I remember being vaguely horrified when I first heard about Doom Eternal's meat hook. It's one of the new features id Software added to the series' classic Super Shotgun (aka, the best video game weapon of all time), and as its name might imply, you can use it to grapple toward enemies in order to get up close and personal with their soon to be squelched demon flesh. At the time, I thought, "But how can you improve on the already perfect Super Shotgun?" A lot, it turns out. Let me count the ways.
Doom Eternal is an exhilaratingly different kettle of demon fish to Doom (2016). Battles are faster and more frenetic, and the increased scarcity of ammo means you end up using a lot more weapons over the course of a single fight. It also puts a much heavier emphasis on using your chainsaw to replenish said ammo stocks, slicing open weaker demon spawn piñata-style in a fountain of multi-coloured bullet packs, as well as using your flamethrower to bolster your dwindling armour levels.
It throws a lot at you very quickly, much more than Doom (2016) ever did, but it's in these frantic fights for survival where the Super Shotgun's meat hook shines (and, in time, literally burns) brightest. In its virgin state, the meat hook is a delightful addition to the Doom Slayer's arsenal. The sheer size of some Eternal's battle arenas and the relentless onslaught of enemies it throws at you means that escape is sometimes the best option - and there is simply no better way to do that than to haul yourself across the map by grappling onto some unsuspecting demon flesh, before Super Shotgunning them right in their screeching faces.
It's a great traversal tool, but that's not why it's brilliant. Oh no. To really stick it to the game's hell spawn, you can combine it with Eternal's Chrono Strike rune, which is one of nine available power-ups you can find in the world. When equipped, this slows down time when you aim down the sights in mid-air, and man alive, the effect it has on the meat hook is transformative. I mean, Super Shotgunning a demon in the face is already brilliant, but doing it in slow-motion? That's probably the smuggest power move in the history of the series.
But wait, it gets better. Indeed, the truly great thing about the meat hook is what happens when you unlock its 'Mastery' ability. These are extra challenges you can complete to add extra functions to your arsenal of weapons, and the Super Shotgun's mastery skill lets you set enemies on FIRE when you grapple toward them.
It is, as they say, a chefkiss.gif.
But that's not even the best part. Remember what I said earlier about using your flamethrower to replenish your armour? Well, the flaming meat hook does that, too, and man alive, there is nothing more satisfying than a) escaping the clutches of one demon to Super Shotgun another one right in the kisser, b) doing it in slow-motion, and c) using your smug escape plan to raise your defences at the same time. It is just the most perfect thing, the biggest middle finger to hell you can possibly imagine (if the Doom Slayer ever had time to give anything the middle finger, that is) and I feel naïve and terrible for even thinking the meat hook might be a bad addition to the already supposedly 'perfect' double-barrelled shotgun.
How wrong I was. It's so good, in fact, that it's come to define both my entire Doom Eternal experience, and first-person shooters as a whole for me. "Does it have a meat hook?" is a question I know I'll ask of all combat-led games now - not in the literal sense, because that would be preposterous, but more along the lines of, "Does it have that one thing that makes it feel special and unique from all other games that's also the perfect embodiment of all its systems working together as one, single, unifying force of nature?" Because that is what a game's signature weapon should be, I think. It's a tall order, to be sure, but one I think developers are more than up to the task of answering.