'Doom Eternal' Is Too Much of Too Few Good Things

When my friend gave me a cracked copy of Quake and Quake 2, he tossed it a mix CD that he thought made a better soundtrack to the games. The lead track was the Smashing Pumpkins cover of Alice Cooper’s “Clones” and so my indelible memory of Quake 2 is a blur of violence, demons, and explosions set to a guitar line that sounded like a siren and Billy Corgan’s alienated, lullaby delivery as he sang of society’s destruction at the hands of the disaffected masses.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/884byk/doom-eternal-review
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If I had to extrapolate my first hour or so with the game into a full review, it would probably read like this. Doom throws a lot at you in a very short period of time. It’s still a lot of fun to play, but it goes from zero to ZOMG in the space of about twenty minutes. Pro tip: the “three comet looking symbols in a circle” is the “full auto” mod for the combat shotgun and the “filled-in crosshairs” is the sticky bomb. The game doesn’t tell you that.

Between this and Cameron Kunzelman’s review, kinda worried now about this. I might hold out for a months because $60 for like a 15 hour tops game isn’t worth it. (Especially when I’m terrified if I’ll have a job next week.)

I kinda felt the same way at the end of the last game. The final section of Doom 2016 when you are in Hell, and the final hour or two is just “Drop into Red Arena, fight dudes, unlock gate, drop into red arena, fight dudes repeat”. There was this nagging sense of “I like this game, can we just be done with it?”

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I’ve played the first couple of missions and I’m enjoying it so far. The levels are way too long but the combat encounters are great, it feels great to play, and I like how the environments look. I’m also just into collectables so I don’t at all mind there being so many of them.

That being said, the one big problem I have with it so far is that its humor can be really ableist. So far there’s been a running gag in audio logs and in an easter egg where demons are called the “mortally challenged”. It also takes a dig at “outrage culture”.

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It fucking sucks. And I hear it only leans more into this stuff in the back half of the game.

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Oh no. I would have thought the collective vomit at the first one of those jokes when the game was first shown would have inspired a rewrite.

Gah, that looks unbearably snarky and written by someone who’s watched one too many of the wrong types of YouTube videos.

I might be overthinking this, and I haven’t played the game yet so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt, but I feel like this could also be read as a parasitic, malevolent, institution cynically using identity to paint resistance to it as “toxic”. In DOOM 2016, you had the UAC using sanitized corporate lingo to disguise the fact that they were committing human sacrifice and allowing their workers to be possessed, so it makes some kinda sense to have demons disingenuously use “woke” terminology, now that they’ve fully infiltrated our society.

(Edited because I wanted to clarify my point a bit)

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I thought that it might be that when this stuff first popped up in a preview video, but having played the game now I’m pretty sure that it’s not. The UAC aren’t the only ones calling demons “mortally challenged”. The first time the term pops up in the game is in an audio log from a group of human survivors, which reports that the Doom Slayer was spotted killing the “mortally challenged”.

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The Dallas suburbs and the game industry has the exact right overlap of boomer-age dudes who think that kind of thing is funny.

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Yeah, i’m probably a little over halfway into it and it seems like it’s just a blanket term everyone uses because it’s both been in arc broadcasts and UAC cultist facility voiceover stuff. It’s not great.

That said, i was having a similar issue to Rob where i was enjoying the combat but when i thought about it I couldn’t really remember specific encounters apart from one absolutely brutal secret but the levels I just did really seemed to step up the bar in terms of that. The slayer gate in particular was very on point and I definitely felt like the doom slayer after doing it without even losing a life.

The game is at such full volume from the jump that it really lets small moments like this shine for me https://twitter.com/cowboyclickbait/status/1241436144153161730

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Yeah, a lot of the collectables and easter eggs are really neat. My favorite might be the floppy disks with cheat codes.

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I’m curious what they’ll say about Hades. A lot seems similar to my experience with Hades. Except I’m loving it. I’m pacing myself, playing one run a day at most, something a reviewer can’t do, so I haven’t gotten tired of it 60+ runs in. The sameness of the mechanical experience has been diminished by just how good it all feels.
I’m still at the start of Doom eternal, but I can see where Rob is coming from. It still has not gotten dull, but I’m still less invested in it than in Hades.

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From watching people play Hades, though, it has a defter weaving of narrative into the game itself - yes, it’s still “arena combat” punctuated by social and narrative stuff, but the narrative stuff seems to have a bit more weight to it than Doom Eternal, which is just “telling you a story via mostly prose text collectables”. (And I think Hades is designed to be replayed a lot more than Doom Eternal is - it’s a roguelikelike after all.)