I started re-playing Doom 2016 when the second DLC for Doom Eternal was announced, because I knew I'd want to re-play through Eternal and play the DLC for the first time. I'm about finished with my re-play of the base game of Eternal and wanted to share my thoughts on the comparisons to Doom 2016, since it was such a hot topic when Eternal first released.
As the title says, I think that Doom 2016 has the better overall design while Eternal has the better combat – we can address the design first. Doom 2016's design is still just fantastic. It has a really bleak feel to it, and while some of the maps can feel a bit "same-y" (a lot of red desert), it just works. The HUD all has the matching blue color, the collectibles are all in-world (you actually pick up new guns, and the suit armor points are little cards you take off of dead bodies, etc), there's dead bodies and blood splatters everywhere – it just all meshes together very well and feels very "Doom". Contrast this with Eternal, which feels very "arcade-y" in nature. The HUD has all sorts of different neon colors, the new gun pickups are floating bright green holograms, etc.. I do appreciate that the maps actually feel varied and different, but it definitely doesn't feel quite as "Doom" to me as the environments of Doom 2016.
But now we get to the real crux of Eternal – the combat. They made a very key change to how the chainsaw works in Eternal, and from what I can tell, your enjoyment of the combat really hinges on whether or not you liked that change – but we'll get to that. First off, Doom 2016's combat is still excellent. It's very fast and fluid, and the guns feel great. But in my experience, I really just cycled between the same few weapons: the base shotgun with the grenade attachment, the heavy assault rifle with the missile attachment, and the rocket launcher with the lock-on attachment. If I started running out of ammo I'd use the plasma rifle (and the stun attachment for it was actually pretty useful sometimes) but that was it. I never touched the pistol, chain gun, gauss canon, and barely used the super shotgun. When I started running low on ammo with my "main" weapons, I'd use the chainsaw to get more ammo and then just continue the cycle.
With Eternal, if you haven't played, this is the change made to the chainsaw: rather that only finding fuel pickups, the first fuel level of the chainsaw will constantly recharge. They added this in addition to ammo being a bit more scarce, and the reason for doing so is to basically "force" you to use all of your weapons. With Doom 2016, it was architected more to let you use the weapons that you preferred, while Eternal makes you use all of the weapons as your disposal and I really like this change (but can completely understand why people would prefer Doom 2016's way). Getting rid of the pistol and updating some of the more lacking weaponry for Eternal makes each of the weapons actually feel relevant and useful – and one of the best examples is the Meathook. Adding the Meathook to the Super Shotgun was absolutely brilliant. You also have a more surefire way to get armor with the flamethrower, whereas in Doom 2016 your best bet was using the rune that made glory kills also drop armor as well.
Now, Eternal's combat isn't perfect – I said that it makes you use every weapon at your disposal, but honestly I think they give you a little bit too much. You get all of your guns (which each have up to two attachments if you unlock them all), your choice of grenade, the flame thrower, blood punch, glory kills, chainsaw, the sword, and the BFG – When you're in the thick of combat, it can be really difficult to remember all of your tools and which one would be the best to use for the current scenario. But while the combat in Doom 2016 was fast/fluid and sometimes intense, the combat in Eternal just feels like the intensity is cranked up to 11 and I really love that. I think it's masterful combat design and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do in the future.
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