Very much like that other high-profile title recently making headlines, the suspiciously long and rather quiet delay of DOOM Eternal on Nintendo Switch seems as though it was running the risk of a similar fate. The port to the portable home console was always going to be the visually inferior version, but having a new release date bleeding into the sequel’s discounted price on PlayStation 4 and it getting cosy on Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass subscription service probably doesn’t help matters. Come to think of it, would DOOM Eternal on Nintendo Switch even be worth recommending at this point?
Before I get attacked by a horde of loyal Cacodemons for tearing straight for the jugular, please allow me to patch up the wound with a box of cute unicorn plasters. To make things very clear, DOOM Eternal on Nintendo Switch is nothing short of impressive. What little that may have been compromised to have this game running on such a small system genuinely doesn’t take away from the overall quality and excitement that this adrenaline-fueled onslaught of a port has to offer.
Despite angry Doom Guy’s brutal and tireless efforts last time around, Earth has now been overrun with demonic activity leading to over half of mankind being wiped from the face of the planet. Not taking defeat lightly, the already angry Doom Guy gets even angrier than ever before and decides to return to Earth’s orbit in a flying space castle to finish the job he had once started.
Pushing loose plot points aside, DOOM Eternal’s fairly dense story is going to be something fans will either soak up and cherish or care very little for. Either way, what is important, and what it does not get in the way of, is how fun it is to blast, rip and tear the flesh from the bones of the Doom Slayer’s demonic foes.
It is here where Panic Button’s wizardry truly shines because the action and gunplay of DOOM Eternal are left wonderfully intact on Nintendo Switch. Just the sheer amount of enemies littering the environments while keeping the game running at a consistent 30 frames-per-second is undeniably remarkable. Match that with the ability to navigate around the incredibly well-crafted maps at a blistering pace whilst scurrying for tiny pockets of room to breathe, and you will soon realise that the small hurdle of playing the game at a lower resolution will be the last thing on your mind.
I had full-on wars during this game where I could feel my eyes dry up from the fear of blinking. The sense of panic, survival and haste stewed together like corned beef hash made me believe I was the avenging angel of death, as I popped chunks of meat out of Hell Knights and blasted the tails off Pinkies. The utter relief of reaching a checkpoint allowed me to finally breath, blink and swallow the pool of saliva building up in the back of my gullet time and time again. DOOM Eternal may be the visually inferior port, but ultimately, I honestly didn’t care. I didn’t have time to.
What makes the battles so intense is in how it minces the formula of DOOM (2016) with new and improved game mechanics. The main stand out feature is the ability to double-dash on a horizontal plane of eight directions, lending the player much more distance to cover than before. It’s a small touch but one that somehow manages to successfully notch up the already manic pace and aggression of the previous game tenfold.
Another important feature is how DOOM Eternal takes the glory kill and chainsaw mechanic from the last game and expands upon it. Once introduced as a means to gather small amounts of heath and ammo when it matters most, the player can now also take advantage of gaining armour fragments by utilising the new shoulder cannon modification to set enemies on fire. Furthermore, glory killing enemies in succession now helps to build up meter for an explosive berserker-style Blood Punch to give Hell’s Pathologists a run for their money.
That’s not even half of it. There’s so much at the Doom Slayer’s disposal it can be easy to forget what tools and toys are actually available. While these new little perks may sound like a handicap to aid weak players to stay alive, they instead keep the momentum rolling even faster by forcing a decisive reaction-based strategic skill into the mix.
The cherry on top is the excellent inclusion of motion aiming, which was a feature that was later patched in post-launch for DOOM (2016) on Nintendo Switch. As with the previous game, gyroscopic control works so well I honestly couldn’t imagine playing modern DOOM without it. Finding myself slightly steering the controller – or Nintendo Switch – to fine-tune that shot to obliterate cannons strapped to a Revenant’s shoulders never gets old.
Because the combat is so good, the abundance of platformy-puzzle elements regularly forced into the campaign can sometimes break the momentum quite a bit. These are far from terrible sections by any means and do provide a much-needed rest after an intense showdown. It’s just unfortunate that they never feel quite on par with the ultimate strengths that the combat itself has to offer.
What is the most impressive feat is how Panic Button managed to simply balance out the modest processing power of the Nintendo Switch to keep everything running so smoothly. Contrary to popular belief, I personally found DOOM Eternal to be one of the best looking games on the system. While playing portable in Handheld mode does suffer the most from visual blur when compared to having the system docked, there are still plenty of moments where the environments, architecture and lighting effects genuinely look fantastic. The loading times throughout seem so much faster than DOOM (2016) too, giving the player very little time to compose themselves before diving straight back into the action.
To put it mildly, DOOM Eternal is the most impressive first-person shooter ever made to run natively on a handheld system. Not only is it a phenomenal game in its own right that ticks all the boxes of how a sequel should be made, but it’s also a technical marvel of a port conjured up by incredibly skilled magicians. The delay may have been far longer than promised, but it’s crystal clear that the extra time spent in its absence has certainly been put to good use.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Bethesda Softworks