Developer id Software seems to have echoed the philosophy of Daft Punk's Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger with Doom Eternal, as the first-person bloodbath amplifies the experience of its predecessor with twice the amount of demons, the most powerful Doomguy ever, and more rapid methods of traversal.
At Quakecon 2018, we got to see a whole lot more of the upcoming title, a spectacle which was purposely absent from E3 and worked to bookend the opening keynote of Bethesda's annual showcase. Attending the event, we also got the opportunity to sit down with game director Marty Stratton and creative director Hugo Martin to hear more about the upcoming FPS, and there's plenty to talk about.
Doomguy's all-new meat hook took a prominent focus within the gameplay reveal, and it appears to make the quick action much more fluid. Stratton told us that it can only be used to tether into the flesh of enemies - meaning that faster traversal is only possible when you're inflicting pain - and the crowd roared during the trailer as the slayer grappled himself towards an Imp and exploded its face with the super shotgun. Other methods of traversal were also teased here as we saw the player swing off a pipe and climb up walls, which all resulted in a constant ballet of destruction.
The gameplay trailer also saw a few more subtle reveals about the changes to combat and some of the new weapons that we can expect to see. We saw the aforementioned meat hook in action as the slayer threw it through the throats of demons and decapitated others in mid-air after tripping them up, but some old favourites are back too, including the shotgun, sticky mines, and assault rifles.
Melee has also received more of a focus this time. and the team revealed that they wished to make it more of a suitable alternative to gunplay. As Stratton put it: "Our team has spent a major focus making the feeling of a melee as impactful as using a gun." What's more is that demons are now destructible and will visually communicate the damage that you've inflicted on them, as chunks fly off with every bullet. We were shown stills of a Cacodemon that was missing parts of its flesh, horns, and even its eyeball after what we can presume was an intense firefight, for example, and this is said to be different for each enemy within the game.
Hugo Martin mentioned that your hero is only as powerful as the enemies he has to slay, and with the most powerful slayer featured within Eternal there has of course been many formidable beasts added to make him worthy of this illustrious title. The expansive roster of demons this time features both old and new faces and promises to be twice as large as that featured within Doom 2016, including one we got a glimpse of called the Marauder, which looks curiously similar to the Doomguy himself. The devs acknowledged this and teased that there would be some backstory present detailing the pair's identical appearance.
The Hell on Earth setting that first debuted at E3 took up the bulk of the showcase, and it looked incredible seeing such a relatable cityscape locale engulfed in flames, drenched in blood, and inhabited by many grotesque-looking demons. The footage showed the ID Tech 7 engine in full force here, which we were told could display seven times the detail of what the developer has been able to put on screen before.
It was also revealed that Doom Eternal would be taking players on a journey to places never seen before, but both Stratton and Martin both remained tight-lipped when pressed on the exact details of these locales. We did get a look at another level within the game though, and this was the human base in Photos, an area that was also playable within the 2016 game.
Eternal's story was revealed to be a continuation from the reboot and follows after "a short amount of time has passed". This time the team at id Software wanted to create a narrative with depth for those that craved it, whilst also giving players the option to power through the campaign if they wished. "If you want to blast through Doom and just murder demons and have an action FPS experience you can, but we will give you enough story in a very Doom-like way for you to understand what we call the A-story," Martin explained. "Then if you want to have more context for the people you are talking to, the places you are going to and maybe the reason behind what you are doing in Doom Eternal - that's where we are going to ask you to poke in the corners. So it's entirely up to the player."
An unexpected announcement was that players can invade the campaigns of their friends and strangers by possessing demons. In our roundtable discussion, Martin pointed towards his love of Bloodborne when asked whether this feature was inspired by the Souls series, saying: "Certainly I think From Software games are some of the best games being made right now, so yeah, it seemed like something that would fit really well within Doom Eternal." We also heard that players can team up to create a "demon hunting party," and that there's even the option to turn this feature off completely for those who don't wish to be disturbed.
The pair briefly touched on other multiplayer modes too, stating that SnapMap is now gone, with Stratton adding: "We are not working on SnapMap for a lot of different reasons. We really wanted to focus our efforts on some of the things that people thought were lacking. We've heard a lot of feedback that people wanted content after release - they wanted DLC from
us, then wanted us to continue to make campaign content for the game and SnapMap didn't really scratch that itch for a lot of people, so we kind of shifted our focus to making the game more flexible for us to add really really compelling content post-launch."
Although the release window is nothing concrete, a rough 2019 window has been established, and there are plans for a Switch port right from launch. We expect to hear more in the coming months about the new levels and PvP content, and whilst the wait for our next trip to Hell may seem arduous, Microsoft may have birthed a solution to help ease the pain for many, as Doom 2016 has landed alongside Rage on the Xbox Game Pass service. As for now though, Eternal looks to be shaping up nicely, and we're intrigued to see what it delivers when it launches.
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