Developer: id Software
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop Download
No. of Players: Up to 3 players
Release Date: December 8th, 2020 (Worldwide)
The DOOM series has been going for a long time. Since the first game released back in 1993, there have been about nine main installments/reiterations, four spin-off games, and countless rereleases on almost every gaming platform in existence. The Nintendo Switch itself has six titles available from the original DOOM (1993) to the latest entry in the series, DOOM ETERNAL.
DOOM ETERNAL is the direct sequel to DOOM (2016). It released on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on March 19th, 2020. The game was originally scheduled for March 20th and coincided with the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, DOOM ETERNAL launched a day forward in certain retail outlets to minimize crowding in their stores.
The Nintendo Switch version of the game did not release alongside the platforms and still required some much-needed optimization for it to run on the hardware. Porting and optimization masters Panic Button stepped up yet again to work their magic and 9 months later, we can rip and tear all over again on our favorite hybrid console.
DOOM ETERNAL follows on from the events of DOOM (2016). The Doom Slayer has returned from Hell to find that the Earth has succumbed to a Demon Invasion. More than half of the human population has been wiped out by the invasion and what is left has either fled Earth or gone into hiding. The Doom Slayer immediately goes to work ripping and tearing through every demon that has the misfortune of getting in his way.
He eventually finds and confronts one of three Hell Priests, Deags Nilox, who is orchestrating the event. After a brief exchange of words (mainly from Deags Nilox as Doom Slayer is not really a talker), Doom Slayer promptly rips the Hell Priest’s head from its shoulders. However, he can’t stop there. In order to halt the advances from Hell on Earth, Doom Slayer will need to go after the other Hell Priests as well.
As the story progresses, it is revealed that the Hell Priests serve an angelic entity called the Khan Makyr who is using the Hell Priests to sacrifice humankind. The Doom Slayer, sets out to thwart their plans but requires the assistance of an old acquaintance, Dr. Samuel Holden.
DOOM ETERNAL is much more story-fuelled than previous entries in the series. It expands upon the lore of DOOM, which some players may find interesting as it fleshes out the reasons why the events in the games are happening in the first place. Some folks may feel the heavier focus on the story is tacked on in order to make some kind of sense or give meaning to the events in the game.
I personally enjoy having this kind of sense of direction and motivation behind the pure archaic action of maiming and blasting my way through hordes of enemies. When I was younger, mindless violence was all the motivation that was needed for a gory video game. I didn’t need to know why I was blowing holes through demons or why they escaped from Hell in the first place.
Now that I am older, however, the why has become my main focal point to justify the reason I am playing a mature and graphic video game. Celestial beings interfering with the balance of the universe and the only way to thwart their plans is through excessive means of bloody violence? It is flimsy it best if it was to happen in the real world but in a video game? Sign me up!
DOOM ETERNAL, much like the other entries in the series, is a first-person shooter that has you navigate your way through multiple labyrinthine areas whilst shooting, slashing, and maiming the many abominations of Hell before you. You go on to find bigger and more powerful weapons to make your task easier and carry on until you eventually fight the big bad that awaits at the end.
Unlike most FPS games where you normally follow the “Stop and Shoot then find cover to recover” style of gameplay, The gameplay in DOOM ETERNAL and its predecessors is labeled as ‘Push-Forward’, rewarding players for taking the fight to the enemies rather than finding a hole to hide in and taking pot-shots. Killing enemies up close grants players with either health, ammo, or armor pick-ups depending on the way they were killed.
Some enemies like the Zombies or Imps are mere fodder, there to inflict light damage on you and distract you from the larger demons like the Cacodemon or Mancubus that are closing in on your position. Heavy Demons are much stronger and more aggressive. They can take more damage and deal a lot more damage too. A fair number of the enemies in DOOM ETERNAL are staples in the DOOM Series but there are a few new faces making a debut in this game.
DOOM ETERNAL has 13 missions for you to haul your ass through with the general objective being make it to the end of the level. You are guided through with a checkpoint marker of sorts that will pinpoint where you have to go. Besides the fact that every level is quite vast in size, the gameplay itself is rather linear. Each level is made up of tight corridors and open areas. Demons can quite literally be found at every turn and some zones are densely populated with enemies. These combat zones will trap you when you enter them and have to be cleared out of enemies before you can progress forward.
Aside from the general ‘Go from Point A to Point B’ mission objective, players are generally free to explore each level for special tokens and items that can power up the Doom Slayer’s abilities. Weapon points can upgrade the Doom Slayer’s weapons to unlock alternate firing modes, Praetor Suit Points can be used to upgrade the Doom Slayer’s suit and Runes can be used to improve certain gameplay attributes. When you are near the end of a level, you will unlock fast travel points that will allow you to go back to areas you have previously visited to collect anything you may have missed.
To further encourage players to keep playing DOOM ETERNAL, they can earn XP to level up. You can earn XP by completing missions and challenges. By leveling up, you will earn rewards like new skins, poses, titles, logos, and more. These will be displayed along with your avatar when playing the new Battle Mode online (more on that in a bit).
CONTENT & FEATURES:
DOOM ETERNAL is packed with quite a lot of content and features. Throughout the main campaign, there are plenty of secrets to be found on each level and a ton of collectibles from Demon Toys to Music Vinyls and Cheat Codes! Between Missions, you will be taken to the Fortress of Doom, which serves as a hub world. You can move around freely here without concern of being attacked by demons… unless you go looking for them of course.
You can view your collectibles in different areas of the Fortress. In one room, you can check out all the Demon Toys you have collected so far. The vinyl discs that you have found will be hung on the walls around the Fortress. You can listen to the music on the vinyl discs by interacting with them. The vinyl discs contain music tracks from Classic games created by id Software like DOOM, Commander Keen, and Quake.
Dotted at certain points in the Fortress, you can find Preator Suits, Praetor Suit Points, and Weapon Mods. These items are sealed away however and require Sentinel batteries in order to access them. You can acquire Sentinel Batteries on some missions or earn them for completing mission challenges.
A new game mode has been introduced to DOOM ETERNAL. It is a 1 Vs 2 online multiplayer mode called Battlemode. One player takes on the role of the Doom Slayer and the other two take on the role of Demons. The Player Demons must work together to take down the Doom Slayer. As well as having two means of physical attacks, Player Demons can summon other demons to attack the Slayer on their behalf.
The player who takes on the Slayer must survive long enough to kill the Player Demons. It sounds relatively simple but there is a small catch. Both Player demons have to be killed within 15 seconds of each other, otherwise they can respawn. The Slayer can kill the other demons for health, ammo, and armor but the Player Demons can block the loot to starve the Slayer Player. It may seem very one-sided against the Slayer Player but it does make victory all the more rewarding.
Each match in Battlemode can last up to five rounds of which you only need to win three to claim ultimate victory. Between rounds, players can choose a perk that can help improve their chances of victory in the next round. You can XP from participating in Battlemode Matches and can earn even more when you win. Players can also earn XP by linking up with other players as Boosters. When the Booster players participate in online matches, they can earn XP for you that will help you level up your Event Level to earn Event Rewards.
The Nintendo Switch version of DOOM ETERNAL has a feature that is not included in any other versions of the game. It features Gyroscopic and motion controls. This makes aiming so much smoother even regardless of whether you are playing handheld, with a Joy-Con Grip, or with a Pro Controller.
As I mentioned before, players can find Cheat Codes during the main campaign. There are 14 in total and range from your typical ‘Unlimited Ammo’ and ‘Infinite Lives’ to more unconventional Cheats like ‘Party Mode’ where enemies will burst into confetti when gibbed and ‘QuakeCon Mode’ which will have an invisible audience cheer for you. You can access the cheat menu when pressing the Y button on the Mission select menu. With cheat Codes activated, you can progress through the game normally whilst feeling like a literal god, though some things like Slayer Gates keys will be unavailable to you.
Lastly, as I almost forgot to mention, DOOM ETERNAL has six levels of difficulty. For newcomers to the game, you can opt for the Easy difficulty ‘I’m Too Young To Die’. For those that are familiar with the DOOM series and are not afraid of a challenge, they can let literal Hell break loose in ‘Ultra-Nightmare’. During play sessions, you can alter the difficulty between four difficulty modes from I’m Too Young to Die up to Nightmare mode but Ultra-Nightmare and Extra Lives Mode are unavailable. You also can’t change difficulties in the previously mentioned game modes either.
Anyone remotely familiar with DOOM games will already know what they are in for regarding the music for DOOM ETERNAL. The soundtrack is packed with heavy metal music to get the adrenaline pumping. The music is very motivating and even more so when it ramps up during action-packed gunfights. I love rock music and heavy metal in general anyway so the soundtrack to this game was always going to be a winner with me.
The game has a lot of dialogue during gameplay and cutscenes but it is all fully voiced. Both Darin De Paul and Kevin Schon reprise their roles as the voices of Samuel Hayden and Vega respectively. What might surprises some players is that the normally silent protagonist Doom Slayer also has a few lines? However, we won’t tell you what he says. You will have to find out for yourself.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
DOOM ETERNAL is a fantastic looking game on other consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One, running at 4K at 60 fps. The Nintendo Switch version on the other hand might look as amazing as the other versions as it was given a major downgrade in order to run on the Nintendo Switch. That said, Panic Button has worked some seriously incredible magic to get the game running on Nintendo Switch at all.
In my opinion, the Nintendo Switch version of the game still looks really good. It may only be 720p and runs at 30 fps but that 30 fps is solid. The loading times between missions or reloading checkpoints is not a lengthy affair and is probably around 20-30 seconds wait time, which means you don’t have to wait too long to get back into the action again
There is a lot of image rendering and scaling going on that can cause some blurriness at times. This is an unfortunate side effect of the heavy optimization that has gone into the game but it doesn’t make the game unplayable. More often than not, the fast-paced action doesn’t give you the time to notice the drop in resolution or blurriness. Sure, it is much more noticeable during some cutscenes in Battlemode but it sorts itself before the online match actually starts.
I have been hyped for DOOM ETERNAL ever since it was first announced at E3 2018. After several delays, the game is finally here and on a video games console that I actually own. I am pleased to say that I have not been disappointed. It has been so much fun ripping and tearing my way through demon hordes and Panic Button is has done a marvelous job in bringing the game to Nintendo Switch.
As much as I enjoyed the game, I’m not afraid to admit that the difficulty arc is probably what I struggled with most. Even on the second-lowest difficulty, I was met with challenge every step of the way. The toughest enemies that constantly kicked my ass were the Marauders. Those shield & shotgun-wielding Hell Knights and the Hell Hound that accompanies them were not easy to take down and made some battles agonizing (though I guess that is kind of the point).
Another thing that can be frustrating is that the DOOM ETERNAL has a habit of crashing at the most inopportune times. I have experienced this a number of occasions in later missions and while it isn’t a game-breaker, it is something that will need to be addressed with a patch at a later date. That said, DOOM ETERNAL is still a phenomenal game and I can’t wait to continue the fight when ‘The Ancient Gods’ DLC comes to Switch, if and when that will be.
DOOM ETERNAL is without a doubt, the most badass game that you will ever get to play on Nintendo Switch. The non-stop action, the gory battles, and the rocking music will keep you enthralled from beginning to end. The Switch version may seem inferior to other versions but it is still a superior game on the hybrid console.
THE VERDICT: 9/10
*A review code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review
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