The gruesome descent - or rise? - of the Doomguy in the bowels of the demonic reality that shapes the bloody universe created by Id Software it still seems far from its epilogue. The events that occurred in DOOM Eternal in fact, they have not put an end to the events we witnessed and an even greater challenge awaits us at the other end of our shotgun. The first few minutes of Ancient Gods they come up with an excuse to go back to mowing anything that appears on the screen, and it also seems solid enough as a narrative cue but it is true that anything would have convinced us to take up arms again in fact, after a few moments, everything becomes a background buzz while a mantra is embedded in the skull in the form of a question: Ok, when do you shoot? The three, long, levels that punctuate this DLC, which is only the beginning of the expansion pack within the Year One Pass, see the balance of Creation shake strongly, precisely following the acts performed during the main Eternal campaign. This content is also "stand alone", thus being available for purchase without necessarily owning the base game. While it's commendable of Bethesda to take this approach to gamers, It is highly not recommended to approach The Ancient Gods without first having finished the base game, since this DLC not only gives us the whole package of weapons, upgrades and runes available at the maximum level from the beginning but raises the campaign difficulty curve as if the game never stopped after DOOM Eternal's final boss fight. It would therefore be really wicked to embark on this infernal odyssey without having metabolized and mastered every mechanic of Eternal and, above all, having tamed its ferocity. Honestly though, even experienced players will find a more than difficult rate of challenge, in some situations almost unbearable but, as always, incredibly rewarding.
The more things change ...
There seems to be no rest for the Slayer, nor does it seem that he has any need, silent and relentless he advances like an unstoppable death machine, ready to embark on a new mission that will allow to save the Earth once and for all and silence forever demons and Maykr, a plague from which there seems to be no escape. The journey that awaits us is impervious from the very beginning and it is clear that the development team does not want to give the player any discount, throwing us in the midst of an ordeal of blood and bullets more bitter than ever. Returning to the world of DOOM is a sweet shipwreck but the first few minutes are a bit unsettling considering the level of challenge present in this DLC and although it (re) gets carried away quite quickly with the rhythms that move the splendid and macabre dance that marks the fighting, the first approach is pretty damn tough. The vicious circle that leads to exploiting all the weapons and abilities of the Slayer takes just a few minutes to trap the player and devour him in a vortex of fun, death and ultra-violence. The assortment of enemies is thus deployed on the field with combinations bordering on sadism, creating even tighter, more punitive clashes in which the margin of error becomes increasingly narrow. Not only that, the Eternal "bestiary" is enriched with three new opponents: The Turrets, The Maykr of Blood and the Spirits. In the first case we are faced with a simple environmental demon able to hit us from a great distance through an eyeball that also reveals its only weak point and needs at least two precision shots to be destroyed, a thorn in the side certainly annoying. but not so intrusive to worry us as the other two new threats deployed by id Software. The Maykr of the Blood is much more difficult as an opponent if not silenced immediately, fortunately while carrying out its devastating attacks it is discovered, and in the few moments in which it is not protected by its insurmountable energy shield it is possible to silence it forever with a single headshot, unless he kills us first, of course. In the queue, we find the spirits, which are proposed only in the last of the three paintings and which are the most interesting proposal of the lot, capable of significantly changing our strategies in battle. These environmental demons are incredibly annoying thanks to the possibility of possessing other demons and strengthening them considerably, making them immune to freezing for example, preventing us from neutralizing their weak points and significantly increasing the amount of damage they can do to us. Not only that, once the "guest" is killed, the spirit will lose a few seconds to look for a new demon to enter and in those few seconds available it is necessary to take up our microwave cannon and make them explode in a riot of screams. heartbreaking. Killing them therefore sensibly discovers us, the cannon takes time to work completely and certainly the other enemies do not stand by and watch while we cook their sneaky ally to perfection and force us to beat a retreat. Therefore, it is necessary to sharpen your wits, because immediately focusing on the possessed enemies can prove to be a totally inconclusive if not downright counterproductive strategy.
The frames in which the events take place always present an adequate level design, even if devoid of the flickers of the main campaign and perhaps a little more lazy, but still perfectly suited to their function as arenas. The Ancient Gods in its first half set aside the platforming phases a bit, which perhaps find their right balance now, being present and quite well studied, but less "intrusive" than in the past. An almost perfect rhythm is thus created, marred only by a curve of difficulty that is not always adequate which on more than one occasion seems forcibly cruel, resulting grotesquely unbalanced. Net of these peaks of difficulty and the blasphemous foul language that follows, the progress of the adventure remains magnetic and stimulating, always keeping the player's attention high and the desire to score the next bullet.
Flying over a first level not particularly stimulating in artistic terms, The Ancient Gods presents very intriguing views, especially in the Bloody Swamps that distinguish the interlude painting, giving exceptional views and showing again the strength of an engine that is a bit old but still perfectly in step in its latest incarnation which responds to the name of id Tech 7, able to create an outstanding visual picture, especially in the glance. The three acts therefore manage to differentiate themselves very well and create small visual jewels, also and above all in the most grim and morbid dismemberments by the Slayer. The soundtrack, which unfortunately can no longer count on the legendary Mick Gordon, is still pressing and pounding just enough to give us the right adrenaline and get into Moods of a true Sentinel of the Night, truly giving us the illusion of embodying the most powerful being in the universe.
To Be Continued
As already specified in the review, DOOM Eternal was and is an outstanding game that it constantly touches perfection. The Ancient Gods in its first coming confirms this affirmation and relaunches, giving us new content and promising more, with truly enviable support for a production of this type. Depending on the difficulty and the degree of completion, it can take about 4 to 8 hours to dissect all the contents of this DLC which, albeit with some flaws, turns out to be a good addition, essential for all lovers of the Bethesda title. There are no new weapons, and this is a bit sorry, because the Doomguy upgrade comes only through the three new runes linked to the as many Slayer Gates present in the expansion, thus cooling the possibility of further enhancing, but it is also true that going to adding more guns or skills could break a balance that is now almost perfect, consequently we cannot speak of a real defect. The Boss Fight continues along the lines of the previous ones but fortunately adjusts the shot a little and is certainly more successful. In short, if you have become apostles of the Slayer, your faith will not collapse and indeed, you will find comfort in the new testament of DOOM Eternal, thanks to those ancient gods who continue to haunt the Cosmos.