Doom Eternal was a joy to play when it was released. Sure, not everyone was enamored with the lore surrounding the Doom Slayer’s past, but that didn’t detract from the frenetic and fun gameplay that has become a hallmark of id Software’s FPS series.
The same cannot be said about Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part One. Fans of the franchise will revel in more opportunities to rip and tear but, for the most part, The Ancient Gods Part One is a frustrating expansion that does little to build on Doom Eternal’s rich gameplay experience.
Angels and demons
The Ancient Gods Part One picks up straight after Doom Eternal’s ending. With the Khan Maykr dead, and despite the Doom Slayer defeating the Icon of Sin, demons have invaded the technologically advanced realm of Urdak. Alongside Dr. Samuel Hayden and the Armored Response Coalition (ARC), the Doom Slayer sets out to find Seraphim, the Maykr who gave our protagonist his powers, and who holds the key to preventing Hell’s demonic forces from colonizing other dimensions.
It’s difficult to elaborate on the plot further without spoiling it, but The Ancient Gods’ story moves at a faster pace than the main game. Naturally, that is down to it being DLC rather than a standalone title, but it helps the expansion flow without bogging you down in story details between combat sequences. Like the main campaign, there are collectible Codex entries that elaborate on Doom’s history, but they aren’t necessary reading to understand what is going on.
While the plot is easy to follow, the same doesn’t apply to Doom’s biggest selling point — its combat. Fighting Hell’s legion of demons has always been challenging, but The Ancient Gods Part One pushes this to the point where it becomes laborious. Battles become arduous and overly punishing, especially on harder difficulties, and it feels like a chore when another wave spawns just when you think a particular encounter is over.
This isn’t helped by the lack of variety regarding combat, either. There are three new enemies — Turrets, Spirit demons, and Blood Maykrs — to deal with alongside the usual suspects, but the latter two are nightmares to outmaneuver when battles are in full flow. Support Runes — abilities that give you a combat boost when you’re in a pinch — are a neat addition, but their effectiveness is severely limited on higher difficulties due to the sharp rise in enemy damage output and frequency of attacks.
I really wanted to like Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part One, but there’s an imbalance in its makeup that results in a less enjoyable experience than the main game. There is enough to keep ardent fans satisfied, its additional lore makes for interesting reading, and its eight to 10-hour playthrough might be monetarily worth it. The Ancient Gods Part One, though, lacks the style and substance that Doom Eternal possesses overall, which is a damn shame when you look at what came before.
6 / 10
|+||The core Doom experience is still fun at times|
|+||An intriguing cliffhanger that poses plenty of questions|
|–||Feels too hard, even on easier difficulties|
|–||Lack of new weaponry and abilities is disappointing|
|–||Spirit demons and Blood Maykrs make Marauders feel easy in comparison|