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Feature Article

Doom Eternal Will Be A More Immersive And Gruesome Descent Into Hell

Fight like hell.

Doom Eternal's gameplay debut at QuakeCon 2018 managed to hit all the right notes while highlighting the carnage of a one-man war against the forces of Hell. The follow-up to Doom (2016) manages to make its predecessor look tame by comparison, with a set of new abilities and weapons, along with an expanded traversal system through a grappling hook attached to a shotgun. With the return of the Doom Slayer--a reimagined take on the enigmatic yet equally dull DoomGuy of the original games--the developers want players to feel even more immersed in the role of the silent and imposing protagonist.

One of the biggest surprises is the new Invasion mode to complement another robust campaign, bringing enemy players into a traditional single-player experience. To go with greater focus on unique content, Doom Eternal will drop its predecessor's SnapMap mode, in favor of new DLC focusing on the exploits of the Doom Slayer. In our talk with creative director Hugo Martin and executive producer Marty Stratton, they spoke about how much the game has changed since its 2016 predecessor, and why its new features will make it more exciting than ever.

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Since its unveiling at E3 2018, the reception for Doom Eternal has been very positive. Do you have any reactions to the overall response from E3 and from QuakeCon as well?

Hugo Martin: It's been amazing. We're really excited to be able to give them something to look forward to. We've been working on it really hard and we're just very excited to share it with the fans and to see their reaction; it's very validating.

Marty Stratton: Yeah, we basically started on the game from a pre-production perspective right after we finished Doom that released in 2016. As a team we've been working on it for a couple years now so both the tease at E3, the CG teaser at E3, and then certainly [Friday] with the fans here has been amazing. They give us so much passion and energy and enthusiasm, and we had our entire team in the audience so they got to feel it as well. We did it in 2014 at QuakeCon kind of revealed the game to a crowd there, and doing it again like that this year at this QuakeCon was tremendous, it was awesome.

Looking back, were you surprised to see just how much people enjoyed Doom 2016?

Martin: I mean we believed in it. Internally, we all loved it and we knew it was fun to play, so I wasn't surprised. I was just relieved to see that it had caught on with people. I was surprised to see just how far and how much some of the stuff caught on, to what degree it caught on, whether it's lore or just subtle mechanic things or just the tone, just a lot of things you spend time on and you see more and more people recognize it. That was really satisfying.

Despite the protagonist being silent, and the groundwork laid by the original games being somewhat bare, the last game had a lot of personality to it. Can you talk about how you plan to not only expand the lore of the Doom Slayer, but also the world itself?

Martin: It's definitely a continuation of what we started in 2016. We laid the groundwork for a lot of this stuff and we hope to answer a lot of the questions that we put in players' minds in 2016, and then maybe leave them with some new ones so we have somewhere to go. We want to take fans to some really interesting locations beyond just Hell and Mars. So we're going to Earth this time and there are a few other places that we haven't revealed yet, but we showed some concept art that I think hints heavily towards some really epic locations. But at the end of the day, it's about killing really cool demons with awesome guns in fantastic locations. We want to make sure that that universe is full of that stuff.

Stratton: I feel like our team has really started to hit a stride with this [game]. When you get better at something you're able to expose more to people through the experience and I think that's what's kind of hitting the mark now with this stuff. And honestly we're just [at the] tip of the iceberg and I hope we just continue to plow forward for years getting better and better and being able to give the fans more and more of what they want.

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One thing that was unexpected was the new Invasion mode. It's got vibes similar to Dark Souls, where other players will encroach upon your solo space at surprising moments. Can you talk about the initial ideas for that and how it fits into the ideal Doom experience?

Martin: For the invasions, as we showed in the gameplay video, it seemed like the best way to do it and stay within ourselves as a Doom game. It's really fun. We're only teasing it because obviously there's a bunch of other stuff related to it, but we can say that it will take incidental combat areas, take all you know about them, and make it really interesting. If your game hasn't been invaded and you walk down a hall, it's no big deal, it's just a hall with a couple zombies, whatever. But if you walk down that hall and you know you have invaders in your game it's gonna make that experience really thrilling 'cause you don't know where they are, you don't know what they're gonna do, or when they're gonna attack. It sort of makes the 'Doom dance' social. Overall, it's good for the game and it's fun for the invader and the person being invaded.

There's clearly a lot more focus on mobility in Doom Eternal. With the grappling hook and new dashing mechanic, it seems like you're going all in with the new movement style. What was the motivation for that?

Martin: I think we wanted to make sure that the incidental combat areas, which are the spaces in between the large combat arenas, would be more interesting in Doom Eternal. But when you take those abilities into combat, you start to take those moves and combine them together into what we call traversal combos, and you're gonna do some really cool things. You can cover a lot of ground with a monkey bar swing, a double jump, two dashes, and a grapple hook--and then you add wall climbing to that and I think it's going to make for some really interesting traversals. It has an impact on the way the levels are designed; they're designed maybe not so two-dimensional and flat, and now we can do a lot more different things that we couldn't do before. We've provided ourselves with the tools to be able to make some really compelling spaces.

Staying on the move and in the air seems a lot more challenging and engaging this time around. But at the same, it ties into player expression during combat.

Stratton: That's the game. It feels good to stay in the air as long as you can. We give you a bunch of these things to allow you to do that. It happens. It's just intuitive, you feel like you want to do it, so we provide you with the chance to do it.

Martin: Yeah, in fact that second gameplay video we put out has a player on mouse and keyboard, and he's one of our better players in the office. He plays so well. He'll leave a Pain Elemental flying around so that he can use it, 'cause you can only grapple [or] meat hook to demons. The grappling hook is not a world grapple, like you can't grapple onto the side of a building. You have to grapple to a demon, so he leaves a demon flying around so that he can use it as a grapple point to get wherever he wants in the space. It creates more opportunities, more things to think about as you're playing the game. More opportunities to kind of improv your way through the fight choreography.

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Usually when you make sequels, you gotta go bigger. So when you look at Doom Eternal, did you face any challenges to not only not over do it as a sequel, but also to keep things consistent with what people expect from Doom?

Martin: I think as long as you have the right filters in place, everything was built around the simple question: how do we make the player feel aggressive or encourage them to become more aggressive? Anything that falls under that category will be successful, it will feel like Doom. It begins with the questions you ask yourself as a creative, if you're getting the wrong answers then you're probably asking yourself the wrong questions. If it was like, how do we make the Slayer feel more stealthy? Or how do we avoid enemy contact more easily? Those are the wrong questions to ask. It's just basically like the whole thing about Doom 2016, and why it felt refreshing. Nothing was holding you back, so combat is just about an expression of aggression.

Stratton: It's not even just about asking yourself those questions as a creative, it's about asking yourself those as a player. We spend a lot of time playing this game, and spent a lot of time playing Doom (2016). It's all about that playable experience, first and foremost. I think that's the first filter, from a gameplay perspective, from a player's perspective-- you ask yourself, "what do I want to do?"

Can you talk a little about that bridge scene in the second gameplay video? The Doom Slayer is walking in, and the people in the area are clearly afraid of him. It almost felt like an inverse of a scene from Halo with Master Chief, who's a largely stoic and noble space marine.

Martin: Yeah, it's just mostly to make the player feel strong. Definitely not Master Chief. I love Master Chief, absolutely. We're Halo fans, we love those games. Not to say anything negative about their game but we actually looked to scenes in films, like when RoboCop enters the police station for the first time or when The Terminator enters the area. We likened it to a tiger entering the room, like how would a bunch of scientists act if a huge tiger entered the room? You know what I mean? They'd all back up, and especially when he slowly comes up on that guard and kind of stares at him for a beat, you hope the tiger just keeps on walking and for everybody else he does, but then we've all seen that movie where the tiger stops at the one guy and kind of sniffs him and he's just terrified. That was kind of the touch stone there, to just make the player feels powerful and to tell that story.

You could see that there's an internal struggle going on within the UAC, not everybody's on board with this. Clearly Top Brass at the UAC is trying to bring about the demon apocalypse and not everybody is aware of this 'cause they're actually fighting against the demons. They know who The Slayer is based on their reactions, or at least they've heard of the legend of The Slayer. It's fun. We're glad that people liked it, it seems to have resonated with people. I think the best part is the story and the tone of that, and the way it makes the player feel is very consistent with the way they feel when they play the game. There's no disconnect between the story and gameplay moments. It's funny to call it our cinematic story moment. It is a walk down a hall but that's good, we're proud of that. It's very lean, but it resonated with people and mainly it's consistent with how you feel when you play.

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Stratton: The fact that it's done in a video game medium, you're telling the story as only video games can--in a good way. Which is: you're in the helmet, it's not third person, it's not some fancy camera shot that you're seeing, you're not observing the Doom Slayer walk through that space, you are the Doom Slayer walking through that space and you see it through his eyes. You get the sense of power represented in you. It's why I'm such a fan of it too. You couldn't do that scene that way in a film and have it pulled off the same with that kind of first-person perspective. The fact that it's truly made for a video game, where a cinematic scene for a video game is told in a very consistent way is just the cool part of it. Definitely.

For more info from QuakeCon 2018, be sure to check out our coverage below on the latest from Fallout 76, Rage 2, and Doom Eternal.

QuakeCon 2018

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Avatar image for ecs33
ecs33

I am beyond psyched for this game. One of the coolest things about Doom 2 was the progression in level design. It definitely seemed like environments were more normal in the beginning then slowly warped and became more crazy and surreal as you got towards the end. There wasn't much lore surrounding it but they definitely conveyed the emotion right just with the level design. I think these guys know that and are aiming for the same using a combination of environment progression and modern methods of story telling.

I agree with the decision to drop snapmap. It was way too modular and very little in the way of customization. But I can imagine how difficult it can be to have a Doom WAD like editor in today's advanced engines. I was hoping for something really granular but perhaps it's just not realistic anymore.

But I'm all for DLC for a few years, assuming they are loaded with content and are complete ripoffs. It will keep this game alive for much longer.

Avatar image for jinzo9988
jinzo9988

I love the grappling hook. Before, you just killed everything on sight but now you might want to leave certain baddies alive for the express purpose of using them as grappling hook fodder, something like a Cacodemon flying around for example so you can grapple onto it and fly around the map. It opens up a lot of possibilities for the occasional platforming segments that its predecessor had too.

Avatar image for BabeNewelll
BabeNewelll

........... And better than any other FPS 2019 :D /dances

Avatar image for davillain-
DaVillain-

As long as the Campaign is satisfying from the previous Doom 2016 is all I ask for. No MP focus, just single player only.

Online
Avatar image for BabeNewelll
BabeNewelll

@davillain-: The Doom 2016 campaign is on par with Half-Life 2 if you know what a i mean ;)

Avatar image for Janpieterzun
Janpieterzun

cannot wait for this doom 2016 was a sleeper bought back then, sat in my library for a year then decided to play it and my god was that game good, this time around jumping in Doom Eternal feet first, was amazing how strategic that gorefest was. Old school shooter with a modern revamp, more of this please!

Avatar image for gameroutlawzz
GamerOuTLaWzz

Both this and RE2mastered are my most anticipated games. 2016 Doom was a pure BLAST from beginning to the end and I always felt like I wnated more and this looks like it will bring MUCH more to the table. Hope the campaign is twice as long. Couldnt care about the MP.

Avatar image for ecs33
ecs33

@gameroutlawzz: Same here. They are the only games I really anticipate for next year lol.

Well Fallout 76 looks interesting too

Avatar image for lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

@gameroutlawzz: I agree with an exception I did not like MP in Doom 16 it felt dull and repetitive However, I am into options and as long as the SP side gives me good playtime I could care less if MP is added or not. I can't wait the RE2 Remaster and look to go back in and get some Zombie justice.

Avatar image for ecs33
ecs33

@lonewolf1044: MP is a bit overplayed right now lol. I think we're seeing a revitalization of SP because people just need a break from all the competitive gaming. Atleast I feel that way.

I adore this invasion system. It's the perfect combination of keeping the focus SP but adding some collaborative and competitive aspect to it. I can envision banding up with my friends and invading other people in hardcore mode, lmao. That is a griefer's dream

Avatar image for J_P-
J_P-

Honestly I think Nu Doom is crap compared to the classics, not to mention they also have mod support and properly featured non-restrictive map editors.

Avatar image for NaturallyEvil
NaturallyEvil

@J_P-: True. I still liked the game, but it feels like it's made to cater to the kids who who just used to turn on cheat codes and run straight up to all the monsters' faces. The new one also feels like a bunch of enclosed arena-shooter segments broken up by unrelated exploration, where the old ones were more like a shooter set in the dungeon of an ARPG.

Avatar image for jsprunk
JSprunk

If I want to feel more powerful, I'll just play it on easy mode. Give me a challenge Beth, and make me feel like an underdog the whole time.

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@jsprunk: Did you not think ultra-nightmare was a challenge?

Avatar image for jsprunk
JSprunk

@Mogan: Yes I did, but the subject here isn't about the previous game, but is rather about Bethesda considering how to make the player feel more powerful while playing the next iteration of Doom.

There's really only two ways I can think of to make the player feel more powerful.

1.) Make the in-game effects more exaggerated and bombastic while leaving the difficulty unchanged. This is really an empty approach since gamers will quickly see through the illusion and very quickly lose the feeling of being "more powerful".

2.) Make the game easier, allowing the player to dominate over enemies more easily and overcome obstacles that seemed impossible on inception.

I think both alternatives are stupid, and the concept of making the player feel more powerful is a waste of energy. I'd rather Bethesda sink that time into making the world of Doom more interesting and immersive.

Avatar image for sebb
SebB

It has to be difficult for the devs to give the player more and more power without making the game feel too easy.

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@sebb: I imagine that's why we're seeing more than twice as many kinds of demons this time around; so they can add new threats to counter-balance the new abilities we get.

Avatar image for sebb
SebB

@Mogan: Makes sense. A lot of balance related decisions in a video game have more to do with feel than numbers. In the end it comes down to what the devs want the player to experience: feeling powerful, overwhelmed or clever (strategic mechanics), etc. Also players have different experiences/history in their time gaming, and have different expectations. Man, it has to be tough balancing all those things to make a game level, not to mention the whole game, feel just right. Doom (2016) was just perfect in terms of combat for me. Prior to that I had never played a shooter that had that level of good gameplay. Now if they could only add a little bit more story, if only in the form of skippable cutscenes. It would be even better.

Avatar image for Icarian
Icarian

Stop calling them demons, you demons.

They're just challenged people.

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SebB

@Icarian: “mortally challenged”. Lol. Democratic propaganda.

Avatar image for deactivated-5bee09b4aa01f

PS5 is launching Holiday 2019, the whole point of PS4 Pro coming out as a Mid Gen Upgrade 3 Years after PS4 is because Sony is switching to 3 year hardware refresh cycles which is the best strategy for Sony as their user base has 2 options they can upgrade every 3 years or every 6 years. Console launches are planned years ahead, this is what Mark Cerny said about PS4.

We’d been targeting Holiday 2013 for many years, but with hardware, you never quite know if you’re going to be able to reach the date. If you screw up something in your main custom chip, you could easily find that it takes six months to fix. And then you end up out of your targeted launch year. But none of that happened, so we’re releasing.

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mbrogz3000

I already AM the Doom Slayer!!

Avatar image for deactivated-5bfc8187829ef

jee zaazzz what game we will play soon!!!! gameplay speed is insane !!!

Avatar image for ronaldmcreagan
ronaldmcreagan

Love the destructible demon aspect. More games need to start doing this. We should always be able to shoot body parts off enemies. I can't even think of any game where you can do this, with the exception of Dead Space.

Avatar image for cejay0813
cejay0813

No reason for this game to have any repeat glory kill animations. And people think that COD is the only series that uses recycled content. Still looks great though

Avatar image for ronaldmcreagan
ronaldmcreagan

@cejay0813: If only like COD, we could get a new DOOM game every year. That would be fine by me. The last DOOM was without a doubt the best FPS of all time.

Avatar image for NTM23
NTM23

@ronaldmcreagan: No, ideally you'd want a Doom game to be as good or better with each iteration, and I think it'd be a stretch to say an annual release would be a good idea.

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lonewolf1044

@NTM23: I agree as the releases will start to look rushed and more repetitive. Some games are like good wine that was allowed to ferment and come out good.

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attirex

All Hail Doom!

Avatar image for lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

@attirex: More like "Hail to the King Baby!"

Avatar image for NTM23
NTM23

Doom 2016 was actually quite a boring game to me when it first came out. That said, I'm someone that generally plays games on their easiest first, then the hardest on a second playthrough. In Doom 2016, although I appreciated some aspects, the game felt really unsatisfying. I found it really hard to want to complete it, so I played it on and off throughout the year.

It wasn't until last year where I went back to it on Nightmare, and after doing that, I noticed it was actually a darn near perfect game in my opinion. I feel like this game is one that needs playing on anything above hurt me plenty to really appreciate. Everything combines to make an exhilarating experience. My biggest complaint is just that there wasn't more, especially boss fights. The game went from something I hardly wanted to play, to a game I hardly want to put down. I'll probably play it on and off until Eternal comes out.

With this sequel, they seem to be doing the 'bigger and better' that sequels should do, while not forgetting what made the first so good. I also love that they talk about going deeper into the lore, and the exploration of new environments. It's juxtaposed with a protagonist that doesn't care about any of that, which to me makes him one of the most interesting silent protagonists out there, coupled with the fact that he is surrounded by seemingly menacing foes, but shows that he's always the top threat.

The humor in the first was decent, and it's cool to see them go further with it in this. I'm excited to see what events unfold in this new one, be it story or locations there are to explore, all the while having a fun time dancing around blasting demons.

Avatar image for ronaldmcreagan
ronaldmcreagan

@NTM23: I never tried playing on normal, so I can't comment on it's difficulty. But I could see how DOOM would be boring if you could just Rambo through the levels. This is why I always crank up the difficulty in games. If a game doesn't provide a challenge for me, I get extremely bored.

I thought DOOMS difficulty was perfect, even on Nightmare. It was challenging, but not frustratingly so. And there were no cheap deaths, either. When I died on DOOM, it was always my fault.

Checkpoints were also very generous. Everything about DOOM was just perfect.

Avatar image for NTM23
NTM23

@ronaldmcreagan: I tend to play games on harder difficulties after to really experience it at its most immersive, or the potential of it. I play on easy first to just get the gist of it more or less: see what it has to offer in terms of story, atmosphere, and mechanics. I think, however, with Doom Eternal I'll probably just jump into Nightmare. And yes, games that are way too easy will put me to sleep.

Avatar image for gamingdevil800
gamingdevil800

@NTM23: To me DOOM is a game where you can just switch off and run around slaughtering everything to the heavy metal track in the background. It's fun and that's good enough for me but obviously this approach wouldn't work for most games considering narrative takes a bit of back seat to fun game play.

Avatar image for J_P-
J_P-

Original Doom was a little more than just that.

Avatar image for cejay0813
cejay0813

@NTM23: Doom is definitely meant to be played on the hardest difficulty.

Avatar image for Lach0121
Lach0121

Well Doom 3 made you feel like a frail baby.

Doom 2016 got back to the Doom roots, but you felt considerably more powerful.

Seems like they are doubling down on that even more with this one.

I am really into the direction that Doom went.

At this point I think Blood, and Duke Nukem need to make a comeback. After Shadow Warrior 1&2, Doom 2016 & Eternal, I think now is the time.

Pipe dream = I would absolutely love having Mick Gordon compose the soundtrack for a Duke Nukem comeback!!!!

Avatar image for ronaldmcreagan
ronaldmcreagan

@Lach0121: DOOM 3 was an annoying game. I hated the fact that monsters would always spawn behind you while you are fighting monsters in front of you.

Avatar image for Lach0121
Lach0121

@ronaldmcreagan: With the level design, and direction you are facing, having enemies spawn behind you is an inevitability. Goes back to even the first Doom game. Doom 2016 does it as well with it's evolved circular style combat. Doom 3 forced you into that, and while being much more of a corridor shooter it didn't feel as natural.

Doom 3 was enjoyable as a horror-action shooter. But it was no Doom game.

Avatar image for J_P-
J_P-

D4 is no where near as good as original Doom's for a number of reasons.

Avatar image for Fernin-Ker
Fernin-Ker

@Lach0121: A new Blood would be absolutely awesome. On that note Hexen as well.

Avatar image for Brakkyn
Brakkyn

@Fernin-Ker: Oh Em Gee, HEXEN. Where is my Hellraid? I want my Witchfire!

Avatar image for NTM23
NTM23

@Lach0121: I think the only real issue is how to bring his character back and 'make him cool again' if you will. Oh, to be clear, I'm talking about Duke Nukem.

Avatar image for dzimm
dzimm

@NTM23: The problem with Duke in Duke Nukem Forever was that he became a self-aware parody of action heroes instead of the pastiche he was in Duke Nukem 3D. If he could be returned to his roots then he could make a proper comeback.

Avatar image for Lach0121
Lach0121

@NTM23: Oh I agree. He would need a bit of a rewrite. Shadow Warrior was done decent enough in that regard. Lo Wang was pretty raunchy back in the 90s.

Hell, I want to add a new Turok to the list as well. Lol

Avatar image for NTM23
NTM23

@Lach0121: Yeah, I'd love a new Turok. With the recent remasters of Dinosaur Hunter and Seeds of Evil, while Oblivion was never released on PC, I'd still love it if Nightdive Studios made a remaster. Also, while I wasn't as big a fan of the last-gen game, I ended up enjoying it enough and became disappointed that they canceled the sequel.

Avatar image for Lach0121
Lach0121

@NTM23: You know honestly, I am of a similar opinion with regards to the latest Turok. That said, I would rather a whole new Turok.

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