The first ever Quakecon Europe may have had little to do with Quake itself, but the opportunity to play an hour-plus of Doom Eternal single-player gameplay more than justified our attendance.
The demo on offer during the inaugural event, at least in the press preview area, previously appeared at E3 2019. However, this was the first time we got to spend significant time with it. And we left feeling rather giddy… with joy.
It spanned several key sections of one section of the campaign, fast forwarding past certain moments in order to give us a taste of all the new features in our allotted time slot. We also played a brief tutorial on some of the important new abilities you have available from the off.
For example, you get a new, extended dash feature, the ability to climb walls and swing from overhangs like a gymnast, and a blood punch meter that gives you an awesome, enhanced melee attack boost once filled through glory kills.
You can also destroy specific elements on some enemies this time around, such as target and blow the guns off a Mancubus, thereby negating its threat before taking the beast down fully.
And, your own weapons now have additional mods, with new ammo types and secondary modes adding micro-missiles, a “meat hook” that propels you to the demon you’re aiming at, or other splendidly extravagant causes of carnage.
Added to the already superb shooter mechanics from the first rebooted outing, it feels like id Software could have pulled off a great trick in making an almost perfect FPS even better – no mean feat. Of course, we’ll have to wait until the full release is available, but even from an hour’s play we got the feeling that Bethesda could be sitting on something rather special.
Gory, gory, hallelujah
Perhaps our favourite parts of the demo were the platform elements. Thanks to the new ability to grasp onto designated rock faces, jumping across vast chasms to either get to mission points or simply to pick up well-hidden bonuses felt intuitive and offered a decent break from blasting demons in the face.
Not that we didn’t enjoy that either. Indeed, in Doom Eternal, the more spectacular the assault the more you are rewarded. Health and ammo, for example, can be picked up from enemies if you deal them specific damage. Use the chainsaw (which is now assigned to just one button press) and your victims spews ammunition for you to gather. Or blast them with a newly acquired flamethrower and you will receive health.
Yes, both are also available to be picked up on the battlefield as before, but this encourages fast-flowing combat rather than forcing you to constantly hunt for supplies.
We don’t know if it will be implemented in multiplayer too (having not played that mode yet) but we could see it benefitting that arena also.
In terms of hardware, we played the game on an Nvidia RTX-laden PC but with an Xbox One controller rather than the also-offered mouse and keyboard.
We’re not entirely sure whether it was running in 60fps (or even higher) but it certainly looked smooth. And, it seemed to be rendered in 4K, which is something id Software is looking at for Xbox One X and PS4 Pro too.
Nonetheless, bar the reddish tones of Mars dominating, it looked stunning – as did the first game, even on Switch.