Tomorrow is in Your Hands – Thoughts on Death Stranding’s Release Date Trailer

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So Death Stranding got a nearly nine minute trailer yesterday, with a good look at the world, character interactions and a release date: November 8th. I’ve already pre-ordered the ridiculously expensive replica baby version (of course that’s a thing), and although it won’t be a full breakdown I would like to give some impressions on the game at this point.

I’ve always been into Death Stranding but I’ve had it on the back burner: I  left the dissection and speculation to others, content in the knowledge that it looked good and that I’d find out all I needed to by playing the game, whenever it came out. This trailer is what’s finally made me engage with it more actively, mainly because it’s given me the best grasp of the game so far. Norman Reedus’ Sam Bridges is a courier schlepping large boxes across a hostile, barren landscape by placing ladders over gaps and hiking over rocky hills, this much we know. Turns out he’s on a first name basis with the terminally ill U.S President, a woman named Bridget, so maybe Bridges is actually a government agency? She wants him to unite the remaining people of the U.S so they can stand together against “BTs”, the shadow ghosts from previous trailers, who are revealed through the use of the tank babies seen before, here revealed to be called “Bridge Babies”, which come from “The other side”. Presumably that’s what the “Death Stranding” is; a link between the living and dead. Sam thinks this is a lost cause, and rebuilding the country is both unnecessary and won’t do anything about the BTs, but it’s currently unclear how and why they’re here. Troy Baker’s character Higgs is the leader of a terrorist group who roam from settlement to settlement killing people, Lea Seydoux’s character is named Fragile, which leads me to believe that both she and Sam are named after their respective companies, as are all employees, and Mads Mikkelsen’s character Cliff gets a proper look in. He’s a scientist it seems like, reassuring and softly singing to a Bridge Baby in a lab, but also has those skeletal soldiers seen in previous trailers. They aren’t present when he’s in the lab, but there are shots of him in a warzone that looks like something from the first world war, covered in tar and seemingly naked, as well as rising from oil “Apocalypse Now”-style, lighting a cigarette that then sets said oil on fire, which doesn’t effect him or his soldiers. It’s interesting that he can be in two completely different states, and the title cards “Those bound to Hades” and “Those who struggle to stay connected” suggest said soldiers are some kind of malevolent power from the other side, barely kept in check by Cliff. Sam appears in the WW1 mud and blood-covered trenches in his uniform, alongisde ghost soldiers and one with a physical form he shoots, so clearly that warzone plays a part in current events and he’s capable of taking part in a conflict. Speaking of conflict, we get a look at combat out in the world as a group of goons chase after Sam: he knocks two out, dodges one and they reluctantly call off the hunt when it begins raining: a sign of the BTs’ arrival. At one point the cheery baby inside Sam’s body turns into a doll, which makes him drop to his knees and hold a gun to his head: that same doll is seen earlier strung up near Cliff, and given his clear links to BBs it’s not a stretch to think he has the ability to replace one, he may even be the one who brought them over in the first place.

Okay, so, the broad strokes I’ve gleaned from this trailer are that basically the U.S and perhaps the world is in ruin and full of shadowy ghost monsters from the land of the dead, babies from said land help the remnants of humanity see them, a terrorist group lead by Troy Baker is threatening said remnants and a courier disagrees with the President that the U.S is worth rebuilding. Also there’s a war and Mads Mikkelsen is involved. Also there’s a character in it called Die-Hardman. Now I’ve got something concrete I’m finding it easier to engage with Death Stranding, and I look forward to more information and footage coming out, hopefully a series of escalating trailers like MGSV had, all of which were ace. I’ll be reviewing it, obviously, and in the meantime I’ll probably write about any key new info or trailers, I’ll judge them on a case-by-case basis.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

The Power of Fluffy Boys Shines Within You – Thoughts on Deltarune Chapter 1

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Deltarune is the new game from Undertale creator Toby Fox, chapter one of which had a sort of stealth release on PC a while ago and came to PS4 recently for free. Apparently the rest of the game will be released as a whole package in the future, so I’ll be reviewing that too, but for now let’s take a look at what’s currently on offer. This’ll just be a quick one, because I want to keep my in-depth opinions for the full review.

I’m a big fan of Undertale, and based on Chapter 1 Deltarune has the potential to be just as good. The new characters are great for the most part, particularly best boy Ralsei and Susie, the reuse of Undertale characters in different circumstances is intriguing and I loved Sans’ reappearance. The new additions to the combat system are neat, in particular having to warn enemies about Susie’s unyielding attempts to smash them. For me the villainous King isn’t anything special; his fight teaches the protagonists a valuable lesson but lacks the sustained “but thou must” heartbreak of fighting Asgore. I’m a tad trepidatious about the ending cliffhanger, but at the same time intrigued. I like the whole “No one can choose who they are in this world” angle, and I’m interested to see how that affects things going forward. I know this was very brief and light on detail but initial attempts read too much like a review, and I don’t want to do that twice. So for now just know that I really liked Chapter 1 and I eagerly await the full release of Deltarune, whenever that is.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Who Said We’d Never Leave Raccoon Alive? – Thoughts on Resident Evil 2’s Ghost Survivors DLC

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Resident Evil 2’s first substantial piece of DLC is a free update called “The Ghost Survivors”, four what if? scenarios in which characters who died or were at least presumed dead in the main game escape the city. There’s gun shop owner Robert Kendo; last seen euthanising his zombified daughter, Elizabeth Warren; daughter of the mayor and human taxidermy project for Chief Irons, Ghost; a member of Hunk’s team and Sheriff Cortini, who was killed in the petrol station at the start of the game. Each scenario can be played in Training Mode, which is less difficult, has fewer enemies and gives you more ammo and health, but you don’t get a recorded time for completing it. This is to get you prepared to do them in their intended state, which is, in no uncertain terms, rather difficult. They’re all short, so they’re hard, and although they offset it slightly by letting the player get items from zombies in backpacks and one-use gashapon machines, careful resource management is still important. Each of the initial three has their own unique enemy; poison zombies for Kendo, a creature reminiscent of the Fumers from Resi 7’s “Not a Hero” that have to be sufficiently damaged quickly to stop them regenerating, and zombies in bulletproof armour covering different parts of their bodies for Ghost. Cortini, poor bugger, has to deal with all three as well as normal zombies in his story, which rather than a point A to B rush is a horde mode in the first room of the game; the shop part of the petrol station. I’ll be honest, I’ve not finished any of the scenarios on their proper difficulty. Fortunately you can unlock Cortini on Training mode, so it’s not a big deal. It’s not that the difficulty puts me off, I enjoy a challenge; I’ve already beaten the main game on Hardcore (only A though, still working on B), it’s just that in order for me to rise to a challenge I have to find it engaging and interesting, and that’s not the case here. Simply being hard isn’t enough to make me dig my heels in and do everything I can to overcome it. I’m content to just play them on training mode, where they provide a neat little aside where you get to play as new characters fighting new enemies.

While I’m here, I’d also like to briefly talk about the game’s two existing extra modes, as well as the recently released free costume DLC and the soundtrack swap DLC.

Firstly, the 4th Survivor, and the Tofu Survivor:
Hunk’s story kicked my arse the first half dozen or so times. Basically he’s he only surviving member of the team sent to acquire the G-Virus from old Bill Birkin, and has to go from the ramp in the sewers that Leon slides down to the front gate of R.P.D, dealing with blocked exits, a complete lack of weapon, ammo and health pick ups to offset his fully stocked inventory, and every enemy type in the game crammed into the environments. Zambambos, dogs, lickers, G-Adults, plant folk, even Mr X shows up near the end. Given Hunk’s finite amount of supplies it’s a careful balance of running past enemies and deciding when and where you should shoot, throw a grenade, or can afford to be grabbed. It’s a rush to get through it; Hunk’s theme is ace, a mix of low, catchy beats and a rousing orchestral refrain, and completing it does feel like a real achievement. Plus it just goes to show how badass Hunk is and why people love him so much. Tofu survivor is more of a fun distraction really, given that a sentient block of Tofu armed with sixteen knives and angrily complaining in Japanese when he’s attacked isn’t canon. Apparently there are multiple Tofus with different equipment but much like the Ghost Survivors I don’t enjoy it enough to make myself complete it and unlock them. I felt like I needed to do 4th Survivor to close off the story and I did get around to doing it, Tofu Survivor is neat but little more than that. I do want to commend the damage physics though, specifically how Tofu has big bites taken out of him the more damage he takes. Also he really does look like a big block of tofu.

Secondly, the classic music and costumes:
The costumes are model swaps with the original 1998 ones, and they look great. The models are well done and they interact really well with the remade assets. As odd as they look they don’t look that weird or out of place. Unfortunately they don’t have alternate versions like the remastered ones do; Leon doesn’t get his bandage and Claire doesn’t take her vest off, and long guns don’t appear slung over their backs, but they still look really good. The soundtrack genuinely elevates the game. Resi 2’s soundtrack is one of the best in videogames, and hearing it again here just goes to show that A) it holds up really well and B) how many distinct, unique tracks the soundtrack has. While I praised the remake’s score for being subtle and taking away the sense of comfort that came with the original’s dramatic soundtrack, having said soundtrack present adds a whole new layer of character to proceedings; it almost feels like playing a different game in a way. It’s charming, and genuinely quite unnerving at times, again a testament to how well it holds up. The main menu has the music of the original game’s little opening cinematic, and brings back the series’ tradition of having a spooky, ominous voice say the title: “RESIDENT EVIL… TWO.” Also it includes the original sound effects, though disappointingly it only covers the inventory, main menu and item box. It’s nice, don’t get me wrong; that inventory sound really takes me back, but I was hoping for the old zombie moans, and the upgraded shotgun sounding like dropping several sauce pans and their lids on the floor.

That was a look at Resi 2 Remake’s extra modes and some of its DLC, see you next time for a Capcom property a little more… stylish.

Update: I had another go at the Katherine Warren scenario, Runaway, and died right near the end, and I am starting to feel that itch. In fact after I wrote this I had another go at Ghost’s scenario and finished it, turns out I was forgetting to look for gashapon machines and was trying to get through with no gear. So I’m getting them done. Might take a while, might dip in and out, but I’ll do them eventually. What I said about rising to challenge and having to be interested and invested is still very much the case, I’m just becoming increasingly invested in the stories, and the game as a whole is one that’s been very hard to put down, so I’m still in the Resi 2 headspace.

Update 2: I’ve finished the main three: No Time to Mourn, Runaway and Forgotten Soldier. Oddly enough despite having the highest difficulty of the three I found Forgotten Soldier the easiest, and No Time to Mourn a complete pain in the arse. Might get around to doing No Way Out sometime but that’ll take longer given the whole waiting for the game to progress aspect of a horde mode.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

One in the Chamber: Thoughts on the Resi 2 Remake’s One Shot Demo

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So this is unusual: a demo for a game that lets you do whatever you want within a time limit, and upon completion becomes unusable. It’s something I’ve not seen since the PS3 let you play as much as you wanted of a full game for one hour before buying it. Anyway, this is the form the demo of the upcoming Resident Evil 2 Remake takes: you get half an hour, and that’s it. I’ve actually had an hour with the game, because I played the demo on both PS4 and Xbone, and I’m going to give some general impressions of it, just what I think of the game going into its full release on the 25th, which I’m very much looking forward to.

Turns out you can play it more than once if you beat it in fewer than thirty minutes, so I’ve done four runthroughs and two starts that were stopped by the in-game clock. You can beat the demo in no time at all if you move quickly, and even when I stopped to smell the roses I beat it with time to spare. It’s very much an appetiser to whet your appetite for the full game. Everything that happens here I’ve seen before in various sites’ gameplay footage, so what’s important is how it felt to actually play through these events.

Atmosphere:

It lacks the choking, tense stillness of REmake, instead going for chaos localised in a small area, which fits the situation really well. In this small section of the game it doesn’t feel like anything’s going to suddenly jump out at you; its a consistent throughline of medium peril and the corresponding level of horror. The RE engine, which as we know is excellent at modelling filth and grime, has the R.P.D covered in gore, dirt, water and smashed architecture. It all feels familiar; with the exception of a few changes it’s the same station, it’s just cloaked in darkness and looks a whole lot better. The only problem is that unfortunately at this point it doesn’t feel scary. Hopefully that’ll change with the full game. But still, the rain, the zombies banging on the windows (they can get in if you ignore them), and how the zombies themselves all look, move and sound really sell this situation. I’m slightly disappointed by the more effect the more action-orientated gameplay has on the atmosphere, but this is only a small section of the game.

Control scheme and U.I:

It’s over the shoulder shooting a la 4, 5 and 6, but feels simultaneously loose and precise. Leon has free movement rather than having to move forward first, then have a direction added to it like he had in 4, and the camera can be moved a full 360 degrees around him. He has a quick turn but I never needed it, there’s a combat knife that acts as both a weapon and a reusable escape from grapple button a la REmake, and the inventory and environmental interaction are the same as they were in Resident Evil 7. Leon’s got a torch now that he turns on automatically and can hold with the Mathilda, which is just as well given how dark the R.P.D is. There are light switches around, but some of them need fuses, and if they’re present in the demo I didn’t find them. Having the same U.I and inventory as Resi 7 feels quite comforting actually. It’s like an acknowledgement that 7 is what saved the series, and the bedrock to build any future games on going forward.

Shooting:

At worst I used a whole magazine to kill one zombie, when I could hit the bloody thing. At best I was popping off headshots like John Wick. Headshots aren’t instant kills though, as is well documented at this point: zombies will soak up bullets and keep coming, so it’s often better to avoid them in the spirit of the early games in the series, which is helped by the new locational damage letting you blow their legs off without much effort. It also lets you do ghastly things to their heads and torsos, to the point where you wonder what they’re even going to bite you with and where your newly consumed flesh is going to go. One time I blew a big fat zombie in half with the shotgun. It was glorious. Anyway I actually really like that the zombies soak up bullets; I like the idea of them as just big, unthinking meat shields driven by hunger that you have to physically cut down, like flesh-eating trees. It makes them more of a problem, and encourages the player to work on swiftly dodging around them. The shooting itself is good, but lacks the snap and heft (depending on the weapon) of Resi 4. It feels like Resi 7’s quite light shooting but with the added oomph of the spectacular gore and dismemberment that 7 didn’t have.

Graphics:

It looks really good. Especially the zombie whose face has been turned into raw beef mince barely held together by an almost-cleaved off jaw bone in what was originally the Licker hallway.

Anyway that’s the demo out the way, and now a quick word on the upcoming full game:

Hunk and Tofu are in it, as shown in the trailer that concludes the demo. I’ve never unlocked their scenarios so I’m looking forward to that. Much like the demo for Devil May Cry 5 it’s not altered my thoughts on the full game at all because I was already really looking forward to it and still am, it’s just given me a chance to actually play it myself for a little bit. I’m a big fan of Resi 2, I love Resi 7 and I’m glad they’re using its engine for this remake, which I originally hoped would play like REmake, but I think the direction its taken is really promising. It looks good, it plays well, and all the footage of later parts of the game, particularly the sewer and the encounter with Chief Irons look fantastic. It’s out in two weeks and I can’t wait.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

 

A School on The Hill: Thoughts on Detention

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I don’t play as many horror games as I’d like to. I’m a fan of the genre: Silent Hill 2 is my favourite game of all time, REmake is in my top five, I like Outlast and Amnesia, and I’m a fan of unconventional horror games, or horror-themed parts of games, like the opening of Far Cry 5, or the entirety of Spec Ops: The Line when viewed in hindsight, as well as the Souls games, Bloodborne and Darkest Dungeon. I’m fond of horror, basically, and I’ve started down a path to fix my deficit of pure horror titles over the Christmas period with two games: White Day: A Labyrinth Named School, which I haven’t finished yet, and one I want to briefly talk about here called Detention, released in 2017. For readers in England the two games are currently heavily reduced in the January PSN sale: Detention is currently £3.29 if I remember right, certainly £3-something, which it’s definitely worth. Anyway, let’s get into it. Please note that while I won’t be going into deep spoiler territory I will be giving away certain details that you won’t be aware of if you go in blind, so bare that in mind.

Detention is set in 60’s Taiwan under the Historical “White Terror” Martial Law in which anyone having even the slightest perceived, real-or-imagined whiff of communism about them is hauled away and executed. You briefly play as Wei, a student who wakes up to find his school abandoned in the wake of a typhoon warning, and after finding that the bridge leading out is broken and the river has turned red, elects to hold up in the school with another student named Ray. Turns out Ray is the real protagonist, the school has taken on an Eldritch, impossible space form and is now full of ghosts, and Ray did something bad that she refuses to remember. What struck me only once I was actually playing the game and not watching it be played is how reminiscent of Silent Hill it is. The grimy, dilapidated environments, the soundtrack consisting of industrial noises and ambient music, the surreal, disconcerting horror; it’s all very Silent Hill and it drew me in immediately. The ghosts themselves make utterly horrible noises and the puzzles have that same SH style where there’s a touch of the mundane combined with the surreal: rolling three dice that then turn into teeth, using a bowl of blood to reveal scratches on a desk, a harrowing blink-and-you’ll miss it silent jump scare when retrieving that blood; it’s all unsettling, surreal horror that has too much logic to be a dream and not enough “normal” logic to be the real world. The aforementioned jump scares are used sparingly, and rely on the build up dread and tension you could cut with a knife. “The Hill” of this article’s title refers to Silent Hill, and how every game since Origins, with their budgets, teams and name recognition couldn’t scare me, couldn’t instil a sense of dread and unease like a three hour, monochromatic 2-d game made by first time developers. Without wishing to spoil, even its later stages with focus placed on Ray’s traumatic past, what the bad thing she did was and the circumstances in which she ended up in this situation are reminiscent of Silent Hill, and are also handled far better than all the Western ones. Admittedly these sections aren’t as scary as the first half of the game but it earns that more story-driven pace after ramping up the horror and tension so effectively, plot fragments drip fed as you navigate the school. It’s grim, it’s unsettling and it’s genuinely scary, and games like this take some of the sting out of losing P.T. If we can’t have more Silent Hill games, I’ll settle for more games being built on that hill. Now go play Detention while it’s still the cost of a pint. You won’t regret it. It’s scary, its plot is interesting and unique, and the way it’s presented mixes seamlessly with the horror and is told in a manner that’s slightly abstract without being annoying. It’s the best horror game I’ve played since Resident Evil 7, and far scarier. Give it a go, so I can have more games like this.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

I’m a Bomb You Can’t Defuse – Thoughts on Devil May Cry 5

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Sometimes it pays to own an Xbone just in case, say, Capcom releases a demo for one of your two most highly anticipated games of 2019 and its an Xbox exclusive. After spending yesterday evening and night sick as a dog it was a nice surprise to wake up to 1) News that a DMC5 demo is coming out on December 7th and 2) The 7th is today. So let’s get into it.

First of all, there’s no real story in the demo, just what can be gleaned from dialogue which is that Nero is looking for new character “V”, and so I’ll be focusing on the gameplay. Secondly there aren’t any checkpoints, but it’s quite a short demo so that’s not a big deal. Nero controls much like he did in DMC4; he still uses the Red Queen and Blue Rose, he has the same dodge, and his new Devil Breaker prosthetic arm functions much like the Devil Bringer. One of the two variations in the demo: “Overture” fires a huge, hand-shaped electric blast, and any variation lets Nero pull enemies towards him. The other variation: “Gerbera” propels Nero forwards and up, lifting any enemies in his path into the air for follow ups, and can fire energy beams. The only issue I currently have with the Devil Breaker is that there’s no way to switch them out without breaking them. You hold four at once, they’re littered throughout the level and they break either over time, after one charged super attack, or if you use the skill “Break Away” which purposefully destroys the Devil Breaker in an explosion to give you some breathing room. Overture does solid damage to the demo’s boss “Goliath”, but if you’ve got three Gerbera and one Overture at the end of the line and need to really hurt him in a pinch you’ve got to rapidly break your other three Devil Breakers to get to the more effective one, then you have to go looking for more when that one breaks. Fortunately in regular combat this isn’t an issue as they’re both equally effective. At first combat felt a tad sluggish and I felt like Nero couldn’t move out of combos quickly so any time I messed something up I couldn’t adapt as quickly as I’d like. Since then it’s stopped being a problem though, so I think it’s down to me not playing DMC4 for a little while. From the little of the game I’ve played in the demo it plays like DMC4 but with new options afforded by the Devil Breaker, it’s just as satisfying and came back to me very quickly.

The system whereby what section of “Devil Trigger” plays is tied into your combo meter is present, but unlike its most direct comparison Metal Gear Rising, the song still plays normally regardless of how well you’re doing, it just skips forward as your combo improves. Plus they kept “SAVAGE!” from DmC, which I like. The new location of basically London in all but name is nice, the enemies seen here are cool; most of them have an insect theme which is always a winner, and there’s a system whereby Nico lets you customise things for money, but it’s not in the demo.

I’m already hyped for DMC5 after all the trailers, and really all the demo’s shown me is it plays like DMC4, or at least Nero’s sections do. That’s by no means a bad thing, on the contrary it lets me know it’ll be worth it when it releases in March.

Update: There’s been an updated version of the demo released, it’s multi-platform and has a few key differences. It’s not enough to warrant its own separate article but it can have some room on here.

Punch Line:

Alongside Gerberer and Overture is a new Devil Breaker called Punch Line, which is easily my new favourite. Its normal attack is Nero throwing a haymaker that launches the fist towards enemies for it to fly around attacking enemies repeatedly from all angles. Its charge attack is what was glimpsed in the trailers, to my pleasant surprise: Nero detaches it and rides it around like a hoverboard, with the face buttons resulting in different charges and tricks that work as attacks. I only used it twice; one during the boss and once during an added fight with some scythe goons (Not Sin Scythe though), but it seemed like the kind of thing that works well enough but could be devastating with practice. Overture is powerful and does really high damage to the boss, but of the three is the most boring, and Gerberer is neat but its angle of attack is quite specific and it doesn’t always go as planned. Punch Line most suits my playstyle and of the three, it’s the most fun to use.

Nico’s shop

The most illuminating addition to the demo was having access to Nico’s shop, which fills the roll of the God of Time statues from previous games. You can buy new moves, even in the demo (I bought Air Hike) meaning you’ve actually got a use for all the Red Orbs you find, but most interesting for me was the Devil Breakers. Not only can you buy new ones, you can switch out what order they’re equipped in, the apparent absence of which concerned me in the original demo. You still can’t switch between them without destroying them, but it’s nice to know you can sort out the order.

Anyway, that’s it for now, I’m looking forward to the full game in March, see you then for the review.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

The Slayer Has Entered the Facility – Thoughts on Doom Eternal’s QuakeCon showing

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Well this came out of nowhere, at least for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t keep track of QuakeCon, and so had no idea this was coming, but either way: DOOM Eternal gameplay footage is upon us, and I’m going to talk about it. DOOM was great, I was pleased when a sequel was announced at E3, and QuakeCon provided a fair bit to get my teeth into.

The Doom Slayer

Clearly having escaped wherever it was Samuel Hayden warped him to at the end of DOOM (unless of course that location was one of the two shown in the gameplay footage), The Doom Slayer is now kicking around on Earth and Mars’ moon Phobos, as well as a seen but unnamed third location. I reckon it might be his homeworld of Argent D’Nur, either before Hell took it, or maybe it was restored, or they didn’t get all of it. Anyway back to what’s confirmed: the Slayer has a new Praetor suit, with short sleeves, studded gauntlets, and a Predator style retractable arm blade and shoulder cannon that doubles as a flamethrower, used in conjunction with whatever weapon he’s currently using. Alongside a new Combat Shotgun capable of shooting timed mines and utilising a rapid-fire minigun-style barrel, existing weapons have been changed, chief among them being the Super Shotgun’s new grappling hook, to pull yourself towards enemies. A counterpart to the Doom Slayer has been teased in “The Marauder”, a huge demon wearing what appears to be bits of Praetor armour, and packing a Super Shotgun and laser axe, in the style of the Slayer’s own laser sword. Speaking of which, it makes a triumphant return at the very end of the footage, as the Slayer pulls it out to deal with what looks a lot like an Arch-Vile; an enemy from the old games with pyrokinesis and the ability to resurrect defeated enemies. He’s not the only old foe making a comeback: Arachnotron makes a glorious return, and this time its design makes a lot more sense from a mechanical standpoint: it’s a lot more sleek and streamlined, and can jump around and move more freely, rather than just shuffling around awkwardly until you mercifully kill it. They look a lot more nimble and swift rather than a lumbering tank that pumps out highly damaging projectiles, and so seems right at home with the lightning fast pace DOOM introduced.

Hell on Earth

Earth seems to be a sort of staging ground for planned Demon tourism: UAC holograms insist people welcome their new friends, and one kindly reminds anyone listening that “Demon can be an offensive term, please refer to them as mortally challenged”. So the UAC are STILL somehow trying to salvage this bullshit. After literally siphoning energy from Hell and starting a cult based around how great demons are last time around, they’ve now decided that Demon tourism is the way to go, and it’s resulted in an Earth covered in brain-textured meat moss and overrun by murderous creatures. I love it, it’s exactly the kind of boneheaded stunt this UAC would try and pull. What’s shown of Earth appears to be a downtown shopping district type thing, but there aren’t any humans around. Only time will tell if any survived, but it seems unlikely. On the other side of the scale we have Phobos; in a facility positively brimming with human beings who are all correctly in awe of/scared of the Doom Slayer, and his presence was expected to the point that a voice over an intercom informs everyone that “The Slayer has entered the facility” and later that “Slayer threat level at [is] maximum”. I picked the former for the title of this article because I think one of the most interesting things story wise is how the UAC folds all the supernatural stuff into the framework of a normal business, and despite being a legendary hero who’s wreaked untold havoc on the denizens of Hell, the UAC at large knows about the Doom Slayer and he’s apparently no big deal. The action on Phobos is more similar to the previous game but with daylight somehow present, presumably some sort of controlled artificial environment, as opposed to the facility in DOOM being surrounded by the cold, unfeeling vacuum of Space.

Rip and Tear

Gameplay additions abound: there’s a quick dash in any direction, even while in mid-air, which combined with the aforementioned grappling hook gives you more evasion options. There’s also the ability to climb certain porous walls, but that’s only shown to be useful to following the critical path. Presumably once it’s introduced and used a few times it will be mixed into the combat areas, but that’s just an estimate really. At one point the player picks up a massive glowing helmet and is informed that they have acquired an “Extra Life”, which caught me off guard. Presumably the game hasn’t switched to a “Lose all your lives and you’re back to the start” system, at least I hope not. I imagine it’ll be like gold orbs in Devil May Cry 3 HD- they’ll bring you immediately back to life, or you can go back to a checkpoint. Alongside this potentially major change is invasions: a new multiplayer element where other players can take control of demons in your single player campaign in an attempt to mess you up. It’s only touched upon briefly and wasn’t really shown off, but it sounds like a potentially cool idea. Moving on to smaller tweaks:  Enemies now take locational damage, with flesh, bone and the like flying off them in chunks when shot, and the glory kills now include the use of the arm blade, cleaving weaker enemies in half and such. Personally I feel it looks to lack the simple, brutal pleasures of ripping demons in half with your bare hands, but I suppose I can get behind it. That’s not to say they’ve slouched on the hand-to-hand stuff though; at one point the Doom Slayer punches a zombie so hard its head is shoved down into its chest.

Overall I’m looking forward to Doom Eternal, and I appreciate them not resting on their laurels and mixing things up. The new locations look good, the limited interaction between humans and the Slayer is pretty cute, and I enjoyed the lore of the original game enough that I am looking forward to seeing more of it. Hopefully this is all used in the way it should be: as a framing device for THE best first person shooting of the modern age, certainly of this generation. I’m glad to see it’s not just DOOM again, and I’m intrigued to see the story of the Doom Slayer uncovered further. Oh, and punch zombies heads down into their chests. RIP AND TEAR.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18