The story in Doom (2016) had quite a bit of depth to it, despite it appearing simple and shallow on the surface. Their was interesting lore, characters, events, the clash of science, pseudoscience, and religion. Nothing about the story could have been deemed stereotypical, with the exception of the player character as a silent protagonist, instead cleverly implementing literary and artistic motifs in a surprisingly compelling way.
In the midst of that story was Doomguy, who did not care one bit about that story and really was just there to stomp out as many demons as possible and do it with as much brutality as possible. The faceless protagonist who had a job to do, and was going to tear through whatever, and whoever, was in his way.
Was that lore extremely deep and and convoluted like a Soulsborne title? Absolutely not, and it also did not require a 30 minute analysis video to understand the plot like Kingdom Hearts. But it was present for the players who really wanted to go digging and find it, which is perfect for the Doom series.
Doom has never been a series that prided itself on story, but rather used it’s lack of one as a selling point. ‘Doomguy is a marine, he kills demons’ was about as complicated as it had been up to Doom (2016) and that was never to the detriment to the series. For players who wanted more, there were books, spin-offs, a movie (that fans of the franchise have disowned) that could give fans a closer look at Doomguy or the Hell that the series had created.
Doom (2016) had the Doomguy with one purpose: kill the demons. Sure, there was some stuff about a corporation looking into Hell, and making portals to Hell, the demons coming through them and wanting to make it to Earth, but for the player, it just came down to killing demons. Need to close the portals? Kill some demons. Keep those demons from Earth? Rip and tear those demons. Need out of Hell? Kill some bigger demons.
In a massive change for the series, Doom Eternal has a massive story, with an interesting plot, elaborate world, and a purpose for the Slayer.
Doom Eternal drops the player right into that story, and does not shy away from putting it front and center. The demons have made it past Mars and have wreaked havoc on Earth. By the time the player’s journey starts, the demonic invasion has been going for years and Earth is completely unrecognizable: gore nest are deeply intertwined with the architecture, lava and brimstone are everywhere, remnants of a war that humanity lost are everywhere.
The Doomslayer has finally made his way to Earth to rid the planet of it’s new inhabitants. The problem is that this time, it is a bit more complicated then ripping and tearing demons. Hell has a hierarchy of generals, and priests, and gods and if Doomslayer wants to save the day, he has to cut off the head of the hierarchy. That means locating and eliminating the three Hell priests and stopping the Khan Maykr, a demonic god, from walking the Earth.
Throughout his journey to eliminate the Hell priests, Doomguy learns the secrets and history of Hell, Heaven, an ancient war, tradition, and gods. Even the Doomslayer’s history comes to light, with his past relationships and actions coming to light, and the consequences being held against the player. Id Software builds an impressive world that really drives the story forward, and everything in the game, from the settings, to the characters, and the log entries help build that world to an impressive scope.
Doom Eternal’s story helps make the player feel more powerful, raising the stakes and hyping both the enemies and player up. Despite the characters being fairly shallow, their personalities are unique and help push the story forward, without feeling forced or unnecessary. Hopefully, Id Software chooses to keep building this world and stay in it for the future of the series.