id Software debuted Doom Eternal at Quakecon 2018 to thunderous applause. The game looks to build on Doom 2016’s success by going bigger and bloodier. With impressive new gameplay features, like the Meat Hook, and a smooth presentation, Doom Eternal impressed. Afterward, we got to meet up with directors Marty Stratton and Hugo Martin to learn more about the game.
Doom Eternal picks up after the events of Doom 2016. Bad things appear to have gone down between humans and demons, but id was mum on specific details. The developer’s philosophy behind Doom Eternal’s story is similar to the previous game. The A-story is about getting players through the game and having a blast while doing it. The B-story provides depth, context and additional lore to the proceedings.
While there’s plenty of lore and story to uncover in Doom Eternal, it’s not essential to enjoy the experience. Those who want to dig deeper will find a rich narrative sprinkled with intriguing lore, while those who want to blow things up can do that. An example provided to us came towards the end of the demo where the Doom Slayer pulls out the Crucible. For id, there are three ways players can interpret the moment. Depending on how they want to play, a player may think A) that’s a cool laser sword, B) the Crucible is back, or C) that’s a different Crucible from Doom 2016, so how did Doom Slayer get it and what happened to the other one?
id’s philosophy extends to the game’s setup. Humanity isn’t all on board with demon’s entering their plane of existence. Some share Olivia Pierce’s love of hell, and the rest want nothing to do with it. It’s up to players do discover what happened to humanity between the two games. Also left ambiguous is whether we’ll see angels or Heaven in Doom Eternal. Concept art displayed at Quakecon hinted at the possibility, but the developers aren’t saying anything yet.
Those hoping for more multiplayer experiences will be happy to know Doom Eternal features plenty of social activity. With Invasions, id’s objective was to make the Doom gameplay loop social. Enemy players can invade your game to play as a demon and try to kill you.
The genesis for Invasions stemmed from Doom 2016’s multiplayer. During matches, lucky players could transform into a handful of powerful demons from the campaign. While balancing was a mess, playing as one of those bloodthirsty beasts was fun, and id thought it’d be even more fun to bring that experience to single player. Invasions offer a dynamic way to play the game and make dull moments like walking down a hallway exciting.
Of course, players don’t have to participate in Invasions. The feature can be turned off in the menu, and those that do participate won’t have to worry about it affecting their campaign.
Snapmap, the fan-creation tool, won’t return in Doom Eternal. id revealed that one of the biggest criticisms they heard was that there was no single player DLC. Players wanted more id developed content, and so the developers opted to scrap Snapmap and focus those resources on post-launch single player content.
Competitive multiplayer in Doom 2016 was not developed internally at id Software. That won’t be the case with Doom Eternal as multiplayer is developed by id this time around. Expect additional details in the coming months.
Doom by its very nature is a wild and crazy experience, yet has a lot of thought behind the madness. id prides itself on giving players bombastic tools and putting them in crazy arenas, but they also take pride in crafting thoughtful encounters. Sometimes, to accomplish this, they need to show some restraint
id introduced two new mechanics at the Doom Eternal reveal, the Meat Hook and dash. Attached to the beloved double-barrel shotgun, the Meat Hook opens up new gameplay opportunities by allowing the Doom Slayer to grapple onto enemies. At first, id planned to enable the hook to attach to every surface. However, during the development, they found that the hook became less unique and tactical the more options players had. In the end, they opted only to allow players to grapple onto enemies, which encouraged more strategic gameplay.
The same is true of the dashing mechanic. Have unlimited dash, and it becomes too easy to abuse. Escaping enemies is simple and encounters become boring. By putting a cooldown on dashing, id hopes that players think carefully before using it up. The overall goal is for players to make up the difference between what equipment can and can’t do with skill.
Doom 2016 was a celebration of video gaming with its little collectible dolls, throwback levels, iconic weaponry and nods to other Bethesda Softworks titles. Doom Eternal takes that concept and goes overboard with even more old school throwbacks mixed into the new-school gameplay.
It all starts with the Doom Slayer’s iconic armor, which takes cues from the original design and throws in some new toys. Like the original armor, Eternal’s design features exposed forearms so that the slayer can show off his ‘guns.’ New to the model is a shoulder-mounted flamethrower and the Doom Blade, a wrist-mounted chainsaw.
Like the old games, Doom Eternal was intentionally designed to encourage exploration. The developers grew up playing games that rewarded players who traveled off the beaten path in search of secrets, which they wanted to emulate. In Doom Eternal, wandering off the beaten path nets players collectibles and special pickups, such as extra lives. Extra lives serve as a ‘get out of jail’ card that instantly respawns players into a fight without having to load a checkpoint.
id loves the fact that they can have a glowing green Extra Life pickup in their game and have it look natural. Something like that could never work in a game like Gears of War or The Last of Us, which aim for realism, yet fits perfectly in Doom Eternal. The developers are going all it in to make pickups super distinguishable by combining the right shaders and lighting. It’s the perfect blend of old school for a new school world.
The id Tech engine, which powered Doom 2016 and Wolfenstein II: The New Order, also powers Doom Eternal. id Software confirmed that the keynote demo was running on a high-end PC. Console players, however, should expect a top-notch experience from id. While PC continues to get lots of love from the developer, console players have nothing to worry about.
PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, which were not out May 2016, are a central focus this time around. The developers intend to push the enhanced consoles as hard as possible to attain a 4K image running at 60 FPS. As for the base PS4 and Xbox One, id says the game will still run well on them.
As for Nintendo Switch, id confirmed that they were impressed with Panic Button’s Doom 2016 port. They’re big fans of the platform, which is why they’re teaming up with Panic Button again. The id Tech engine provides impressive scalability, making it possible bring Doom Eternal to the Switch, even if some sacrifices are required (the Switch version remains capped at 30fps). The game is currently targeting a concurrent release date with the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions.
Doom Eternal is set for release on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.