Doom Eternal is a very tough game. It makes absolutely no bones about how rapid and aggressive the demon menace will be. They spawn endlessly. They pursue you without relent. They pull no punches, and go for the kill every time.
Which is fine when you’re the Doomguy. Id Software has given you every tool you need to not only succeed, but to thrive in style in the face of Hell’s infinity. When that game gets tough – like dying and respawning for a half hour on the same arena battle tough – it still feels achievable. You’re rarely just being cheesed to death by circumstance. There’s almost always an answer for every problem in combat, and Eternal is showing you all the signals to find it. When you put the pieces together, you feel as the prophesied Slayer should: un-goddamn-touchable.
Until this motherfucker shows up on the scene.
There is no single enemy in any game in recent memory that destroys the entire tempo of a fight more than the Marauder. As soon as you hear his urine-colored dog barking, you know the good times are over.
He’s first introduced as a boss, an elite unit that attempts to stop you from taking the battered remains of Dr. Samuel Hayden’s chrome corpse back to your Fortress of
Solitude Doom. He even has lines! The encounter feels a bit stilted and the combat pattern is a bit routine, but that’s to be expected with boss fights in Doom (a notable weak spot in otherwise stellar combat scenarios).
The Marauder has a laser axe and matching shield, and is described as a “defensive powerhouse.” A fair tag, since he effortlessly blocks any and all direct fire directed at him. He’s immune to the effects of Super Weapons like the BFG and the Crucible, your own laser blade. If you get too close to him, he shotguns you away. If you stand too far, that laser axe fires laser beams at you. Every so often, he spawns in that aforementioned piss puppy to run you down.
The trick is to stand in the nebulous “mid-range,” where he will feel confident enough to let his guard down and take a swing at you in melee. His eyes will glow green and you’ll have a split second to shoot him and stun him.
Sometimes. Just sometimes he just no-sells your best shot, making it difficult to know if it did any damage at all (or even hit him for that matter). The timeframe is so short that you really need to get the biggest bang for your buck out as fast as possible. This means that many of your weapons are out of play. The plasma rifle is fast but it takes too long to pile on enough damage to stun him. The Painmaker has damage for the Marauder and all of his loved ones, but it’s impossible to fire it fast enough to do the job. The options end up being your shotguns or your ballista.
Every enemy is susceptible to a particular mode of attack in some way. Flying enemies take more damage from the Arbalest. The agile, serpent-like Whiplashes are much easier to hit when you freeze them with the Ice Bomb. This doesn’t completely rule out other modes of engagement, though. Even other bosses allow a pretty wide range of offensive options against them.
Not the Marauder, though. His fight boils down to running backwards in circles – not too fast or so slow – and waiting for him to attack you just right. You’ll expend a lot of ammo doing this, and will have to kite the Marauder around while looking for fodder to chainsaw or glory kill to keep you topped off on bullets and health. This cat and mouse game is the exact opposite of what makes Doom’s shooting so good. But for a one time fight, it’s doable.
Of course, the Marauder isn’t a one time fight. As you progress through your journey to safe Earth from demonic consumption, Marauders get dropped into arena encounters every so often to completely fuck up your mood. On Hurt Me Plenty difficulty, only one spawns in at a time, but one is enough.
The remarkably bad tonal shift that the Marauder brings to a fight is way more apparent when a good fight is still going on. He’s often something you have to avoid at all costs, dispatching all the other lethal distractions first so you can begrudgingly focus on him. Like the last 3 AM straggler at a bar, you just wish this man would leave so you can count the till and go home.
Doom Eternal has some pretty cool new monsters that challenge you in unique ways.
Not the Marauder though. Fuck the Marauder.