When you see Doom Eternal in action, it’s abundantly clear that id Software is doing a whole lot more than making another Doom 2016. It has gone wild with new tools of destruction and platforming mechanics, and unforgiving combat is the adrenaline pumped through its veins. Creative director Hugo Martin admits, “You’ve seen more in the first two-to-three levels in this game than you do in the entire Doom 2016, without question.” And after getting my hands on Doom Eternal’s first three hours, I’ll tell you: he’s not wrong.
As you’d expect, Doom Eternal wastes no time throwing you into the deep end. Hell is brought to earth, and Doom Slayer doesn’t think twice about jumping into the thick of it. If you played the previous game, you’ll feel at home with the act of juggling between weapons for the right situation, busting out the chainsaw to replenish ammo, and ripping and tearing demons with glory kills to keep your health topped up. That remains at the heart of Eternal, but you’ll be damned if you think you can rely on just that. The “Doom dance” has gotten more complex with some all-new steps.
The Pieces Of The Combat Puzzle
In typical fashion, you build out an arsenal over time with swappable attachments that turn each weapon into a destructive multitool. This time, each attachment has its own upgrade path to become even more effective, granting faster reload times, longer-lasting effects, or bigger splash damage. You also get a shoulder-mounted Grenade Launcher, which you can swap to launch Ice Bombs and freeze enemies in place. Then there’s the shoulder-mounted flamethrower, called the Flame Belch, which burns demons and makes them spit out armor shards. Even your fists get some extra love with the addition of the Blood Punch, which sends out an AOE shockwave to do even more damage through melee attacks. All these elements have their own upgrade paths, and expand your number of options to consider amid the chaos.
It’s not just about the weapons at your disposal, it’s also what you do with them. Some demons now take locational damage, letting you dismember specific parts to either stop them in their tracks or significantly hinder their capabilities. For example, sniping off an Arachnotron’s tail gun or destroying a Mancubus’ arm cannons takes away their devastating attacks. Both of these demons specialize in making combat hell and are tough to kill, so you’d be smart to cut them off before you get trounced. And Cacodemons aren’t so scary if you can make them gobble up a grenade to initiate instant glory kills.
Acquainting yourself with all these systems is necessary because if you’re not pulling out every stop in combat, you’re done.
You’re going to be eternally evolving, too; Runes and Praetor Suit perks are back. As if Doom Slayer wasn’t superhuman enough, Runes act as upgrades that grant you up to three dynamic abilities at a time, out of nine options total. Just to name a few: an ultra-fast temporary speed boost after glory kills, slowing down ala bullet-time while in mid-air, or the ability to initiate glory kills from further out. Praetor Suit perks help boost resistances and enhance basic capabilities within specific categories–or add to the destruction you can cause like scatter bombs that burst out of demons you kill with grenades. That’s just scratching the surface since there are 20 total Praetor Suit perks. Doom Eternal has layers.
Hell is your oyster, but part of the challenge is keeping up with everything you’re capable of. As you take a breath after killing every demon in a combat scenario, you’ll probably think about the weapons and abilities you forgot to use. Acquainting yourself with all these systems is necessary because if you’re not pulling out every stop in combat, you’re done. Ammo is more scarce than before, health is in constant short supply, so do what you need to do to get them. And you better stay nimble when demons start to spawn into the arena because it’s now easier to simply become overwhelmed.
At times, combat arenas are unmistakably bigger, which goes hand-in-hand with the increased emphasis on mobility. Your instinct might be to strafe around certain areas of these combat arenas, but you’ll soon learn that spreading your wings to double jump across platforms, swinging on monkey bars, and dashing out of danger is integral to surviving large-scale battles. It’s how the game lets you create space between enemies and find crucial pickups while also driving home the increased size and spectacle of Doom Eternal.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of that dashing capability, too. In lieu of sprinting, you get a double dash that’s on a short cooldown–it’s not unfamiliar in Bethesda shooters as we saw with Rage 2. Its addition in Doom Eternal is small but effective, both as a way to navigate the chaos and as a tool for quickly closing distances. One such example is aerial combat; you might think a far off Cacodemon is floating out of reach when they’re glowing for a glory kill, but with a double jump and a double dash, I’m ripping out their eyeballs in mid-air. And once you get the hookshot attachment for the Super Shotgun, swinging to and from demons becomes this sort of bloody wave you’re riding. New traversal mechanics means nothing is out of reach.
You might be hesitant with the idea of just how much is being layered into the Doom formula, but from what I played, it’s as if id Software painstakingly made sure every mechanic, weapon, and ability serves a purpose.
Platforming itself is fine; it asks to look at your environment as if it was a puzzle found in an action-adventure game, and requires you to connect your jumps to monkey bars and specifically sticky walls. This also affords more elaborate ways for the game to hide secrets, which is good news for those wanting to find every single Rune, Praetor Token, and cute little Doom Slayer figure tucked away in hidden corners.
Hugo Martin says the new mobility has helped expand the scope of Doom, saying, “It’s mostly meant to try to create an experience that’s engaging for players even outside of combat, and expand the scope of the levels quite a bit.” He isn’t concerned about it feeling out of place either. “We’re steering into being a video game. What that means is we tell the designers, ‘just embrace the contrivances that you find in video games. If you want a floating jump pad out in the middle of space where there’s no f*****g gravity, for no reason, do it.'” It’s hard to tell how it’ll play out over the course of the full game, and if they’ll become roadblocks to Doom Eternal’s best parts, but so far, it’s welcome variety.
Another element that really sells the scope of the game is the new hub area in space, the Fortress of Doom. It’s your home between missions that overlooks Earth and harbors a plethora of unlockables. I could peer through the locked doors and see what looks to be armor upgrades, extra mods, and more toys to mess with, but throughout the game, you’ll be rounding up Sentinel Batteries to get these doors open. There’s no doubt to be more secrets within, like a powerful weapon that unlocks with Empyrean keys you earn through tough Slayer Gate challenges, or just that giant mech-like Praetor suit being constructing inside the Fortress.
It’s wild to think that I was able to experience so much of what Doom Eternal is packing in just the opening three hours, yet there are certainly more surprises beyond. In Hugo Martin’s words, “We’re hell-bent on engaging you from beginning to end. This is a 22-plus hour game.” He also mentioned that at a certain point, they’ll give you everything you need, and the onus will be on you to make it all work; “It’s Bruce Lee walking into the dojo, just like, ‘I’m going to wreck 30 dudes.'” To put it another way, Martin said “the fun is mastering [Doom Eternal], because that power fantasy, you’re going to earn that.”
Doom Eternal makes you earn victory for sure, but tuning difficulty was a significant focus for the id Software team. In relation to how Doom 2016 handled difficulty, Martin said, “What was frustrating is that it was kind of like learning a new combat dance… the fireball distance and the way that I learned to dodge it… different rules.” Now, the approach is to scale existing mechanics. Regardless of whether you play on easy, hurt me plenty, ultra-violence or nightmare, the method to the madness remains consistent.
On easier settings, enemies will be less persistent by shooting fewer heavy shots at a time and they’ll do less damage, leaving more room for error, that’s all. Doom Eternal wants you to play a certain way, and its variables are tuned to push you toward engaging with most of its systems regardless of difficulty. The emphasis on resource management, juggling of your arsenal and abilities, and damage enemies take all stay the same.
Doom Eternal throws everything plus the kitchen sink at you, but gives you all the tools you need to deal with it. While three hours is just a slice of the full game, it’s hard to deny that it’s extremely well-put-together. You might be hesitant with the idea of just how much is being layered into the Doom formula, but from what I played, it’s as if id Software painstakingly made sure every mechanic, weapon, and ability serves a purpose. You can’t get away with mindless shooting or pure accuracy here–Doom Eternal really is that relentless FPS combat puzzle, and a bloody, gruesome one at that. You’ll see what I mean on March 20 when Doom Eternal hits Xbox One, PS4, and PC, and later this year on Switch.
Apple dropped plans to offer end-to-end encrypted cloud back-ups to its global customer base after the FBI complained, a new report has claimed.
Citing six sources “familiar with the matter,” Reuters claimed that Apple changed its mind over the plans for iCloud two years ago after the Feds argued in private it would seriously hinder investigations.
The revelations put a new spin on the often combative relationship between the law enforcement agency and one of the world’s biggest tech companies.
The two famously clashed in 2016 when Apple refused to engineer backdoors in its products that would enable officers to unlock the phone of a gunman responsible for a mass shooting in San Bernardino.
Since then, both FBI boss Christopher Wray, attorney general William Barr and most recently Donald Trump have taken Apple and the wider tech community to task for failing to budge on end-to-end encryption.
Silicon Valley argues that it’s impossible to provide law enforcers with access to encrypted data in a way which wouldn’t undermine security for hundreds of millions of law-abiding customers around the world.
Apple’s decision not to encrypt iCloud back-ups means it can provide officers with access to target’s accounts. According to the report, full device backups and other iCloud content was handed over to the US authorities in 1568 cases in the first half of 2019, covering around 6000 accounts.
Apple is also said to have handed the Feds the iCloud backups of the Pensacola shooter, whose case sparked another round of calls for encryption backdoors from Trump and others.
It’s not 100% clear if Apple dropped its encryption plan because of the FBI complaint, or if it was down to more mundane usability issues. Android users are said to be able to back-up to the cloud without Google accessing their accounts.
If you’re a Sonos fan from way back, then you probably have an older Play:5, Bridge or Zone player laying around, and now the company is telling you that it won’t get any more updates — ever. Even worse, simply continuing to use one of them could hold back your entire setup, new devices included, from receiving future updates. While the company says it’s working on a way to segment older hardware and avoid that situation, there’s enough bad news and uncertainty going around to make the situation real uncomfortable.
However things shake out for Sonos, I’m just looking around the room at various TV boxes, speakers and wristbands, trying to figure out how much time they have left.
Now we’ve seen the next Xbox from the front, everyone is wondering what’s hiding on the other side. Pictures posted to gaming forum NeoGAF appear to show an Xbox Series X development kit in the wild, complete with a back plate lacking the Xbox One’s HDMI-passthrough setup. We’ll see if this alleged prototype holds up when the real hardware ships later this year, but for now all we have are rumors and speculation.
Apple might launch a new low-cost iPhone very, very soon. According to Bloomberg, the tech giant’s suppliers will start assembling a more affordable iPhone model, the first since the iPhone SE, as soon as February. Apple will reportedly unveil the cheaper-than-an-iPhone 11 device in March. Sources expect it to look like the iPhone 8, with a 4.7-inch screen and a current generation A13 chip, like 2019’s iPhones. Expect a return of the home button, and no Face ID.
After years of resistance, Studio Ghibli is bringing its works to streaming services. In the US, it will launch in HBO’s Max service, while Netflix will stream the Japanese animations everywhere else, except Japan. Nick Summers explains why this is good news for all.
Activity Bubbles, Screen Stopwatch and Envelope are all part of the latest push from Google to get you to put your phone down (after you finish reading this, of course). The first two add on-screen reminders of how much time you’ve spent staring at a screen, while Envelope creates some physical separation. Do the apps go too far? Do they not go far enough? I can’t stay off my phone for long enough to check.
Uber is testing another new feature in what is presumably a bid to help mitigate the restrictions of Assembly Bill 5, which requires the company to treat its drivers as employees, not independent contractors. Some drivers in California will now have the ability to set their own fares.
Apple may encrypt your iOS device’s locally stored data, but it doesn’t fully encrypt iCloud backups. According to Reuters sources, Apple dropped end-to-end encryption plans for iCloud, fearing another FBI confrontation. (This was following the debate over unlocking Syed Farook’s iPhone after the San Bernardino shooting.) One former Apple worker said the company might have ditched the plan over concerns customers could be locked out of their data more often.
That doesn’t mean your iCloud backup is open to all — anything in your Keychain, including passwords, as well as health data and payment information are all end-to-end encrypted.
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President Donald Trump, in a CNBC interview Wednesday, stepped up his pressure over Apple‘s refusal to unlock iPhones for authorities in criminal cases.
“Apple has to help us. And I’m very strong on it,” Trump told “Squawk Box” co-host Joe Kernen from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “They have the keys to so many criminals and criminal minds, and we can do things.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been credited with being able to work with the president and his administration in a way other Silicon Valley companies have stumbled. In November, Cook toured Apple’s Austin campus with Trump.
Trump told CNBC he’s helped Apple a lot.
“I’ve given them waivers, because it’s a great company, but it made a big difference.” The president was referring to waivers from tariffs put on Chinese-made imports in the trade war between Washington and Beijing.
Last week, Trump slammed Apple for declining the government’s request to unlock password-protected iPhones used by the shooter who killed three people in December at the Pensacola, Florida, Naval Air Station before being fatally shot.
In a statement, Apple said it provided gigabytes of information to law enforcement related to the Pensacola case but that it would not build a “backdoor” or specialized software to give law enforcement elevated access.
Trump told CNBC on Wednesday: “They could have given us that information. It would have been very helpful.”
The president said he’s not concerned about his relationship with Cook or Apple because the stakes are so high.
“You’re dealing with drug lords and you’re dealing with terrorists, and if you’re dealing with murderers, I don’t care,” Trump said.
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