Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two Review
The second half of The Ancient Gods DLC takes everything that made the first part feel like a chore and fixes it. It builds on and improves the counter-focused combat so effectively that I now retroactively appreciate Part One for what it was trying to do. The final three levels are the best ones yet, and every extra ability, enemy, and mechanic they add only serves to make Doom Eternal the perfect Doom game. The only problem now is that I can’t imagine how the series gets better than this.
As with the previous DLC, The Ancient Gods Part 2 introduces a handful of new enemy types that require very specific tactics to defeat. In my review of Part One, I was critical of the new Turrets, Blood Makyrs, and Spirit enemies that could only be killed using a specific weapon with a specific mod. More often than not, these enemies disrupted the flow of combat and caused me to disengage entirely while I tried to remember which combination of weapon and mod I needed, switch to it, and pray I had enough ammo. Rather than reward using the right tool for the job, the enemies punished you for using the wrong one.
The new additions to Part Two offer more reward than retribution, and they’re all so much more fun to fight. The Armored Baron, for example, has heavy plate armor that will break off if you shoot at it enough, but if you snipe his mace right before he attacks, the armor will explode off, saving you a lot of time. Similarly, the Stone Imps can withstand an unbelievable amount of damage, but if you unload on it with the auto-shotgun mod, it melts in a matter of seconds. The Stone Imps also drop extra shotgun ammo when they die, further rewarding you for exploiting their weakness.
Other new additions require special tactics rather than special weapons. The Riot Soldiers have impenetrable shields but die quickly if attacked from behind. You may use the remote detonated rocket launcher mod to sneak a rocket behind them, or you might use the quick hook on the super shotgun to fling yourself around and shoot them before they can turn to face you. There’s also the Screecher Zombies that buff all nearby demons when they die, so the best strategy is to keep them alive until everything else falls. These enemy types complicate fights in a way that encourages you to be creative, rather than restrict your options.
It feels like developers learned this lesson from Part One and focused on maximizing rewarding combat in Part Two. There are so many arenas in these final levels that are specifically designed to make you feel like a god. One room presents an overwhelming number of Stone Imps, but the floor is also covered wall to wall with shotgun ammo, allowing you to hold down the trigger and mow everything down with reckless abandon.
The new ability, the sentinel hammer, supports Part Two’s reward philosophy even more. The hammer allows you to do a jumping overhead attack that stuns enemies in the area. When used in conjunction with the flame breath or ice bomb, the hammer also provides a boon of armor or ammo, respectively.
That would be a fine ability on its own, but the number of ways the hammer can be used to counter specific enemies makes it the most useful tool in the game. Armored Barons and Marauders will be stunned for an extended amount of time when you use the hammer right after countering them with a timed hit. This makes it possible to kill both enemies in a single phase, which is still hard to believe after dancing around with Marauders for what felt like hours before. The hammer also destroys blue shields, which instantly makes both Carcasses and Doom Hunters feel trivial. Just being able to easily stun a charging Hell Knight or Whiplash so that you can get in some easy hits feels incredibly powerful. The hammer recharges after you perform a few glory kills or destroy some demon parts, so it’s constantly available, and always useful.
My only grievance with The Ancient Gods Part Two, and it’s a big one, is the final boss. I’ve never been impressed with any of the Doom bosses, but this one is especially underwhelming. He’s just a big Marauder. He uses the same abilities, you counter him the same way, and you fight him in a flat, circular arena. It’s not hard, but it’s tedious because it requires nothing from you other than a quick reaction time. Every time the boss hits you he heals himself, and he has five health bars. It is not an enjoyable fight.
I don’t know why Doom bosses are so bad. The Icon of Sin at the end of the base game is the closest the series has gotten to the kind of big, cinematic boss fights I’d love to see in these games, and even that fight is just a war of attrition. The final level of The Ancient Gods is a massive battle for the fate of the multiverse. There are flying warships, dragons, demons fighting mechs the size of skyscrapers, and legions of warriors pouring out of big Avengers: Endgame portals to take the fight to the Devil himself. But when you finally get there, it’s the most forgettable thing in the whole game.
Obviously, this isn’t the end for Doom Guy. I’m just not totally sure where Doom can go from here. Boss fights withstanding, Doom Eternal has maximized the variety and complexity that a Doom game can have. The next room is going to have to totally reinvent the series again, because it doesn’t seem possible to outdo this game. We’ve killed God, we’ve killed the Devil (in that order) so what’s next? I don’t know if Doom can get better than this, but I can’t wait to find out.
A review code for Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part Two was provided to The Gamer for this review. The Ancient Gods – Part Two is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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