Something I’ve constantly talked about on this blog is how eternally behind I am in games. Procuring a massive backlog, buying games thanks to Humble Bundles, cheap Steam sales, and gifts of spare keys from friends has been the primary causes of my never ending back catalog.
Yet, I try to keep myself in arms’ reach of the current video game landscape, even if I’m not a fan of the direction the industry is going sometimes. This results in me playing the newest games usually years after their release. Anyone who’s been a reader of this site has seen me write about big popular games after their popularity, such as BioShock Infinite last year. But this time around I kept myself a bit closer to the zeitgeist this time, by playing a game a year or so after its initial release. And it’s from one of my favorite game developers.
Let’s talk a bit about id software. They’re the absolute pioneers of the first-person shooter realm: Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake. Important games that really made an impact on the industry as a whole. However, there was a sea change by the late 1990s. When John Romero left id on less-than-pleasant terms to form his own studio, there was a very clear change on how id Software worked as a company: Pushing technology at the cost of making games that while good on a technical level, were kinda boring to play.
I’ve talked about Quake II a few times on here, and while my opinion has softened a bit in recent years, I still think that while a technical marvel was just boring to play.This was id’s MO during the age of John Carmack. Stuff like Quake III Arena, and Doom 3, while solid games, didn’t have the massive highs that their early works did. Indeed, their competition – Epic’s Unreal Tournament and Valve’s Half-Life 2 respectively – were making more of an impact on the industry in a way people could easily see.
Rage was sort of the lowest point of this era, the unremarkable first-person exploration game of which the only good things about it were John Goodman voicing a character and its reload canceling mechanics, of which I wrote about way back in 2016, and that was around the point id was no longer the amazing developer it once was. Hell, I even had doubts id Software were ever gonna release an awesome game ever again.
Then John Carmack left, a bunch of people got shuffled around, canned a version of Doom that was more like a big-budget shooter like Call of Duty, and gave us the 2016 Doom reboot. While the multiplayer beta was enjoyable but boring, the rest of the game turned out to be the return of id Software as an awesome company that could make good games. With an amazing game like Doom 2016, it’d be pretty hard to follow up. But in 2020 they decided to give it another try, with Doom Eternal.
The story of Eternal is a bit more pronounced than in the previous game: The Doom Slayer has noticed that there’s been Hell on Earth with demons destroying what’s left of the planet. In typical Doom fashion, the Doom Slayer must travel around Earth and Mars to eventually stop the Khan Maykr’s hell demons from invading everywhere once again. Pretty simple stuff.
It’s kinda weird to see Doom Eternal go all in on story. While Doom (2016) had a story, it was just about enough of it to give motives on why the Doom Slayer must rip and tear and it worked. In Doom Eternal, they go all-in, with cutscenes that take place in third person, giving diatribes that would seem in line with many contemporary games. It’s not bad per se, but compared to the previous game where there was basically one motive — Stop the demons by any means necessary — it just feels a bit ridiculous here.Continue reading…