DOOM Eternal is just around the corner, but it loomed large over Bethesda’s Game Days event at PAX East 2020. The game brings the visceral and frenetic action of the 2016 reboot of the iconic franchise from the red wasteland of Mars to the more comfortable surroundings of post Hell invasion Earth. But while demons run rampant, there is one thing the denizens of Earth can do. They can pray for a savior to come from above to save them. They can pray for DOOM Guy to arrive once again. And arrive he does, based on the twenty minutes of gamplay I got to try out.
DOOM Eternal Hands-on Preview
Opening with the Hellish invasion of Earth, DOOM Eternal has you playing a near literal god of death, descending upon the demon masses like the fury of a thousand suns. Featuring religious speeches from the victims of the invasion, preaching about how only one thing can save the planet, the opening cutscene leaves you with one simple feeling: I’m about to be a badass demon slayer. And it totally delivers in both form and function.
Man this game is looking good. Running on a clearly powerful PC, the visuals were displayed in 4K at what looked to be a ridiculously high framerate. Everything was smooth, crisp, and gorgeous. There were moments where the gore and graphics on display left me simply stunned with how great it looked. But you don’t really come to DOOM for the graphics alone. Ever since the very beginning, but especially after the 2016 release, you come for the insanely fast shooter gameplay. That too was on full display.
There’s just something soothing about firing a few shotgun rounds into a demon’s chest before grabbing him and punching his head down so hard it fills the gap your slugs just opened up. The impressive and enjoyable glory kills system is back, of course, and it’s looking better than ever. But beyond that, the weapons have become more strategic in how you’ll use them, as compared to DOOM 2016.
In the demo I only got to try a few of the guns DOOM Eternal has to offer, along with a couple of the upgrades they’ll have. The shotgun, for example, can become an auto-shotgun or a grenade launcher. Switching between them, once unlocked, is quick and easy, and also necessary. Many enemies have weaknesses to certain weapons, or their attachments, such as the floating Cacodemon which can be practically one-shotted by firing a grenade into his open mouth then going for the Glory Kill.
All of this is handled seamlessly, keeping you in the action as much as possible. For this demo the map was pretty straightforward, propelling me toward killing a priest that lowered the overall invasion level of Earth. Along the way there was also some nice navigation, involving climbable walls and pipes you can swing off of toward higher perches. All of this lent well toward the action movie vibe this series is known for. The gameplay was fast, fun, and solidifed that id and Bethesda simply GET what makes DOOM work in 2020.
DOOM Eternal arrives on March 20th for PS4, Xbox One, and PC with a Switch version coming later this year.