2019 marks ten years in Europe for Bethesda, and the first time QuakeCon has come to the continent. The two day event ran simultaneously to the parent event in Dallas, Texas and helped bring some of Bethesda’s new and upcoming games to fans on this side of the Atlantic.
I was lucky enough to attend, and got to spend some quality time with Doom Eternal, iD Software’s much anticipated sequel to the excellent 2016 release Doom. The demo was pretty generous and set around, and on, a besieged Mars and nearby space station. The tone is immediately set as the staff recognise you, only for you to say nothing, grab a security tag which is still being worn by one of the staff members and drag it, him still attached, across to a control panel to buzz yourself through a security door. All the while he is looking at you, as others are whispering “It’s him!”, not sure whether to feel relieved or terrified. It’s a great way to kick things off.
The weapons from the first game return, with new mods which were all drip fed through the demo. These include sticky grenades for the shotgun which came in particularly handy. As well as this, there are new and more inventive glory kills that you can perform. Not sure what it says about me, but some of them had me wincing and laughing out loud in equal measure. That is surely a sign of a Doom game is ticking all the right boxes. The glory kills range from the standard smashing of an enemy’s head back into his shoulders, to a personal favourite, that of breaking the arm of an Unwilling, and then using the exposed arm bone to stab it through the eye. Nice.
There were also a couple of new gameplay additions shown off by the demo. Firstly, the ability to climb walls. Reminiscent of the new Tomb Raider series, more pale areas of walls are climbable by jumping towards them. To help you clear the bigger jumps, you can also use the B button to air dash, which is cool. Clearly the Doom Slayer has been learning some new tricks since his first outing.
You also now have a flamethrower mounted on your shoulder, which has a very specific benefit to using. Doom Eternal encourages you to kill enemies in different ways, depending on what you are in need of. For example, if you use the flamethrower, as your foes burn they will drop armour, and lots of it. If you perform glory kills, you’ll receive health as before, and so on. Mastering this will be key to surviving some of the tougher battles, and adds an extra layer of strategy to the action.
I’m happy to report the game looks and sounds fantastic. I found it totally immersive, especially as there are plenty of first person in-play cutscenes to keep things pacey; such as you jumping into a BFG cannon, and firing yourself at Mars.
It’s also good to see that the “Medium” difficulty is still challenging. The demo could be played on Medium or Easy, and if I’m being honest, I had to dial things down to Easy after dying several times in the final battle. It was starting to get embarrassing…
As much as I loved Doom (2016), I had a small issue with jumping. Sometimes I’d plummet to my death if I didn’t automatically pull up on to a ledge or if in a double jump the first landed on the ledge, the second would launch me to my doom. I had a similar issue with the wall climbing mechanic in Doom Eternal. A fair few times when I jumped towards a wall I bounced off and fell to my death. I was also prompted to press down on the right joystick in order to attach; sometimes it worked and sometimes I grabbed on automatically. It’s a minor issue that hopefully will be ironed out before release, but it just made the platforming sections a bit frustrating.
Overall, I am very impressed with Doom Eternal and it’s clear iD Software know they are onto a good thing, and have promised we will be taken to brand new locations to the franchise in the game. A lot of what was shown was not fundamentally different to the first game, but rather expanded on it, which is no bad thing. It feels bigger, badder and bloodier than the first Doom, partly due to the breakneck pace of the demo, so hopefully this stands for the full release on 22nd November for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC.
If it does, I for one am very excited indeed. And you should be too.