Boss fights in Doom Eternal will require you to think a bit more tactically.
Doom Eternal makes it very clear that it's challenging players in ways Doom 2016 did not. It's asking you to juggle multiple weapons and new mechanics that are essential for survival while still delivering that tight, breakneck pace in combat. But it's not just an extra suite of abilities, wider combat arenas, and aggressive demons who hound you that push Doom Eternal to be more than its predecessor--you'll also have multi-faceted boss fights to contend with.
At a recent Doom Eternal preview event at id Software's Dallas, Texas studio, I played the fourth level of the single-player campaign, set in a sinister lab tucked into a snowy mountain top. This level had its share of intense combat scenarios and platforming sequences, but the boss fight that capped off the mission is what I'm still thinking about. You can see exactly what I'm talking about in the gameplay clip below.
Doom Hunter, classified as a super heavy demon, is highly mobile and shoots powerful rockets, and fighting one involves multiple steps. First, Doom Hunters are highly mobile and fire powerful rockets. They're protected by an energy shield that has to be destroyed, so you'll want to use the plasma rifle since it's suited for breaking shields. Once you destroy the barrier, you have a short window of time to hit Doom Hunter with heavy firepower to inflict actual damage before their shields go back up. You must repeat this until their health bar is depleted, after which the second phase kicks in.
Doom Hunter becomes even more agile and aggressive in this phase, meaning close-range combat can spell danger. However, they're not protected by shields, and I found keeping your distance and using the lock-on attachment for the rocket launcher to be the most effective method. At the last sliver of health, you'll want to dash straight to the Doom Hunter for a glory kill.
It sounds simple enough until you have to fight two more Doom Hunters simultaneously in the subsequent combat arena. Both behave the same, but having two hounding you at the same time makes it difficult to keep tabs on their whereabouts. It's also smart to focus on eliminating one before touching the other, but since they're identical, it can be tough to keep track of your primary target.
All the while, other demons like imps, zombies, gargoyles, prowlers and such steadily spawn in to hunt you down. But the way Doom Eternal works, these smaller demons aren't just nuisances to make things harder; they are also your resource pool. Since specific weapons work well on Doom Hunters, and ammo runs out quickly, demons make for good chainsaw fodder to keep ammo topped off. The same goes for getting health and armor in a pinch using glory kills and the flame belch, respectively.
Combat arenas are quite spacious and allow you to stay mobile with jump pads, high-up platforms, and monkey bars scattered about. It's a standard strategy for Doom Eternal in general, but it applies especially here with super heavy demons on your ass and resources in short supply.
The Doom Hunter boss fight is a great example of the "combat chess" id Software is trying to create in Doom Eternal. It's an elevation of the controlled chaos we saw in the previous Doom game, while showcasing the new emphasis on resource management and increased mobility. What I played was about four hours into the campaign, and with the confirmed length of about 20 or more hours, this boss fight is just the beginning of what the game has in store.
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