It was incredibly fast, wonderfully dark and brutally good: id Software hit the bull's eye with Doom Eternal, the first-person shooter is undisputedly one of the best shooters of the year. In our big test we were enthusiastic about the clever level design, the merciless fights and the gloomy atmosphere. But there was also some criticism from the community, some players were annoyed, for example, with the jump inserts, the constant resource management – and the juicy level of difficulty, which was well above that of the previous game. Was Doom Eternal too heavy for you? Then you better leave the fingers of The Ancient Gods – Part One. Because the first DLC expansion is so ruthless even at the normal level that the main game, on the other hand, looks like an extended tutorial.
Carnage in two acts
The name gives it away: The Ancient Gods will be published in two parts, so in Part One we only experience the first half of the new story. This ties in seamlessly with the main game, which you don't have to own, because The Ancient Gods can also run independently. Of course, nothing changes in the basic principle: After his victory over the Kahn Maykr, the Slayer is looking for a new dispute, this time in three fantastically designed levels, which again lead you back and forth through the dimensions and should occupy four to five hours. The bloodbath begins at the UAC Atlantica Facility, a rainy base in the middle of the roaring ocean – a pleasantly classic, atmospheric setting that even ends in a small dive to the sea floor. Then it's off to the blood swamps of hell, where explosive plants, thick fog and huge tentacle creatures provide variety. In the end, the Slayer ends up in the overgrown Urdak, which is now under the control of the demons. A bit of a shame: unlike in the main game, you don't return to your flying fortress from time to time, this time id Software canceled it.
Source: PC Games
As usual, all levels come with a few secrets and smaller environmental puzzles, again including the controversial jump inserts, in which you have to swing along bars and climb walls. Overall, there are fewer secrets to discover than in the main game, which is simply because you don't have to find any new upgrades. Your Slayer is fully equipped, all weapons, all runes, all improvements are unlocked from the start. In the course of the game you only loot three new rune types, which are used in a fourth, additional slot. One of them lets you earn an extra life back, for example, very useful! Unfortunately there is no new equipment for the Slayer at all, you use exactly the same weapons, upgrades and moves as in the main game. That's a bit disappointing, after all, the main game had mostly the same creaking as in Doom (2016).
Source: PC Games
Good luck and a lot of sawing on all your paths
Doom Eternal (buy now € 22.30 ) was especially praised for his sweaty arena fights, in which you swept entire hordes of demons from the scene at a mad pace. The Ancient Gods goes one step further in this regard: Small battles against individual opponents have become rarer, instead the arena slaughter now takes up the majority of the season, sometimes they seem literally strung together. These fighting sequences are just as fantastic to play as in Doom Eternal, but they throw so many opponents at us that they sometimes feel stretched. Ten minutes and more per fight are not uncommon, so the bloodbaths are more reminiscent of the optional, particularly challenging slayer gates that you had to open with a key in the main game. There are also three of these goals in Ancient Gods, but they hardly stand out compared to the rest of the game. That alone speaks volumes about how tricky the three new levels have turned out to be.
The developers throw you the thickest enemies from the main game at you right from the start. Several Cyberdemons and Barons of Hell spawn at once, sometimes in level areas where you would least expect them, always flanked by tons of smaller demons such as Imps or zombies, which provide you urgently needed life points, shield energy and ammunition. And do you still remember the fast-paced Marauders from the main game? Congratulations, in Ancient Gods you can fight two of them at the same time. (A little tip: Don't hesitate and unpack the BFG 9000 straight away.)
Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods – Part One in the test (Source: PC Games)
Action at the pain limit
All of this alone would be merciless enough, but the demons get further reinforcements in the form of three new enemy types. Two of them – turrets and a corrupted Blood Maykr – can only be taken out quickly and effectively with precise hits. The sniper attachment for the chain gun and the ballista are therefore becoming increasingly important. The third new type of enemy is a ghost form that greatly enhances other demons. It is only when you destroy their hosts that the spirit is set free. Then speed is required: the blue critters can only be finally destroyed with the beam attachment of the plasma cannon, otherwise they will occupy another demon and the game will start all over again. In addition, there are the well-known buff totems, and from time to time strengthened versions of demons appear, who deal even faster and harder than usual.
Source: PC Games
If you add all of this up, the new opponents, the totems, the forms of strengthening and the sheer masses of heavy demons that storm you here for minutes, the balance sometimes shakes violently: At a normal level of difficulty, you feel more often cornered than in the main game, if you don't show superhero reflexes here and steadfastly refuel with life force, ammunition and armor, you have no chance. The effect: Some fights can actually be annoying, less would have been more here. This also applies to the last boss fight, which cost us tens of attempts. In the end, the game took pity on us and finally offered us extra strong armor, basically an in-game cheat to get us over the finish line. Normally we would have refused such help, it goes against the gamer's honor and so on. But this time we struck. We just wanted to get it over with. At least it was worth it: The final sequence provides another cool story twist and casts a threatening shadow on the next chapter, which id Software is already working on!
Source: PC Games
The Ancient Gods: Part Two has no release date yet. Part One is available for approx. 20 euros and independently executable. For 30 euros you can too Part One and Part Two as a Season Pass to buy. Battlemode multiplayer is included in all versions.
Great action? Clear! But also a little too much of a good thing.
id Software seems to firmly assume that you have played through and mastered the main game before venturing into The Ancient Gods. This is of course not wrong with an add-on, but The Ancient Gods might then have needed a kind of warning notice, after all, it can also run independently. I had no problems with Doom Eternal at all, on the contrary – I loved it! But The Ancient Gods just got too difficult for me on a normal level. Yes, it is manageable, the new levels are great and it still plays great for a long time – but it is sometimes downright annoying because some parts feel unfair. How should that be in Part Two? My request to the developers: Either noticeably reduce the requirements in the next add-on or give the Slayer a few new tricks and weapons with which he can better defend himself. Otherwise I will only have the easy level of difficulty in the future to experience the end of the story. And in my opinion that cannot be the point behind an add-on.
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