Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 2 DLC Review for PS4.
The Ancient Gods Part 1 had the pressure of following up Doom Eternal’s brilliant campaign. And it did so elegantly by upping the difficulty, adding in worthy new foes, and ending on a ludicrous cliffhanger. The Ancient Gods Part 2 now has the pressure of following up not only the original game, but that fantastic first episode as well. The Ancient Gods Part 2 buckles under some of that pressure and is a comparatively weak trilogy-ender, but it’s also a decent Doom expansion thanks to its signature gunplay and killer soundtrack.
The Ancient Gods Part 2’s combat remains relatively unchanged, meaning that it’s still as fast as ever and rewards aggression and resource management while the metal soundtrack thumps in the background. It is still Doom, after all. But as is the case with most expansions, The Ancient Gods Part 2 also tosses in a few new hellspawns that slightly change up that bloody ballet.
Most of them are variants on existing demons, but almost all of them have a place. The new Cursed Prowler now also leeches health from players and takes away the ability to dash, causing a sudden change in enemy prioritization. The Armored Baron is like the normal Baron, but covered in regenerating armor that pushes players to act fast. The Screecher may be the most interesting as it buffs all enemies once it dies, which forces players to aim more carefully. Stone Imps are more durable than their vanilla counterparts, but give more purpose to the Full Auto mod of the shotgun, an upgrade that was previously underused.
Stone Imps will also instantly explode into shards when pounded with the Sentinel Hammer, the DLC’s new melee weapon. Unlike the one-hit kill Crucible, the hammer causes a massive shockwave that stuns all nearby enemies and causes a wealth of armor and health to pour out of those caught in the blast radius. It is yet another way to manage Eternal’s persistent resource economy yet, ironically, it’s not an earth-shattering addition to the arsenal. Whereas the Crucible had its own unique function, the hammer is just another way to squeeze health and armor out of demons.
While the new demons variations are still thoughtful and economic ways to broaden the bestiary and the slamming the Sentinel Hammer down is some dumb, if superfluous, fun, this DLC isn’t hard enough to push players to truly appreciate these demons or fully utilize the hammer. The first episode continued the difficulty curve from the main game to great effect as it was a true test of skill. This second episode feels more like a mid-game chunk of levels that have some strenuous moments, but aren’t as satisfyingly brutal as the most frenetic endgame brawls. Brutality pushes players to use all of their tools and learn the game’s new foes in order to survive. The Ancient Gods Part 2 isn’t tough enough to require such finesse (or such a powerful hammer) and is therefore not quite as satisfying as the other parts of Doom Eternal, which is at odds with its climactic nature.
Dancing with the Devil
The final boss fight is not the hardest battle in the series, but it is one of the most unique and does feel like a fitting end to the trilogy. The big bad blocks most of your attacks and even heals when it hits you or if you shoot it without stunning it first; a mechanic with interesting gameplay and narrative implications. Beating him requires mastery since one slip up can bring the boss back from the brink of death and Doom is at its best when it requires mastery.
Those aforementioned narrative ties set up an inconsistent ending for the saga with admirable highs and puzzling lows. Raiding Hell makes for a proper Doom finale and the callbacks it has to prior scenes puts a nice bowtie on the series. It even leaves Doom open for another reimagining. But the steps it takes to get there are rushed and have a handful of inconsistencies that are hard to shake. Brevity is often Doom’s strong suit when it comes to story, but it glosses over too much and is a tad confusing as a result. Simplicity worked for Doom but the DLC expanded a little beyond what that simplicity was able to fully tell in a convincing manner.
Eternal and its DLC also moved past the Mars and Hell framework that had previously defined the series and The Ancient Gods Part 2 also tries to the same, but isn’t as successful. Half of the first level is a normal, average medieval village and the entire second world is an Earth-based locale that looks like it was ripped from Titanfall 2. Both make for passable first-person shooter arenas and Titanfall 2 is an excellent shooter, but they’re not noteworthy in ways that Doom stages typically are and are barren of any notable secrets. The final environment, Immora, is more or less what a Doom level can and should be as it is hellish, unique, and awe-inspiring to look at as its otherworldly vistas pore over the screen. It’s almost as if id focused entirely on Immora at the expense of the others.
Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 2 DLC Review: The final verdict
The Ancient Gods Part 2 is the least impressive segment in Doom’s rebooted trilogy with its stages, level of difficulty, and slightly off-kilter story beats that all come in just below the previously established baseline. But it’s still one heck of a high baseline since the strategic, blazing-fast gunplay and ever-growing lineup of unique demons still have no equal in the first-person shooter space. The Doom Slayer was directed to rip and tear until it was done and now that it is indeed done, he has earned his rest even though his final showdown wasn’t his finest ripping and tearing.
Game Revolution reviewed Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 2 on PS4 via PS5 backwards compatibility. Code provided by the publisher. The Ancient Gods Part 2 is also on PC and Xbox One and will come to the Switch at a later date.