Head to Hell in Doom VFR
Like it’s stable-mate, Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the 2016 Doom reboot is gaining a reputation of being ported to every available game platform. Nintendo’s Switch recently joined the PC, PS4 and Xbox One in having a version of the game.
Literally in the same breath as they launched the Switch version of Doom, Bethesda knocked out Doom VFR, a special VR version of the game, for PlayStation VR and HTC Vive (note: not the Oculus Rift). Doom VFR allows players to enter the world of Doom in virtual reality, without the need for PC mods (the 2012 PC version of Doom 3: BFG Edition can be modded to run in VR on the PC).
Whilst I was keen to check out the PC version, Bethesda sent over PSVR version instead. This is a shame, as the HTC Vive’s room-space VR and very accurate tracking would make for a good Doom VFR experience.
In saying that, I’ll tell you right now, Doom VFR (the ‘F’ in the title is a reference to the franchise’s infamous BFG guns and apparently stands for the same rude word) is bloody good on the PSVR, and the certainly puts the ‘F’ in effing Hell!
Unlike Skyrim VR, Doom VFR is not a direct port of the regular Doom game. It is, instead, a Doom game specially designed for VR, set before the events of the main game.
The game starts out with you trapped in a lift whilst a battle against the demons occurs the other side of the metal doors. When the doors finally open a huge beast runs at you and the screen fades to black. You awaken in a lab with your dead torso hanging in front of you, your mind having been transferred to an artificial body.
Before you can boot up your systems, you need to complete a training programme to allow you to get to grips with the game’s VR locomotion mechanics, exclusive to Doom VFR.
The default movement method is by teleportation- you point to where you want to be and BAM, there you are. You can also strafe and turn. This is commonly thought of as the least vomit inducing method of getting about in VR.
It took all of five minutes for me to decide to switch off the comfort settings and use the controller as you would normally. I realise that this isn’t something a lot of players are going to be able to do until they have found their VR legs. A year ago, running around in VR like this would have turned my stomach as well.
You can also use the PlayStation VR Aim Controller. I blew the dust of it and used in for all of ten minutes before the awkward combination of head movements, aiming and thumbsticks had me sitting back in my chair with the Dualshock controller.
After the tutorial, which gives you the opportunity to dispatch as many demons as you want in order to get to grips with the controls, you are into the game.
Unlike Resident Evil 7, which you can play in VR on the PS4, Doom VFR is all about action rather than scares. And I was 100% ready for anything the game had to throw at me after the tutorial.
As with the 2D game it’s you against a Hellish horde of demons causing havoc on a Martian base. Similar to how I felt with Bethesda’s Skyrim VR, VR really brings out the details in the environments.
The game is such fun to play to get a buzz of excitement every time you face off against the enemy. Pirouetting around the demons blowing holes in them is an absolute thrill. The extra depth perception afforded by the VR make you feel like a super-human. This is amplified even more by the ability to telefrag (i.e. teleport) onto staggering enemies glowing blue and bursting them into gibs. It feels even more awesome than the melee insta-kills in the 2D game. Like the 2D game this gratuitous act gains you plenty of heath packs.
Sony must be kissing Bethesda’s feet right now. I’ve been playing VR games for over a year and experienced some awesome titles. But, if I’m honest, I probably count the number of actual triple-A VR games on one hand. One week apart and Bethesda, with Skyrim VR and now Doom VFR, have just given us another two.