Doom came out in 2016, earning high marks and even becoming our 2016 game of the year. It’s now 2017 and VR is a thing. Someone looked at Doom, looked at VR, and said: “Yeah, let’s do it!” Thus, Doom VFR was born. Taking an amazing FPS and tossing it into VR isn’t quite as simple as it sounds though. Is this the definitive edition of the demon tearing masterpiece, or should you stick to the non-VR version?
You play as Dr. Peters, a random employee of the Mars facility who quickly finds himself killed and eaten by a Pinky Demon. Luckily, he gets his consciousness uploaded into a robot so he can live on and fight back. He has a basic plan to shut down the portal to Hell by hunting down a rogue Cyberdemon, but that’s about as far as the plot goes and the story doesn’t really have any sort of conclusion so much as the game just sort of stops after a random fire fight. You basically just go from one location to the next having this light excuse to shoot things. The more I think about this, the more I realize that’s totally okay. That’s all Doom ever really needed.
One of the first things you need to do is decide how you actually want to play Doom VFR. I found that the best way to do so was by using the PSVR Aim, which allowed me to both freely aim my right hand while I moved around using smooth movement. There is a bit of a compromise that involves Dr. Peter’s left-hand sort of floating in the left corner of wherever you’re looking, one that I really wish I could ditch. Sadly, both of the other control schemes come with similar advantages and disadvantages. The DualShock makes moving around easy thanks to its two sticks, but you’re stuck using your face to aim, which doesn’t really make for a great VR experience. Using two Move controllers lets you move both of your hands how you’d expect, but you’re stuck using teleport movements and there’s no way to turn the camera to actually face enemies without falling out of the tracking area. In the end, the PSVR Aim provided the best compromise.
The basics of Doom VFR aren’t too dissimilar to the original game. You’ll be moving through a secret facility on Mars, fighting demons along the way. The biggest feature of Doom was its Glory Kills, allowing you chain impressive kills on stunned enemies to get health packs. Doom VFR has replaced the feature with Telefragging, where you can teleport inside stunned enemies to blow them up for extra health. Functionally it’s the same, though I will admit there’s a bit of a loss of not having Glory Kill animations and instead just sort of popping up inside a red mist cloud.
Outside of this, it’s pretty impressive how much Doom VFR plays just like Doom. You’ll get the same weapons, and each weapon has an alternative fire mode. The game is extremely fast paced and you’ll be quickly jumping from area to area to avoid the demon’s attacks and position yourself to strike. Those not quite used to VR may have some trouble with the speed, but I can’t quite picture Doom playing any differently than this.
Just because it plays like Doom doesn’t mean it totally understands what it is to be Doom. Dr. Peters had to go back to a hub world between stages, which mostly served no purpose other than to waste time. You’ll have to do weird out of place busy work, link hunting down a fire extinguisher to put out a fire or running between a couple of stations to test fire a BFG. Why? I’m not entirely sure, and honestly I found it did little other than waste my time in a game that should be all about not wasting time. It only makes up about twenty minutes of the game’s three hour run time, but that’s twenty minutes I’m not shooting things.
When VFR hits its stride, it really nails it. Every fight left me genuinely excited, especially a late-game boss fight against the aforementioned Cyberdemon. There’s a real joy in just shooting some demons with a transforming minigun before teleporting into a wounded Cacodemon and watching it explode around you. Each fight is intense, fast-paced, and requires some creative use of weapons to make sure you’re picking what’s most efficient for each situation.
Doom VFR reuses most of the graphics and soundtrack from the 2016 release. This is a good thing, as it makes for a game that looks surprisingly great in VR. The only real downside is that all of the environments and enemies are just reused as well, but VR does help give a much better impression of them. It’s one thing to see a Baron of Hell in first-person, but it’s a whole new experience to have the creature staring you in the face. Likewise, I noticed way more of the soundtrack when I was actually in the world of the game, allowing me to appreciate it much more than I did originally. This is one great way to experience the world of Doom.
If you wanted Doom in VR then Doom VFR does a perfectly acceptable job of providing that. That said, it’s not quite as good as it could have been. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a pretty fun time Telefragging demons in firefights. I just felt like more could have been done, especially with removing the hub world and fixing up the control options.
When Doom VFR is at its best it's a fast paced game that uses VR to shine. It just holds up the action a little too often, and requires making some control compromises.
- Fun Fast Paced Gameplay
- Impressive Sense of Scale with Demons
- Awkward Controls
- No Glory Kills
- Reused Enviroments
- Boring Hub World