There is more video game here in every sense of the word - more cosmetics, more collectibles, more cheats, more detailed level design, more combat mechanics, more enemy types, more lore...more, more, more! It feels like this game is just oozing with game design, which is kind of fascinating in its own way but I've noticed some little things like "View Content" for the lore collectibles that's just so designer-y it breaks the immersion a little and makes the game feel more like a toy or something I guess.
But the way it just kind of...drops you into things, I know it's supposed to feel super cool and badass (starting with a shotgun instead of a pistol and killing one of your three main targets immediately in a cutscene? badass!) but something about the experience of the whole first level just left me feeling a little cold. It didn't help that, like I think Vinny said on the podcast earlier today, this game's a lot meaner than the previous one. I replayed about half of DOOM 2016 a couple weeks ago in joyous anticipation of this game and noted how, after getting back into FPS games thanks to that game and Apex Legends, the default difficulty felt super manageable. It was really delivering a power fantasy and the story is just so tightly wound and fun to unpack.
I got caught on level geometry multiple times during the first level of DOOM Eternal, or seemingly outflanked by multiple fodder enemies while exiting a glory kill animation, and I'm really struggling to land the grenade on the spider's turret which is making them a huge pain in the ass. I'm constantly out of ammo and chainsaw stuff and just barely stumbling into a health pack before I die which, yes, means I'm likely experiencing the game as intended. It's just all kind of overwhelming right now.
There's a room in particular during the second level that had me call it a night right as I was starting to get into the gameplay loop and really made it clear why Alex was so ready to drop the game to the easiest difficulty. After gaining the dash ability, you're sent into a small room you've been in before where the floor is suddenly lava for no real reason other than "hey, here's a challenge for you!" and tasked with taking out a couple Hell Knights and a Cacodemon with the usual fodder lingering around. I went into that room with five extra lives on top of full health, shields, ammo and came out of that room restarting from my last checkpoint with no desire to immediately jump back in and give it another try. Before I'd even lost a life I'd fully run out of ammo for both my guns, had no fuel for my chainsaw and all I could do was hopelessly try to punch the last Hell Knight through all six of my lives. I never once felt so hopeless in the last game, it felt like they always left an out for you somewhere if you were clever enough to find it.
I'm sure I'm going to have tons of fun with this game once I've got the full arsenal unlocked, some of the upgrades activated and have gotten my mind back into rip and tear mode. But I think it's fair to say that DOOM Eternal's first impression is a lot more clinical than its predecessor and it has me worried they took the this is goddamn video game ethos just a little too far in the wrong direction, losing some of the soul and charm this reboot had.