Last year, Bethesda released a reboot of their infamous first-person shooter, DOOM. With the ever-growing popularity of virtual reality gaming, the studio best-known for its massive open-world titles like Fallout, this year the company has decided to port over three of their most successful games from this past decade onto consoles and PC. The first being The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR as a PlayStation VR, with DOOM VFR for the PlayStation VR and HTC being their second of three, and Fallout 4 VR set to launch later this month as an HTC Vive exclusive.
Much like its non-VR counterpart, DOOM VFR is set on a UAC facility on Mars; players control an unnamed space marine who is tasked by the UAC to fend off the forces of hell that are plaguing the plant. If there is one thing I can say about the DOOM reboot regardless of whether you’re playing in virtual reality; this game is incredibly fast-paced. As soon as I strapped on my HTC Vive and booted up the game I knew that my return back to this hellish nightmare was going to be a lot more intense than anything I experienced in the original version.
While the game, for the most part, stays entirely untouched this is far from being a direct “copy and paste job.” Those who played DOOM 2016 will understand that the game (in its initial launch) was not built with virtual reality in mind. Developer id Software put some time into accommodating the game to be playable in VR; this includes brand-new areas not found in the original version.
The controls will vary depending on your platform of choice; PlayStation VR owners have a total of three control options – using a DualShock 4 controller, using a PSVR Aim Controller, or using two PlayStation Move controllers. Unfortunately, for HTC Vive players, there is only one way to control your character, using the controllers for the Vive headset.
For the most part, I was utilizing the teleport and dash button. The teleporting option is used for platforming while the dash works somewhat like a sprint. Regardless both of these options are used with the touchpad on the motion controllers. Typically, I would be okay with this, the problem I have, more specifically with teleporting is that you need to hold down the touchpad to teleport. I would much rather use my thumb and click on any part of the touchpad alternatively and consider the fact that this game is fast-paced it begs the question – was teleporting more of an afterthought? It doesn’t help the fact that the HTC Vive version does not offer a smooth locomotion option either.
Aside from what can be best described as a minor blemish, the game does provide plenty of action. Although, when you start the game you are presented with a lot of weapons and ammo, which feels a bit of a cop-out. While this is good for those that are not skilled at VR shooters, I was disappointed how ridiculously generous id Software was for DOOM VFR. However, I did like how they buffed up the enemy AI in the game, making this iteration of DOOM 2016 insanely fast, which will get your blood pumping guaranteed. On top of that the “glory kill” also returns and you can access it by teleporting into an enemy’s weak both; providing a gore-filled explosion that just might make you lose your lunch.
Which brings me to combat, much like the issues I had with Skyrim VR, scrolling through the in-game menu is still a pain in the ass yet it is less annoying than Skyrim VR but again the controls for it could be tweaked. Instead of having to click on the center of the right wand trackpad you are required to hold it, while the left and right click on the right controller is used to load a previous and next weapon respectively. But, why couldn’t the weapon wheel be accessed with a click, it would have made much more sense. Aside from that, guns are also upgradable, which can allow for more bloodshed during your playthrough.
Graphically, the game is beautiful. I know that the PC configuration requirements are a bit demanding. Fortunately, my mega machine is sporting a Nvidia GeForce 1080 Ti, so I had a smooth like butter experience. The detail on the enemies is terrifyingly impressive while other effects such as fog and sparks are incredibly appealing to the eyes. Out of all the virtual reality games, I have played this year; DOOM VFR has the best environments the HTC Vive has to offer.
Going back to the PC specifications, the minimum requirements is a Nvidia GeForce 1070. However, the game is playable for those with a 970. Just don’t expect to have a smooth sailing gameplay. Of course, if your PC is already VR ready (meaning you have a 1070 or higher inside your PC) then you have nothing to worry about. Still, I expect a lot of PC players interested in investing in a VR headset because of this game so for those who only have a 970, yes it will work it’s not going to be top notch, but it is playable, to an extent.
DOOM VFR is an overall fantastic port of an already great game. While the controls are a bit awkward, there is no denying that it is a fun VR shooter worth any VR enthusiasts time. Bottom line, while this game is available on two different headsets (three if you count the SteamVR Beta on Steam allowing Oculus Rift users to play it), the definitive version if the HTC Vive version.
I took the liberty of even trying it out on the PSVR for morbid curiosity and let me make something clear, do not, I repeat DO NOT buy this game on the PlayStation VR. Sure, the PlayStation Aim Controller offers more immersion than anything the Vive can offer, but for those that do not have one, this game was not made with the PS Move controllers in mind. The controls do not include efficient turns and the PSVR camera, well you’re going to be fighting with it a lot. Due to the fast-paced nature of the game, the tracking on the PlayStation camera cannot keep up. On top of that, the button assignments are not very precise, which will make you want to break your TV.
Now you’re going to say “well, I can just buy a PS Aim controller” and figure that would fit the problem, right? Well…no even then using the joystick to turn is not 100% precise. This, I find unacceptable, because DOOM VFR’s PSVR port was released in a time where other controller-action PSVR games like Farpoint and Resident Evil VII were released before it, and they got the controls right. Not to mention the PSVR version (even on the PS4 Pro) suffers from framerate drops and visually it looks fuzzy. Again, I am not expecting it to look like it would on PC, but looking like its standard version would undoubtedly be better than its current state.
DOOM VFR is an overall fantastic port of an already great game. While the controls are a bit awkward, there is no denying that it is a fun VR shooter worth any VR enthusiasts time. But, I do not think that the game has reached its full potential, I believe that if Bethesda allowed mods into the game, it would increase the game’s lifespan long-term, no doubt about that. However, I think it would be a lot more enjoyable if there were a first-party controller by HTC that was designed for fast-paced games like DOOM VFR and Raw Data as it would provide a lot more immersion and fun into HTC Vive shooting games. Still, if you own an HTC Vive DOOM VFR is a game worth picking up — its only $29.99 on Steam and it is a fantastic game for anyone with the headset, especially if you recently acquired one and you’re looking for games to play.
Specifications in the PC used in this review: Test System: Intel Intel Z270 Motherboard, Intel QuadCore i7-7700K Processor, 4.20GHz, 120mm Liquid-Cooler, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, 11GB GDDR5X, 16GB DDR4-3200 RAM, 500GB Samsung Evo 960 NVMe M.2 SSD.