The Ancient Gods Final Doom Review: Long Live The King

Apr 3, 2021 19:08 · 4130 words · 20 minute read

So we’re almost done with the dog days of winter for games, that time of year when you buy your way through your steam wishlist only to realize 9 minutes after the refund limit that you were right to have never bought Immortal Unchained or Resident Evil 6.

00:15 - I usually post less videos this time of year because there’s just so rarely anything all that good going on and how many Destiny 2 videos can you do before you’re just repeating yourself.

00:24 - That doesn’t mean I didn’t find some things I liked.

00:27 - My son started playing Obsidian’s Honey I Shrunk The Kids simulator “Grounded” and while the rough edges kinda annoy the sh** out of me the game is far better than I expected it to be.

00:36 - It has a certain charm to it and with some more of the rough edges sanded d own and a bit more story and quest content I think it could be a pretty great little game.

00:45 - And the next video I’m going to do is about the Hollow Knight but 3D and also Zelda but a little dark souls game Blue Fire which is half the time really great and half the time totally poop.

00:59 - After that video I’ll probably do one more about Destiny 2 and how the content vault still really annoys me.

01:08 - Then we’ll be into a spring and summer that’s looking pretty great for games.

01:12 - But before that happens I need to get something out of the way.

01:15 - It depresses me to say but Doom Eternal is coming to an end.

01:20 - I made an entire hour long video about the fact that Eternal is without a doubt the very best FPS game ever made but that was before the DLC.

01:30 - So after 4 times playing The Ancient Gods Part 2 it’s time to bid farewell to eternal and figure out whether the DLCS were merely great, amazingly great or impossibly great.

01:41 - The Ancient Gods Part One And Two. After the logo.

01:52 - Doom Eternal But Harder My review of Eternal was called “Difficulty Done Right” because ID managed to make one of the most challenging and mechanically satisfying shooters ever made by meticulously designing how the player interacts with the game.

02:07 - Eternal’s brilliance lies in the fact that it does everything well but the thing that most stood out to me is how every time you bump up the difficulty you need to use more of the mechanics, not less.

02:18 - If you want the long version of that you can click right here but the tldr version is this: Most games, and almost all shooters do a very bad job at ramping up difficulty.

02:30 - The default model is keep jacking up enemy health and damage until the game becomes a boring slog of peeking out of cover and taking out enemies one by one.

02:39 - Titanfall 2 is one of the best FPS games ever due mainly to it’s fast pace and aggressive movement system.

02:45 - But master difficulty ends up neutering that movement system because if you’re out of cover you get killed.

02:50 - Destiny 2 is basically the same. On the hardest difficulties like in grand master nightfalls or some of the difficult lost sectors the enemies do so much damage that close quarters combat and lots of movement ends up being impossible.

03:05 - Titanfall 2 and Desitny 2 are amongst the best shooters around but when the game gets harder they take away mechanics instead of adding them.

03:14 - Doom Eternal does precisely the opposite. The easier difficulties let you get away with only using some of the mechanics but the hardest difficulty requires you to use every system, tool, mechanic and weapon as designed to succeed.

03:31 - The one complaint you saw about Eternal was that this produced a kind of rock paper scissors loop.

03:37 - While that’s technically true it doesn’t really matter because the game is never restrictive.

03:44 - It’s fluid movement and sheer speed allow for constant improvisation even as the game requires using the full kit properly to succeed.

03:54 - Doom Eternal’s DLC managed to make the game even harder both through making arenas that border on the absurd and doubling down hard on the rock paper scissors aspect of the design.

04:06 - The first DLC made me pretty salty at first because it’s such a massive difficulty jump at times.

04:12 - The DLC doesn’t give you second chances. Mistakes mean you fail.

04:17 - The first level of Part One instantly begins with a difficult arena that combines a ton of enemies with a pretty restrictive fighting area.

04:26 - Right from the start it’s clear that the game is picking up from the end of the base game rather than starting over.

04:31 - The entire level contines slowly ramping up the difficulty until the end where you suddenly find yourself fighting two Marauders at the same time to START an arena.

04:41 - When I did my original review of Eternal I singled out the Marauder as an annoying asshole who felt finicky to fight because it was difficult to guage what range would get him to attack.

04:52 - Well either Id tweaked his AI to make him more predictable or I got better because eventually I started enjoying the Marauder fights.

05:01 - Doom Etrnal pushes you to a level of mastery that ends up surprising you.

05:05 - I love fighting the two Marauders at once now.

05:08 - A room that starts with two marauders and gets harder from there is an intense way to end a level.

05:14 - One would think it can’t get any more ridiculous but by the time you fight a Tyrant in a tiny hallway at the start of the second level it’s pretty clear that The Ancient Gods is setting out to put the player into seemingly unwinnable scenarios and challenging them to figure it out.

05:30 - If, like me, you play on NM the first time through, the DLC is pretty brutal because the arenas in ancient gods all feel like the slayer gates from the base game.

05:38 - The arena’s in the Ancient Gods all feel like the Slayer gates in the base game.

05:40 - They purposefully constrain the player and require total mastery of the movement system.

05:45 - If you managed to play eternal and ignore portals and jump pads and swing bars the Ancient gods kills you for failing to use them.

05:54 - The change in arena’s is the most consistent and noticeable way difficulty is ramped up in the first part but right as you’re finally comfortable with the harder layouts the game has some other tricks up it’s sleeve.

06:05 - About halfway through the third level this enemy starts showing up to totally scramble combat encounters.

06:11 - Now I was not the only one to complain about the Marauder in Eternal.

06:15 - It was one of the only enemies that was seriously criticized and to Ids credit they were definitey right.

06:21 - He works so well precisely because he changes the entire approach the player needs to take to an areana.

06:27 - In the DLC’s Id doubled down and introduced the spirit possessed enemy which make the marauder look like an imp.

06:34 - This enemy type made me fully appreciate an almost invisible mechanic that’s constantly going on in the background of the base game.

06:41 - Staggering enemies is one of the most crucial systems in the game.

06:45 - The chain gun, rocket launcher and grenades make most enemies lose their footing giving you time to react to them.

06:51 - When an enemy is possessed by a spirit in the DLC’s however they have extra health, do more damage, move way WAAYYY faster and cannot be staggered at all.

07:05 - This adds a different layer to the combat because if one of the fast aggressive demons is possessed it turns into a ridiculous chase where you constantly run away and chip their health while topping up on ammor and health from the fodder demons.

07:17 - It also makes certain demons far tougher to deal with than others.

07:20 - IF a Hell Kinght, Baron or arachnotron is possessed it can be quite difficult.

07:25 - If it’s a mancubus it’s not much of a difference.

07:29 - Much like the marauder in my first couple of play throughs I didn’t really like these enemies.

07:34 - Once you kill the possessed demon you have to ghostbuster the spirit away with the microwave beam which locks your movement down.

07:41 - And as Part 1 goes on the game starts throwing these guys into increasingly insane situations.

07:47 - Like in a foggy canyon, or in small little arenas, or eventually in a crowded final boss room.

07:55 - After the first playthrough I went back and played part one on Ultra Violence and got far more comfortable with them and by part 2 I’ve changed my mind.

08:04 - They’re an excellent addition to the combat.

08:06 - My one serious complaint with them is it is random which enemy they’ll posess in a combat arena.

08:13 - You can play an arena and die to a possessed Baron only to reload and have a revenant be possessed next time.

08:19 - When I went back to get footage here’s which enemy the games first spirit possessed.

08:25 - Just my freaking luck. It seems like an odd choice to make this random but I guess from Id’s point of view it adds a certain amount of interesting variety to encounters.

08:35 - Still the difference between this guy, and this guy is ridiculous.

08:42 - The other new addition was the blood makyr and while I don’t hate them I’m less positive on these guys.

08:48 - Not because they’re particularly difficult but more because the mechanic used to defeat them once again feels a bit random.

08:56 - Blood Makyrs are basically makry drones but unlike the drones these guys have an invulnerable shield that only drops when they charge up a specific attack.

09:04 - They can get frustrating when you’ve got an already ridiculous arena and are running around waiting for these guys to finally give you the chance to shoot them.

09:12 - Still they’re used failrly sparingly and add another layer to the combat system, but there are certain arenes where they respawn a bit too much for my liking and they can be very annoying to deal with while being chased by a possessed demon.

09:25 - When it comes to the way the new levels look Ancient Gods Part 1 is for the most part just as great as the base game with an even wider variety of areanas.

09:34 - The Ancient Gods truly feels like it’s exploring a bunch of different ideas to make the game more challenging and interesting.

09:40 - The difficulty is ramped up to extreme levels but when you step back for a bit and calm your teats that’s actually a good thing.

09:48 - I want games like Eternal to push the envelope and challenge me.

09:51 - That’s exactly what I’m looking for in games.

09:53 - There are two places Part 1 misses, however, it’s in the music and the boss design.

10:00 - IN my review of the base game my one major complaint was I didn’t love all the bosses.

10:06 - I thought the Doom Hunter was great and the Gladiator and Khan Makyr were ok but I ended up really disappointed with the Icon Of Sin.

10:14 - I didn’t think they were poorly designed I just didn’t like the change of focus from the boss design of the first game.

10:21 - Doom 2016’s bosses were fights based on pattern recognition.

10:24 - Each of them was quite good and tested something different in the player than the regular levels did.

10:31 - In Eternal it’s obvious Id wanted to make the boss fights exactly the same as the regular combat arenas.

10:39 - Doom Hunter and Icon are basically just really tough arena Part 1 splits the difference.

10:48 - The game still relies on add control to push difficulty so the fights are still about balancing adds and a boss but both of them feature attacks that slow the player which is literally the last thing I want in a Doom game.

11:02 - Even after 5 or 6 playthroughs I find the bosses to be a bit of a slog.

11:07 - The first one has you fighting two Hellraiser cubes that are immune to damage most of the time and slow the player while being chased by a Hell Knight and a Pinky.

11:15 - It just feels frustrating even after getting good at it it just never feels like a great fight.

11:22 - In fact the only way to beat it really cleanly is to use the Ballista.

11:26 - If you don’t use that it’s just a nightmare.

11:28 - But still, it’s just… I don’t know… it just isn’t a great feeling fight.

11:32 - It’s not very memorably and, ulitmately, you’re fighting two… boxes.

11:37 - The final fight against Hayden is just a total miss for me.

11:41 - It has blood Makyrs, pairs of respawning sprit possessed demons with eyeballs and a boss that shoot the same slowing attacks.

11:48 - It feels too punishing and too easy to end up dead from even the tiniest mistake when you play on Nightmare.

11:54 - I didn’t like it the first time and I liked it less and less each subsequent time, again, even after I got better at it.

12:00 - Overall though Part 1 is a DLC that pushes an already spectacular game forward in a bunch of ways.

12:07 - It takes everything great about the game and does it even better.

12:11 - Part Two. Ancient Gods Part 2 is a bit different from the first DLC.

12:17 - Its not as laser focused on extreme difficulty and only has one boss.

12:23 - Instead it’s focus is on asbsolutely spectacular level design.

12:27 - While 2016 featured rock solid levels, with The Foundry standing out as a truly excecptional area, Eternal exceeded the original in this regard.

12:36 - The Super Gore Nest is the clear standout but almost every level is both clever and beautiful.

12:42 - While Part 1 continued this quality Part 2 is a significant leap in level complexity and design.

12:50 - Each of the levels on offer loops back on itself in an almost Dark Souls 1 style layout.

12:56 - The addition of using the SSG Meathook as a grapple to swing yourself to higher areas feels great.

13:02 - Part 2’s levels are beautiful, arresting, detailed and feature some of the most interesting and unique arenas the franchise has to offer.

13:10 - Id thoroughly explores how space and geometry interact with the movement and combat systems and it’s a revelation.

13:17 - There’s an incredible amount of diversity on offer here.

13:20 - Almost every single arena feels like something new and different from what’s come before.

13:25 - Theres a section of fighting a few hell knights in a tiny room with radition, theres a section of fighting waves of imps and pinkies in a narrow hallway with exploding barrels.

13:37 - There are several huge open arenas with no cover that forces the player to make use of jump pads and grappling hooks.

13:46 - And there’s the most intense arena in the game that features a new enemy that buffs demons if damaged and two marauders all while floating on a small island.

13:58 - Part 2 keeps using the previous new enemies in interesting ways while also throwing multiple Tyrants or a spriti buffed Doom Hunter or multiple marauders at you.

14:08 - Even if there were no new enemies simply ramping up how the base game and Part 1’s enemies are used would be enough.

14:14 - But the game does have several new enemy types as well.

14:17 - There’s an armored baron that requires you to pour plasma damage to break his armor or to shoot his arm at just the moment he attacks.

14:26 - THis is probably the coolest new enemy because it is just incredibly satisfying to kill him without letting his armor recharge.

14:33 - ANd because the sound design of having you shots plink off only to have it break with a clank is just great.

14:43 - The new stone skin imps roll around and knock the player back which is annoying to be honest.

14:49 - But it makes them a constant nuisance which has to be quickly addressed.

14:53 - These guys use the full auto combat shotgun which I didn’t discover for like three play throughs because I have the tool tips turned off.

15:00 - And while, again, this does lean into the rock paper scissors thing it’s good.

15:04 - It requires you get to really in the habit of like, constantly switching the weapon mods which is something you don’t really have to do in the base game.

15:11 - Ever, to be honest. Finally there are those zombies that temporarily buff other enemies if you damage them.

15:17 - They’re pretty much like, buff totems, but only if they take damage.

15:22 - These guys were HIGHLY annoying at first. But, as with almost every other thing that feels unfair in Eternal over time it becomes clear that this is just yet another really interesting way to push the player.

15:34 - And it adds a deeper level of situational awareness to arenas.

15:37 - Now, again, that doesn’t mean they aren’t frustrating, they certainly are.

15:41 - But its the kind of frustration that drives mastery.

15:44 - Part 2 adds one new wrinkle to the players tool kit, a giant plasma hammer.

15:50 - The first time through the game I wasn’t able to really work this into my rotation consistently and it felt kinda like, almost, a gimmick.

15:56 - But once I got proficient with it, it became clear that this thing needs to stay in any future Doom game.

16:03 - The hammer replaces the crucible which was a basically a free erase button for heavies.

16:08 - Instead of a sword that you can use on Tyrants or Doom Hunters the hammer is more like your ice grenade.

16:14 - It’s not a melee BFG, it’s a tool that needs to be worked into the regular rotation.

16:20 - Every two glory kills charges the hammer at which point you jump in the air as high as possible and smash the hammer down.

16:27 - This shakes health and ammo loose from the enemy and also stuns them outright for several seconds.

16:33 - After ugrading it the hammer also increases armor drops from burning enemies.

16:39 - Very few things in the game are as satisfying as kiting a bunch of things around before lighting 6 demons on fire and smashing them with the hammer to fully recharge your armor.

16:48 - The hammer is simply a better and more interesting mechanic than the crucible was.

16:53 - It’s an idea refined and perfected rather than something totally new.

16:58 - Before we wrap up there’s two other interesting things that need to be said about the Ancient Gods Part 2.

17:04 - First is the final level which features skyboxes that put almost everything else in AAA gaming to shame.

17:12 - How many times have you played a shooter and gone into a mission that’s supposed to be a huge final battle only to realize the game cabtdeliver on the grandeur of it’s premise? The final mission of Part 2 is storming the Dark Lords Castle.

17:25 - As you fight through some of the most ridiculously difficult arenas in the game every sky box and background area is full of sentinels fighting demons, giant mechs fighting huge building sized demons, or dragons burning the ground.

17:39 - It’s beautiful, interesting and makes that final level memorable like nothing that has come before.

17:44 - And, of course, there’s the final boss. Now as I’ve said I’ve found Eternal and Part 1’s bosses to range from good to mediocre to annoying so I wasn’t expecting to love the final boss.

17:57 - I was just hoping it wouldn’t be poop. And then in my first playthrough I hit a wall in the third phase where it just pissed me off.

18:06 - He couldn’t kill me and I couldn’t kill him because he heals himself everytime you’re damaged and the hitbox on his sword attack is larger than the model would imply.

18:14 - Unlike the other bosses though I’ve come around totally on this fight and now consider it the bestin the franchise.

18:22 - By my third playthrough The Dark Lord ends up being a satisfying dance that perfectly balances dooms core resource and cooldown management with it’s slick movement system.

18:32 - Its the boss that best exemplifies what this game does so well.

18:37 - It has adds but not so many that you end up losing track of actually fighting the boss and it’s more like the first game in an important way.

18:44 - The boss is less about manic multitasking and more about careful pattern recognition.

18:50 - After a few times getting the rhythym you can beat the Dark Lord without taking damage.

18:55 - I like hard games but the ones I love most are games you can master to the point that you are in total control.

19:01 - There’s no mastering the Icon Of Sin so well that you’re never hit.

19:05 - I mean, sure, I bet there is someone who has done that but… not for me.

19:09 - And even the good bosses like Doom Hunter still focus more on running around managing resources than it does on a simple dance.

19:17 - Dark Lord is a slick ballet that relies on careful positioning, perfect cooldown management, quick swapping wepaons, and being very deliberate about managing your dash.

19:28 - It’s both challenging but also allows for total mastery.

19:32 - It’s a nearly perfect send off to a nearly perfect game.

19:38 - Wrapping Up The Ancient Gods Part 1 and 2 make me sad.

19:44 - I don’t think it’s even debatable that Doom Eternal is the best single player FPS game ever made and a game that does difficulty better than perhaps any other game ever made period.

19:56 - And now the DLC’s are over and we’ll need to wait 4 years for whatever comes next.

20:01 - The Ancient Gods Part 1 pushes Doom Eternal forward and expands the game in ways that makes it more difficult but also just feel different to play.

20:10 - The first time I played it I was convinced that the difficulty increase was too much and I tweeted as much.

20:15 - But after playing Part 1 on Nightmare and getting pretty frustrated I went back immediately and played on Ultra Violence and totally fell in love with it.

20:23 - So much so that on my third playthough, playing the extra life mode on Nightmare, it had me thinking it’s equally good to the base game.

20:30 - The Ancient Gods Part 2 is better than part 1 pretty much in every way.

20:34 - The music is spectacular, the difficulty is just right, and the actual levels and art design push Eternal forward quite a bit.

20:43 - Part 2 is the best level design, the best arena design and it has the best enemy mix of the entire game.

20:50 - It swaps the crucible sword for the far more interesting hammer.

20:53 - It mixes the new enemies and old enemies in ways that push the combat to it’s absolute limit.

20:59 - And it’s game feel is perfect. Doom Eternal has ended it’s run as it started.

21:04 - As one of the most intelligently designed games ever made.

21:08 - Alright Blue Fire is up next, thanks for coming, I’ll see you next time, bye. .