A few days ago, Doom Eternal launched its next generation upgrade, an update that brought a native Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 version of the game to the consoles, as well as a bunch of extra features to the PC edition. For the consoles, this meant a selection of other ways to experience the game, be it at 120 frames-per-second, or rather in 4K, or with ray-tracing enabled, and since this is a pretty substantial update to the iconic and incredible shooter, I decided it would be a good time to dive back in to see how these new features redefine Doom Eternal.
Since this is more of a performance review on the Xbox Series X version of the game, I won't be delving into much about my thoughts on Doom Eternal itself, but you can find our review of the game here. Likewise, I can't really comment on the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series S edition of the title. This review is taken from my experience with solely Doom Eternal on both Xbox One X and Xbox Series X.
First thing that caught my attention was how easy it was to find and install the new-gen upgrade. For Xbox Series consoles, it's as simple as downloading a new update and you're away. As for your save data, Smart Delivery sorts all of that out, so don't worry about having to start the game from scratch on the latest consoles (I have heard a few horror stories about transitioning to the PS5 version from the PS4 one though, so beware).
When in-game, you'll instantly notice the faster loading times. When Doom Eternal would take almost a minute to load a mission on Xbox One X, on Xbox Series X that has been cut down to a fraction of the time, you barely even have enough time to have a sip of your tea before being knee deep in guts and gore. But loading time improvements are a given when jumping from running the game on an HDD to an SSD, so what the visuals and how that affects the gameplay.
I began playing on the Performance Mode, which offers 120fps at 1800p. Using a 144Hz monitor, I didn't quite get the best out of the visuals for the mode, but the higher frame rate changes Doom Eternal into a different beast. The game feels unbelievably fluid and no longer suffers with you having to play on a lower sensitivity if you intend to hit, well... anything with your guns. Having a higher frame rate makes Doom Eternal much more responsive, further giving you freedom to rip and tear demons in the way that best suits you the most.
After checking this out I switched up, hooked my console to a 4K monitor and jumped into the Ray Tracing Mode. This has the game running at 1800p as well, at a lower fps of 60, but you get ray-traced reflections, meaning the game looks that little bit more pretty. It doesn't quite run in 4K with ray-tracing, but to be honest, even if it did, I wouldn't use it or the Ray Tracing Mode over Performance Mode. Doom Eternal at 120fps is a game changer, so despite the better looking visuals, you still feel a little hindered as the god killing, fearless Slayer, which is a no-go in my eyes.
This brings me to the final of three options, Balanced Mode, which plays at 60fps as well, but offers 4K resolution. Needless to say, even with Doom Eternal looking rather magnificent, it doesn't beat out Performance Mode's high refresh rate, and falls short alike Ray Tracing Mode. It is worth mentioning about Performance Mode that 1800p still makes for a very good looking game, so even though it isn't 4K, it's still an improvement from what we had seen previously.
Note: PS5 users experience Performance Mode at 1584p, and Xbox Series S consoles run it at 1080p.
The new-gen versions also come with HDR10 and Ultra-Quality support in any of the three graphics modes, so you know that the game has seen quite a large jump in its visuals whichever way you like to play. Likewise, those who enjoy diving into Battlemode, crossplay is enabled between the same families of consoles, meaning Xbox Series can play with Xbox One, and likewise PS5 can play with PS4.
The only feature I have yet to check out and see how it impacts the Doom Eternal experience is the integration of the PlayStation 5's DualSense controller, which promises adaptive trigger support for added immersion.
All in all, this new-gen upgrade takes Doom Eternal and somehow makes it even more thrilling to play. If you haven't already checked the game out yourself and own a new-gen console, this is definitely worth your time, and likewise if you're looking to upgrade your console soon and already own the game on a last-gen device, you can take solace in knowing that the upgrade is free provided you remain in the same family of consoles. Long story short: the Slayer is back and better than ever before.