If you enjoyed Doom Eternal, you’ll like The Ancient Gods – Part One. If you didn’t, then this expansion won’t change your mind.
When I first reviewed Doom Eternal, I deemed it both the smartest and dumbest game of 2020 – smart because of the ingenious blend of strategy and resource management in every difficult fight, and dumb for, well, everything else.
Now that the first expansion pack is finally here, id Software have decided to double down and crank everything from 10 to 13. The result is basically more Doom Eternal – for better and worse.
They say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well id Software decided to inject it with a massive shot of adrenaline while putting an extra super shotgun in its hands instead.
The demons were already aggressive as hell (pun unintended) in Doom Eternal but they’re somehow even more deadly this time around. Standing still is not an option if you don’t want a fireball in your face and you really need to really micromanage every little thing, such as which weapon to use on which demon to where you need to be moving in the next few seconds.
To balance the difficulty spike out, The Ancient Gods – Part One is a bit more generous with ammo and health, and your Doomguy is decked out with every weapon and upgrade from the beginning.
The level of concentration required is relentless and losing grip on your controller or mouse is a genuine worry since you’re going to be a sweaty, frustrated mess after each fight.
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This deadly dance between strategy, resource management, and blowing demons up is seriously fun and the amount of satisfaction (and relief) at seeing the “checkpoint reached” prompt come up after each fight is palpable.
The problem with all of this is that The Ancient Gods -Part One falls into the trap of “too much of a good thing is a bad thing.” This whole “run ‘n’ gun” gameplay loop is great for a few minutes, but several fights in this expansion pack run well past the 10-minute mark.
Sometimes the fights go on for so bloody long it makes you seriously question how Hell isn’t completely depleted of demons at this point.
And then there’s everything else bundled around this “run ‘n’ gun” gameplay loop. If you thought Doom Eternal‘s story was dumb, The Ancient Gods‘ story is equally stupid. And then there’s the ending. I won’t spoil anything but let’s just say that it’s M. Night Shyamalan levels of face-palm.
The levels are seriously huge but there’s nothing that makes you go “whoa.” It’s all similar to everything we’ve already seen and it’s all becoming pretty beige-y at this point.
As for the music, you’d expect it to be a little underwhelming following Mick Gordon’s departure from the project and that sadly is the case. It’s not bad per se, just nothing as gnarly or memorable as what Gordon cobbled together before he pissed off the top brass at id.
The long and short of The Ancient Gods – Part One is that if you enjoyed everything Doom Eternal had to offer – the ridiculously in-depth lore (which itself is just plain dumb), the intense fights that involve a surprising amount of strategy, and super aggressive enemies – then you’ll like this expansion pack.
If you didn’t, well this expansion pack won’t change your mind about the game.