Never Ending Chaos
A direct continuation of DOOM Eternal’s main campaign, The Ancient Gods Part 1 is a non-stop adrenaline-fueled slaughter fest. It takes all the best parts of the main campaign and turns them up to 11.
Prepare to Die
The Ancient Gods Part 1 assumes you have a fully leveled up Doom Slayer, and from the first fight of the game it is obvious that you are going to have to bring your A-game to survive. Taking from the later parts of the main campaign, you are constantly faced with the toughest old and some incredibly difficult new enemies. Fights can last 5 to 10 minutes, and while playing on the middle difficulty out of 5 I died at least 50 times before the credits rolled.
There are no new weapons to unlock, but there are new Support Runes. There are three of these: one in each of the game’s three two-hour long levels. You can equip one at a time, though after making my initial choice, I never felt a need to deviate. There are a few new enemy types as well. One is a shielded version of the Maykr drones that have the same weakness (a charged shot to the head) but only show it when they are mid-attack. The other is the Spirit, which inhabits the bodies of any enemy type and buffs them with a much larger health pool and faster attack speed. The only way to kill these is to destroy the body they are in and then quickly use the microwave beam attachment on the Plasma Rifle.
Rip and Tear and Jump and Climb
There is less platforming than I remembered in the campaign. What is there is also more clearly laid out and I rarely felt lost on where to go with my next jump. Levels are long but checkpoints are plentiful. This helps as the game is so intense that it can be difficult to push an entire level at a time as the music is blaring from the non-stop action. The music is built off the main game soundtrack but long-time Bethesda composer Mick Gordon is off of the project. In his place is Andrew Hulshult, who does an admirable job adding new flavor to the style that Mr. Gordon has perfected.
The art team had a field day with the 3 locations. You start out in the middle of the ocean on Earth at a UAC facility. The views are fantastic as a strong storm keeps the sea looking as deadly as ever. Here you will find multiple swimming sections where taking advantage of the short cooldown on your dash makes things easy. The other two levels are far more exotic locales with the third and final level having some of the best vistas I have ever seen in a game. Everything ran beautifully on my Xbox One X with a steady 60 frames per second being matched by a dynamic 4k resolution.
This DLC is incredibly difficult but thanks to some of the best controls in FPS history, a diverse choice of weapons, and a smart balance of enemy strengths and weaknesses, it is also one of the best DLCs I have played in a long time. The story is far better than it has any right to be and it keeps up its mix of legitimately cool set pieces without ever becoming self-serious. If you loved DOOM Eternal then you will love The Ancient Gods Part 1. It is the best the series has ever been.
Reviewed on Xbox One X