Doom Eternal’s Most Exciting New Weapon Is a Game Changer

Id Software tells us all about Doom Eternal’s most exciting new weapon, the Meat Hook.

Doom Eternal’s QuakeCon gameplay reveal proved it’s doing far more than just more of the same. Destructible demons and a deeper story quickly set it apart from 2016’s Doom reboot, but the most exciting thing for me was its new tools for even faster movement.

The Doom Slayer now has a rechargeable dash, can climb some walls, and even bust through other ones. The crown jewel, however, is the new Super Shotgun, which comes equipped with a grappling hook called the Meat Hook that lets you pull yourself toward demons.

It’s an incredibly fun looking addition to your arsenal, and one developer id Software tells me is a game changer.

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“It makes the game bigger,” creative director Hugo Martin told me during QuakeCon 2018. “If you make a faster race car, you gotta build a bigger race track.” The Meat Hook can quickly get you close to a demon, but it can also used to hook ariel enemies and get over gaps, which changes the way id needs to design levels. If you make a faster race car, you gotta build a bigger race track.

Suddenly the Doom Slayer can get places he normally couldn’t and faster than before, but executive producer Marty Stratton is quick to point out that’s only the case as long as it involves a demon. The Meat Hook is, fundamentally, a combat tool, so you won’t be using it just for platforming or secrets like in a Zelda game.

“It’s not just ‘we added a grapple, and now you can grapple yourself up to the top of a building, or to the side of a building and hang there while the action is happening,” Stratton explained. “That would have been a completely different game.”

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Martin said that the main goal was “to make the player feel more aggressive, encourage them to play more aggressively, give them tools that they can play more aggressively with.” That’s why you have to hook a demon, and why the ability to do so doesn’t make Doom Eternal suddenly stop feeling like Doom.

It changes it, but it still fits, and that’s the important thing. There’s nothing about the Meat Hook that is counter to things like a Glory Kill.

“It changes it, but it still fits, and that’s the important thing,” Stratton said. “There’s nothing about the Meat Hook that is counter to things like a Glory Kill. You can use the Meat Hook to grapple towards a guy and then Glory Kill him, or switch to the chainsaw and chainsaw him.” Stratton reiterated that aggressive movement is one of the most important parts of Doom.

“If we did the Meat Hook where you could grapple away to hide from a guy, or those kinds of things, to use it more as an evasive tool as opposed to an aggressive tool, then it would have changed the gameplay in a way that is not consistent with how people love to play Doom right now.”

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Stratton also said that “the things that it doesn’t allow you to do is almost as important as the things that it does allow you to do.” I asked if that’s why the Meat Hook was tied to the Super Shotgun rather than a universal ability like the new Dash, but Martin said that’s more a matter of restraint.

The things that it doesn’t allow you to do is almost as important as the things that it does allow you to do.

He likened it to the chainsaw, where if you could just chainsaw everything all the time you’d get bored of it, but in a limited capacity, it’s a treat. He also compared that idea to suspenseful movies, saying “Jaws is compelling because we don’t see him a lot.”

Martin also explained that having constraints on those mechanics leaves room for players to master them, rather than just going wild. He said “on the surface, [Doom] looks very glutinous” in how much craziness and freedom there is “but it’s actually not.” Martin said id’s ability to exercise restraint on Doom’s most exciting ideas is one of the reasons people keep coming back to it.

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So while the Meat Hook has changed Doom Eternal significantly, id is making sure it’s still Doom.

Other moves like the new dash are similarly focused, acting as a tool to let you be riskier rather than just to run away, but under strict charge restraints. These movement changes ramp everything up and change how id designs levels, but they do it in a very Doom way.

We also spoke to id about why Doom Eternal isn’t called Doom 2, and you can see all the gameplay and story details revealed at QuakeCon here. Tom Marks is IGN’s PC Editor and pie maker.

You can follow him on Twitter.

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