First-person shooters have come a long, long way since 'Wolfenstein 3D', 'Doom' and even console efforts like 'GoldenEye 64' and 'Call of Duty'.
It's a genre that is often accused of lacking in awareness, of being defined by rote gameplay, and very often featuring bland and unoriginal storytelling in order to make itself feel authentic. There are, of course, entries in the genre that have subverted all those expectations - and the remake of 'Doom' in 2016 was one of them.
2016's 'Doom' was almost post-modern in the amount of violence it had. It was exactly the kind of game that players - twenty years ago, anyway - would have been warned about playing. It was exquisitely ridiculous, had an ear-piercing soundtrack, and was raucously entertaining. In short, it was going to be a tough act to follow.
'Doom Eternal' arrives in a crowded marketplace, with the weight of expectation across its shoulders, and from the get-go, reminds you that you never had anything to fear. The opening stages see you transported to Earth - in the middle of an invasion by the forces of Hell. The layouts vary in size, but they essentially box you into a room that you'll have to do laps of in order to avoid enemy fire, pick up enough ammo, and kill all enemies.
That formula repeats itself over and over throughout the game, perhaps throwing in some acrobatic jumps and quick-strafes, not to mention cartoonishly violent 'glory kills' that see you pluck out eyeballs, snap arms off like twigs, and knife zombies in the face.
Yet, for all of that repetitiveness, you never once find yourself bored or even remotely aware of it. The game proves to be so hypnotic that you can easily lose hours in it without even realising it. Just as soon as you mercilessly off one demon, you're already racing into the next fight to thunderous, gutteral metal music with an over-sized shotgun in your hands.
Like 2016's 'Doom', the story isn't really all that important - you can follow it if you want, but it's entirely up to you whether or not it goes in. The enjoyment of the game doesn't rest on understanding the Doom Slayer's purpose (it's to kill demons), why the invasion of Hell is happening (prophecy yada yada) and the developers understand that aspect.
Compared to something like, say, 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare', there isn't a single shred of realism in 'Doom Eternal' - though 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare' wasn't actually realistic either. 'Doom Eternal' embraces the super-fast arcade feel to its action, and the first few stages of the game will acclimate you to that.
By the time you're an hour in, if not less, you'll be chainsawing your way to one of the games of the year. Mastering each of the weapons - and their modifications - is difficult, but you can easily swap between them to find whatever suits your style and strategy. Likewise, the difficulty levels in the game offer up a varied experience - with the classic one-life run option now available from the start for purists.
'Doom Eternal' offers itself up as an invigorating, refreshing take on first-person shooters by actively going deep into its past, salvaging what worked, discarding what didn't, and fashioning it into something brutally effective. Like Doomguy himself, 'Doom Eternal' just blasts its way across the screen, never stopping, never fading.