Id Software’s new vision for Doom debuted at QuakeCon in 2014. As imps and demons were torn to shreds with bullets and chainsaws, the crowd roared in approval, and clearly wanted to see more.
Flash forward four years, and the bloodthirsty cry for more was answered: id once again gave QuakeCon attendees the first look at Doom Eternal, the next chapter in the studio's flagship series.
Id's Marty Stratton and Hugo Martin took to the stage with heavy metal blaring as loudly as the crowd's screams. Stratton was taken aback by the crowd's enthusiasm, giving them a, "F--- yeah. You guys are unbelievable. It's awesome to be back here."
The Doom Eternal presentation began with concept art that showed the Doom slayer’s new look, which includes armor tweaks and new tools. Stratton said id's focus was making this interpretation of the slayer the most powerful hero the studio has ever created.
As you can see, the slayer boasts modified armor with extendable blade, spikes on the gloves, an over-the-shoulder attachment (which can equip flamethrowers, missiles, and grenade launchers), and just as much green as he's always worn. His boots also grant him the ability to perform a new omnidirectional dash maneuver to give him a little burst of speed when he needs it.
While he looks like a formidable killing machine with nothing in his hands, id has developed plenty of new and updated weapons for him to wield. The return of the Super Shotgun was greeted with a cheer, which now has a Meat Hook below its barrels. The Meat Hook isn't just used to stab enemies in the face; it functions like a grapple that allows players to latch onto something at a great distance and pull the slayer closer to it. The momentum of that pull can propel him in different directions, allowing for vast amounts of space to be gained in the air.
Other new armaments include a handheld ballista, a redesigned rocket launcher, a plasma rifle, and something called the Crucible Sword. What will the Doom slayer use them against? Martin says this sequel boasts twice as many enemies as the previous game. Along with a host of demons we've never seen before, id is bringing back the Pain Elemental, Arachnotron, and Archvile, to name a few. One of the new beasts is named the Marauder, and Martin teased that he looks like the Doom slayer for a reason. The level of detail in each of these creatures is impressive, as are their death animations, which now unfold through new technology id calls "Destructible Demons." In a series of stills, we could see how taking bullets incrementally affects a demon's limbs, skin, and organs.
The new gameplay demo begins on a familiar note: With the slayer putting on his helmet. We then see him test out his blade by extending it for a second before retracting it. As he moves forward, it becomes quickly apparent we aren't in hell anymore. The fires are now on Earth tearing apart one of its cities. Skyscrapers lay in ruin, and demons are everywhere, even descending from the skies.
The first few minutes of action play out like a greatest hits reel from the previous game, showing the slayer unloading clips into slow-moving demons, and periodically rushing in to decapitate one or feed it its own heart as a meal. The fluidity of play is impressive, holding true to the 60 frames per second that id achieved in the original. The environment is wide open and vertical, allowing for the Meat Hook to be used to reach higher areas and stretch across fiery pits. We even see the slayer launch into the air, grab onto a yellow pipe for a split-second, and swing to another area. The gunplay seems rote at this point, but the slayer's range of mobility impresses, and he can even make new paths for himself by punching through walls or scurrying up them with his new gloves.
While the gunplay looks fun, the most interesting elements that occur during it are the little things, like the periodic flamethrower burst from his shoulder attachment, which stuns a couple of enemies, allowing for ammo to be sprayed at them safely. The glory kills are as violent as always, but none of the executions were radically different than stuff we saw in the last game. Heads go flying, bodies are split in two in a variety of ways, and a stern punch can splatter brains. The most interesting glory kills incorporated the slayer's new blade, which in one instance doubled as a skewer for a heart. You also don't seem to be rewarded with as much ammo or health for performing glory kills; the only pinata like effect we saw happened when the slayer ripped through an enemy with his chainsaw.
As fast-paced as the action was, id revealed that it was being played on a controller, and then showed what that same area and combat could look like when turned up a notch while being played on a keyboard and mouse. The heavy metal intensified and the bodies hit the floor at an almost hilarious speed.
This second playthrough also teased something new in an "Invasion" alert that appeared on the screen. Invasions allow you to enter another player's game as a demon. You can even invite a few of your friends to enter someone else's game together as a slayer hunting party.
Stratton said that the game won't just be set on Earth and Hell, and teased much more. "We're not just making a Doom game anymore. We're making a Doom universe," he said. One of these new destinations is Phobos, a technologically advanced place that houses a giant skyscraper-sized version of the BFG called the BFG 10,000.
When the slayer arrives on Phobos, the people running the station are in awe of him. They back away, murmuring how he shouldn't be there, and one guy is so speechless that he doesn't say anything when the slayer grabs the red keycard from around his neck and drags him in his wheeled chair to open a door. The slayer also silently takes a weapon out of the hands of a soldier. He apparently has quite the reputation here.
The Phobos area delivered more of the frenzied combat Doom is known for. The demonstration ends with a tease of a boss battle and the promise of a new weapon being used to tear this foe wide open – the Crucible Blade.
Doom Eternal doesn't have a release date or window yet, but is in development for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch. Let's hope this means the Switch version will launch alongside the others this time.
The crowd at QuakeCon ate up the violence again, but the cheers weren't as loud as in 2014. The shock factor just isn't there: id isn't reinventing the formula again. The roar of approval had more of a tone of "I can't wait to get my hands bloody in this world again,” and that's exactly what id is inviting players to do.