I'm not sure what I was expecting when I first booted up The Ancient Gods expansion for Doom Eternal. From past experiences, usually new post-game content follows the same sort of design as the base game, where you slowly are accustomed to new things as the storyline progresses. With The Ancient Gods DLC also being playable as a standalone game, I thought this style of design would be even more so reflected, but I was completely wrong. In fact, this expansion makes the most Doom move possible by throwing you back into the deep end without even a moment's notice. Seriously, you start the new campaign, and bam! All those enemies you were used to fighting, Doom Hunters, Marauders, Cyber-Demons, Arch Viles - you name it, within fifteen minutes you'll be fighting it The Ancient Gods expansion.
Following on from the events of Doom Eternal, The Ancient Gods sees the Doom Guy help Dr. Samuel Hayden return to a more physical form, however as you'd expect, things take a slight detour, when the Doom Guy instead decides to resurrect the Dark Lord. As part of his plan to completely eradicate all demons, Doom Guy with the help of a strangely useful intern, travels throughout various new locations in Hell, as he looks to bring to life the ancient god, so he can send it straight back to the afterlife.
This part of The Ancient Gods expansion is exactly what Doom fans want out of post-launch content - more opportunities to blast demons into a squishy, bloody pulp. Players who already completed the main storyline in Doom Eternal will have an upper hand over those who haven't, as you will be familiar with all the combat and gameplay mechanics, which are just handed right back to you. No more messing around looking for new gear, just jump right in and whip out the BFG whenever you fancy.
The main body of what is new in this expansion is its storyline, there are a few other areas of which we will get to soon, but if you are expecting an entirely new Doom experience, The Ancient Gods isn't going to deliver that. The majority of what you face and are asked to do is rooted in familiarity with the base game, but there are some exceptions.
You will face a bunch of new demons, not as frequently as ones from the base game, but you will often meet new foes. For example, these could be Turrets, which are essentially floating eyeballs that shoot projectiles at you, alternatively, they could be Empowered Enemies, who are just regular foes who move faster and take more punishment before being defeated.
The most impressive new foe you will encounter are the Spectres, who are literally ghosts that inhabit demons making them stronger. Spectres require a Ghostbusters style of combat to take them down, where you blast the regular demon whose body the Spectre hides into smithereens, and then proceed to use the Plasma Rifle's beam-like modification to burst the Spectre like a water balloon. Trust me, it's exactly how you are picturing it.
Aside from these, you'll come across demonic cubes, tentacles, even sharks, but as cool as all of these foes are, they do not make up the majority of the demons in your path - that falls to the many you are accustomed to.
One of the more interesting parts to The Ancient Gods expansion are the locations you travel to, as they are more varied. There's no easy way to put it, Doom Eternal had a very red colour palette, to the point where it's hard to associate any other colour with it. In The Ancient Gods this isn't really the case. Sure, you spend plenty of time in Hell, but the locations you travel to are a little different. Take the Blood Swamps for example - you would probably assume they are very red and well... bloody, when in fact it's an actual swamp, fit with various dangerous flora and gigantic tentacles out to get you.
Due to how separate this expansion is from the base game, there are also very few collectibles for you to look for along the storyline. Codex pages are back with more lore to chew through, so are Slayer Gates/Keys, and Secret Encounters for you to tackle, but aside from that, there's very little else to look for. There are no Sentinel Batteries, Praetor Suit Points, Albums, or Toys, when you boil it down, The Ancient Gods DLC simply brings more combat to grind away at.
One of the most surprising areas that will probably shock Doom fans is how short this expansion is. It consists of only three missions, with one boss fight. That's it. Granted each mission is jam-packed with content, to the point where it can take an hour to burn through one on the medium difficulty, and considering this is only Part One as well, there is plenty more to come. As for the boss fight, I'm not going to dive into that to prevent spoiling the storyline, but let's just say it's reasonable. It's nothing revolutionary, but it is fun.
So, would it be smart to wait for all of The Ancient Gods storyline to drop before you jump into it? Maybe. Either way, this DLC builds on the fantastic combat systems that makes this rebooted Doom series great, and for me, that's all I really need.
When I look back over my playthrough of The Ancient Gods, I don't feel let down by the DLCs limited size, or unfulfilled with the lack of ingenuity throughout it. Instead, I'm happily content with what it has delivered in Part One. The reason why Doom is so fun to play is because of how tight its gameplay mechanics are, and how well designed every aspect of the title is. Part One of The Ancient Gods has reignited that fire in my Doom-loving heart, and quite frankly, I can't wait to see where Part Two takes us.