Reviewed on Xbox Series X
Devil Slaying Madness
The Ancient Gods Part 2 is an incredible and fitting finale to the rebirth of the DOOM franchise that began back in 2016. With a clever evolution over the main campaign and first DLC and scope only matched by Avengers Endgame this DLC ups the bar for all future FPS games. The graphics on the Series X are stunning, the gameplay is brutal but fair, so let me walk you through this brilliant send-off for the DOOM Slayer.
The 4th and Final Chapter of New DOOM
The Ancient Gods Part 2 is hard. Much like the 1st DLC, there is a constant drumbeat of more throughout everything in comparison to the main campaign. You have a fully powered up Slayer after-all and developer ID Software is happy to make use of all his over-powered toys. Combat’s biggest addition is a new Sentinel Hammer that replaces the one-hit-kill sword. Instead, you now smash the ground stunning everything around you. This is key to taking out the Marauder enemies as the stun allows you to kill them in 5 seconds flat if you can weapon swap smartly enough. New enemy types are introduced as well. Barons with regenerating armor are a huge threat on the battlefield. There is a variant of the Shielded Soldier that takes zero damage upfront but dies instantly to an explosion behind him. A new type of IMP can only be easily killed by the auto-shotgun attachment, also there is a weak demon that lets out a death scream that powers up every enemy near it when it dies. One addition that I found most annoying and not that fun to fight against was a demon that poisoned you, and the only way to remove the debuff (which keeps you from being able to dash and makes your screen a dark green) was to glory punch him. Far too often the ability was on cooldown for me, and it led to a frustrating death.
Death is something you will have to get used to if you’re playing on anything above the easiest difficulty. This DLC is extremely hard, and it is nearly impossible for me to play on a standard controller. Without the back paddles of the elites to allow me access to jumping and dodging while I’m still aiming I was unable to get through the more difficult encounters. The gore nest mechanic from DOOM 2016 is brought back here in a fun way. Instead of being the way you choose to start a basic combat encounter, it is more like the Slayer Gates of Eternal’s main campaign. There are two levels to these fights, the first gives you an upgrade to your Hammer, and the 2nd earns you a cosmetic look for your Slayer. The first (of 3) levels nest I beat on the 1st try, but the 2nd level took me over a dozen. The fights are long, brutal, and incredibly fun. After completing the campaign I went back and tried them with a regular controller on easy and they were still challenging but by no means overly difficult in case you’re just looking for a good time while you enjoy the surprisingly good story.
Heaven vs. Hell vs. Man and the Best Graphics in the Biz
The story here is slightly more serious than the previous games but it never gets in the way. The voice acting and writing are solid and the third act opens up in a genuinely jaw-dropping moment. Without spoiling too much, since it’s the key-art of the game and is unavoidable) it’s Avengers Endgame. The armies of hell vs. everyone else, and you are there to rip and tear until the source of all evil himself is dead.
The game is still running in a backward-compatible mode essentially, but it very well may be the best-looking game on the console. Performance for me was flawless and the art direction is routinely stunning. The amount of detail during cutscenes is far improved over what I remember from the main campaign. The ID engine is a marvel and the thoughts of what their future titles will look like is incredibly exciting because even without going full next-gen this is one of the best looking and performing games of all time.
The music is solid, based heavily on the previous entries as Mick Gordon is no longer working with Bethesda. The intensity keeps you going even as your hands start to cramp from the non-stop and surprisingly long combat arenas.
Those combat arenas feature even more platforming now too! The big additions are the Grapple Hook points which float in the air waiting for your Super Shotgun grapple attachment to send you flying off them. There is a satisfying physics model for this and you’ll be using it to bend around corners in no time.
DOOM Eternal The Ancient Gods Part 2 is tight, focused, and a gripping end to the rebirth of the franchise that is an easy recommendation to any fan of the genre. Breathtaking graphics, great music, and an over-the-top story combine with the best gunplay in the business to give us a rousing send-off for the series for the time being. The main game is available on Xbox Game Pass and as ID is now owned by Xbox it should be on the service forever. Do yourself a favor and play this game, it’s truly incredible. DOOM Eternal is available on the Xbox One and Series X|S consoles. The main campaign is available on Game Pass though this DLC is not.