One of Doom Eternal's core themes is progression, and that means grinding crystals and other materials to beef up the Doom Slayer.
Doom Eternal isn't just a linear FPS game. It's meant to be played for a long time, and has deliberate systems in place designed to keep you grinding for materials to make Doom Slayer as powerful as possible. The game has all the trappings of a live service title, including massive replayability that's incentivized through power enhancements, just without the constantly online play and microtransactions.
A lot of these systems are very RPG-esque and borrow quite a bit from Bethesda's new focus on service games and its penchant for massively customizable role-playing titles. Let's make one thing clear: Doom Eternal is not a live service game, but it acts like one nonetheless. Doom Eternal's progression system has quite a few upgrade screens with tons of options, complete with a slew of material and tokens spent to ramp up passive and active stats of weapons, armor, and basic things like health and ammo.
There's plenty of opportunities to spec your Doom Slayer as you see fit.
A recent Giant Bomb video really highlights just how layered Doom Eternal's upgrade systems are. All of the systems feed into each other and serve the main core gameplay loop, which is kill, find, collect, and repeat.
The Praetor Suit, for example, can augment the world around you and make you immune to barrel explosions or even make barrels respawn faster.
The Suit is one of the main upgrade paths, and uses special tokens found throughout the game. You're constantly collecting and spending in Doom Eternal. The Suit also has an Exploration tier that can fully unlock other progression item on the map, strongly pushing you towards collecting. The Fundamentals tree is more immediately chaotic and combat-oriented and gives you buffs like refilling your dash faster.
The Praetor Suit upgrade dial has four paths:
- Frag Grenade - Boosts your grenade in various ways
- Environment - Augments the world around you, makes you stronger against certain environmental hazards
- Exploration - Buffs that increase map radius uncovering range, shows items on map, etc.
- Fundamentals - Combat passive boosts
- Ice Bomb - Enhances the ice bomb attack with buffs like freezing enemies longer, etc.
The Sentinel Crystals unlock passives that boost your health, ammo, and armor, and also have perks in the middle that unlock extra abilities or passives. It's noted that Doom Slayer's starting ammo capacity is pretty low, meaning you'll need to grind out crystals to boost yourself right out of the gate.
Weapons can be modded to increase power and efficacy--for example, the heavy cannon can shoot secondary missiles--and these mods can in turn be upgraded with another separate token currency that's earned from basic combat. Mods can be found throughout the game.
There's also Runes, which are basically skills that unlock specific abilities in the game, including the Blood Punch that absorbs HP from fallen enemies or slowing down jump fall speeds. Only one Rune can be active per slot, and there's 3 slots, but you have to unlock them individually.
Basically this lets you create your own build on-the-fly based on specific encounters.
When you beat a mission, you get a rundown of all your progress. How many tokens you get depends on how well you did on that mission--how many enemies you killed, how many gates you closed, how many secrets you find, etc.
Each level is peppered with tons of stuff to find. It's almost like a Ubisoft game. You'll find items like Empyrean Keys, which are used to unlock new skins and outfits in the new hub world, Sentinel Crystals, which are used to enhance passive stats, Runes, which unlock special abilities in combat, and Sentinel Batteries, which may have something to do with the passive armor/health/ammo upgrade tree.
The game is eager to show you what you've found and what you haven't, so you'll either move on or come back to that level. Either way, it wants you to keep playing.
There's also a battle-pass style system complete with a horizontally-progressive level up scheme. It's not a battle pass, per say, but it's like one. The more you play the more XP you get, which ranks you up in various tiers on the horizontal ladder. The more you level up, the more stuff you unlock, and it's mostly icons and small presentation features, possibly for the game's online 2v1 Battlemode PVP mode.
I'm also betting some of these playset unlocks show up in the Doom Slayer's private bedroom aboard the hub ship, which is adorned with nifty collectibles like a barrel of demon swords, death metal guitars, little figures, and a lot, lot more (there's even a classic MS-DOS PC thrown in there too).
None of this is meant to cast Doom Eternal in a negative light, just to give you an idea of what to expect when the game drops on March 20, 2020 for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Just expect to replay it quite a bit...but based on everything we've seen so far, that won't be a bad thing.
You'll probably want to keep playing it anyway.