Doom Eternal is now the second prominent PC title in as many months to court controversy over its anti-cheat software. Added last week in a new update, the new Denuvo Anti-Cheat software is a kernel-level solution, and like that of Riot's new competitive shooter Valorant, scores of players are unhappy about its inclusion. On Steam, Eternal's user reviews are taking a thrashing accordingly.
The PC anti-cheat software is just one bullet point of many for Doom Eternal's cross-platform "Update 1" release, launched last week. While the update also adds some quality of life fixes, cosmetics, and a new "Empowered Demons" option that lets deadly enemies invade other players' single-player sessions, the anti-cheat for Battlemode has many up in arms. Doom Eternal's user reviews on Steam have trended largely negative since Friday, giving it a "Mixed" recent average. Overall, it still sits at a "Very Positive" average, but it has amassed over 5,300 negative reviews since May 14.
Additionally, Bethesda's Twitter support account says it has received more reports of crashes and performance issues after the update's release, prompting several upset players to bemoan the anti-cheat in the replies. USgamer has reached out to Bethesda for comment on Update 1 and its reception, both regarding the anti-cheat and technical issues. We will update this post if we receive a response.
It surely doesn't help matters that the new anti-cheat software installs a kernel mode driver. Anger has been swirling over kernel anti-cheat solutions since last month's beta launch of Valorant. Many are more concerned with Riot's implementation in Valorant in particular because it always has kernel access, meaning it has unrestricted access to executing instructions and accessing memory from system start up to shutdown. Denuvo promises that its anti-cheat—launching here with Doom Eternal, presumably with aims to be added to other games in the future—only runs while the game is running.
Still, with Denuvo's other main offering consisting of anti-piracy DRM software that's attracted scorn time and again, there's reason for Bethesda to have expected a reaction like this prior to the rollout. This is not the first review bombing associated with Denuvo's name.
This update also comes soon after the public parting-of-ways between id Software and composer Mick Gordon, who provided the soundtracks for Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal. Following a controversy over the quality of the soundtrack release, co-director Marty Stratton came forward to issue a lengthy statement detailing a strained working relationship between id and Gordon. For Doom Eternal's upcoming DLC, id will not be working with Gordon for the music.
Whether or not Bethesda decides to remove or replace this anti-cheat solution, there's precedent from within the publisher's own line-up for turning a situation like this around. Just recently, Fallout 76 saw its user review average rebound toward the positive after the release of the Wastelanders update.