Doom Eternal transforms Doomguy into an ultra-violent Spider-Man

There can be no argument that the life of the Doom Slayer has been filled with countless badass moments, but his most badass moment of all happens in Doom Eternal. You can watch it in the video embedded above or here on YouTube.

The Doom Slayer has fought his way across Phobos, cutting demons open with his chainsaw, roasting them with his new shoulder-mounted flame-thrower, and firing his grappling hook into cacodeamons and swinging around the joint like an ultra-violent Spider-Man. But now he needs to leave Phobos and get his ass to Mars, which has been torn up so badly the core of the planet is exposed.

In order to get to Mars, he needs to reach a escape pod located on a chunk of the base that's floating through space, far from Phobos. So The Slayer stalks over to a massive, mounted cannon. He lifts the hatch and pushes the heavy torpedo out of the way with his boot. Then he climbs inside the cannon and fires himself through space like a goddamn human rocket, smashing through the outer wall of the base like a bunker buster.

Look, the guy needs to get to Mars. There simply wasn't anything left to kill on Phobos.

In Doom Eternal, when the Slayer isn't using himself as torpedo, he's killing demons with new weapons and powers. He has more ways to move with new abilities and traversal tools. And most importantly, Doom Eternal's level design is well-built around those systems, making it feel like the perfect chaotic playground to flex your new muscles in.

In my hands-on session with Doom Eternal in May, I had to remember the lessons of 2016's Doom: stop thinking of the demons as just enemies to kill but also as resources. If you're low on ammo in Eternal, you'll need to whip out your chainsaw and cut some monsters up, because using the chainsaw to kill a demon makes it drop ammo. If you need to replenish your armor, burning demons with your new shoulder-mounted flamethrower will make them drop armor shards. Set them on fire and then chainsaw them while they're burning, and you'll get even more resource drops. Health comes from glory kills, the lightning quick melee finishing moves that were introduced in 2016's Doom, where you rip out eyeballs, stomp heads into mush, and rip limbs off with your hands.

This makes combat a constant: you don't retreat when you're out of ammo or low on health, you advance. Hiding isn't going to help when the monsters are the ones filled with everything you need. No matter what's happening, and no matter your condition, you're a perpetual motion machine.

And you're well suited for that constant movement with Doom Eternal's traversal abilities. There's a dash ability that lurches you forward with a tap of the shift key, great for dodging projectiles, slipping out of range of a melee attack, or for quickly closing the distance between yourself and a nearby ammo crate (by which I mean a demon). You can also sink your fingers into certain types of walls and clamber straight up them, and then make a jump to a ledge or another climbable wall. Of course you can double-jump, which when combined with the dash renders you capable of launching yourself across great distances. Combined with the wall-climb ability, it turns levels into your own personal jungle gym. I spent as much time in the air as on the ground.

There aren't just abilities you use in combat, either, because Doom Eternal isn't just about splattering demons but also about careful exploration and finding secrets in the environment. I took time during the demo to look around in the quieter moments, and found several spots where I could clamber up to a vent or dash and jump my way to a catwalk. This exploration was as much fun as the combat, because just about every time I spied some distant nook or cranny and wondered if I could reach it, I could, with a little work. Secret areas can contain weapon mods or power-ups or a precious 1-Up token, which grants you an extra life, meaning when you die in combat you don't have to load from your last checkpoint. You'll be resurrected somewhere nearby with a few precious moments of invulnerability before you leap back into the fight.

Yes, it's a bit goofy to see a helmet marked with '1-Up' hovering in some secret room—why would that be there, and why would it say 1-Up? But it's no sillier than monsters dropping ammo because you've cut them in half with a chainsaw. It's Doom. It knows it's a video game. 

And let's not forget your new grappling hook attached to the end of your super shotgun. It's not meant for clamping on to cliff walls or stone masonry—it's called the Meathook, after all, and only sticks to demons. It's a real kick to use, too. You can target some hovering cacodemon and pull yourself toward it, bringing you quickly into range for a point-blank shotgun blast or melee kill. You can swing yourself in an arc across an arena while hooked into a monster, rather than just retracting in a straight line. It feels great, an entirely new way for the Slayer to yank himself into combat or quickly find a new position on the battlefield. Sink your Meathook in, and you're off.

The guns have changed, too. I leaned heavily on the new ballista, which fires a powerful projectile, a lot like Doom 2016's gauss cannon. It can also charge a shot that sticks to an enemy for a few moments before exploding—I don't know what purpose there is in the delay, but it is kinda fun watching the monster squirm around as it realize it's about to blow. The heavy cannon is great for mowing down enemies with a high rate of fire but also snapping off a quick, single sniper round without having to switch weapons, thanks to its scope. There's also a great microwave beam mod for the plasma cannon that stunlocks demons while damaging them. Hold the beam on their shuddering bodies long enough—it reminds me of Slimer being snared in Ghostbusters—and they'll explode, damaging any other demons nearby. I have the plasma rifle in my hands about 75% of the time anyway—I'm a basic Slayer like that—so I dig this mod, and there's a certain satisfaction in watching a demon get locked up and cooked to death.

The demons have changed, too, thanks to the new destructible demon system. With boss monsters like the arachnotron and the mancubus, targeting their primary weapons can actually disable them. They'll still be able to fight, but they'll lose their deadliest weapon, which makes it a good tactic in a showdown. Tackling bosses isn't just about draining their health now, but making them incapable of using the most damaging attacks.

Arena battles are both exhilarating and exhausting. With all your movement skills, plus elements like jump pads and steel beams you can swing from, you never really have a moment to stop and catch your breath. You're constantly re-positioning to deal with enemies while monitoring your ammo, health, and armor, trying to pick the right time to move in close to refill your resources when you need to, and trying to disable the toughest monsters' main weapons. When I'd killed the final enemy in an arena I'd just kind of stand there for a while, a bit wide-eyed, not even completely sure how I'd survived it all.

So, yeah, Doom Eternal is fun and fast and with all the new movement skills and abilities and guns and mods, it doesn't feel like just more Doom. It feels like Doom cranked up higher than it's ever been before. In other words, it's pretty badass.

Doom launches on November 22.

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.