The ordeal of Doom Slayer according to DLC which aims to close - for now - the single player experience of Doom Eternal with new challenges, gameplay solutions and an incessant hail of blood, guts and secretions of all kinds. The Ancient Gods Part 2 picks up exactly where we left off, bringing the nemesis of existence itself back to life. Our focus lies in the end the life of the Dark Lord, and forever prevent demonic entities from infesting our solar system. It is useless to reiterate that history is absolutely an end in itself, while trying to show some flashes, and proves to be a simple pretext to throw up bullets on our enemies. Which, of course, is fine, on the other hand the so arcade soul of the run and gun of Id Software it would not marry with deeper and more articulated narrative elements, and would also break the syncopated rhythm of the experience. The goal of the DLC is to be a natural continuation of the campaign, keeping faith with the desire to continue to raise the rate of challenge and difficulty, offering an increasingly dense and demanding experience. Net of an already dizzyingly high difficulty curve reached with the last additional content, it was difficult to find a good balance by envisioning wanting to raise the difficulty bar again without dropping the qualitative one and in fact, The Ancient Gods Part 2 fails effectively in its intent.
"The new monsters"
As for the first part of The Ancient Gods, the team decides to throw us directly into the action, without too many pleasantries, pats on the back or complex introductions. Perfect, our arsenal is ready to hit the dance floor and there are already plenty of demons waiting for us on the dance floor. A damn large party, with old acquaintances of course but also new faces, ready to hit us with the violence of an iron on the nose. The additions to the cast are obviously well received and manage to take the limelight but turn out to be mostly re-skins of enemies already present in the universe of Doom Eternal, with the exception of a "welcome" return directly from Doom 2. Lo Skreecher Zombie, for example, is the 2.0 version of the basic mobs, those cute bags of walking ammunition that we have come to love so much, and it has immediately become one of the enemies I most hate. With its ability to enhance attack and defense of all enemies on the screen, and to be deployed on the field often in multiple copies, the new Skreecher always needs to be eliminated first if you do not want to be overwhelmed in a few moments by a legion of demons almost invincible. A solution certainly effective to exacerbate the difficulty but not particularly brilliant and quite small in terms of game design. Unfortunately, the same goes for the other additions to the bestiary, including theArmored Baron and Cursed Prowler, the first is a "full metal jacket" version of the titanic barons and can be deprived of armor using the microwave rifle or hitting his iron club at the right time, then taking advantage of the few seconds it takes to "get dressed" to slaughter him quickly . The new guise of the Prowler instead will subtly "limit" itself to inflicting an altered status that causes continuous damage and the inability to shoot. If reading it seems frustrating, in game it is directly from a headache. Making it incredibly complex is the team's innate talent for combining old and new acquaintances in the same arenas in the cruellest way possible. We used to get used to the idea of bosses being exploited as simple enemies but in The Ancient Gods Part 2 it almost seems like the goal was to conduct a study on ragequit. For some, a few probably, it may be a new and galvanizing challenge, but most of the audience will remain far less excited.
Zoom, Grab, Boom, Splat! …or not?
Among the most exciting mechanics of Doom Eternal, the great range of movement of the Slayer is the pivot on which much of the gameplay is based. Jumps, shots on the ground and in the air are essential tools to dominate the pitch, so much so that the most precious advice that the title itself provides is precisely to stay in constant motion, in order to avoid being dead flesh. It is for this with amazement that I faced the numerous sections in which these movements are partially, or completely, blocked, because between enemies able to curse us, swamps that block the ability to jump and very small areas in which to fight - especially in the first of the three new levels - this Doom loses much of its charm and the clashes to be played with these malus are, more than challenges, real disturbing elements for their own sake. Perhaps to balance that out, or to cater to grapple fans, id Software introduces new platform sessions, placing the accent precisely on the secondary weapon of the sawn-off shotgun, with a level design now “enriched” by some hooks to hang on and like new Tarzans to perform previously impossible maneuvers. When this element is at the service of the shooting phases, it is a welcome addition that can further spectacularize the festival of blood that comes to life on the screen but, when it comes to naked and raw platformers, already a weak point of the production, the discourse changes and shows all its weaker and anticlimatic side, badly breaking the rhythm of the game, also considering the space that these phases take on 4/5 hours of gameplay necessary to get to the credits. The Ancient Gods Part 2, presents however a successful graft, albeit not very exploitable, which resides in Hammer. This new weapon approaches Doom Guy's abilities, such as the Blood Fist, and requires both Glory Kill and the destruction of enemy weak points to be charged, but once activated, it shows all its power. In fact, a powerful blow on the ground stuns all the opponents around us for a few moments, useful for catching one's breath, perhaps finding one's way from the total chaos that rages, considering the shovel of enemies that the game throws at us, or to put us in a strong situation of benefit. Not only that, enemies on fire and frozen ones will release more ammo and healing when hit by the shattering brute force of the hammer, making it a truly indispensable tool. Precisely this nice death-dispensing hammer demonstrates how the team has not lost the ability to create tools that are so simple but incredibly functional and practical, the new equipment that is given to us fits perfectly into the gameplay of Doom Eternal and for this reason the shortcomings, or the balance flaws, due to the other innovations are even more harsh to accept.
One and three
Bringing the term "insufficiency" to Doom Eternal sounds like a blasphemy and in fact, although not very incisive, this second DLC does not deserve a similar evaluation. Yet it is clear that the new chapter is an effective representation of too much that is good. The Ancient Gods Part 2 fails to maintain the excellent quality demonstrated in the basic campaign and in the first additional content, the strengths remain but are opposed by the obsessive search for an increasingly punitive challenge rate, raising a curve that was already very high but still almost always balanced, up to this point. The additions, excluding the new piece of paraphernalia, do not convince, as well as the more platform drift linked to the sections with the grappling hook and the boss fights still to be reviewed. It is not a worthy conclusion of Doom Eternal but it is still a conclusion and for many it will already be more than enough to take back the id Software title, always worthy of being dusted off.