id's frenetic shooter is our Best FPS of 2020. We'll be updating our GOTY 2020 hub with new awards and personal picks throughout December.
James Davenport: I could fill a bathtub with the palm sweat Doom Eternal milked from me this year. It is easily the most intense shooter of 2020, and not just because it throws dozens of demons at you at once.
Arenas are filled with hazards and demon compositions designed to test FPS habits, old and new. The most hated enemy of 2020 might be the Marauder, who inverts your embedded Doom habits with melee duels. The expansion continues the trend: The spirit possesses and buffs fellow demons, while the giant tentacle pancakes whole arenas while the ants (you and co) below duke it out. Pointing and clicking alone won't cut the cake. Eternal demands sharp situational awareness at 1,000 miles-per-hour.
All the while you're treading water, topping off resources with glory kills, fire, and chainsaws. Doom Eternal is a violent give-and-take that tests endurance, reflex, and wit in equal measure. Don't forget to breathe.
Evan Lahti: One of the interesting criticisms of Doom Eternal is that it's "overdesigned." id scattered piles of stuff to collect across Eternals' hellscarred worlds: Sentinel Crystals, Sentinel Batteries, Slayer Keys, Runes, one-ups, Doomfish, character and weapon skins, weapon mods… you can't walk 50 feet without stumbling into some kind of floating, glowing pickup. I did feel like the overemphasis on these resources took some of the purity out of the action, but the bigger point remains: Doom Eternal is one of the only singleplayer FPSes that draws out that rare, electric feeling of genuine improvisation. Every other major FPS campaign of the last few years, pleasant as they might've been—Far Cry, Wolfenstein, Call of Duty—doesn't produce spur-of-the-moment reactions as a baseline.
And despite that very modern progression system, Eternal achieves this the old-fashioned way: by empowering you with progressively more agility and throwing stupid amounts of evil at you. Whatever cocktail of bad guys Eternal spills into the environment, mindlessly spamming your favorite weapon isn't going to cut them down. You're probably going to have to move continuously, juggle your weapons to preserve ammo, and find the right moment to refill your armor and health by turning enemies into power-up piñatas with the flame belch. When you pull it off, you feel like your motor skills are driving Doomguy faster than you can make sense of what's happening, and it's glorious.
Jeremy Peel: I’m tentatively picking up Quake multiplayer on the eve of 2021, and that’s down to Doom Eternal. Id’s single-player campaign leaned even further into the level design of deathmatch than its predecessor, kitting arenas out with jump-pads and garish pickups. It works a treat, keeping you moving and weapon-swapping, gasping for air under a constant hail of fiery projectiles.
At the same time, I’m pretty convinced at this point that Doom would make an excellent CCG. id's battlefield is stuffed with demons who demand specific counters, and responding to individual threats as they materialise pushes you to engage the strategy nodes of your brain. If you ever hear 'shooter' prefixed with the word 'dumb', Doom Eternal can be whipped out as proof to the contrary.