It has all been building to this. If it seems like a long time ago since the DOOM Slayer was first awoken by Samuel Hayden back at the UAC facility on Mars, it’s because it has been. In fact, nearly five years have passed since the DOOM reboot was released.
DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part One ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, but if you’re yet to play it avert your eyes now to avoid spoilers. We left the action when the DOOM Slayer had fought his way to the Luminarium in his fight to prevent another invasion of Earth, but had decided to give the Dark Lord a physical form, who chose to copy the DOOM Slayer himself.
DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two picks up straight from where the first part left off, and sets up a final showdown between the DOOM Slayer and the Dark Lord. The question is, does our favourite demon hunter have any tricks left up his sleeve?
The short answer is, yes. In fact, there are a few new demons to tackle as well as your new Sentinel Hammer to get to grips with. This is a powerful weapon which needs recharging with ammo that doesn’t drop too often, in the same way your Crucible sword did from the main game.
When used, it dazes enemies for a short time, which pretty much stops them in their tracks. However, it’s most useful when combined with your Flame Belch or Ice Bombs, as it will boost armor and health dropped from each. Mastering this is a crucial part of surviving the campaign, maximising resources when you need them most.
As I mentioned, there are some new demons on the block. You’ll come across Screecher Zombies who have the same effect as Buff Totems, i.e. making nearby enemies faster and stronger. The giveaway here is that all affected demons will glow purple, and you’ll need to take out the Screecher itself to cancel out the buff.
There is also the Armored Baron to deal with, who will briefly make itself vulnerable when charging its mace – a flash of green signals your time to strike. If you damage it enough, you’ll strip the armor which provides a brief window to deal some proper damage. If not, you’ll need to use your Plasma Rifle to slowly chip away at it, which is much more difficult to do.
One of the more irritating additions in DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two are the Stone Imps. These little pests require a few quick shots from your Shotgun’s Full Auto Mod to do enough damage to break through their exterior layer. Beware though, as they will curl up and charge at you within a split second, so you need to be light on your feet. Alternatively, you can use the Sentinel Hammer to make quick work of them, but ammo is always sparse so it is best saved for something bigger and badder, which is nearly always just around the corner.
Another member of the new broom is the Cursed Prowler. These move in a similar way to Imps, and will curse you with a single touch, disabling your ability to dash or jump. Thankfully, despite your screen being stained a snotty green colour, the Prowler will be marked so you can keep track of it. Taking it out with a well-timed Blood Punch will break the curse.
These new enemies make it clear that in DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two it’s more important than ever to learn each demon’s weaknesses, using strategy rather than simply trying to blast your way through, Trust me, you won’t last long that way.
However, these demons fight alongside the usual suspects such as Spirits and Arch-viles, which makes combat more complex than it has ever been. It’s not long before the dreaded Marauders are back either, but it’s not as bad as you might first think. Thanks to the Sentinel Hammer you can extend their “daze window” after shooting them, which allows you precious extra seconds to pump some more lead into their irritating, spirit casting bodies. This makes them more manageable to see off, and there don’t seem to be quite so many of them this time around.
However, there is one battle which sees you face off against two Marauders that are possessed by a Screecher Zombie, and this encounter will teach you to despise them all over again. Once again, my poor neighbours must have wondered what all the swearing was about.
This is not the only thing in DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two which will make your blood pressure spike however. Enter Escalation Encounters. These are basically Gore Nests that activate two waves of demons. When you beat the first wave you’ll unlock an upgrade for your Sentinel Hammer, and on the whole it is pretty manageable. However, and it’s a big however, the second wave is an absolute nightmare even on a middling difficulty. Thankfully, facing the second wave of demons is optional and you can skip past it if you wish. Out of the three Escalation Encounters, I could only fully complete one before losing patience and opting to abandon the other two altogether.
DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two offers three more missions for you to get your teeth into, finishing up with a final battle against the Dark Lord himself. One of these sees you visiting Reclaimed Earth, which is being slowly rebuilt after the destruction caused in DOOM Eternal. Of course, hellish nasties still appear to roam the streets. You tend to have that effect.
The final mission sees you mount an all-out assault on Immora, the capital city of Hell. It’s introduced by quite possibly my favourite DOOM cutscene ever, which is very reminiscent of the final battle in Avengers: Endgame as the remnants of the Sentinel armies advance on the city walls whilst the Dark Lord prepares his defenses. It’s pretty epic.
The final battle with the Dark Lord himself is a well-thought-out, enjoyable duel which makes the most of the Sentinel Hammer. More importantly it’s challenging but rewards skill, instead of just demanding you to mindlessly grind away at a health bar. As a result it’s much more fun to play than any of the boss battles in the previous part.
Overall, DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two has better pacing than its predecessor, offering a steady trickle of new gameplay elements to keep the action from feeling like a grind. Your Super Shotgun grapple has increased functionality too, meaning you can swing around the environment to clear large gaps, or get the drop on enemies during encounters. This helps to offer a better balance between platforming and simply ploughing through demons. The downside to this is that it makes the game feel shorter overall, meaning you’ll comfortably finish this latest expansion in around 4-5 hours. As well as this, there are hardly any collectibles apart from Codex entries this time around; instead it’s very much focused on combat, which is no bad thing.
DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two still looks brilliant, with each level striking a very different visual tone but remaining vibrant in its own way. Loading up a level for the first time still takes a long while, even on the Xbox Series X, but when you die it will load back up ultra fast which is a noticeable improvement over what came previously.
DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two on Xbox has made tweaks in all the right places to improve things for the concluding part of the DOOM Slayer saga. It’s by no means perfect, but the gameplay and tactics required makes it worth sticking around to finish the fight against evil.