Doom Eternal the Ancient Gods Part II is in many ways a fitting end for the Slayer saga that started back in 2016. While Part I felt like id Software pushed the combat mechanics to their absolute limit to bring fresh challenge to veteran players, part two shows much more restraint and gives a more balanced experience that won't test you as much but still provides a fun challenge.
The Ancient Gods Part II comes packed with three new meaty levels, The World Spire, Reclaimed Earth, and Immora. And a final level that's more of an arena for the final boss than a classic level. In addition to new levels the expansion introduces multiple new enemies, a new traversal mechanic that utilizes the Meathook on your double barreled shotgun, and an all new weapon that replaces the Eternal's Crucible.
The World Spear
The first and most fun to fight of the new enemies is the Armored Baron. As his name suggests he is equipped with heavy armor plating that you need to strip out if you want to defeat him. From your arsenal, only the plasma rifle offers any considerable damage to the armor, while in true modern Doom fashion you can get rid of it in one shot if you time a precision shot at the Baron's mace just before he attacks you with it. Once stripped of his armor, the Baron is just his regular self but regenerates his armor rather quickly so your best bet is to unload everything you can before he does so.
Other new additions are the Stone Imp, a reskinned fodder enemy we all know and love, but this time round much more durable against everything except the auto-shotgun mod that melts him in seconds. Then there's the Cursed Prowler, a ‘bastard’ of an enemy that can curse aka debuff you with a single successful hit. Once you get hit you begin losing health over time and you lose your ability to dash, which is bad news when you're in a middle of a chaotic fight. To get rid of the curse you need to kill the bastard asap, the trouble is you can only kill him with Blood Punch, and if you don't have one ready it only adds to the chaos.
Another interesting addition is the Screecher Zombie, an enemy you don't want to kill until everything else is dead. The Screechers buff all nearby demons when they die, and are more often than not accompanied by heavy demons. Since buffed heavies are bad news you'll need to be surgical in some of the encounters featuring the Screechers. There's one memorable encounter during the last level with a bunch of them along with double Marauders that's all sorts of sadistic fun.
On the less interesting side of the new enemies, we have the the Riot Soldiers, and Demonic Troopers. Riot Soldiers are a throwback to Chain gunners from old Doom games, but much less threatening. They carry impenetrable shields and pepper you with minigun fire, but they are easily dispatched by detonating explosives behind the shields, either by rocket or shotgun grenade.
Demonic Troopers on the other hand are the biggest signal that the expansion has ultimately been rushed, which is no surprise since it was developed entirely out of office due to the pandemic. Even though by lore, they are a warrior caste that defends the ancient city of Immora they are the weakest enemy of all the modern Doom games. They are so weak they die from a single shot from any weapon and pose almost no treat at all during combat. Truly an unworthyenemy in its current incarnation that will most definately be rebalanced in the future updates.
Back to the good stuff, lets talk a little about the Sentinel Hammer, a replacement for the Crucible from the main game. Of all the new additions this one is by far the best, and make me wish id would add it as an option in the main campaign.
In simple terms the hammer allows you to perform a jumping overhead attack that deals aoe damage killing fodder enemies in one shot while stunning heavies for a generous amount of time. In addition, it gives you back ammo and if combined with the flame belch and ice grenade you can get all your vital resources back with a single combo move. Once used, the Hammer has to be recharged by destroying two weak points, or performing two glory kills, which makes it a little bit overpowered since recharging it is that easy. But I don't think you'll mind it much when you gleefully destroy hordes of enemies with it.
Doom Slayer wielding the Sentinel Hammer aginst the Dark Lord
You upgrade the hammer by finishing the Escalation Encounters. Similar to Slayer Gates from the main game, there's one Escalation Encounter per level. With a difference that Escalation Encounters are on the main mission path and finishing the first wave is mandatory. The first wave gives you an upgrade to your Sentinel Hammer, while the second optional wave unlocks some new skins for the Slayer. The Escalation Encounters are some of the best battles you'll experience during the expansion, with optional second waves almost reaching the insanity of previous dlcs’ most memorable battles.
The expansion also introduces an addition to the game's platforming sections in the form of Meathook grapple points, and an update to the hud that adds small icons on your reticle telling you how many powerups you have available at a glance.
When all is said and done, The Ancient Gods Part II is a solid end to the Slayer saga, the only drawbacks are the retcon filled story that stops making any sense when looked at in detail, and a disappointing boss fight at the very end. The boss fight is simply boring as the Dark Lord is no more than a glorified Marauder. You end up spending the majority of the fight waiting for an opening so you can do some damage, and that goes against the whole philosophy of push forward combat. Not to mention that every time you get hit, the Dark Lord regenerates his health. This makes the fight annoying and boring, and the fact that you have five almost identical stages to go through before you can win makes it even worse.
The Dark Lord
Even though the last boss is on the disappointing side of things, we can't deny that the Slayer saga that started in 2016 is anything but a resounding success. While id stumbled a little with storytelling, what they managed to achieve with combat is simply unmatched across the industry, and I'm personally very excited for id Software's future projects, whether they are Doom related or something completely new.