At the very beginning of Doom Eternal, you’re given a simple prompt by an ominous narrator: “Rip and tear, until it is done.” After finishing The Ancient Gods – Part Two, the final campaign expansion for Doom Eternal, it’s safe to say that the ripping and tearing is most certainly done.
Since the initial 2016 reimagining of the Doom franchise, the Doom Slayer, our unstoppable force of a protagonist, has been on a mission to completely eradicate demons from the world once and for all. That quest comes to a close with this DLC, and while the narrative threads bringing it all together become frayed in this second expansion, it’s more than made up for by introducing the most enjoyable and chaotic combat encounters the series has ever produced.
Beware of spoilers beyond this point!
The Ancient Gods – Part One ended on a pretty exciting twist – the Doom Slayer chose to revive the Dark Lord so he could destroy him permanently, eliminating every demon outside of hell. When the Dark Lord appears, though, he looks exactly like the Doom Slayer. That’s rad as hell! As soon as the DLC ended (and for months after) my brain was flooding with ideas for what the explanation for that could be. Is it some kind of Dante and Vergil situation? Was he a DOOM marine from an older game also sealed away for generations? It’s a really interesting wrench in the surprisingly complex lore of Doom Eternal, but unfortunately, it never really gets a satisfying explanation. The finer details revealed to you in the collectibles of The Ancient Gods – Part Two feel like a rushed attempt at justifying the existence of the Dark Lord, deflating a lot of the excitement I felt from the reveal at the end of the first DLC.
Thankfully, Doom Eternal is really about so much more than the lore, and that holds true for The Ancient Gods – Part Two. At the end of the day, Doom Slayer’s mission to prove his worthiness to enter the capital of Hell and fight the Dark Lord is just an excuse to dish out three new campaign levels full of some of the most insane, intense, and often hilarious combat encounters ever. The first part of The Ancient Gods proved that id Software knew how to play with your expectations when it came to battles, pacing the enemy reveals and the frequency of certain demons in a way that almost told mini-stories with each battle.
The Ancient Gods – Part Two doesn’t let up at all. In one section, you’ll be tasked with facing an utterly ridiculous swarm of imps. In another, a door will close in your face and, as you turn around, you’ll see a horde of Cyber-Mancubus spawn in. One of my favorite encounters involved a pool of movement-slowing sludge, a ghostly bubble keeping you sealed into a tiny environment, and hordes of fodder zombies shambling towards you as you had no way to swiftly avoid them. Every single combat encounter in The Ancient Gods – Part Two feels like a meticulously designed experience, and each one was better than the last.
Another great thing the DLC does to spice up the gameplay is introduce a genuinely staggering amount of new enemies and abilities in the game. There are six brand new enemy types that get rolled out throughout the DLC. Some, like the Stone Imps that are impervious to everything but rapid-fire shotgun shells or the Riot Soldiers with permanent energy shields, feel designed to give you a specific reason to use under-appreciated weapon mods. I never used the remote-detonation mod for the rocket launcher, for example, but it ended up being one of the best ways to deal with Riot Soldiers. Other new enemies like the Cursed Prowler and Armored Baron simply exist as harsh new threats that will swarm you alongside the already bustling pool of relentless demons. I would have had plenty of fun fighting the demons I was already familiar with, but the sheer variety of brand new foes was awesome.
On top of that, the Doom Slayer receives a brand new weapon – the Sentinel Hammer. Every time you get two Glory Kills or weak-point attacks in, your hammer is charged up, letting you unleash a jumping slam attack that momentarily stuns enemies in the area of effect. Using the Flame Belch or Ice Bomb on enemies before hammering them will drop insane amounts of armor or health for you, too. It’s a wildly useful and super satisfying attack that helps maintain the standard flow of Doom Eternal combat in situations where you’re otherwise overrun by hard-to-handle foes.
By the same token, though, it’s one more ability on top of an insane toolkit of weapons and equipment and mods that you have access to. The number of bars and icons on my screen at once in this DLC was honestly kind of ridiculous, and I certainly got a little overwhelmed by my combat options and mixed some buttons up a few times in the heat of battle.
The Ancient Gods – Part Two, much like the first part, ends up feeling like a playground of chaos for both the players and the developers. So many of the combat encounters you face feel like absurd, over-the-top battles that the developers at id Software could only dream of putting into a game. These overwhelming odds end up creating some of the most memorable, relentless, and utterly enjoyable battles I’ve ever experienced in the modern Doom series. Capping off with a draining, daunting final boss battle that serves as the perfect capstone to everything Doom Eternal is about.