Here’s How Doom Eternal Handles Difficulty And Challenge

Doom Eternal incorporates an impressive number of new mechanics and ways to rip and tear demons. We have a deep dive into all of this in our hands-on impressions of the first three hours of Doom Eternal. Another aspect id Software has changed is its approach to how it handles difficulty for Doom Eternal. In speaking with creative director Hugo Martin, he explained that it’s a matter of scaling specific elements so that, regardless of difficulty, players still have to engage with all the systems and mechanics necessary to survive.

In relation to how Doom 2016 difficulty settings worked, Martin said, “The way enemies behaved changed kind of dramatically from difficulty to difficulty. They actually got more accurate.” He continued, “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 in Doom Eternal is to scale existing mechanics. Regardless of whether you play on easy, Hurt Me Plenty, Ultra-violence or Nightmare, what enemies are capable of doing remains consistent.

Essentially, the harder the difficulty, the more frequently demons will come at you with their heavier attacks and the more damage they’ll do to you. Martin used boxing as an analogy: “On easy, they’re going to throw a lot of jabs and take turns like, ‘throw your jab, then I’ll throw mine. Now one of us gets to throw a haymaker. On Nightmare, everybody’s throwing haymakers nonstop.”

It seems as though the main focus is to adjust the amount of room for error the player has. Martin explained, “The question is not knowing what to do, it’s just mastering how to do it. As we scale down… the two guiding principles were the number of decisions we ask players to make per minute, and then the number of mistakes they’re allowed to make per minute.” Doom Eternal tunes its variables (ammo, weapon damage, number of enemies, etc) so that you’re pushed toward the flow of managing your resources. He’s confident in the approach, saying, “It’s going to make all players, skilled and unskilled, play Doom the right way because we’re betting that it’s going to make for a more engaging experience.”

For more on Doom Eternal, be sure to check out our in-depth preview of the game’s opening hours or our broader discussion about the overall experience. You can also read all our stories below for more on Doom Eternal before it launches on March 20 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

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Author: Michael Higham