Unlike most games, it’s clear id Software had a clear idea of where they wanted to go with Doom Eternal’s first expansion. Simply titled The Ancient Gods, with a note indicating this is the beginning of something larger, it gives players a sense of what they’re doing and how this continuation of the story will impact things to come. It’s exciting but also concerning, given so much of this expansion was created during peak COVID-19 concerns. With it seeming like this expansion can go either way, is it hell to play or a hell of a lot of fun?
Whether you played through Doom Eternal or not, The Ancient Gods is set up so anyone can enjoy it. Despite taking place after the events of the main game, you’re given every weapon, power up, and ability, regardless of whether you unlocked it or not, in addition to allowing you to experience it without first finishing the story. Best of all, there really aren’t any spoilers either, making it easy to jump in and enjoy.
In The Ancient Gods you, the infamous Doom Slayer, is tasked with bringing peace by bringing a powerful force back. A lot of this hinges on how much you care about the lore, otherwise, it’s like 20 minutes of cutscenes that essentially lead to a massive cliffhanger that brings about all the usual concerns with multiple part stories. Here it seems to be building up to something amazing, for those who care about lore anyway, yet there is no way to tell how well the conclusion will capitalize on things. Still, based on what was shown, it’s worth giving the story a chance, assuming you like the fast-paced gameplay.
Given this is supposed to take place after the events of the original story, everything is kicked up a notch. There are harder enemy arrangements, greater emphasis on using your mechanics, and a far greater emphasis on combat. Most of the expansion is, quite honestly, going from gauntlet to gauntlet and hoping you can survive. In a lot of ways, this makes the DLC feel rather monotonous. Fight like 40 demons, barely survive and then transverse some swamp before fighting 45 demons and pray you still have what it takes to survive.
Those who love the combat will enjoy the challenge though. Greater challenge means an increased need to dash, dodge, burn, explode and glory kill your way to victory. Even on easy, you need to play smart or you’re going to run into serious trouble at a number of points. The unfortunate side of this is difficulty was a common concern for the base game, so setting the DLC at a notch even higher than that does more harm than good for many. It also fails to address another concern, jumping puzzles.
For better or worse, The Ancient Gods doubles down on everything the main game was. This means intense platforming sections have not only returned, they’re even harder. Some of the new ones introduce a beat the clock mechanic, so it isn’t enough to have the skill to do it and know what needs to be done, you need to do it within a specific amount of time or you will need to restart. This can be perfectly honest, be rather rough but at least these sections are far and few between.
To be perfectly honest, so much of the expansion just feels like a continuation of the story. The same enemies, for the most part, a great challenge, more annoying jumping puzzles, and the same core mechanics just in different locations. This can take away from the experience or make up for it, but given the five or so hours of playtime, it offers, how much this matters will vary.
Doom Eternal The Ancient Gods: Part 1 Review – Verdict
So much of the success of this expansion hinges on the second part, so we’re cautiously optimistic. The story is building to interesting things that we would like to see, it just depends on how well they capitalize on the momentum. As for the content we did see, it’s basically more of the main game, so if you want to fight even more intense waves of the same seven or so enemies, you’ll love this expansion, whereas those who struggled with the base game will likely be underwhelmed.
[Editor’s Note: Doom Eternal The Ancient Gods: Part 1 was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and a code was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]