  • In keeping with DOOM Eternal‘s underlying philosophy, boss fights also require a dash of strategy and resource management. With this in mind, I faced off against  DOOM Eternal‘s first boss, the Doom Hunter, this past Saturday. The Doom Hunter is described as a Agaddon Hunter grafted onto a hovering platform. It has a chainsaw mounted on its left arm, and its right arm is a plasma cannon, and the platform itself launches missiles. The Doom Hunter’s design reminds me vividly of the sort of thing the average middle school boy might found awesome, and in Bill Amend’s FoxTrot, Jason Fox is fond of dreaming up constructs like this for the cool factor. It’s the best thing to fight on a lazy summer afternoon where it’s too hot to be out and about, and last Saturday turned out to be full of surprises – after a southern fried chicken dinner, I decided to go for an evening walk under the still-warm day, something that only the summer can offer.

  • In the actual fight itself, strategy entails shooting at the Doom Hunter’s unshielded platform first: the Doom Hunter itself is protected by a powerful energy shield that mitigates incoming damage, but the platform is vulnerable to explosives. Once the platform is destroyed, the shields will fall, and the Doom Slayer can resort to any attack to finish this foe off. I ended up using the Plasma Rifle’s microwave beam to explode the first one. However, it wouldn’t be DOOM if things weren’t over-the-top: as I congratulated myself on finishing the first boss of the game, DOOM Eternal then dropped me into an outdoors arena where I would now fight two Doom Hunters simultaneously.

  • While an intimidating thought, I shook the doubt out of my head: having now beaten one Doom Hunter, I knew what needed to be done and set about engaging the Doom Hunters separately, preferring to focus on one and using the area’s design to my advantage: I dashed across openings and cut down lesser dæmons to restock on health, ammo and armour. As the fight wore on, the Doom Hunters’ sleds became destroyed, and I ended up finishing them off without any trouble, bringing my first third of DOOM Eternal to an end.

While the DLC had been one reason I had held off on making DOOM Eternal a day-one purchase, another reason had lay in whether or not my PC could handle DOOM Eternal. In 2016, DOOM pushed my machine to its limits; I could only run the game at medium settings if I wanted 60 FPS at 1080p, and frame drops were not uncommon. I upgraded my GPU to ensure a smoother experience, and the difference was night and day. DOOM had led to the first time I’d upgraded my hardware for one game, and at present, with my machine passing its eighth birthday, I was a little worried that DOOM Eternal would prove too much for my machine. Unlike DOOM, which had a demo that allowed me to determine precisely how my machine would handle, DOOM Eternal had no such equivalent. I ended up going off reading about benchmarks for my CPU and GPU combination to gain a measure of what to expect, but it wasn’t until I found a YouTube channel whose owner had the same setup I did that I became convinced my machine could run DOOM Eternal. After I purchased DOOM Eternal, I powered on the game with some trepidation, and while the first five minutes saw me with some frame drops, as I pushed further into the game, things began smoothing out. DOOM Eternal, like its predecessor, is incredibly well-optimised: movement is just as smooth and responsive as it had been, and on high settings, the game looks amazing even without real-time ray-tracing enabled. Having now gone through the first third of DOOM Eternal, I am convinced that the game’s performance is satisfactory, and moreover, the gameplay is superb. According to DOOM Eternal, I’ve now picked up all of the tools that I will need to be successful in stemming the dæmonic invasion on my own: even though I’m only four levels in, Steam has been kind enough to inform me that I’ve already spent six hours in DOOM Eternal. While my initial experience in DOOM Eternal had been a bit slow, it turns out the game intended to ease players into things: there are a bewildering amount of options in DOOM Eternal, and presenting them all at once would be overwhelming. Conversely, by incrementally unlocking the Doom Slayer’s arsenal, players have a chance to really understand what they can do with their existing toolset before augmenting it with new equipment intended to fulfil a specific role. It is saying something that DOOM Eternal requires four to six hours just to get players geared up: the game is considerably bigger than its predecessor, and all of the signs point to an exceptional experience where I’m sure to have a good time.

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