The Infinite Zenith

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

DOOM Eternal: Besting the Gladiator, Acquiring the Crucible and Road Through Hell at the ¾ Mark

“What you interfere with now is bigger than you can imagine. It is written, it is their time to give penance – if you continue, you will bring down the heaven’s wrath. You are but one man – they are no longer your people to save!” – Novik

The portal at the heart of Mars leads the Doom Slayer to Sentinel Prime and recalls when he was brought before the Sentinels, who were impressed with his singular desire to slay all dæmons. The Doom Slayer makes his way through the city and encounters Deag Grav, who dares him to spill blood here in this holy city. He unleashes the Gladiator on the Doom Slayer, who is unfazed and promptly kills it, before turning his super shotgun on Deag Grav. The Sentinel Guards prepare to expunge the Doom Slayer for having violated law, but he escapes via portal and heads for Taras Nabad, capital of Argent D’Nur, in search of the Crucible, a powerful blade powered by Hell energy. The Doom Slayer had previously slew the Titan known as the Dreadnought here, and after reaching the Crucible, snaps off the handle, leaving the blade embedded in the vanquished Titan. Armed with a weapon capable of killing Titans, the Doom Slayer travels to the City of the Damned, Nekravol, in pursuit of the Khan Maykr, who has fled to Urdak. Travelling through a vast spire, the Doom Slayer passes through the Citadel, where human victims are tortured endlessly, and their souls are harvested as Argent Energy. As the Doom Slayer ascends through the tower, he slaughters entire legions of dæmons, eventually reaching the Argent Stream that will lead him to Urdak. Three quarters of the way into DOOM Eternal, I’ve confronted yet another boss in the Gladiator, a massive foe armed with a heavy shield and a heavy mace. This fight is broken up into two segments; the first is to wait for the Gladiator to open itself to attack when it lunges, and after its shield is destroyed, the Gladiator will bring out a second mace. Even with its incredible power, the Gladiator proves no match for the Doom Slayer, who exhausts it enough to seize one of its maces and pulverise its head, permanently killing it. By this point in time, I’ve also acquired the last of the game’s most powerful weapons, the Crucible and the Unmaykr – the former is a one-hit kill sword capable of obliterating almost anything in the game with a single stroke, and the latter is an automatic energy weapon that shares its ammunition pool with the BFG’s, being best used against powerful individual foes. With the full arsenal available, and the last Hell Priest eliminated, it’s time to take the fight to the Khan Maykr now.

DOOM Eternal‘s lore is unexpectedly deep, and at this point in the game, it is evident that there is an entire universe that has developed around the Doom Slayer’s endless thirst for dæmon blood. While DOOM was originally intended as little more than a pulse-pounding shooter, the stories that have arisen from DOOM are nothing short of impressive, creating a narrative that ties everything together and gives the player’s experience more weight than if DOOM Eternal had purely been about massacring dæmons whole-sale. The lore is immensely complex, creating a timeless story where experiments with Argent energy have warped entire civilisations, and where the Doom Slayer, formerly human, became a being of titanic power. It is clear that while as the Doom Slayer, players have no more obligation than to slaughter everything that moves, there is a world in which things are set in, and the players’ actions have a tangible impact on this world. Ancient conflicts and feuds result from the familiar quest to control and wield power, so the Doom Slayer’s actions wind up being for a purpose beyond just violence – to be able to participate in a war of this scale and make a notable difference gives players a reason to continue following the Doom Slayer’s story, and while the Doom Slayer himself is silence, undergoing what appears to be no character development, lore entries acquired throughout the game speak on the Doom Slayer’s behalf, showing how actions are speak far louder than words can. The sum of the stories in DOOM Eternal thus serve to show players that while words on their own are powerful, there is no equivalent for action – what people do matters more than what people say they’ll do, and this is one of the most important metrics of gauging someone’s trustworthiness. Similarly, because actions have tangible consequences, their impact and worth become more significant; the right action in the right time and place can unequivocally set in motion events that affect positive change or wreak destruction. As such, because the lore lines up with what players see the Doom Slayer as being capable of, it becomes clear that those with a notable number of achievements to their name are those who are likely to be remembered, whereas those who speak loudly and fail to act are quickly forgotten.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Last I wrote about DOOM Eternal, I had just finished the Mars Core mission and had found the portal leading to Deag Grav’s location on Sentinel Prime. Upon crossing the portal, I was surprised to learn that Sentinel Prime was devoid of any enemies to kill, and thus, made my way through the quietest DOOM experience I’d eve had. This mission provided me a chance to just pick up codex entries and read them, as well as appreciate the play of light on my new Ballista skin, which was given to every player during Update 6.

  • Even though I’ve turned off real-time ray-tracing, the default lighting effects in DOOM Eternal are stunning, and there were points where, after I’d cleared out an arena, I would go around and marvel at the play of light on things. Sentinel Prime, with a lack of enemies, has the Doom Slayer simply walk through a deserted set of buildings. However, even without enemies to fight, there are things to collect, and I figured having a few extra lives couldn’t hurt: the quiet and the fact that my weapon upgrade bar consisted of a single bar indicated to me that something big was about to happen.

  • Originally, I had planned to do a post after the Mars Core mission, but after starting Sentinel Prime, I wondered if it would make more sense to include Sentinel Prime with the previous post, since this ended up being a boss fight. However, it proved a little challenging to change the post, especially since I’d already picked out a set of screenshots up to (and including) the Mars Core level. In the end, I decided to leave the boss fight for this current post. The mission’s setup means that there is a lingering sense of dread for what’s upcoming, and over the course of the level, I ended up topping off my health, armour and ammunition.

  • After ensuring I’d collected all of the codex entries and extra lives, I stepped into the arena to confront the first boss since the Doom Hunters a few missions earlier. This foe is known as the Gladiator: resembling the classic Hell Knight with extra armour, the Gladiator is classified as a slave warrior and enters combat with an immense shield, as well as a pair of maces. Lore states that so long as the shield remains intact, the Gladiator can regenerate and is in effect, immortal. Overwhelmingly powerful bosses are a mainstay of DOOM, and the level’s rationale for not featuring other foes soon becomes apparent.

  • In the first phase of this boss fight, the Gladiator is equipped with its iconic shield and a single mace. Like the Marauder, the shield will flash before the Gladiator strikes, and hitting it now stuns it briefly, leaving it vulnerable to attack. The heavy shield means that the first half of this fight handles similarly to the fight against the Marauder, and the best weapons to use would be the Ballista, super-shotgun and rocket launcher. Once the Gladiator’s first health bar is depleted, the Doom Slayer will plunge his Slayer Blade into the shield’s eyes, annihilating the entity within.

  • The Gladiator will then draw out a second mace and go on the offensive. This part of the fight is trickier: while all weapons will deal some damage to the Gladiator now, it is much more aggressive and can deal massive damage. Weaker enemies will also spawn during the fight, and these should only be engaged when one is in need of additional ammunition. While formidable, the Gladiator isn’t invincible: after depleting its second health bar, the Doom Slayer will grab the Gladiator’s mace and use it to completely explode its head, leaving behind fragments of bone and chunks of brain. In the aftermath, the Doom Slayer also will kill Deag Grav, resulting in the former being excommunicated from the Night Sentinels.

  • The Doom Slayer is completely disinterested in what others make of him, and sets off for Taras Nabad to retrieve the one weapon capable of harming the most fearsome-looking foes in the DOOM universe. Here, I look around before the first major combat encounter of the mission; a host of Cacodemons show up, along with a Marauder. While some players assert that Marauders break flow by forcing one’s attention on them, having now fought Marauders on several occasions, I’ve actually found it useful to whittle down the other enemies first before turning my attention towards them.

  • This strategy is actually similar to how I play Halo: Covenant fireteams usually consist of a few Elites surrounded by Grunts and Jackals. While Grunts and Jackals are individually weak, constant fire from plasma pistols and needlers can do non-trivial damage to the Master Chief, so it makes sense to get rid of them before fighting the Elites (or Brutes). On the flipside, the Arch-vile is a foe that must be defeated first: this enemy can spawn other buffed dæmons onto the map on top of attacking with fire. If left alone, players will eventually be overwhelmed, so I make it a point to defeat the Arch-vile as soon as it appears.

  • DOOM Eternal constantly challenges players and forces one to up their game; there were several fights and encounters that pushed me to the limits, and I died more times than I cared to count trying to work out a solution. There were points where I wondered if this was as far as I could get in DOOM Eternal. However, seemingly-insurmountable fights aren’t impossible, and more often than not, I needed to simply approach things from a different perspective to gain the upper hand, as well as make better choices regarding mobility and the pickups available in the environment.

  • In this way, I was able to find success with the fights that had initially appeared to be more challenging than I had expected. There was one thing I had to be especially mindful of, however; unlike DOOM, the BFG 9000 is now on the weapon wheel, and because firefights inevitably expend a great amount of ammunition, I occasionally found the game auto-switching me over to the BFG 9000. In the heat of the moment, I would then discharge a blast; in an intense firefight, this would clear the room out and buy me some breathing room, but if the blast collided with an Imp or Zombie, that would’ve been a complete waste of Argent cells.

  • DOOM‘s Titan Realm mission originally blew me away: a part of the level is set inside the guts of a long-fallen Titan, gargantuan monsters possessing incredible physical strength and resilience; they can continue to fight even when entire limbs or organs are blown off, and in fact, cannot be killed with conventional means. It takes a special blade to stop one, and the Titan seen here is actually a smaller one; the Titan from Titan’s Realm was so large, temples were built into its remains. Because DOOM Eternal establishes that Argent Energy blades can harm Titans, the universe gives a bit more insight into how the Doom Slayer was previously able to defeat something as monstrous as the Titan that now lies dead on the Umbral Plains.

  • With the Crucible handle secured, it’s time to find a power source for it. However, the route is fraught with challenges, including yet another Marauder. I’ve come to greatly look forward to my encounters with Marauders, since they represent a chance for me to test my mettle against a foe equivalent to myself in speed and ferocity. Here, the Marauder’s brought its shield up. While this shield negates all damage from the front, the Marauder remains vulnerable to attack from behind, and swift reflexes allow one to use either grenades or remote-detonation rockets to stun it from behind.

  • One of the mistakes I made while playing through Taras Nabad was the fact that I neglected to locate all of the secrets: as players approach the end of a given level, an alert will indicate that fast travel is now available. This is when I go for secrets and special encounters: dæmons no longer spawn, so one can focus on searching every nook and cranny for openings that lead to the secrets, which include Mastery Tokens, which allows players to instantly gain mastery of a weapon mod without needing to complete the associated challenge for it. I might go back at some point to complete everything anew for the full experience, but for now, it’s full steam ahead.

  • Here, I draw closer to the pool of Argent Energy that is required to fully charge the Crucible. Because the Titans will come back to life the moment the Crucible blade is removed, the Doom Slayer determines that it’s possible to simply snap the blade off and leave it embedded in the Titan to ensure it stays dead. With a reliable way of neutralising even the mighty Titans, the path is set for the final segments of DOOM Eternal, which sees the Doom Slayer in pursuit of the Khan Maykr, who intends to enslave and overrun Earth such that she might harness the Essence, an energy source for her people.

  • Once the Crucible is fully powered, it joins the Doom Slayer’s inventory and acts as a one-hit kill against even the super-heavy dæmons in the game. Here, I’ve chopped up a Fireborne Baron, which is related to the Barons of Hell and in a manner of speaking, resemble Peter Jackson’s portrayal of the Balrog, Durin’s Bane. Ordinarily, Fireborne Barons are quite tough in combat, wielding a pair of flaming blades and being strong enough to resist both the chainsaw and BFG. It therefore speaks volumes to how powerful the Crucible is, as it is able to destroy almost everything in the game with a single stroke. This is a weapon I will save for situations where it is important to take out a single heavy target when my health is low: energy for the Crucible is sure to be rare, and I do not intend to waste its limited reserves on the lower dæmons.

  • After completing all of the Slayer Gate challenges, I unlocked the Unmaykr, an alternate option for the BFG that uses the same Argent Energy cells, but rather than a single, devastating blast capable of clearing out entire rooms, the Unmaykr is an automatic energy weapon that fires orbs in a horizontal arc. The weapon is, in effect, a souped-up version of Agent Under Fire‘s Photon Cannon, and while initially, the weapon is overshadowed by the original BFG and the Crucible, it does have its applications in very specific situations.

  • With the Crucible and Unmaykr in hand, it’s time to head into Hell itself. Known alternatively as Jekkad, this realm is characterised by a complete and total descent into chaos. This is a dimension that thrives on suffering, and the harsh landscapes mirrors the unhospitable aesthetic within Hell. Argent D’Nur was partially consumed by Hell, and as it turns out, there’s a story behind how Hell came to be. Originally, this was a realm created to be a paradise, but the ruler, Davoth, sought out immortality to protect the realm’s residence. The singular pursuit drove him mad, and he came to employ horrific modes of punishment against those who spoke out against him.

  • The creator of Jekkad thus sealed the realm away, and infuriated with this injustice, the residents of Jekkad fell to corruption and evil. The story is reminiscent of Morgoth’s rebellion against the Valar, and like Tolkien, also suggests that nothing is created evil. It’s a bit of an interesting statement to make, suggesting that even in a world as corrupted and dysfunctional as DOOM‘s, things weren’t always like this.

  • Here, I fight a Tyrant: these dæmons are modelled after the classic Cyberdemon and are immensely difficult to defeat. Besides a vast health pool, Tyants have a missile launcher for long range combat, as well as an Argent Energy sword that can also deal fire damage. Quick-swapping the lock-on rockets and the super-shotgun is one of the more efficient means of dealing with one, although if one has an ample reserve of Argent Energy cells left, one can also be frozen with the ice bomb, leaving it vulnerable to bombardment from the Unmaykr.

  • Contrary to what some folks suggest, DOOM Eternal does allow players to fight in whatever manner they choose, and oftentimes, I’ve engaged super-heavy dæmons in less-than-optimal ways. While the longer time to kill and high ammunition expenditure means this wasn’t ideal, the job still got done. In this way, DOOM Eternal does allow players to equip a weapon like the chaingun and hammer super-heavy dæmons until they fall, but versed players will take advantage of quick-swapping and their ordinance to find increasingly creative ways of stopping such foes. For instance, the plasma rifle’s microwave beam briefly stuns an enemy, so one could then quick-swap over to the Ballista or Rocket launcher for a headshot. Alternatively, one could equip the super-shotgun and use the meathook to close the distance for a Blood Punch.

  • DOOM Eternal is definitely more than about just using whatever gun is available at that moment; careful gear and cool-down management adds an additional layer of involvement in the game, which in turn gives the game a more challenging and novel experience compared to its predecessor. Here, I enter a room crammed with human remains. Masses of bodies shoved into a confined space always gives me the willies, and this scene brought to mind a nightmarish hallucinations from Metro: Last Light, where Artyom makes his way through a haunting vision where arms from restless spirits fill the void.

  • Progressing deeper into Nekravol, I make my way to an opening protected by an energy barrier. First, the energy supplies must be destroyed, after which the shields will drop, and the green marker can be punched out. I’m rocking the chaingun with the energy shield mod here: the shield is actually a superb asset when it comes to hallways, since it essentially negates the damage one takes in close quarters. The mastery perk for the energy shield is that, after it takes enough damage, the shield itself is launched as a projectile, damaging or finishing whatever the chaingun did not already rend.

  • I encountered yet another Marauder here – having seen this foe often enough, dealing with them is a fairly cut-and-dried matter. In this screenshot, the Marauder’s armour is shredded, and this Marauder has sustained some damage to its body. Another shotgun blast later, and this fight was ended. The dynamic destruction system in DOOM Eternal is exceptional and shows the level of effort that went into creating a visual, visceral means of showing how much damage a dæmon has sustained during a fight.

  • One thing I did notice in DOOM Eternal was that there always seemed like precious little opportunity to use the BFG: I’ve not actually encountered a situation where I felt overwhelmed enough to use the weapon and clear out a room of foes. In fact, my usage of the BFG is limited to moments where a bad weapon switch leads me to pull the trigger mid-firefight; ammunition is very uncommon, and I actually preferring dying and respawning so I can learn from my mistakes in a given, over using the BFG to extricate myself from certain death.

  • Gazing over the fires raging in Nekravol, I am reminded of the fires that continue to ravage the country. This year’s been the smokiest one in living memory, and unless I am mistaken, the whole of July was smokey. The smoke retreated briefly last week, and returned in full on the weekend. However, on Monday and Tuesday, a much needed rainfall swept into my area. It was to the sound of rain that I fell asleep to, and by morning, the air was clean again, with the earthy smell of rain dominating the morning air. This summer’s been quite hot, but the smoke meant there was precious little opportunity to take advantage of things. The cooler weather’s definitely been welcome, and I am hoping that as we move into autumn, the forest fires will come under control.

  • The Unmaykr similarly sees limited use in DOOM Eternal‘s main campaign: although it is an excellent weapon suited for clearing small groups where using the BFG would be a waste, or concentrating fire on a single powerful foe in conjunction with ice bombs, there are very few use-cases in the campaign where I’ve felt that a fight was so tricky it necessitated the use of the Unmaykr. I tend to save the ultra-powerful weapons for boss fights so I can regain the initiative if said boss surprises me in any way. During my fight with the Gladiator, I defeated it using a combination of ordinary weapons.

  • The Hell levels are equally as fun as other parts of DOOM games, with crimson saturation creating a foreboding atmosphere, but the dark lighting means that there are few places where good screenshots can be taken. Thus, for the second half of Nekravol, I have very few screenshots of my journey. My experience through the spire was a fun experience, and this time around, I did have a chance to collect all of the secrets within the level, including the secrets near the first bridge, which gave me a little trouble until I realised there was a gravity lift off the side of said bridge.

  • In order to ascend the spire, one must navigate a series of lethal-looking contraptions that bring to mind the alien factory in Black Mesa. A bit of platforming here will get the Doom Slayer to his destination. When I first watched footage of the wall-climbing in DOOM Eternal during the E3 presentations, I wondered if DOOM Eternal would be overwhelming with the sheer number of things that as a player, I’d need to remember. There is, fortunately, no such requirement imposed on players, and contrary to the prevailing attitudes at places like Reddit, I find that DOOM Eternal is an expertly designed experience for folks looking to up their DOOM experience.

  • While I was fighting another Tyrant and a host of dæmons during the final arena segment to Nekravol, the game suddenly began to stutter and froze, before my machine gave me a Blue Screen of Death. Initially, I thought that DOOM Eternal was so intense that my machine was unable to handle how much awesome was being rendered on-screen. Even after a restart, the fight was a bit janky from how much was going on. As it turns out, machines far more modern and powerful than my own also suffered from a BSOD, and at any rate, these are rare enough so that I’m not too worried about it. After I cleared this final area out, I went back to collect all of the secrets before stepping into the Argent Stream.

  • I’m making progress through DOOM Eternal at a fairly smart pace now, and my goal is to wrap up the final two missions before the end of August, such that I may write a post about the game during early September. From there, I’ll kick off The Ancient Gods. We are now just a shade past the halfway point of August, and it’s been a little crazy as to how quickly time flies by. The only other scheduled post I have for August is for Magia Record now that the third episode is done, so once I’m finished writing about that, I have a bit of time to knock out a few remaining posts before September arrives. August is looking like a very busy month for blogging, but I am hoping by capitalising on the time I have now, I’ll be able to relax a little more once September begins.

It is admittedly impressive that a game about ripping and tearing put such a level of detail into its story – in this area, DOOM Eternal surpasses its predecessor and really gives weight to the conflict that players are seeing through the Doom Slayer. The genius in DOOM Eternal is how the story is presented to players; those who are in DOOM Eternal purely for the carnage are free to enjoy the game in this manner, but if curiosity sets in and one wishes to learn about why the Doom Slayer fights with the ferocity that he does, and what’s at stake in this fight, this option exists, as well. Giving players options in how they choose to enjoy their experience is the hallmark of a good game, and much as how the combat system is versatile enough to let players pick how they wish to approach each fight, DOOM Eternal also makes the narrative piece optional. I’ve found that the lore adds to DOOM Eternal, adding as much to the game as do the incredible level designs and work done on the atmospherics – DOOM has always been at its best when players romp through Hell itself to gain an idea of just what the Doom Slayer has previously faced and prevailed over, as well as what remains to be done. Altogether, I am excited to push into the final part of DOOM Eternal; there is good reason to take the fight to the Khan Maykr and a threat that challenges the very fabric of reality itself now beyond just shredding monsters with big guts. While the fight that awaits will likely be even more challenging than what I’d faced before, I now have the confidence, and the equipment to face off against whatever lies ahead. The Khan Maykr had better sleep with both eyes open, because as I enter DOOM Eternal‘s final quarter, I’m now rocking a shiny new mechanical keyboard with low latency and tactile keys, perfect for ripping and tearing!

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