The Infinite Zenith

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

DOOM Eternal: The T-Shaped Slayer and A Duel Between Titans At The Finale

“…and you will be their savior, your strength will be their shield and your will… their sword. You remain…unbroken…for your fight…is eternal.” –King Novik

With the way to Urdak open, the Doom Slayer slaughters his way to the Khan Maykr: here in Urdak, the Khan Maykr is preparing a ceremony to bring the Icon of Sin under her control. The Doom Slayer interrupts the ceremony and prevents the Khan Maykr from activating the Icon of Sin by stabbing the mortal heart of the Argenta. This causes the Icon of Sin thus sets off on a rampage towards Earth, and with the Khan Kaykr’s pact with Hell broken, dæmons begin invading Urdak. In order to reach Earth, the Doom Slayer reconfigures a Celestial Portal. destroys the Khan Maykr before following the Icon of Sin. After fighting through an abandoned city, the Doom Slayer confronts the Icon of Sin, destroying its armour and causing it to flee into a different area. Here, the Doom Slayer is able to finally bring down the Icon of Sin, and plunges the Crucible’s blade into its exposed brain, killing it. In the aftermath, King Novik reconsiders his words to the Doom Slayer, indicating that the Doom Slayer has been reinstated and will be counted upon should the need arise. This brings my twenty two and a half hour journey through DOOM Eternal to a close; having now beaten the whole of DOOM Eternal, I can say that I have a sufficient measure of this sequel to 2016’s DOOM to make a verdict about DOOM Eternal. Simply put, DOOM Eternal is a worthy successor to DOOM, being bigger and bolder in every way. The changes to the core combat system is a direct improvement, adding a new dimension to the way DOOM Eternal plays, and the nuances players must keep up with constantly pushes them to get creative and adapt whenever the going gets tough. The end result of this is that combat becomes more involved, and split-second decisions must be made more often. If DOOM had meant to suggest to players that they needed to play in a highly mobile and aggressive means by remaining on the move at all times to survive, then DOOM Eternal is reminding players that they must be mindful of all the tools they have at their disposal in order to survive. DOOM previously allowed players to plow through entire levels with naught more than the heavy cannon and plasma rifle, but the variety of dæmons in DOOM Eternal means this is no longer possible. Players must triage, prioritise and maintain calm nerves in every firefight in order to survive, and it becomes clear that this additional dimensionality is a logical evolution of what DOOM had established.

In this way, DOOM Eternal becomes the perfect sequel to DOOM: familiar elements make a return, but changes to the mechanics means that players end up with a new experience, one that builds upon what they’d previously learnt and mastered in DOOM. There is more to think about now, and more options available to players. Not every path is viable: using just the plasma rifle or heavy cannon against a Flameborne Baron, for instance, simply results in a great deal of ammunition expenditure, but combining the ice bomb, grenade and Blood Punch in conjunction with the heavy cannon and plasma rifle makes a difficult, lengthy fight trivially easy against an intimidating foe, allowing one to deal with them without spending precious time on weapon switching, especially when there are lesser dæmons also filling the air with deadly plasma fire and flame. DOOM Eternal thus addresses the problem of Maslow’s hammer in a highly elegant manner: in most contemporary video games, players are limited in the number of weapons they can carry, and as such, to maximise combat efficiency at a variety of ranges, players often stick to assault rifles, which balance rate of fire with accuracy at range, and in games like Battlefield or Call of Duty, it becomes possible to complete the entire campaign with the starting assault rifle, plus whatever pickups are needed to advance certain parts of the game (like a marksman rifle or anti-armour weapon). However, this can create complacency among players, who stick to one setup during an entire game. When games allowed players to carry an entire arsenal of weapons, weapons were often crafted to fit very specific roles. Half-Life and Half-Life 2, for instance, required players to constantly switch weapons to deal with threat of different types and at different ranges. When Halo: Combat Evolved released, it revolutionised the ways players played. Carrying two weapons at a time create a new problem for players to overcome, and deciding which weapons to pick became critical. This worked well for Halo because the sci-fi setting meant weapons could be specialised for different roles. However, since Call of Duty‘s dominance, players have grown accustomed to simply optimising their setups. DOOM Eternal forces players out of this as a wake-up call, reminding them that weapons are in a game for a reason, and that to be successful, one must utilise all of the tools at their disposal in order to be successful.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • We’ve come to it at last, the battle through the Khan Maykr’s turf, Urdak. For these last few missions in DOOM Eternal, I’ve been rocking EVGA’s Z15 series gaming mechanical keyboard with the bronze Kailh switches. I’d picked this keyboard up a couple of weeks ago because I was looking for an upgrade to the Devastator II I’d bought five years earlier. Having a mechanical keyboard means louder clicks, but I find this highly satisfying. For general computing, the mechanical keyboard doesn’t change much, but during writing, having a tactile response really makes a difference.

  • In gaming, the Z15 is reasonably responsive, and the further travel distance means I can make inputs with more confidence. Overall, while a more experienced keyboard specialist will suggest that the Z15 is eclipsed by other mechanical gaming keyboards on the market, I did pick mine up for a full 40 percent off, and it’s improved my computing experience, so I’m not complaining. The fact that the Z15 has customisable lighting is a nice bonus: while I use an all-white light for most days, I’ve also set some presets to give things a little more flair.

  • The only real strike I have against the Z15 is the fact that keystrokes register before the keys click in some scenarios, which feels quite cumbersome at times, but this occurs primarily when I’m typing: when I game, keystrokes register very well. It is with the Z15 that I beat DOOM Eternal with, and having this extra tactile feeling in controlling my character meant the last few missions to DOOM Eternal were particularly enjoyable, as well as demonstrating that the Z15 is going to be a solid keyboard for my uses.

  • Entering the penultimate mission, I knew that since this was the Maykrs’ homeland, it would be the case that I’d need to fight the Khan Maykr herself. However, unlike the fight against The Gladiator, Urdak is filled with combat encounters, and some of these were very demanding. By this point in DOOM Eternal, I’ve grown accustomed to the fact that I am going to die in a given firefight on my first few attempts if I am careless: DOOM Eternal now has no problem throwing everything at me all at once, creating waves of incredibly challenging enemies that demand a balance of coordination, reflexes and resource management.

  • On a few occasions, I finally brought out the Crucible: against the Flameborne Barons and Tyrants, the Crucible can be used to create breathing room, although in a fight with these dæmons , I can get by well enough by comboing the ice bomb with the frag grenades, and the chipping away at their health with something like the super shotgun, rocket launcher or chain gun. However, the Archvile’s ability to summon buffed dæmons means that any fight involving them could potentially overwhelm me. In these scenarios, I break out the Crucible and make a beeline for them, since taking them off the field becomes my first priority.

  • The sights around Urdak are impressive: the Maykrs’ world has very clean and elegant looking architecture. They also appear to have sakura trees about, creating a very unique aesthetic compared to the locales previously visited: everything about the Maykrs conveys the air of a higher civilisation, and digging into the lore finds that they were the ones who first figured out how to convert Hell Essence derived from agony and suffering of trapped in Hell souls with Sentinel energy. The process creates an infinitely renewable source of energy, but also transforms the souls into dæmons.

  • One of the few things I never got around to doing in DOOM Eternal was properly get the masteries for all of my weapons. I did encounter mastery tokens throughout the missions, but I’d intended to save them for the few masteries I did not unlock by the time I was ready to fight the Khan Maykr. Fortunately for me, it’s not necessary to have all of the masteries unlocked: these augment the way a weapon mod handles, typically improving it by getting rid of the cooldowns or adding a new effect, but beyond this, spending the weapon points will improve a mod more tangibly.

  • During one segment, I ended up unlocking the mastery for the heavy cannon’s sniper scope: enemies now explode when hit with a headshot that kills them, dealing splash damage to their surroundings. The mastery for micro-missiles is the ability to continuously fire micro-missiles, which is actually a superbly powerful and overwhelming option. Whereas there’d been little incentive to use the sniper scope in DOOM, since the Gauss Cannon was the superior long-range weapon, and long range combat was already uncommon, the inclusion of weak points in DOOM Eternal makes the sniper scope a viable choice.

  • The changes in core mechanics in DOOM Eternal are not subtle, and completely alter the ways players approach the game. DOOM had started the trend: taking cover and  being patient was punished, since enemies were constantly moving; to be successful, players would need to stay on the move, as well. DOOM Eternal adds on top of this the idea that every tool in the Doom Slayer’s arsenal is there for a reason, and therefore, should see appropriate use. In this way, DOOM Eternal was designed for players who enjoyed DOOM and wanted more out of their experience.

  • This is why I’ve paid Reddit very little heed; there are entire threads dedicated to bemoaning DOOM Eternal as being inferior to its predecessor because the fundamental gameplay had changed too dramatically, forcing players to play a certain way. It is the case that, had DOOM Eternal utilised the identical approach as did DOOM, those same players would’ve griped that Eternal did nothing novel. The negativity and entitlement in the community is astounding, and I’ve noticed that the LEGO community is no different: new sets are constantly being torn down for being too pricey if they’re innovative or unimaginative if their price is low.

  • Once I got the portals aligned, the effect here is not unlike that of Nidavellir in Infinity War after Thor and Rocket restart the Heart of a Dying Star. With this one, there’s nothing left to do but fight the Khan Maykr herself. Continuing on from the topic of negativity, in the case of LEGO, people have written and argued that there is no basis for this negativity, only for those people to come out and defend their right to be negative. While there is nothing wrong with constructive criticism, I do take exception with people who think they have a right to upvotes and retweets because they’re tearing something down.

  • Where I issue criticisms, I also offer suggestions. In the case of DOOM Eternal, for instance, I did not like the fact that the BFG 9000 and Unmaykr are on the weapon wheel because that negatively alters the dynamic of the most demanding firefights: running out of ammunition and automatically switching to the BFG 9000 has cost me precious ammunition unnecessarily. What I would’ve preferred is the DOOM style approach, where there’d been a separate key to equip the BFG and Unmaykr: these are powerful weapons like the Crucible in terms of function, and it’s important to not wrest this decision from players.

  • Incidentally, the BFG 9000 is not something I’d use in the fight against the Khan Maykr. She’s actually a fun enemy to fight, since this one emphasises movement, map knowledge and efficiency. Unlike other foes, the Khan Maykr has a recharging energy shield. When the shield drops, one must rappel up with the meat hook and do a Blood Punch to blow away her health pool. In this fight, keeping a constant stream of fire on the Khan Maykr is essential, so found that the slower-firing weapons were actually less useful.

  • While I’m using the heavy cannon with the sniper scope here, it turned out that using the bottomless micro missiles and taking advantage of their ability to weakly lock onto targets was the answer. It took me a few tries to get things right, but once I figured out the solution that worked for me, I was able to destroy the Khan Maykr in no time at all. During the process, I did die a few times, and DOOM Eternal offered me the Sentinel Armour, but I declined, believing that I’d been onto something. In this way, I was able to defeat the Khan Maykr and progress to the final mission, during which the task is to stop the Icon of Sin.

  • I jokingly refer to the Sentinel Armour as the “Upper Echelon Gaming” mode because of the fact that it greatly reduces incoming damage without punishing the player otherwise. Sentinel Armour pops up whenever a player dies too often at a certain point, and is intended to ask players “are you short of time, and need to get through this part quickly?” My response is a resounding “no”, since I expect to die a lot in games and see that as a learning experience. The reason why I call it Upper Echelon Gaming mode is because shortly after DOOM Eternal‘s release last year, a modestly popular YouTube channel made a review critiquing DOOM Eternal. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, Upper Echelon Gaming openly insulted people who disagreed with his assessment, which in turn started a massive firestorm.

  • For the record, I completely disagree with Upper Echelon Gaming, will remark that I’m glad I wasn’t part of the flame wars, and note that since he’s been banned from Twitter, there’s no real need to build a rebuttal (especially considering others had already done so in a satisfactory manner). Back in DOOM Eternal, I’ve entered the final mission: the first combat encounter is brutal and tense: the main challenge is that the space is very small and open, meaning that while one has a good line of sight on everything up here, enemies can similarly fire on the Doom Slayer, as well. Combat was relentless, brutal and punishing: constant movement and resource management is needed to gain a foothold here.

  • Here, I fight yet another Doom Hunter: these foes are still a pain to beat, and on the narrow rooftops that open this final mission to DOOM Eternal, I found myself squaring off against the toughest fight yet. Fortunately, endlessly regenerating chainsaw fuel, coupled with a better familiarity with game mechanics means that in the endgame, I was enjoying every moment of this fight. There were a few places where I ended up bringing out the Crucible to quickly smash up the super-heavy dæmons: the last level really gives more opportunity to savour being able to bring down a Flameborne Baron or Tyrant in a single stroke. This is a critical element, since removing a super-heavy dæmons swiftly can mean the difference between living and dying.

  • If memory serves, today was my third full day in Winnipeg three years earlier. After working on several tickets as best as I could, I was blocked by the fact that I was missing several updated endpoints. The developer working on that had already left for the day, so I wrapped up by making a list of tasks for the final day before I was set to fly back home. After this was done, I returned to the Beachcomber for dinner, then walked around The Forks after to unwind, before returning to the Fort Garry. The next morning, I got up early so I could pack, then walked back over to The Forks.

  • Here, I sat down at a place called Danny’s All Day Breakfast, where I ordered something called the Pan Scrambler (a scrambled egg omelette topped with cheese, green pepper, tomato, onion, white mushrooms, bacon, ham, garlic sausage and potatoes with a side of white toast). This breakfast was delicious and hearty, reminding me of Man v. Food‘s Mother’s Cupboard’s Frittata Breakfast Challenge in Syracuse. Fortunately, my breakfast was a more manageable size, although it was still very filling and gave me the spirit I needed to face that last day. I ended up finishing off a few tickets, but waited for over half the day for the backend developer to return; he’d been out of office for reasons unknown and hadn’t informed anyone, leaving several critical endpoints incomplete until close to the end of the day.

  • I ended up receiving the endpoints ten minutes before my taxi arrived, and I was whisked to the airport, more than ready to head home after a gruelling week. Back in DOOM Eternal, after vaulting over to a building, I found myself faced with a Tyrant in a room full of dæmons. I thus stepped back, discharged the BFG into the room and then waded into the resulting carnage. The initial blast had softened things up, allowing me to kill the Tyrant relatively quickly. However, in typical DOOM Eternal fashion, the game managed to up the stakes.

  • Two Tyrants spawned into the room shortly after. While perhaps overwhelming at first glance, there is a way to succeed: I used the ice bomb and frag grenade combo to weaken one Tyrant, then hammered it with micro-missiles, before repeating the process on the second Tyrant while back-pedalling. In this way, I was able to avoid total destruction: overwhelming waves of enemies are pretty cut-and-dried now, so it became a matter of triaging the targets, picking one’s approach and then engaging them. I have noticed that firefights in DOOM Eternal aren’t blisteringly fast; every combat encounter gave me enough time and space to think things through, so long as I was moving.

  • Final Sin was the one mission in DOOM Eternal where I willingly fired the BFG 9000: ammunition for this superweapon is common, and there are cases where it is prudent to use it for clearing out rooms before entering. This was one such moment: I carefully pointed the BFG into a point and opened fire. The trick with the BFG is to aim at a point without obstacles – the orb will travel through the air and emit highly damaging discharges that can instantly kill lesser dæmons. The longer it travels, the more enemies the orb will kill. When the orb impacts any surface, it detonates, releasing massive damage.

  • We’ve come to it at last: the fight against the Icon of Sin. This boss fight is quite unlike any other, requiring the Doom Slayer to fight it over two rounds. The first round has the Doom Slayer destroying its Maykr armour, which protects it from attack – the Maykrs had intended the Icon of Sin to be their weapon, and greatly augmented its powers. There are a total of armour pieces to destroy, and once a piece is taken out, no further damage will be sustained. Opening the fight, I shot at the Icon of Sin with the BFG 9000, which only does damage if the orb connects, but every successful shot will outright destroy an armour piece.

  • During the fight, countless dæmons will enter the arena and complicate things, but thanks to respawning Blood Punch and Crucible pickups, one can very quickly deal with any lesser dæmons before returning attention to the Icon of Sin. My strategy was to use the slower-firing, heavy hitting weapons for the head and chest, while the chaingun was best suited for the arms. While the Icon of Sin’s biggest weapon is its sheer size, it can shoot fireballs from its head, deploy flamethrowers from its hands and emit a beam of damaging energy, as well as attack the Doom Slayer physically, making it a lethal leviathan. As such, it is imperative to keep moving and take advantage of the lesser dæmons to top off on health, armour and ammunition.

  • In the words of Forged in Fire’s Doug Marcaida, the Crucible is a weapon that will definitely KEAL (Keep Everyone ALive) – I use it to instantly destroy a Flameborne Baron here, and will remark that for the past month, I’ve been watching a Forged in Fire extensively. Episodes are always fun: the show is a competition to see who can forge the best blade under challenging circumstances, and I’ve greatly enjoyed the sportsmanship. Even competitors who lose on the first round or suffer from a catastrophic failure during testing will comment that just being able to compete is an honour, while the judges are always professional and offer constructive criticism to even the roughest of entries.

  • I first watched Forged in Fire in Winnipeg, during my Xamarin assignment, and became hooked after watching the KEAL tests – after dinner, I would retire to my accommodations at the Fort Garry and saw the show on TV. While episodes follow a formula, it was engaging to see how competitors could overcome the challenges coming their way, and watching the final two return to their home forges and build the final weapon was fantastic, since it was a chance to really see how a bladesmith worked on their own turf. For me, it also reminded me of the fact that I tended to work better when I had home field advantage.

  • However, the two weeks that followed were even more exhausting as I fought the Winnipeg team on virtually every decision they had made – besides changing the JSON responses arbitrarily, causing the app to crash, they also refused to simplify the endpoint needed to carry out two-factor authentication, requiring users to enter a 26 digit long alpha numerical code. I had suggested that this code be simplified to six digits, but was met with the claim that this would mean the app was no longer HIPA compliant. Nowhere in the HIPA documents is it stated that a 26 digit long code was specifically required (only a PIN), and in the end, I won out: an app would be quite unusable if users were forced to enter a 26 digit code of random strings and numbers during sign in, and my implementation was still compliant while offering a far superior user experience.

  • Three weeks after I returned home, I finished the Xamarin project and finally was in a state where the app was ready for submission. It was approved shortly after, although this ended up being a Pyrrhic victory – the startup I was with folded because I was unable to properly develop our product. Earlier that September, we handed back the keys to our building, since funds had run low enough so we could no longer maintain our rent, and it did feel like things had ended then. With all that was going on, Forged in Fire fell from my mind, but after watching the History Channel recently, my interest in the show was reignited. Going through Forged in Fire again brought back memories of my Xamarin assignment’s Winnipeg phase, and I am very grateful to be able to watch Marcaida say a blade will KEAL, without the dread of what the Winnipeg team would fumble next, hanging over my head.

  • The second phase of the fight agains the Icon of Sin is the same as the first, albeit in a different location. Similar tactics apply here: using the BFG and hard-hitting weapons on the chest, and then automatics on the arms will be enough to bring this monster down for good. When enough damage is dealt to the Icon of Sin, the Doom Slayer will equip the Crucible and plunge the Argent blade into its brain, putting it down for good. This boss fight was reminiscent of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood‘s final fight, and is significant for showing how the Doom Slayer had accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of killing Titans previously, in turn showing that the Doom Slayer’s killing of the massive Titan in the Umbral plains. Lore suggests that the Doom Slayer might’ve used an Atlan to assist in this feat.

  • With my victory over the Icon of Sin, I’ve now beaten DOOM Eternal‘s base campaign in full – this has been a helluva experience, and I am very glad to have bought the Reiko version of the game (I still have The Ancient Gods to look forwards to). I’ll probably start The Ancient Gods later this month. Yesterday had been quite exciting, as I drove out to Vulcan to check out their Star Trek museum. Today, I ended up taking things easy: after a ten-kilometre walk, I enjoyed a homemade burger (whose flavours reminded me of summer), installed new curtains and finally got started on the Harukana Receive manga’s sixth, seventh and eighth volumes (which I’ve been waiting to read since November of last year). It’s a pleasant way to end the Labour Day Long Weekend, and with DOOM Eternal in the books, I look forwards to kicking off The Ancient Gods. In the meantime, the next major post I have scheduled for this month will be for Hanasaku Iroha and The Aquatope on White Sand: the latter will be a talk about the series at the halfway mark, and the former will be a special post celebrating the ten year anniversary.

The approach DOOM Eternal takes towards encouraging players to make full use of their arsenal and equipment is a rather clever reference to real life: while it is often the case that people specialise towards one role in reality, there is considerable desirability in possessing what is known as a T-shaped skillset. This describes individuals who have competence in a broad range of topics (the horizontal stroke in the character T) and have also simultaneously cultivated depth in one area to be very effective (the vertical stroke). Individuals with T-shaped skills can collaborate and contribute in a range of disciplines, while at the same time, offer expertise in one specific area. In DOOM Eternal, players necessarily must understand what every tool available does: if one were to go purely through the game with the super shotgun, they’d find themselves short of ammunition very quickly. However, understanding that the super shotgun can be combined with ice bombs, the meathook and ballista means being able to put together impromptu solutions for less-than-ideal situations. This is where DOOM Eternal‘s genius is: players are compelled to experiment and keep on their toes because one can never be too sure what the next combat situation is going to be. While one might have a preference for certain weapons, success is found by developing an understanding of the full toolset and effectively making use of it. Real life similarly is conducive for T-shaped individuals: having a good breadth and death of knowledge means being able to apply one’s expertise to help in other scenarios, as well as being able to draw on a wide range of problem-solving techniques to solve a particularly difficult challenge in one’s area. DOOM Eternal offers no room for sticking to one weapon type or one set of strategies: the game is fluid, and the tips offered work best in a situation where everything is contained. The moment one is dropped into an arena, it is no longer viable to play an optimal way. In this aspect, DOOM Eternal is masterfully done, since game design can also send a particular message to players. It is the case that one is only really successful when they learn to make use of all the tools and tricks available to them. DOOM Eternal’s combat mechanics remind players that they should get comfortable with being uncomfortable, a state which encourages people to learn and try new things in an eternal quest to improve.

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