After reinventing a legendary franchise, what do you do for an encore? That was a question facing director Hugo Martin when creating "Doom Eternal."
Martin compares the difference as the divide between the films "The Evil Dead" and "Evil Dead 2," which pioneered the horror-slapstick genre. Martin said his team stripped out everything that didn't work in 2016's "Doom," expanded the abilities of its protagonist, Doom Slayer, and pushed players toward a certain style of play.
The result, due March 20, is a game that's vastly improved from the original, which critics called repetitive. "We're OK with frustrating the players as long as they learn something entertaining and engaging," Martin said.
When played correctly, "Doom Eternal" is a ballet of bullets and violence. Players must constantly move. The developers give the Doom Slayer more moves and tools to whip around a level. Players have a double jump, dash and a wall climb. When these moves are layered with objects such as monkey bars, players can reach seemingly out-of-the-way locales.
Some of the harder missions will ask players to weave double jumping, dashing, shooting and glory kills in order to defeat enemies within 25 seconds. At first glance, it can appear impossible, but as players learn the systems and master them, they can link these moves seamlessly.
Martin compares it to the belt system in martial arts. By the time players finish the game, they'll be black belts at running and gunning.
The goal of "Doom Eternal" is to stop hell's invasion of Earth. That requires the Doom Slayer to kill three hell priests scattered around the globe. The hub of the game is a ship called the Fortress of Doom that resembles a cathedral and hovers in orbit over Earth. Players can explore its depth as they earn upgrades.
Buttressing this quest is an expanded lore for the franchise; players will uncover more details about the origin of the Doom Slayer and his purpose in this apocalyptic tale. The lore is fascinating, and it will keep fans engaged as they try to save what's left of humanity.