When DOOM Eternal’s gameplay trailer debuted at QuakeCon last week, one element that surprised me was the “Extra Life” powerup that briefly appeared on-screen in between DoomGuy’s demonic eviscerations. While I’m all for DOOM’s newly old style of play, surely re-introducing the concept of “lives” is going a bit far.
Luckily, Marty Stratton, Doom Eternal’s executive producer, has since explained how DOOM’s extra lives work. “It’s just like our checkpoint system,” he said in an interview with VG247. “It’s just now you don’t have to go all the way back to the checkpoint and play back through that combat encounter.
“So if you’re almost to another checkpoint or you’re in a boss fight or something, your extra life, if you die, kicks in and the screen goes grey and you are invulnerable for a little bit. You can keep fighting, reposition yourself, and you’re right back in the action where you left off without losing any progress.”
As someone who recalls being stuck on one particular battle in 2016’s DOOM for at least half an hour, this news is more welcome than a super-shotgun on Phobos. It’s not simply about giving the player a helping hand, however. Apparently extra lives are also intended as a balancing agent for Eternal’s new invasion system, where squads of other players can drop into your game as a cluster of demons. The idea is to take the sting out of being suddenly kicked in the chaingun by a bunch of random internet folk, while still allowing those invading players to kill you and claim victory.
It can’t be easy iterating on a game that defined itself by going back to basics, but most of the ideas id have presented so far seem spot on, and this is another one. Sadly, Stratton didn’t comment on whether we’ll have to write down passwords to access later levels in the game.