When Doom released in 2016, it gave the first-person shooter genre a huge kick forward. Suddenly, the franchise was once again relevant and leading the modernization of shooters. Doom Eternal followed in March of this year and carried on that work effortlessly.
In fact, few have a bad word to say about the sequel. So it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that DLC for the game has been developed. The Ancient Gods – Part One proves just as great as the base game but doubles down on the challenging gameplay.
The story in The Ancient Gods – Part One continues on directly from the main game. Although, playing the main campaign is not necessary as the DLC can be accessed separately. But, just like Doom Eternal, the expansion does not have a particularly gripping narrative. The Doom series has never really needed much of a plot to be successful. The franchise is all about the gameplay rather than the story, with the action driving the player forward. That’s definitely still the case in The Ancient Gods – Part One.
Probably the best bits of the DLC’s story comes when it embraces the silliness of the world. For example, there’s a great moment where the player can fight a shark. While it doesn’t exactly make perfect sense, the bizarre event does get your attention. The DLC also features more moments with the Doom Slayer meeting ordinary humans, something that always leads to a laugh. These characters are all completely terrified of the protagonist and it makes for some interesting scenes.
For most people, the story will be little more than a way to transition to the next location. Almost every cutscene lasts less than a minute and it’s really not necessary to follow what is going on. Those who do get invested in the story will be somewhat disappointed. That’s because the DLC ends on a huge cliffhanger, giving no real sense of conclusion to what has come before.
The Ancient Gods – Part One comes with a nice selection of new content. While there are no new weapons or much in the way of additional enemies, it still feels fresh. This is largely a result of the three new levels that players will travel to. Each is filled with fresh content, containing a wide array of environments to explore. In total, you can expect to spend around six hours tackling the missions. That’s a decent chunk of time and helps add real value to the expansion.
Just like in the base game, the gameplay in the DLC is fast-paced and intense. Rather than try and reinvent the wheel, the studio has stuck with what works. In fact, the team has focused even more on this engaging gameplay loop to keep things feeling as exciting as possible. The biggest change comes with the difficulty. Those who haven’t played Doom Eternal in a while might struggle to get up to speed with the expansion. Enemies are tougher and every encounter is a desperate fight for survival.
Other areas are not quite as impressive, though. The platforming sections are just as difficult as the combat, but far more frustrating. The jumping sections were already one of the more annoying parts of Doom Eternal. However, these elements are even worse in The Ancient Gods – Part One. Because the jumping mechanics are not quite as tight as the gunplay, it doesn’t give players as much control. Repeatedly failing to complete a platforming section also makes the Doom Slayer feel less powerful. Ultimately, this part of the game is unrewarding and unsatisfying.
It would be unusual for any DLC to drastically improve upon the presentation of the original game. But The Ancient Gods – Part One has the same detailed enemies and breathtaking environments. Of course, there’s a good selection of new areas to explore. Thankfully, each of them looks distinctive and provides a very different backdrop for the gameplay. That is undoubtedly the best thing about the expansion’s visuals.
On the other hand, the soundtrack for the DLC feels less impressive. Controversy over the music in Doom Eternal meant that Mick Gordon is no longer involved. Without the composer that fans are familiar with, the new soundtrack has lost some of its quality. The music all sounds a bit generic and leaves no lasting impression on you, unlike in the main game.
The Ancient Gods – Part One is an old school type of DLC. It doesn’t try to do anything spectacularly different from Doom Eternal, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, the expansion can then focus on the strengths of the base game. That’s exactly what it does and it nails the execution for the most part.
If you enjoyed the base game, then this DLC will provide more of the gameplay you love. The main attraction is simply being able to switch the action to some new environments. While the difficulty of the expansion might put off some, it also provides more of a challenge for experienced players.