Although you could call me a masochist, I prefer it when the odds don’t favor my side. This is why I turn off the “Fill Squad” option in Fortnite and drop into matches as a single wolf, even though I won’t make it to the top ten, let alone win victory royale.
That feeling of being outnumbered pumps the adrenaline like an intravenous dopamine drip to the soul. It’s also why Doom Eternal’s innovative multiplayer component, Battlemode is more enjoyable than its single-player campaign.
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Yes, that’s right, I do. That last sentence sounds like blasphemous hearsay for the Doom faithful. The 2016 reboot of the iconic first-person shooter by id Software is loved and adored for its multiplayer mode. Instead, the game was elevated by a powerful, meaty campaign that paid tribute to its ancestry and continued to improve on the original blueprint in every way. Doom Eternal rectifies that problem by presenting a multiplayer component that is just as satisfying and enjoyable as the main course.
“Battlemode” is a constant, breakneck gauntlet full of unremitting, pure action.
Id Software often uses the language of chess to describe their Doom design approach. They refer to demons in this way: they are different pieces on each board that correspond to the combat arenas the Doom Slayer finds him in. It’s a good metaphor. It emphasizes every battle’s strategic, kinesthetic texture where situational awareness and resource management are as important as pulling the trigger on a loaded shotgun.
These key ingredients have been seamlessly integrated into Doom Eternal’s multiplayer. This allows one Doomguy to face off against two Demon players.
This scenario presents the ultimate challenge to the vested slayer. It is a culmination of all that the campaign has taught and requires nearly primorial fluency in the game’s complicated web of mechanics, concepts, and chess-like fighting strategies. It’s an endless, relentless, and ongoing battle with both demons.
The power fantasy of being the world’s most potent supersoldier is still palpable in Battlemode. This disrupts the flow of play that you may be used to in the Doom Eternal campaign’s campaign. Due to my obsession with stack odds, it’s safe to say that I am already addicted to Battlemode as the Doom Slayer. However, this doesn’t diminish the virtues of the other side.
Doom Eternal’s Battlemode demons offer a wide range of gameplay options, not only in their new abilities but also in the ability to approach combat in a different way than the slayer. Battlemode allows you to choose from five Hell’s offspring – Archvile (Pain Elemental), Marauder(Marauder), Mancubus, or Revenant – each offering different control schemes, mechanics, and playstyles.
The Doomslayer is still the most powerful single piece of chess in Battlemode. Even the Slayer, which is comparatively small, makes it a moving target to pursue.
A match made in Hell
Given that we are talking about the studio which invented Team Deathmatch, I understand the public outrage over id Software’s decision not to use the famous mode for Doom Eternal. Battlemode is a worthy alternative to Doom 2016, which has an ineffective online component. It channels the shooter’s unique strengths as a tactical FPS and offers something genuinely different from the industry norm.
As asymmetric multiplayer modes often attract skepticism due to initial curiosity, they are concerned about their long-term entertainment and competitive harmony. Doom Eternal’s Battlemode strikes the perfect balance between fairness and entertainment while also offering a PvP experience that recalls the offbeat tournaments of the seventh console generation when developers were more open to trying new multiplayer formats.
Eternal’s marketing campaign is also excellent. Sublime is the right word. It gets to the good stuff. This is not the conclusion I expected to reach in 2020. However, I would be lying if I said that I had more fun killing AI-controlled demons in Doom Eternal.