We’ve played 3 hours of Doom Eternal, and it’s a thrilling and hectic experience

Doom Eternal Key Art

Doom came out in 2016, and it rebooted the franchise after the release of Doom 3. The game was praised by video game reviewers, with the scores on Metacritic in the high 80s on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The upcoming sequel, Doom Eternal, aims to continue the reboot’s core mechanics while adding more variety on the action and levels. Nerd Reactor was invited to play the first three hours of the game, and it was a thrilling and hectic experience. Hugo Martin, the creative director at id Software, was on deck to discuss what fans can expect from the sequel including changes in the difficulty settings, becoming a better player by improving your skills, and engaging the players outside of the combat arenas.

Once again you’ll be playing as the Doom Slayer, the ultimate warrior tasked with stopping an army of demons. 60% of the planet has been consumed by demonic invaders, and as you can guess, it’s up to you to put a stop to that. In Doom Eternal, you’ll have help thanks to the advanced Praetor Suit, new tools like the shoulder-mounted Flame Belch, Ice Bombs, and the supercharged melee attack known as Blood Punch.

Doom Eternal is looking very promising, and the first three hours went by really fast in a good way. From the action to platforming, we were fully engaged. The name of the game is to kill everything in your path, and killing the lesser demons will help you survive the fight longer as you perform melee attacks to gain health, armor, and ammo. Players will get to destroy the enemies with weapons and mods including the plasma rifle, heavy cannon, and more. There are plenty of upgrades available for your weapons like the Super Shotgun’s Meat Hook, which closes the distance on you and demons.

From what we’ve experienced, there was a nice balance between the combat arena action and platforming. The action is fast and kinetic, and the swarm of demons keeps you on your toes as you’re shooting, moving, jumping, teleporting, and dashing. Players will utilize all of the different skills they have acquired to help them traverse the map, whether it’s grabbing walls, double jumping, dashing forward, or swinging from bar to bar to cross deadly gaps. For those who will die a lot from mistakes, reloading is very quick. (Then again, we were playing on a gaming PC, so it may be different for the console versions.)

Credit: Bethesda/id Software

Even on normal difficulty, Doom Eternal can still be challenging. We wondered what the difference was for the different modes.

“The difficulty settings this time I think are a lot better,” Martin tells Nerd Reactor. “You’ll be doing the same things on Hurt Me Plenty, Ultraviolence and Nightmare. As you start at the lowest difficulty, all the things you’ll be doing and the skills that you master translate directly to the next difficulty. In the last game, the projectile speeds changed, and the accuracy of the enemies changed. That actually made it so that what I thought I knew on one difficulty setting when I went up actually changed. The projectile and the exact speed at which it came out, those things actually changed as you went up. In hindsight, I didn’t like it as much. Because we keep it consistent, the changes are that the enemies attack more often and they hit harder. So just basically it’s the same fight, just happening faster and you’re allowed to make fewer mistakes.”

“We’re cool with, at times, making you feel overwhelmed in the beginning or even a little bit frustrated because we feel like that is a part of any good experience,” he said during the hands-on preview event. “As I am learning a game, say basketball for example, and I get my shot blocked, it’s frustrating. But that’s only pushing me into the right way to play. How to create space when I get my shot off, etc. I don’t play basketball but I’ve been using this analogy. So as I’m pushed into the correct way to get my shot off, I get better at basketball. Basketball becomes a more enjoyable experience. The bet we are making is that the style of play that we’re pushing with the things we’re encouraging you to do will lead to the game feeling more fun.”

Credit: Bethesda/id Software

“Overall, our goal is not to make a hard game,” Martin explained. “This is a game that is giving you something to master. And by doing that, we think that we’re making a game that probably the general public thinks is kind of just another mindless, polished triple-A horror shooter from the ‘90s. I think the average consumer would think that about Doom. What we want to do is create something with a little bit of depth. We can be silly and bombastic and crazy insane. We could be junk food, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t be junk food with an incredible amount of nutritional content.”

Martin and the id Software team has the foundation down since working on Doom 2016. The next step is to improve the gameplay and levels in Doom Eternal.

“We had more stuff going on there during the development of Doom 2016,” Martin said. “We were putting the team together. So we were figuring out what we were doing. This is very much our Evil Dead 2. I think Evil Dead 1 was amazing, but Evil Dead didn’t become Evil Dead until Evil Dead 2. It’s where the tone of Evil Dead 2 really came together, and I think that’s what we’re doing now. This feels like we really nailed what we think Doom is for this generation. Because the team was in place from the very beginning, we were able to hit the ground running much faster. We’re just overall better at making Doom games. We can make more content at a higher quality and at a faster rate. Every new location requires an art kit, and we were able to have a lot more kits available to us. So that way instead of just going to Hell, Mars, Hell, and Mars, we’re going to take you to like tons of places and that will not stop. You will continue to see new things right up until the end of the game. So I think it’s a real testament to the amazing team that we have it in, and how well we are all working together, that we were able to produce so much content in the time that we had to be able to provide you guys with a lot of new experiences to have throughout the entirety of the 22-plus hour campaign.”

Credit: Bethesda/id Software

Doom 2016 didn’t have much variety between the combat arena action. Doom Eternal wants players engaged between the fighting by introducing incidental combat puzzles.

“A fair criticism in the last game is that there’s kind of like arenas and hallways and arenas and hallways,” the creative director tells Nerd Reactor. “We know our arena combat is fun, but we needed to make sure that the spaces between the arenas were just as engaging. Those spaces are called incidental combat spaces, and those are little combat puzzles onto themselves. It is just as engaging for the player as the arena combat is when you get to the arena space. It’s the same thing with the level design. It was to make sure that the activities that I’m doing outside of combat are just as engaging as the combat. Much like the combat, the traversal abilities and the traversal puzzles in the game are something to master. As you master dodge and dash and grabbing a wall and monkey barring and hitting a monkey bar amidst midair to a jump and all that stuff, it’ll become easier and easier as you play through the game. Some of the puzzles will get a little bit more complex.”

Doom Eternal will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch and Stadia on March 20, 2020.

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