The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: First person shooter

The Relevance of AI Bots in Contemporary Games, and A Case Study in Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War

“What will limit us is not the possible evolution of technology, but the evolution of human purposes.” –Stephen Wolfram

While Agent Under Fire today might be counted as unremarkable, it was revolutionary for its time: tucked away in the multiplayer menu was an option to play against AI bots. If one’s friends were unavailable, or one wanted to learn the multiplayer maps that way, one could add a few bots into a match, set their difficulty and aggression, then enjoy a match against the AI, whether it be to explore the map or warm up prior to a split-screen session. In this area, Agent Under Fire completely raised the expectation for what games could accommodate, offering single players additional choice even if they did not have additional friends over at the time. Against the bots on iconic maps like Town or Castle, one could spend an hour just learning the map and its tactics, facing AI of difficulties one found appropriate. This feature would later make its way to Nightfire, which further allowed the bots’ AI to be customised. Bots could be team players, focused on grabbing power weapons or simply care for kills. When friends weren’t available to visit, I used to still play Nightfire‘s multiplayer with bots for amusement, marvelling at the fact that I could still learn the maps and weapons without needing a second player. When properly implemented, AI bots provide players with more choice and more options: some folks might want to explore maps and blast enemies at their own pace, without angry teammates screaming at them about what to do. Others simply don’t enjoy the frustration of excessively serious players ruining sandbox moments. However, it is rare for modern multiplayer games to feature bots; the idea behind multiplayer is that one is fighting human opponents, the ultimate foe in terms of strategy and skill. As such, most games don’t bother with implementing offline bots: writing pathing algorithms and decision trees to give the AI the proper level of sophistication is a demanding process, and studios would, understandably, prefer to focus on their core mechanics so that they can provide the best possible experience for players interesting in squaring off against other players.

The emphasis on always-online games is not without inherent risks for players. For one, if one’s connection goes down, or worse still, if the servers go offline, then an entire segment of the game is rendered unplayable. This is a longstanding problem that always-online games face: they are absolutely dependent on a stable connection and uptime. While servers and internet connections now are generally reliable, if a company decides the time has come and pulls the plug on their servers, that’s pretty much it. This sort of thing happened with Halo 2 during the Xbox Live days, and again with Halo 2 Vista‘s servers; I spent countless hours in the latter honing my skills and generally having a good time, but when Halo 2 Vista‘s servers were shut down, I was more or less left with half a game. Had Halo 2 included a bots mode, I would’ve doubtlessly spent many more hours after that on Lockout, enjoying an iconic experience. The addition of AI bots also opens the floor for creativity. After my time in Halo 2 ended, I ended up finding a replacement in Battlefield 3: this was a fantastic large-scale sandbox experience, but it was fully dependent on populated servers. On filled servers, it was non-stop, engaging chaos as players fought for objectives, and whacky emergent behaviours created some of Battlefield 3‘s most iconic moments. However, quieter servers were less exciting, and some days, I was met with empty servers where the match was awaiting enough players to join. Having AI bots to fill servers would doubtlessly had made matches easier to find, lessening the time I was waiting for things. Indeed, Battlefield 2042 appears to have learnt from this and will utilise bots to fill the void. For players looking to get the most of things, finding a server will be no problem, and as more humans join a server, the bots are simply replaced. The setup in Battlefield 2042 therefore helps players looking to enter the action as soon as possible, but the presence of bots also has a significant implication: it might be possible to spin up a local server with nothing but AI bots, and then spawn in with one’s mates and have a good time trying to kill helicopters with a bike or running around with terrible loadouts.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’ve not spent a minute in the online multiplayer of Cold War, but upon learning that there was an offline mode for bots, I was convinced to give things a go: overall, Cold War‘s multiplayer does feel a little less finessed compared to something like Battlefield V or Halo, and as such, playing against other players could be quite frustrating. On the other hand, against AI bots, the experience becomes much more relaxing and casual, making it well-suited for someone who has around an hour to game.

  • What I enjoyed most about Cold War‘s multiplayer was the fact that the weapons could be extensively customised, allowing a given primary weapon to feel like a completely different weapon with the use of a few customisations. This creates variety, and players can use the AI bots to play with things before hopping into a real match. Here, I’m running the MP5, which was known as the KS-7 in Agent Under Fire. Unlike the KS-7, which was a peashooter, the MP5 in Cold War is a solid submachine gun and can be reliably used at close quarters to down enemies.

  • Agent Under Fire players will know the AUG as the UGW. However, whereas Agent Under Fire treated the AUG as an automatic weapon with good accuracy and damage, but a lower firing rate, in Cold War, the AUG is a burst-fire tactical rifle that can take an enemy out in as few as two bursts. In keeping with the aesthetic seen in Agent Under Fire, I’ve opted to keep the default sights on a given weapon, modifying the barrel and underbarrel for slightly improved performance.

  • The Moscow map is one of my favourites in Cold War, showing off things like water reflections and lighting. If memory serves, I tried out the bots mode back in May after installing the multiplayer component; originally, I’d bought Cold War thinking that I’d go through the campaign, but after hearing about the AI bots, I became curious to try out a mode that could extend the longevity of this game. Having played a few rounds against the AI bots, I conclude that this is indeed a nice way to spend half an hour on weeknights if I’m ever in the mood to blow stuff up in a more relaxed environment, away from the aggressively competitive players out there.

  • I’ve switched on over to Yamantau and have decided to run with the basic AK-47 here. Cold War‘s AK-47 feels particularly powerful, being a reliable and hard-hitting weapon. In most games nowadays, the AK-47 is portrayed as a slower-firing assault rifle that is less accurate than the M-16 and its counterparts, but otherwise does more damage per shot. This is reflecting on the fact that the Ak-47 fires a 7.62 mm round, as well as the fact that the weapon was manufactured with lower precision compared to their NATO equivalents.

  • This, together with the fact that the AK-47 is made of very few moving parts and has a robust construction, contributes to the weapon’s legendary durability and reliability. In video games, this translates to NATO weapons being portrayed as more accurate and having a higher rate of fire, while Eastern Bloc weapons deal more damage but will fire more slowly and be less accurate at range. In older games like Agent Under Fire, the AK-47 (KA-57) is depicted as an entry level assault rifle that does intermediate damage.

  • Agent Under Fire had been built around its campaign, and so, as the players got further into the campaign, the weapons became more powerful. This was appropriate for the single player mode, but it meant that some weapons were evidently better than others in the multiplayer. Nightfire ended up addressing this by making weapons more specialised (for instance, players have access to a suppressed burst-fire SG-551 in the first mission, but later, the unsuppressed, full-automatic version appears). Today, weapons have a wider range of attributes, and weapons diversity means that developers must balance everything against one another.

  • Agent Under Fire‘s Windsor FSU-4 is the M16A2 armed with the M203 under-barrel grenade launcher and sports a 40-round magazine. It’s an upgrade from the KA-57 and is introduced later in the campaign, featuring more firepower. The FSU-4 is a fully-automatic weapon, but in Cold War, the M16 is another tactical rifle with burst fire capabilities. Burst fire weapons have typically not been too popular, since players prefer to spray on full automatic or pick their foes off one shot at a time. However, Halo 2‘s implementation of a burst-fire weapon, in the BR-55, allows for versatility: the weapon can be controlled for longer range combat, but fires quickly enough to deal with foes at closer ranges.

  • During the Electronic Arts era of James Bond, all of their titles (Agent Under FireNightfire and Everything or Nothing) featured the SPAS-12. This Italian shotgun has a very distinct appearance because of how it looks when its stock is folded up, and while it’s a pump-action shotgun in reality, Agent Under Fire gives the weapon the more useful semi-automatic mode to increase its rate of fire. In Cold War, the SPAS-12 is a two shot kill, but has a good firing rate, making it easier to land follow-up shots.

  • A quick glance at the calendar shows that three years ago, I wrote about Battlefield V‘s open beta. I’d been home from Winnipeg for five days now, and while that assignment had been tough, what followed was nigh unbearable. When August had drawn to a close, we’d closed up our office and began working from home, although I was still required to meet with the founder and other staff. Because of a lack of accommodations, we ended up utilising my access to the university’s facilities to meet. During my downtime, I spent a fair bit of it playing the Battlefield V beta, which had opened the day after I returned and ran for five days.

  • Although I was knocking out work items daily, the fact that the backend’s team was essentially creating make-work (e.g. arbitrarily changing JSON responses and bouncing code reviews for choice of variable names) meant that the project continued to be delayed. I recall a cold, grey morning where I was scheduled for a live demo with the Denver team, but thanks to the backend team altering the names of JSON keys, the app crashed the moment I opened it during said demo. Fortunately for me, I’d done a video capture of the project and was able to show that, but the way the Winnipeg team worked made it an incredibly stressful environment.

  • Having the Battlefield V beta to look forwards to after hours really helped me to de-stress and gave me something to look forward to after a long day of sorting out bugs and dealing with headache. In the present day, I was expecting that Battlefield 2042‘s open beta to be this week, but scuttlebutt was that there’s some delays owing to development challenges, pushing the beta out to September 24. This is, incidentally, when Halo Infinite‘s open beta is scheduled to run.  I’ve never encountered a situation quite like this before, where two betas were running concurrently, but assuming that both betas happen on the same weekend, my priority this time around will be to get a feel for how both games perform on my system.

  • Previously, I primarily played betas to gain insight into how a given game handled from a mechanics standpoint, but with my machine now entering eight and a half years of service, it’s important to determine whether or not any games I have an interest in can even run on my system before I sink any coin into it; Cold War represents a situation where I’d jumped the gun, and while upgrading an OS is comparatively straightforward, outright building a new rig is going to be more involved. Under the best of circumstances, I could purchase a new custom rig and get it up and running in two weeks or so, but with the ongoing microprocessor shortage and crypto-mining causing GPU supply to be limited, building a new computer isn’t viable (it’s still possible, but not cost effective).

  • Here, I open hostilities with the Milano 821, which I’ve got standing in for Agent Under Fire‘s Ingalls (itself a facsimile of the Ingalls MAC-10, which I haven’t bothered unlocking because that would entail playing actual multiplayer matches). The Ingalls is a step up from the KS-7 in Agent Underfire, but is overall inferior to the PS-100 (P90). Conversely, the Milano 821 in Cold War is a decent weapon, handling like a submachine gun version of the AK-47 in having a lower rate of fire and higher damage per shot compared to the MP5.

  • On the other hand, the CARV.2 (a fictionalised version of the Heckler and Koch G11) was a weapon worth unlocking: late in June and early July, I spent my weekends farming long-shot kills in Cold War‘s Zombies mode to earn this weapon. This burst-fire weapon fires 4.73 mm ammunition and is very accurate, making it a great choice for medium to long range encounters. After several weekends, I finally unlocked the weapon, and subsequently kitted mine out with the Axial Arms 3x optic, which is considered to be the best optic one can use for medium to long range combat.

  • The bonus is, of course, that the CARV.2 is Cold War‘s equivalent of Agent Under Fire‘s D17. Agent Under Fire portrays the D17 as being the ultimate weapon, a combination of high accuracy, rate of fire and damage with the largest ammunition capacity of any assault rifle in game. The weapon is only available during the final campaign mission, Evil Summit, and handily beats out all of the other weapons in-game during multiplayer. I’ve spent many a Christmas getting mowed down by the D17 because we’d fight the bots on maximum difficulty and aggression.

  • Conversely, when we returned to the GameCube for kicks more recently, working out how to corner the bots and stop them before they could grab the D17 was instrumental in allowing us to win. Agent Under Fire‘s AI bots might not be the most impressive in the world (they occasionally get stuck and fail to notice when one is sneaking up on them), but at full difficulty and aggression, they are monstrosities that can utterly wreck players. This creates numerous hilarious moments where bots achieve kills that seem supernatural, contributing to the fun factor in Agent Under Fire.

  • The combination of D17 and bots in Agent Under Fire is entertaining enough so that one could spend hours at a time just blasting the AI for fun without ever needing to hop on an online multiplayer match, and having spent the bulk of the past twenty-one months playing bots, I came to realise that these offline modes are essential parts of any game that wishes to have longevity. The idea here is that, even if the servers are offline, having the map assets and ability to fight bots locally lets one play multiplayer even when support for the game stops.

  • The other reason that bots are now something to look for in a game is that, at least for me, online gaming has become a most undesirable place to be of late. I noticed this in Battlefield V, where cheaters ran unchecked, and the community encouraged unsportsmanlike behaviours during matches. These actions ranged from pushing players using AA vehicles out of bounds to kill them and free up a vehicle slot for themselves, camping, and players not utilising their classes’ abilities (e.g. refusing to revive, heal and drop ammo).

  • Calling out these players was met with a flood of insults in the text chat, and since Battlefield V automatically censored out expletives, players would resort to making up new insults that were far more annoying and offensive, creating a new sort of meme culture in the process. I’ve heard that online gaming has only gotten worse: Fortnite players insult one another for lacking cosmetic items, and in Warzone or Apex, cheating is even worse than it is in Battlefield V. With online games are looking more and more unplayable these days, AI bots can fill that void and provide players with a quasi-multiplayer experience.

  • Here, I’m rocking the Pelington 703 (modelled after the Remington Model 703, standing in for the SSR-4000, known as the SSG 3000). In Agent Under Fire‘s multiplayer matches, I never set the SSR-4000, since my aiming skills with a controller is non-existent (and in matches where I’ve tried, the bots end up steamrolling us). In Cold War, the opposite is true: while I’m nowhere nearly skilled enough against human players, I can make the sniper rifles work in matches with AI bots to have a phenomenal time. The Pelington is particularly fun to use because it feels like a hunting rifle.

  • I’ve played online multiplayer titles for about a decade; my experience started with Halo 2: Vista in 2009, and when the servers shut down in 2012, I switched over to Team Fortress 2 briefly before becoming a Battlefield fan. My first proper Battlefield experience began with Battlefield 3 in 2013, and I’ve played every Battlefield since then. I’ve noticed that antisocial behaviours weren’t really a problem in the Halo days. Trolling was definitely a present even back then, people rarely perpetrated disinhibited behaviours that we see today. For instance, the worst trolling I saw in the Halo days were players teabagging one another in matches, or people begging for Unusual hats in Team Fortress 2.

  • It was only with Battlefield V where I really began noticing hate speech, harassment, griefing and other unsportsmanlike behaviours. The uptick in antisocial behaviour coincides with the rise of in-game microtransactions and the battle royale genre’s popularity; younger players have gotten into their heads that one’s appearance in-game is directly correlated to their social status in real life, and are willing to use any method necessary to win in a given match so that others can remember who they are. Moreover, said players have taken to bullying players running “lesser” cosmetics, with hostilities spilling over to real life.

  • Video games are intended to be fun experiences that, at best, help players work on visual-spatial reasoning abilities, split-second decision-making and resource management, but recent trends have turned games into a demoralising experience and meme factories. Games like Fortnite thus become a pain to play, and multiplayer shooters with more conventional game-modes are no better, with people spewing insults and memes into the chat whenever they’re called out for unsportsmanlike behaviour. This is what made Battlefield V particularly unenjoyable for me, even more so than DICE’s constant messing with the game’s mechanics.

  • It is not particularly meaningful to have shouting matches with people who likely don’t contribute any taxes to their nation, so after Battlefield V ended, I began playing single player games exclusively. The resulting change in my well-being was profound: I became much more relaxed, and gaming returned to being a hobby I could unwind to. Single player modes further have the advantage of being titles that I can play at my own pace. If, mid-match, I need to go tend to something, I can pause the game and resume later without penalty.

  • The real joy of games is being able to immerse oneself in a different world, and enjoy things at one’s own pace, so moving forwards, I imagine that how single-player friendly a given game is will greatly impact whether or not I am likely to pick it up. Here, I’ve decided to open a match on one of the Miami maps and have loaded out the Stoner 63 LMG to look like a futuristic weapon. As it turns out, Infinite Warfare also has offline bots, and I’ve recently been getting back into that, as well: released in 2016, Infinite Warfare‘s requirements aren’t steep at all, and the game handles very smoothly.

  • I imagine that the multiplayer scene of Infinite Warfare is likely to either be depopulated, or else infested with cheaters, making it unplayable. Even though this is probably the case, because Infinite Warfare has AI bots, I am able to create a match and play against bots that are moderately challenging (and therefore, fun to fight). The shooting mechanics of Infinite Warfare are not as visceral or polished as those of Cold War, but they remain solid overall: in conjunction with the fact that the maps and weapons look rather cool, I am finding myself having a great deal of fun in a game I was otherwise only going to get twelve hours out of.

  • In this way, Infinite Warfare shows how AI bots dramatically improves the longevity of a game. Another title that did something similar is Star Wars: Battlefront II. While the original launch was plagued by lootboxes and a poor progression system, towards the end of Battlefront II‘s lifecycle, DICE added Instant Action to the game. Battlefront II thus went from being an unplayable disaster (compounded by try-hard players who already have all the best upgrades) to being an open Star Wars sandbox that allows players to kit their character out however they’d like and immerse themselves in the Star Wars universe without aggressively competitive players ruining the atmosphere.

  • These bot modes are excellent because they allow for players to enjoy an element that is often forgotten when competitiveness takes over: the game’s aesthetics and atmosphere. While I might’ve had the time to improve my skill in competitive multiplayer games ten, even five years ago, other obligations now mean that it is no longer feasible for me to do so. I don’t wish to spend hours every week trying to keep up with players half my age when there are bills to pay, and in the time that I do have, I’d much rather have fun. This is why Battlefield 2042‘s upcoming Portal mode is so interesting; if there is a full-fledged AI bots mode and all weapons, attachments and gear are unlocked for experimentation, this mode will allow me to explore Battlefield 2042‘s sandbox capabilities in a way that previous titles had not accommodated.

  • I’ve heard that today is National Video Games day, and I intend to capitalise on this by playing games in the manner of my choosing: in a private space away from all of those who believe that cosmetics equates to skill. DOOM Eternal‘s The Ancient Gods looks a good place to begin, and having just finished a delicious dim sum lunch, the afternoon is open to me. Since I’m not honour-bound to squad up in a game where the goal is to win and show off a crude victory dance, there’ll be time to iron a few things, read a few more chapters of Harukana Receive, and then make my way into The Ancient Gods, all at my own pace.

The idea that Battlefield 2042 might permit a fully-featured AI bots mode might very well be a reality: DICE has indeed announced the presence of something known as Battlefield Portal, which allows players to create their own game modes, utilising weapons and vehicles from different eras. It will be possible to pit 50 Tiger Is against a single platoon of M1A2s, or run a hundred soldiers with defibrillators versus a hundred soldiers with knives. Battlefield Portal is billed as the ultimate sandbox mode, a place where players can try out exotic and unique setups before publishing them to the community, and this means that for players seeking a single-player option against AI bots, Battlefield Portal might just be the answer. Being able to create an offline match with AI bots means being able to play Battlefield 2042 even if the servers are offline, and more importantly, being able to play in peace if one wanted to try driving a tank or messing with unusual weapon setups. Bots provide players with a highly cathartic and relaxing experience. They don’t insult the player, have no qualms with one quitting as a result of real-world obligations or become idle at inopportune moments. Games with bots remain highly playable long after the community has moved on to the next best thing, allowing a game to continue offering replay value well after its prime, and this gives the game value. In a case where Call of Duty holds the edge over Battlefield games, Black Ops: Cold War, Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered all have bot modes. Similarly, Battlefront 2 features Instant Action, an offline bots-only mode. These modes offer me amusement, an experience that can’t be had when I’m playing against try-hards half my age who have more free time than responsibilities; video games are about having fun, first and foremost, and I play to immerse myself in different worlds, not to elevate my blood pressure because some kids decided they’d spend the entire match spamming the chat with frog memes and insulting everyone who isn’t camping. I do see myself continuing to drop into Black Ops: Cold War bot matches because it’s amusing, and if Battlefield 2042 is offering full-fledged AI bots in Portal (which, on top of the game’s base maps, will also feature iconic maps from Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3), this gives me plenty of things to be excited about. Being able to play Battlefield at my own pace, away from the try-hards and cheaters, would be a breath of fresh air and a return to the age in gaming where the object was to have a good time.

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 ofForged 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.

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!

That First Foray Into Hope County: A Free Weekend of Far Cry 5

“The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.” –Martina Navratilova

When one is constrained by the fact that a game is available to try for one weekend, there is a natural inclination to get as much done as possible. Far Cry is, fortunately, one of those games where one can finish things on very short order; an unnamed rookie deputy accompanies Deputy Marshal Cameron Burke and Sheriff Earl Whitehorse on an assignment to arrest Joseph Seed, leader of the cult known as Eden’s Gate – Seed has gained power in Hope’s County and amassed a sizeable following who believe that a collapse of civilisation is at hand. However, Whitehorse is uncertain of the implications arresting Seed would bring and implores the deputy not to go through with the arrest. After reaching the church where Seed is preaching, the deputy decides not to follow through, and Whitehorse notes its for the better, since walking into the hornet’s nest could spell disaster and result in unnecessary death. While this is the course of action I would’ve gone for in reality, doing so would result in no game – Far Cry 5, like its predecessors, is a first person shooter, and the first thing about these games is to shoot stuff. Hence, I loaded a new save file, proceeded with the arrest and escape the homicidal cultists on a stolen vehicle. After falling into the river, my character is rescued and tasked with helping the resistance liberate Hope County. I thus took control of Fall’s End, giving the resistance a foothold, before heading over to hope Hope County Jail to seize control of it from Eden’s Gate. On the way, I gained several allies after retrieving their possessions, rolled back the fog of war over the southern regions of Hope County and even unlocked the MBP .50 Blood Dragon before the weekend ended. In the time I spent in Far Cry 5, I was absolutely blown away by the scenery – there is no denying that Hope County is a beautiful place. In fact, being set in Montana, Hope County resembles the southern foothills of my home province, being a combination of farm fields, evergreen forests, rolling hills, pristine lakes and distant mountains. The stunning scenery, however, conceals danger in the form of Eden’s Gate, who lurk around every corner and pose a threat to Hope County’s residents.

In its portrayal of Eden’s Gate, Far Cry 5 creates a much more gripping and terrifying foe than I’d seen in most of my other games. Right out of the gates, Joseph Seed is presented as a menacing figure whose calm demeanour and choice of words belie a psychopathic individual with megalomaniac tendencies. Upon walking into Seed’s compound for the first time, the fanatical cultists surrounding him create a tangible sense of dread – even Whitehorse hesitates to act against Seed. After the player escapes from the cultists following their failed attempt at arresting Seed, propaganda spread throughout Far Cry 5 perfectly captures how cults operate; their soothing words of salvation and redemption create a feeling of ease, but stand in stark contrast with their actions. With Far Cry 5, Ubisoft sought to explore religious fanaticism and extremist beliefs; Far Cry games previously depicted despotism and toppling of authoritarian regimes in far-flung countries, and while Far Cry 5 is no different, the choice of antagonists did create no small controversy. Indeed, the portrayal fanaticism is chillingly accurate, and I found myself surprised at how calming and reassuring Eden Gate’s words were despite knowing full well the game had intended for me to blast them with an arsenal worthy of the Doom Slayer. Cults are built around unreasonable devotion to a cause whose leaders justify horrific actions in the name of some higher power, and Far Cry 5 shows how difficult it is to take on a cult head-on, especially when they’ve amassed a certain amount of followers. However, once the initial shock of Eden’s Gate wears off, aside from the occasional bit of propaganda broadcast around Hope County and the terrifying hallucinations that Faith Seed appears in, Far Cry 5 is otherwise a run-of-the-mill Far Cry experience, albeit one that is set in a place reminiscent of my own backyard, a place where I’d rather be hiking and fishing in as opposed to blowing stuff up with cool guns.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Far Cry 5‘s opening segment is quite lengthy, and it took a while to really drop players into the open world. Through it all, I was unnerved – while Joseph Seed himself is a calm individual not given to fits of violence like Pagan Min, the way he delivers his lines gives the impression that he is always in control, even when things aren’t appearing in his favour. Like Far Cry 4, Far Cry 5 opens with a pursuit. This time, it’s through the forests of Montana by nightfall, and while players are soon reunited with Burke, their escape fails when their truck flips into a river.

  • Players start on an island, where they have a chance to become familarised with Far Cry 5‘s mechanics. Initially, one can only hold onto a single primary weapon and a sidearm: players start the game with the iconic M1911, and I found that shooting in Far Cry 5 was a bit tricky, with bullets not going where I’d intended them to go at medium ranges owing to the game’s use of ballistic motion. After killing off some Eden’s Gate members, I picked up the AR-C rifle. This weapon is a mainstay in Far Cry 5 and despite being a common rifle, is a decent all-purpose weapon with a solid rate of fire, ammunition capacity and moderate damage.

  • Once players finish the last of the missions on the starting island, the morning fog rolls back, and Hope County is thrown into sharp relief. From here, the goal is to get a foothold in Hope County so the resistance can start taking it back from Eden’s Gate. I thus headed towards Fall’s End, a town in the southwestern corner of the map, and began my attempt to take it back from Eden’s Gate. At the start of my journey, I have none of the perks and accessories that increase my durability and firepower, so even a handful of weaker enemies could prove lethal.

  • On my attempt, I ended up climbing to the roof of a building after quietly taking down whatever Eden’s Gate sentries were in my path, and found myself a mounted gun. From up here, I proceeded to mow down everything that moved with relative ease, even the aircraft that came to strafe my position. With this, I retook Fall’s End and gained my first foothold into Hope County, giving me access to the shop and several vehicles. At this point in the game, I lacked the funds to buy anything, so this wasn’t particularly helpful, but as I began exploring, I would come across a weapon that was rather more suited to my play-style.

  • After storming an outpost and shooting out several snipers, I came upon the AR-CL, a modified AR-C that has a heavy barrel and long-range optic perfect for sniping. Having a scope made it far easier to pick off distant foes, and the AR-CL can kill with one headshot, making it a powerful asset to have, especially in a game where medium range combat with automatic weapons and iron sights is tricky. Picking up a semi-automatic rifle was a game-changer for me, giving me considerably more confidence in firefights.

  • However, the drawback to having a slow-firing DMR meant that I didn’t carry any weapons more suited for CQC beyond the M1911; this would leave me at a disadvantage if enemies ever closed on my position. In Far Cry 4, time meant I would be able to unlock up to two more primary weapon slots, and in the old day, I would carry an assault rifle, anti-materiel rifle and LMG for a good balance of combat versatility. Being limited to one weapon at a time was something I’d tangibly felt, and as I began amassing perk points, the first thing I did was to unlock the second slot for primary weapons.

  • Far Cry 5‘s map looks a little smaller than Kyrat did, but unlike Kyrat, there seems to be a much greater variety in terrain: there are hills and cabins, farmers’ fields and lakes, all of which come together to remind me of home: I am just north of Montana, and the southern reaches of my home province possesses very similar geography. I’ve actually been longing to go back and visit Waterton National Park, but current circumstances means that at least for now, Far Cry 5 is the best I got.

  • I ended up accepting a mission that sent me over to the Hope County Jail, which was under siege from Eden’s Gate forces. There was an RPG lying around, as well; while the attack initially could be repelled with the AR-CL, the Eden’s Gate forces will eventually bring vehicles to the table. Sharp-shooting will allow for the driver and any gunners to be dealt with, but when one is swarmed by others, there’s not much time for precision shooting. The RPG will make short work of the pickup trucks in Far Cry 5, and more than before, I wished I had a second primary weapon slot here.

  • Once the Hope County Jail is cleared, I gained access to another outpost. However, my victory was short-lived, since Far Cry 5 forcibly transported me into the Bliss, a drug-induced hallucination. Faith Seed is one of Joseph’s leftenants in Hope County and oversees the drug production that keeps Eden’s Gate in check. I was never too fond of these moments in Far Cry 4, but the religious imagery in Far Cry 5 meant that such moments were better incorporated into the game and all the more unsettling. When my character came to, I found myself in the middle of nowhere.

  • I subsequently unlocked a second weapon slot and equipped the MP5K, a submachine gun with excellent handling traits and burst fire. At close ranges, every pull of the trigger is a kill if one is aiming for the head, and having a good CQC option made firefights much more survivable now – I would use the AR-CL for picking off foes, and anyone that got too close would be dealt with by the MP5K. As players complete activities in a region, they earn Resistance Points, which makes different items accessible for purchase. The stock weapons commonly seen in Far Cry 5 are more than usable, but there is a joy to be entering firefights with more unique, or even over-the-top weapons.

  • Since Far Cry 5 decided to drop me off somewhere remote, I decided to explore and found myself on a hillside overlooking the forests below. The scenery in Far Cry 5 is fantastic, and this looks like a scene right out of a postcard of the Rocky Mountains. It’s been smoky in my area for the past month, and these past few days, the weather’s improved dramatically, more closely resembling the weather I know August best for. However, this weekend, the smoke did return, and what’s more, there’s now a ten-hectare fire burning immediately west of the city.

  • August is traditionally counted as the last month of summer, since classes resume in September, but ever since I entered the workforce, my summer ends during the Autumnal Equinox. This leaves me plenty of time to enjoy the days left in the summer, and August days are best spent outside: as it is still early in the month, assuming that the smoke is held at bay, there’ll be opportunity yet to walk under the sunlight. Of course, while the fire and smoke lingers, I’ll strive to make a dent in my still-sizeable backlog: there’s little point in going out and breathing in smoke.

  • I absolutely love the way the AR-CL looks on the screen: the optics look intimidating, and the red tint on the eyepiece is an especially nice touch: ruby lenses block out the greens and browns of foliage to make it easier to spot game during hunting. The tint, however, creates an image that isn’t true-to-life, so for everyday observation, ordinary coatings are preferred. In video games, this is purely aesthetic and have no impact on gameplay whatsoever.

  • During my time in Far Cry 4, I often tried to liberate outposts without setting alarms off, and towards the endgame, I had a suppressed rifle purpose-made for the job; I would simply locate all of the alarm boxes, sniped them from afar and then picked off enemies with the rifle before moving in with the MG42. The game thus began to feel a little too easy near the end, but in Far Cry 5, I am reminded of where I began: stealth and strategy return in a big way. I found that I could simply punch out alarm boxes and then go loud: after demolishing a heavy unit, I confiscated his M60 and blasted everything that moved.

  • In order to survive, however, I ducked inside one of the houses to recover my health. Far Cry 4 had incremented health, but in Far Cry 5, this goes away: players have one full bar of health and can recharge fully when out of combat. Perks will increase the player’s maximum health. As I waited for my health to return, I admired the design of this Montana house: the architecture and designs here are very authentic, and were it not for Eden’s Gate, Hope County feels like a very nice place to live. I suppose the same could be said of Far Cry 4‘s Kyrat, whose Nepalese/Bhutan aesthetic looked inviting and friendly in the absence of Pagan Min’s dictatorship.

  • In the end, I ended up clearing the outpost by going loud, unlocking myself yet another place to fast travel from and replenish my gear. During my run of Far Cry 5, however, I never felt the need to top up on ammunition, since the Eden’s Gate patrols roaming the map always dropped plenty of ammunition. I imagine this could change as I increase my ammunition capacity and take on increasingly challenging fights, but for now, I was able to get by without resupplying. The feeling after clearing an outpost is always satisfying, and Far Cry always had a way of making these achievements feel special. Here, I had the added bonus of finishing to a gorgeous sunset.

  • My next mission was to help recover an aircraft for Nick Rye, a pilot and mechanic who resists Eden’s Gate. Armed with the AR-CL, I picked off all enemies striking the farm and ended up unlocking the mission. Because the mission entailed attacking John Seed’s ranch, I imagined the site would be heavily defended and therefore sought out an aircraft to help with the fight. Helicopters can be found around Hope County, and while they’re excellent for getting around, the versions I ran into didn’t have any weapons on board.

  • En route to the ranch where Nick’s plane is kept, I had another random encounter: Far Cry 5 depends on players going around Hope County and speaking with people in order to unlock missions from them. Here, for instance, I came across a member of the resistance named Grace, and after reviving her, I helped her to defend wave after wave of Eden’s Gate members from desecrating the graves beside the church. Grace is a sniper, and I took a leaf from her page, since I was rocking a marksman rifle. The assignment proved straightforward enough, and upon completion, I knew I’d be able to call upon Grace for fire support if needed.

  • I haven’t had any need to call in the hired guns yet simply because the missions are simple enough early on, but I imagine that, were I to go further, having the extra firepower would be helpful. One thing I avoided doing during my run at Far Cry 5 was attacking the Eden’s Gate silos: they take an inordinate amount of ammunition to destroy. However, since Eden’s Gate patrols the map with trucks armed with machine guns, seizing one of those would be my best bet. Players can later purchase armed vehicles for their own use, making these missions easier to complete, and as one gains more resistance points, the M79 can also be unlocked. Back in Far Cry 4, the M79 made all anti-vehicle missions trivially easy.

  • One aspect of Far Cry 5 that I wasn’t familiar with were the random story events; besides Faith’s terrifying Bliss visions, John Seed himself will order his goons to capture the deputy. I was quite unprepared for that firefight and was captured, but since it was a part of the story, I made it out and was able to shoot my way to victory. At this point in time, I’d also picked up the M133 pump-action shotgun, although my lack of durability in Far Cry 5 meant I preferred to fight at longer ranges: I ended up using the AR-CL and MP5K for this fight and managed to survive long enough for an extraction, after which I decided to take a shot at Nick’s mission.

  • Nick’s mission entails recapture his custom plane, which fell into Eden’s Gate hands, and after some initial recon of John Seed’s ranch, I realised that the place was too heavily fortified for any sort of ground attack. I thus commandeered a WWII-era AdjudiCor FBW airplane and flew it over to the ranch, hoping to use the rockets and bombs to soften up the ground targets before capturing the place on foot. Once my ordnance was exhausted, I bailed and parachuted out over the compound. With my presence no secret, I switched over to my small arms and ran a one-man wrecking crew on the ranch.

  • To help with my stealth out, I ended up kitting my AR-C with a suppressor and red dot sight: being able to aim with more confidence and silently kill foes made a huge difference, and within moments, I had the ranch cleared out. Without Eden’s Gate firing at me, I was free to explore the place, and in moments, found the aircraft that had been the aim of my mission. I hopped in and carefully taxied onto the runway before taking to the skies. The mission had started out quite stressful: flying in a given game is always a challenge for me, and I tend to crash if the controls aren’t sufficiently simple.

  • While I did have a bit of trouble with the AdjudiCor FBW, once I boarded Nick’s plane, the mission carefully guided me through and gave me a chance to even blow a few things up. This mission was especially thrilling, showing what Far Cry 5 is like at its best; the flight path Nick suggests takes players over the rivers and lakes of Hope County, and it is a thrilling flight. Towards the end, Nick will ask the player to carefully land at his airstrip. Landing is usually the trickiest part of any flight, and there are precious few places in Hope County where one can land, but with Nick’s guidance, the first bit of the mission draws to a close.

  • The second half of the mission is to defend the airstrip from wave after wave of Eden’s Gate attackers. Here, I’m rocking a highly customised MBP .50 called the Blood & Dragon. I’m not sure what the story behind it is, but this weapon was made available to all players, and I was able to equip it simply by checking my store out. The base MBP .50 is a powerful weapon firing fifty-cal rounds, capable of downing almost anything in one shot. I haven’t gotten quite that far into Far Cry 5 to know if there’s an equivalent of the AMR in the game: this weapon is a modified Z93 capable of blowing up vehicles and killing large game in a single shot, making it obscenely powerful. With the Blood & Dragon, however, I still had a great time blowing enemies away: the weapon itself also looks awesome.

  • It suddenly hits me that today is a day after the ten-year mark to the day that Tango-Victor-Tango’s One Week War drew to a close. I’ve not been back for quite some time now, but I do remember that a friend and I had made the (in retrospect, unwise) decision of participating; we had hoped to put an end to a segment of the community that did not respect expertise and idealised instant gratification. There had been a significant portion of the userbase who believed that no one could be more knowledgeable than anyone else on certain topics, and that they alone were competent creators and critics despite lacking the requisite backgrounds, insisting on using certain terminology without understanding what they mean (such as believing that “deconstruction” means “realism” when it clearly does not).

  • The end result of this were that a large section of the site’s users words and remarks were completely contrary to what someone with legitimate experience in a field would suggest: these individuals gave the impression of having lived a majority their lives on the internet without actually making an effort to cultivate any useful, marketable skills, but still believed that their opinions were more valid than those of an expert’s. My friend and I had hoped that by pruning a part of the site, these users would see the errors of their ways and move on.

  • While that part of Tango-Victor-Tango was removed, their community’s general disrespect for expertise endured, and in the aftermath, we had wished that instead of participating, we’d spent that time outdoors: August is one of the nicest months where I am, and it is no joke when I say that the mountains an hour to the west are every bit as nice as the scenery from this screenshot. Our disagreements with these sentiments ended up leading me to write a post about Tango-Victor-Tango and their shortcomings with my friend. When the site’s moderators caught wind of this post, it led to my getting permanently banned.

  • I have been ban-evading successfully for years, but there’s no real value in sticking around to contribute: I maintain an account to keep an eye on a few things, but otherwise, I’m not an active editor. Today, the beliefs from Tango-Victor-Tango have propagated to social media, and any discussion on politics and current events is inevitably infested with those who act as though they were the singular authority on the topic. The belief that upvotes, karma, retweets and follower count hold merit have their origins from the sort of thinking that dominated Tango-Victor-Tango, and is the reason why misinformation is so widespread. This explains how outspoken individuals of dubious value (usually characterised by their “soccer mom” bios or duck-faced profile pictures) command followings that are cult-like.

  • In giving players a chance to take the fight to a cult with firearms, Far Cry 5 gives players a very satisfying experience that is also sobering; while players can massacre cultists in Far Cry 5, I’ve heard that reaching Joseph Seed in the end doesn’t actually have any meaningful choice, since the outcomes end up being similarly enough. This has parallels in reality, where dealing with social media addicts who blindly follow pretty faces individually is trivially easy, but they are numerous enough so that taking one down only results in five taking their place. I’ve previously gotten several outspoken individuals (whose profile pictures look like they were intended for Tinder) suspended, but new accounts always keep cropping up to replace them. The wiser choice, then, is not to allow social media to bother oneself and focus on the meaningful things in life.

  • I’ll wrap this post up with a moment of me returning to Fall’s End prior to the free weekend’s conclusion. Far Cry 5 proved immensely enjoyable owing to its setting, and a glance at the game’s features show that this is a title I would’ve had a great deal of fun playing. However, at this point in time, I have hit a bit of saturation when it comes to gaming: I am now three quarters of the way into DOOM Eternal, and have begun exploring Northrend in World of Warcraft. I imagine that The Ancient Gods will take me a bit of September and potentially early October, which means I’ll be done just in time for Battlefield 2042‘s release. Consequently, at this time, I don’t think it is in my best interest to pick up any more games, lest they join my already-sizeable backlog.

Altogether, while Far Cry 5‘s greatest strength is the setting, after the free weekend ended, I have concluded that Far Cry 5 is unlikely a game I will be picking up – the game is familiar and inviting, offering incremental improvements over its predecessor, Far Cry 4, but otherwise remains very similar in terms of mechanics, requiring that players destroy and capture assets that Eden’s Gate have taken ahold of to eventually force leaders of a region into the open for a confrontation. This means there’s no learning curve, and I could get back into things very easily. While doubtlessly an enjoyable experience that demands forward thinking and adaptiveness, the open world design of Far Cry 5 also means that I will need a considerable amount of time to make headway into liberating Hope County. A glance at what’s available in Far Cry 5 indicates that there’s quite a bit to do. Besides missions, I could go perfect my flying, spend time fishing or hunting, and even train a pet to accompany me on my assignments. Far Cry 5 was evidently designed to provide staying power, and moreover, the game offers expansion materials that sends players to Vietnam and Mars; as enjoyable as this sounds, there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to really enjoy games that have this level of possibility. Far Cry 4 had taken me a while to beat for this reason, and while it proved an enjoyable experience, it also took me eleven months to finish. I might’ve had that sort of time on my hands four years earlier, but these days, things are a bit different; Far Cry is a series that does require a bit of a time investment to fully enjoy, and so for the present, I do not plan on advancing further into Far Cry 5. Having said this, Far Cry 5 has proven to be a solid experience, and I am curious to see how Far Cry 6 turns out – the E3 trailer suggests Far Cry 6 is even bigger and bolder than its predecessor, returning to the tropical world that defined earlier Far Cry titles and introducing more custom options. Cautious optimism characterises my response to Far Cry 6: the E3 trailer was impressive, but my aging rig might not be able to handle the game, and Far Cry 6 releases in the same timeframe as Battlefield: 2042 and Halo: Infinite, so for the present, I am going to wait before making any decision. In the meantime, should I feel the inclination to return to rural Montana, I have the comfort of knowing that all of my progress in Far Cry 5 is saved, so I’ll be able to resume my journey precisely where I’d left off.

DOOM Eternal: Acquiring the BFG 9000 and Passage to Mars’ Core At The Halfway Point

“You can’t just shoot a hole into the surface of Mars.” –Samuel Hayden

Having killed Deag Ranak, Khan Maykr moves the remaining Hell Priest, Deag Grav. Knowing that Deag Grav is integral to the dæmonic invasion on Earth and sets out to hunt him down, but with the Khan Maykr accelerating the invasion, the Doom Slayer must first destroy the Super Gore Nest. He then heads for the Arc Complex to secure the remains of Samuel Hayden, who leads the human resistance on Earth. While Hayden’s body is destroyed, his mind remains functional: upon uploading Hayden’s mind to the Fortress of Doom, Hayden informs the Doom Slayer that Deag Grav is located on Sentinel Prime, and the fastest way there is through a portal located at Mars’ core in the city of Hebeth. With time an enemy, the Doom Slayer seizes control of the BFG-10000 and blasts a hole on Mars’ surface, then fights his way towards the core and the portal, intent on killing Deag Grav. At the halfway point, DOOM Eternal has proven to be a superb experience, an upgrade over its predecessor in every way. Fights demand more strategy and thinking compared to its predecessor, and the tools that the Doom Slayer has available to him means that spur-of-the-moment decisions do not leave players short-handed. While there are some techniques that work better on some dæmons than others, a steady aim, keeping an eye out for any advantages one can utilise and map knowledge goes a long way in surviving firefights that are far more dynamic and challenging than what DOOM had offered: having now spent thirteen hours in DOOM Eternal, it becomes clear that id Software had delivered their promises from E3 and then some. Besides increasing the monster variety, id Software introduced Destructible Dæmonsto bring DOOM Eternal to the next level: monsters that sustain enough damage will appear and behave differently in response to the player’s actions. Both maps and arenas are designed to encourage clever navigation and combat, pushing players to experiment with different combats styles and move around differently rather than sticking to a single strategy. DOOM Eternal‘s levels themselves are bolder and more eye-popping than those of its predecessor, and nowhere is this more apparent than after the Doom Slayer fires the shot that puts a hole in Mars.

On top of the increased gameplay, DOOM Eternal introduces dry, sardonic humour into its story in a clever way. Once Samuel Hayden is connected to the Fortress of Doom, he implores the Doom Slayer not to shoot a hole in Mars. Moments later, the mission objective appears for the player: shoot a hole in Mars. Similarly, when the Doom Slayer makes to operate the BFG-10000 and the safety protocols engage, an impatient Slayer taps the fire buttons a few more times before VEGA overrides the safety mechanism. These subtle details add personality and a bit of light-heartedness into a game that is otherwise about brutal, over-the-top violence. However, the crown jewel in DOOM Eternal is the UAC’s insistence on calling the Hellspawn the “mortally challenged”. At several points in the game, a hologram can be seen imploring Earth’s (presumably remaining) residents to welcome the Hellspawn with open arms, and the UAC has deemed the phrase “dæmon” to be a slur, hence the change. However, the Hellspawn are, of course, intent on exterminating all of humanity, and the ludicrous thought that one must welcome one’s death is what drives the humour. DOOM Eternal is, in short, poking fun of the idea that there are those who would cling to political correctness even where there is no grounds for doing so. In general, folks who play games like DOOM play DOOM to unwind, and jokes like these are taken in stride, a small aside in a game whose focus is combat efficiency, reflexes, adaptability and resource management. However, there are some who insist that such jokes are harmful and may promote real-world misbehaviours despite a lack of evident indicating otherwise. Such beliefs manifested as a handful of articles on game journalism websites expressing outrage at this, and one wonders if the writers of such articles would be even more outraged to learn that they are alone in their perspectives: a couple of jokes poking fun at society’s more asinine opinions isn’t the end of the world, and at the end of the day, DOOM Eternal excels not because of its narrative or its ability to “drives home a truism that many people, against good evidence, still struggle to accept”, but because it is able to push the limits of what is possible with technology and encourage players to better themselves. DOOM Eternal‘s sales speak for themselves in this regard, and it becomes clear that a few jokes alone do not break a game.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The Doom Slayer returns to Earth with the aim of destroying a Super Gore Nest that could summon enough dæmons to overrun the planet. I overlook a ruined city here armed with the plasma rifle, and despite my old EVGA GTX 1060 SC lacking the hardware for real-time raytracing, the game nonetheless looks gorgeous. One thing I was particularly surprised by was the fact that I’m actually running the game with everything set to ultra settings (and the memory pool is set to “medium”), but in spite of this, I’m still getting a smooth 60 FPS.

  • After learning that I could customise the UI’s colour scheme, I immediately switched over to the UAC colours, which provides a much subtler UI than the defaults, which I felt to be a little too cartoonish. The distinct colours actually do serve an important purpose: at a glance, one can ascertain the status of their resources. However, they’re also quite distracting, and the UAC colours make it much easier for me to keep my eyes on the fight without sacrificing ease-of-readability. This small change made all the difference, and I am impressed with how DOOM Eternal provides players with this level of customisation.

  • The Super Gore Nest was one of the missions demoed at E3 2018, and back then, the UI more closely resembled that of 2016’s DOOM compared to its modern counterpart. However, having now acclimatised to the new UI, I prefer the style in DOOM Eternal. In their original playthrough at E3, the demo had shown numerous features available to DOOM Eternal that impressed viewers. However, to the community’s great surprise, id Tech had actually not told the community the whole truth with their E3 demo – most developers end up altering their final product from what an E3 demo as the game gets further into production, and sometimes, fans are left disappointed when studios under-deliver. DOOM Eternal, on the other hand, gave fans a product that was superior to the demo.

  • The Super Gore Nest level was even more fun in person than it had been in the demo: id Tech’s artists create a sense of scale to really emphasise what’s at stake. A recurring theme in DOOM seems to be the fact that no matter how gargantuan something is, there’s always a way to bring it down, and so, while this Gore Nest looks insurmountable, exploring the city for options eventually leads VEGA to indicate that the Gore Nest was built around an electrical generator, which produces a current strong enough to disintegrate flesh when operational.

  • Thus, the Doom Slayer heads into the depths of the facility to reactivate the power generator. The first breaker is easy enough, but par the course for most games, the second switch requires exploration and a bit of creativity to figure out. After entering the radioactive sewers underneath the city, I came upon a radiation suit. This is an old classic from DOOM, allowing the Doom Slayer to traverse toxic sludge and swim through submerged areas. Pickups replenish the suit’s abilities, but the suit itself offers no defense against enemy attacks in any way.

  • After acquiring the chaingun, the Doom Slayer has an effective close quarters, high RPM weapon capable of shredding groups of dæmons or melting through a single tougher opponent. The chaingun shares the same bullet pool as the heavy cannon, and once acquired, the heavy cannon becomes the preferred weapon of choice for sniping: two to three rounds will kill the weakest of dæmons, and the precision bolt makes it a great weapon for picking off weak points on tougher foes from afar,  before closing the distance to finish them off. I ended up going for the energy shield attachment, which gives me superior survivability in close quarters firefights.

  • Looking back, the Fire Bars of Super Mario are a far more intimidating hazard than their counterparts in DOOM Eternal: the presence of armour and health means that one could survive a glancing blow from these without dying, although care must be taken not to get knocked into a bottomless chasm from taking an impact. I’m not the only one who was reminded of Super Mario‘s Fire Bars by these hazards; at least a few other players have noted the similarities. While decades of gaming experience mean I no longer fear the Fire Bars, I can’t say I have an inclination to go back and play Super Mario: my skills simply aren’t there for 2D platformers.

  • Here, I come across one of the Slayer Gate keys, along with some health pick ups. The Slayer Gate challenges have been remarkably fun, and DOOM Eternal touts them as being a step up from ordinary combat encounters. Having played through five of the six so far, I conclude that these challenges are immensely fun, and immensely demanding on players, but they’re not impossible. My strategy for Slayer Gate challenges were to equip a high RPM weapon and a heavier, slower-firing weapon (e.g. plasma rifle and super shotgun, heavy rifle and rocket launcher), and then quick-swap between the two. In this way, I was able to even beat the Barons of Hell that show up during these challenges.

  • DOOM Eternal is very unforgiving when it comes to ammunition, and in the heat of a firefight, one will run out of rounds for their active weapon if careless. This forces players to constantly change weapons, and get creative: if one has no more shotgun rounds, dealing with Cacodemons requires a bit of lateral thinking. Once all of the keys are unlocked, it’s time to return back into the heart of the Super Gore Nest and take it out once and for all: here, I’ve found all three keycards, and unlocked the final segments of the level. However, before I continued, I decided to sweep back through the mission and finish finding all of the secrets that I could.

  • Admittedly, the massive, pulsating heart at the Super Gore Nest’s core brought back memories of Metro 2033‘s Biomass, a similarly repulsive and putrid organic construct. Both cases require activating a power source to destroy it, and the results are immensely satisfying – I’m not sure if the commonalities are intentional, but a cursory search finds that no comparisons have yet been drawn. Once the threat to the planet is averted for the present, the Doom Slayer returns to his stronghold and prepares for the next mission, to retrieve Samuel Hayden, who knows of Deag Grav’s whereabouts.

  • Thus, the Doom Slayer returns to Earth and makes his way to the ARC facility: the Armoured Resistance Colation, which was formed after the UAC’s corruption. This mission sees players return to the city streets, bringing back memories of Halo 3: ODST‘s New Mombassa. Before the Doom Slayer can actually get to the ARC building, the area must first be cleared of dæmons, and defensive batteries must be brought online so that tentacles obstructing the path can be cleared.

  • Prior to setting off for the ARC headquarters, VEGA will instruct the Doom Slayer to pick up the Ballista, a Night Sentinel weapon that uses the same ammunition as the plasma rifle to create a highly destructive bolt for long-range combat. The weapon is not of human design and replaces the Gauss Cannon from DOOM, and in practise, it’s a powerful single-shot weapon for destroying weak points. Lore suggests that the Ballista is more deadly than the human Gauss Cannon, and the weapon looks absolutely nasty. I do miss not having Siege Mode, but the Arbalest mod is supposed to combine the raw power from the Gauss Cannon’s Siege Mode with the penetration power from the Precision Bolt.

  • The second mod for the Ballista is the Destroyer Blade, which fires a horizontal blast of energy that can cut through entire groups at once, altering the weapon’s functionality and turning it into a miniature BFG. Here, I’ve finished an intense firefight against a group of dæmons in a restaurant, and during this fight, there was a Berserker powerup that allowed me to physically rip dæmons apart. I’ve heard that the Berserker sphere is exceedingly rare during the campaign, and considering how powerful the powerup is, I suppose this is fair – it’s said that with this powerup active, the Doom Slayer can kill even the mighty Barons of Hell instantly, exploding it with a single punch.

  • Having initially picked up the microwave beam mod for the plasma rifle, I ended up acquiring the heat blast, as well. Looking back on the changes between weapon mods of DOOM and DOOM Eternal, it seems that DOOM Eternal had changed up some weapons so the mods were more distinct: weapons with mods that seemed similar in functionality, so id Tech ended up rolling the functions of DOOM‘s mods into one and then introducing a new mod that accommodates a different play style. The heat blast is a fun mod to run with, acting similarly to World of Warcraft‘s Dragon Breath – when fully charged, it discharges the weapon’s built-up heat in a cone in front of the player.

  • I’ve seen that with real-time ray-tracing running, DOOM Eternal looks impossibly good: the water reflections here are impressive, and one detail I’ve become immensely fond of is the play of light on my active weapon. However, even on ultra-nightmare without any real-time ray-tracing, DOOM Eternal looks much better than it has any right to, especially considering that I’m still getting silky smooth frame-rates for most of the game: I’m averaging 60 FPS for most places, and while I occasionally seem frame-rates drop in more intense firefights, the game handles very well. Some testing finds that I use about 5 GB of graphics memory out of my available 6 GB, which isn’t too bad.

  • To be honest, I am a little surprised that my machine has held up this well over the years: it’d originally been built to play the best titles of 2013 (Battlefield 4Crysis 3) at 1080p60 on ultra settings, and back in 2016, I upgraded the GTX 660 SC to a GTX 1060 SC such that I could run DOOM. The machine has handled Battlefield 1Battlefield VBattlefront II, The Division 2 and Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War reasonably well; I neither stream nor have any plans to play games at 1440p or 4K in the foreseeable future, so my current setup continues to meet my current requirements. While I do have plans to build a new machine in the future, I’m glad my rig continues to hold out in the knowledge that hardware continues to be scarce.

  • Here, I return to the street level after using the defense turrets to rip apart the tentacles. A purple fluid covers the ground, and this mixture prevents the Doom Slayer from jumping or moving as quickly. In a firefight, this can prove absolutely deadly, but fortunately, there are options available to the player – use of the super shotgun’s meathook allows one to latch onto a dæmon and beat a hasty escape from a bad situation. I typically use the super shotgun for its meathook – the massive firepower means the weapon is wasted on the weaker enemies, but being able to pull oneself out of a tricky spot and then utilise a combination of double jumps and dash, then switching weapons, makes the super shotgun as much of a tool as a weapon.

  • I’ve read a lot of complaints about DOOM Eternal‘s gameplay; the leading criticism is that the game supposedly pigeonholes players into a certain play-style and routine while simultaneously punishing them for deviating from the optimal route. This couldn’t be further from the truth – the so-called optimal approach is used when one has a chance to prepare, but when the fluidity of combat catches one off-guard, it’s a matter of creatively using what one has available to them in order to get out of a difficult situation. Unskilled players (like video games journalists) lack the forward thinking needed to extricate themselves from overwhelming enemies numbers and brutality because they expect there to be one way of playing, but competent players will see alternatives solutions, both in terms of their equipment options and utilising the map to their advantage. When the Marauder is introduced, a handful of players found this foe to be so overwhelming they quit playing outright, and those who insist on fighting a certain way demanded the enemy be removed from the game.

  • The Marauder is actually one of the best designed enemies in any video game ever: it forces players to focus their attention on them and fight them on the Marauder’s terms. In short, this foe gives players a taste of their own power; the Marauder dominates CQC with its super shotgun, and can throw its Argent Axe for long range combat. It is protected by an impenetrable shield, and it will summon a spirit wolf when shot at. This enemy is designed to punish impatient players, all the while rewarding strategic movement and weapon usage. To beat a Marauder, one must bait it into swinging its axe, and then shoot it – after it is stunned, one can immediately follow up with a second shot. Of course, one can use indirect fire to stun it, as well. On my first fight with the Marauder, I had come in with some knowledge of how to fight it, so I used distance to bait its attacks and struck with a combination of Ballista and the super shotgun.

  • The Mars Core mission starts out at the Phobos BFG-10000 facility. The 2019 E3 began here, and it was here the “mortally challenged” joke first became known to the world at large. However, this was nothing but a manufactured controversy from video game journalists overreacting to the idea that a game poking fun at political correctness could somehow be “harmful” towards society; DOOM Eternal itself is a fine game, and it is ludicrous to suggest that entertainment could influence the way people think. Here, I fight my way across the facility to the BFG-1000 itself, a massive cannon of immense power.

  • Because of the BFG-10000’s presence, this mission was particularly exciting since I knew it was time to finally pick up one of the most iconic DOOM weapons of all time. With this past long weekend, I’ve been able to really make progress in my larger posts, and in a few days, I’ll be ready to publish a talk on Violet Evergarden: The Movie; this post is going to be as large as my old talk on Tenki no Ko, and as such, took a while to prepare. The Heritage Day long weekend was a fantastic chance to do this, along with just kicking back in general: I went for a walk earlier this morning and then enjoyed a home-cooked burger and fries.

  • Once the Doom Slayer reaches the BFG-10000 and uses it to blast a hole in Mars, he then rips the weapon from the cannon. On the PA network, the facility is to be evacuating to the surface of Mars: the thought of the Doom Slayer with the BFG is sufficiently terrifying such that the UAC’s staff would rather move to the surface of Mars, which the Doom Slayer had just blasted, rather than occupy the same facility as him. After acquiring the BFG-9000, players will have a chance to fire it for the first time, clearing out an armada of Cacodemons with a single shot. The BFG-9000 is best fired in an open space: the energy discharges emanating from the plasma orb do more damage the longer the orb is in the air.

  • The size of the hole in Mars becomes apparent when players move to the mission’s next phase: the crater has collapsed, giving the Doom Slayer a clear shot to the core. While I know this was simply a skybox, it speaks volumes to the impact that a good skybox can have on the scale of a level. This segment of the mission requires a bit of platforming: the Phobos facility has fragmented, and it will take some good coordination to get to the ion cannon that will propel the Doom Slayer to the next part of the mission.

  • The combat shotgun might be less useful later in DOOM Eternal as more powerful enemies show up, but the weapon remains highly effective with the sticky bombs; upgrades allow the weapon to reload faster and have a larger blast radius, making it an immensely useful tool for clearing out rooms. The weapon challenge entails destroying the Arachnotron turrets fifteen times, and while these enemies were common earlier in the game, I’ve noticed they’ve become less common of late. With this in mind, I made the mistake of not spending weapon upgrade points earlier, leaving me less time to unlock the weapon mastery upgrades.

  • The Doom Slayer’s casual disregard for Samuel Hayden’s remarks is hilarious: after recovering the remains of Hayden from the ARC Complex, I was surprised to see that Hayden’s powerful robotic body was destroyed during the events of Operation Hellbreaker. However, his computational matrix still remains functional, and while the ARC scientists weren’t able to transfer him to a new body, the Doom Slayer sees fit to take the remains back to the Fortress of Doom. The Doom Slayer’s personal stronghold is based on the same architecture, allowing Hayden to resume his reluctant assistance of the Doom Slayer.

  • One thing I’ve noticed about DOOM Eternal was that the campaign missions load very quickly: on my machine, I can get from hitting the start button to the campaign in the space of a minute, and I imagine that folks with more modern setups and sufficiently large SSDs can accomplish the same on shorter order. In spite of the game appearing to possess steep hardware requirements, DOOM Eternal is superbly optimised and runs very well even on older machines.

  • Here is a another perspective on the hole in Mars: the planetary core is visible here, and it’s time to go before the planet collapses back on itself. I would imagine that in the event that such damage could be done to a planet, the mass of a planet’s material would close any hole. The amount of damage done to the surface would be enormous, enough to fracture the crust and create planet-wide seismic and volcanic activity. Thus, when the UAC facility order its staff to evacuate to the surface of Mars, one can immediately infer that the Doom Slayer is such a terrifying presence

  • After platforming over to the escape pods, I prepare myself to head on over to Mars’ core, where the lost city of Hebeth is located. According to the in-game lore, reaching Hebeth requires navigating a treacherous path through Mars’ mantle to reach the core. I’ll note here that this past weekend, the Halo: Infinite technical test was running, and while I’m a part of the Halo Insiders programme, I did not receive an invitation to participate. While this would’ve been a great opportunity to see how Halo: Infinite ran on my machine, not participating was a blessing in disguise, allowing me to finish off a few other things and spend time doing things like outdoor walks. I wonder if 343 Industries will do an open beta closer to the launch, and while it would be nice to get an invitation, since I have plans to buy the game anyways, I won’t be bothered if I were to sit the open beta out.

  • The presence of Hebeth suggests a hollow planet: these theories are not scientific in any way, but in the realm of fiction, make for fantastic settings. Godzilla vs King Kong was such a work that took the protagonists to a hollow space inside Earth, and while one would expect it to be dark inside, there’s even a light source. How this works defies conventional understanding, and DOOM Eternal‘s portrayal of Hebeth makes more sense, with flowing magma providing the lighting to this diabolical environment.

  • With the portal to Sentinel Prime just a stone’s throw away, all that separates the Doom Slayer from his foe is a small army of monsters which are easily defeated. It goes without saying that I’m excited to press on forwards with DOOM Eternal: the game has exceeded all expectations, and my initial reservations proved unfounded. One element about DOOM Eternal that was a deal-breaker was the inclusion of Denuvo’s anti-cheat software, which uses a kernel-level solution that runs even when the game isn’t. Denuvo has a track record of creating CPU-intensive anti-cheat solutions that also requires multiple hard drive reads, degrading hardware performance and lifespan. This inclusion was controversial and rightly removed from DOOM Eternal, and at present, no such software is installed with the game, allowing it to run efficiently.

As such, halfway into DOOM Eternal, I’m having a fantastic time: this is a game that is clearly crafted for fans of DOOM who want a more exhilarating, more challenging and more immersive experience. Instead of simply copying the DOOM mechanics whole-sale, DOOM Eternal introduces new mechanics that promotes creative and strategic play on top of having swift reflexes and a steady aim. Initial remarks about DOOM Eternal‘s gameplay being lesser than that of DOOM‘s prove unfounded; despite its dazzling array of options, it was claimed that DOOM Eternal pigeon-holes players into approaching a given fight one way. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and players who gripe about DOOM Eternal‘s gameplay are likely folks who stick with what are colloquially referred to as the meta way to play the game. In other words, for a given game (or situation), there is an optimal way to play, and players artificially limit themselves to these constraints because other games reward sticking to meta approaches or, in some cases, the individuals simply lack the creativity to solve problems in novel ways. Such narrow-mindedness can result in a degraded experience, but for games journalists, their pride means rather than admit they haven’t made an effort to learn game mechanics, they’d sooner dismiss DOOM Eternal as a “…a dizzying catastrophe” that is “not nearly as good as the original” because the story is “more convoluted”. DOOM Eternal‘s story is simple enough: to save the Earth, the Doom Slayer must kill high-ranking dæmonic and roll back an ancient conspiracy from those who tapped into Argent Energy as a power source, unaware of its dangers. The story has always been secondary in DOOM, and in DOOM Eternal, it is sufficiently serviceable as to justify a fantastic rampage of blood, guts and gore as the Doom Slayer rips and tears his way through hordes of Hellspawn to save the world. The supposition that all games necessarily need a story meritorious of The Booker Prize for Fiction can only stem from the belief that DOOM Eternal is a mindless shooter, and one can deduce that the games journalists who hold such thoughts likely started up the game, found themselves overwhelmed by every fight and ran out of ammunition because they’d made no effort to learn the game mechanics. Then in their frustration, they needed some sort of flimsy justification to put DOOM Eternal down. Fortunately, since I’m no games journalist, I do possess a modicum of skill for games like DOOM Eternal: my experience is dramatically more positive, and I can say with confidence that I am going to continue enjoying a game whose developers understand full well what fun constitutes.