E3 2017 Hands-On: DOOM VFR Brings 4+ Hours Of FPS Violence To VR

by David Jagneaux • June 15th, 2017

The opening moments for 2016’s DOOM reboot from Bethesda and id Software might be some of the most perfect opening moments in the history of video games, right up there with Super Mario Bros. 1-1 and when you first descend into the depths of Rapture in the original Bioshock. It captured the ripping and tearing insanity of the game and distilled it down into a fast, frenetic, and fun romp that ends with a perfectly timed shotgun reload to the tune of one of the most metal songs of all-time.

DOOM VFR is unfortunately not a recreation of the entire DOOM campaign inside of a VR headset, but it does retain the soul of what makes that game so amazing. When it was announced at Bethesda’s press conference earlier this week I had my doubts about the teleportation-only movement system but after trying it for myself it’s hard to complain.

The DOOM VFR demo that I tried only lasted about 10 minutes, but that was plenty of time to get a feel for everything. I could reach out and point with my left hand to teleport and click the trackpad to initiate the process, but the catch here is that when holding the teleport button down time actually stops all around me. Using that feature I could slow down time in the middle of fights to dodge bullets or line up a perfect shot.

In this demo I could also dash, which made it possible to conduct a pseudo-circle strafe, reminiscent of playing the actual DOOM. Going into the demo I thought the lack of trackpad or control stick movement would bother me, but it turned out fine.

The result is a game that feels fast not just for its movement speed, but also for the intensity of its combat. Since VR is already so intense and claustrophobic you don’t need to run around at full-speed to remind people they’re fighting off hordes of demons from Hell.

On the right trackpad I could swirl my finger around or tap left and right to swap. My choices included a gatling gun, pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, and plasma rifle. Not many rockets or explosions, but those will be added in due time.

Instead of doing melee-based Glory Kills you just teleport to where the enemy should be and they explode into a wonderful sight of violence. This is likely not a good game for young children at this level.

After my demo I talked to a representative from Bethesda that told me the full DOOM VFR experience is expected to last approximately 4-5 hours. Instead of porting the entire game to VR like they’re doing with Fallout 4 and Skyrim, Bethesda chose to focus in on the core teleportation mechanics that work and don’t get people sick and just extrapolate.

In terms of the moment-to-moment gameplay it definitely gave me a Robo Recall vibe, but only if you were mowing down demons instead of robots and there was a whole lot more blood, guts, and gore.

The levels themselves felt new to me but all of the enemies, as far as I could tell, all seemed like they were taken from DOOM. Since this isn’t the full game and is made specifically for VR, the new content should theoretically be fun and engaging enough.

DOOM VFR is set to release later this year for HTC Vive and PlaytStation VR (PSVR.) Do you plan on venturing into the depths of Hell once it releases? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Stefan Eckhardt

    Hell yes! 😀

  • Sean Lumly

    The teleportation implementation sounds interesting, but I would prefer having the option. Sadly, Doom VFR is not on my radar, but I hope it does well in the market..

    • LoreII

      I also would prefer have the normal movement Orion which I lived in farpoint, I think doom would be great using aim controller

      • Sean Lumly

        I agree.. I would love to see that!

  • Tiberius Gracchus

    Was this demo played on a Vive or PSVR? Could make a difference

    • crazysapertonight

      Vive

  • MowTin

    I’m disappointed. I was expecting the full DOOM campaign not another 4 to 5 hour game. A bunch of modders have already done DOOM BFG in VR. Why can’t Bethesda do the same?

    • Stefan Eckhardt

      And like all those modded in VR games they are not adjusted to VR and are much harder to play since in the normal game you will be forced to turn and move around very quickly, which will introduce killer motion sickness to most and is very difficult to play, especially in the later parts.

      Also interesting: Bethesda gets bad rap for “recycling” Skyrim and for “not recycling” Doom. Not neccessarily from the same person, sure, but still…

      • Be that as it may, I’d still be willing to try.
        I understand that *some people* get motion sickness, but not all of us do –I personally don’t.
        In the same way that skydiving isn’t for everyone, neither are fast paced full motion VR games. Some people will simply never be able to handle it.

        Along those same lines though, not everyone on the planet is capable of driving. But that being the case, should the rest of us be restricted from driving just because a smaller portion of people can’t?

        I get where MowTin’s coming from here. It’s the same beef I’ve had with VR –as a VR gamer myself; It’s like the industry is too afraid to take a gamble, like they’re afraid someone might sue them over a case of nausea. This is something that VR game developers are just going to have to learn to get past. The same as how not everyone will buy the newest, fastest sports car, some people won’t buy fast VR games or will complain about getting sick. Still, that doesn’t negate the market for them. I don’t care if it makes me rush like I’m falling off a building, I’m willing to try it out –because I love that kind of rush from gaming; it’s part of why I’m a gamer to begin with, and why I’m still a gamer at 44.

        • Stefan Eckhardt

          Glad that you can stomach those unadjusted VR modded games, and I am not taking those away from you. But it is misleading to say SOME get motion sickness – the vast majority of gamers would get motion sick in those. Listen to what an actual game developer (of Superhot) says on this topic:

          “What we found out at the very beginning of our VR works (way back in the
          wild west VR days of 2014/2015) was that just plopping a non-VR game
          into VR is the worst design compromise ever. The gameplay needs to be designed from scratch, the level architecture needs
          to be built specifically for VR… even the menus and basic interactions
          in the game are just stupidly clunky unless you figure them out with VR
          and VR alone in mind.”

          Developers need to make their money back developing these games, so making them playable for a larger audience is essential. Good thing is, Doom VFR will have full locomotion options, a representative on E3 told people asking, just the current version demoed doesn’t have those yet.

        • Nate

          Nice to know that I’m not the only 40 something YO VR gamer out there. 🙂

      • Caven

        Rotation is only a problem if it’s being done with a gamepad instead of by turning your actual body. In the case of the Vive, turning should be a non-issue as long as the game doesn’t use gamepad-style turning.

        • Stefan Eckhardt

          Replacing in-game turning with 360° body movement is possible with Vive, but it will make most any game except for maybe walking simulators impossible to beat. During the tutorial sections you are fine, but when the challenge ramps up, you are screwed. Also it will exhaust you quickly. This is not what I want from VR games.

          Also you can quickly entangle yourself completely with the cable this way… XD

          • Wow. I’m a Vive user playing fast action games requiring me to duck, crouch, sidestep and turn around quickly. Looks like you have some very outdated cliche rhetoric on room-scale vr.

          • Stefan Eckhardt

            That’s right, everyone else is weird, you are the norm. Keep up the good work! 🙂

          • I don’t believe your weird since i don’t know what you get up to in your personal life but purely based on your own words you seem very unfit. Hence my recommendation to see a cardiologist or just a general practitioner.

          • Buddydudeguy

            You’re being a buffoon. Stefan is absolutely right and you are absolutely wrong.

          • Raphael

            You’re being a numpty. Stefan is absolutely wrong and i am absolutely right. See what i did there?

          • Buddydudeguy

            Exactly! I don’t understand the mindset that roomscale= no snap turning. Rooms scale does not equate to no snap turning and without it you will constantly be worried about your position and if you’re getting tangled. Snap turn ( or smooth turn) should be a buffer. A optional method to turn.

          • SandmaN

            Don’t worry, the TPCast will solve the tangling issue when it’s released later this year. 🙂

      • Actually the sickness is a minority thing. This is reflected in steam feedback for all games with rapid motion.
        Full locomotion was added to arizona sunshine because so many people complained about being restricted to teleport. Last year was bad. Every game was either stationary wave shooter or forced teleport on us. Things are changing at last.

        • Stefan Eckhardt

          That’s like saying the vast majority of people likes to drive fast cars in circles, according to a survey among professional racing drivers. We are still deep in enthusiast territory with VR, it needs to grow to succeed.

          • No it ain’t. Feedback needs to be from people who aren’t new to games or vr games. People who have never tried vr before can often feel dizzy or nauseous at first and so many users report the symptoms fade or disappear completely over time.

            You clearly wasn’t to build a false representation where new users are given vr, feel ill then you add their experience to your nausea clan membership list.

            You build a very false picture and get to walk around saying everyone suffers vr nausea. You then build a much stronger association with vr and nausea which is more likely to put new users off buying. Way to go. Very clever. Disregard actual owners feedback on steam because they’re “professional racing drivers”

          • Stefan Eckhardt

            You think what you want to think, I can’t change that. But once thing: I gave those people I was talking about very mild experiences like The PlayRoom VR or Tumble VR, and they couldn’t play more than 10 minutes. Others went right in with Driveclub VR and were fine. My oldest brother wouldn’t even try because he gets sick looking at GTA V on TV for 5 minutes. People are different, and those few enthusiasts who bought VR now are not enough to sustain the systems.

          • What in god’s cock are you talking about? You have given non-vr owners mild experiences and some got sick? That’s your idea of data gathering is it? This is why comments like yours are so useless because they always follow the same idiot route: “i gave people a vr experience and some got sick”. Are you unaware that new vr users can feel ill at first then the symptoms can reduce or disappear over time? That time can vary between hours, days or months. You are building a false picture of nausea by judging the effects of vr on people who have never used it or only have occasional use.

            What’s more valid is the data for people who have had time to get used to it. People who own it and that shows a very different picture.

            Those few people who bought vr are not enough to sustain it? Again with the nonsense…. 600,000 sales of vive (a high end niche peripheral) is exceptional. Are you another one of those who think vive and cv1 should have sold to the majority of gamers by now and thus represents failure?

            Vive and cv1 are priced at the high end sector along with products like fanatec racing wheels or Thrustmaster T500.
            Are you aware that a fanatec racing setup is a niche market peripheral? Do you think most gamers are buying fanatec racing wheels? No? You don’t think that? Well that means it has limited sales because it’s not mass consumer band which by your lack of reasoning means it will fail.

            Niche peripheral does not mean a product in danger of extinction.

            I am shocked at the never ending stupidity from some regarding vr. So many half-baked cliche ideas.

            Do you believe HTC and Oculus thought their products were going to break into mass adoption at those prices? Really? So you think HTC and oculus are dumb? You think they were able to bring these products to market but when it came to selling you believe they are clueless? See I’m trying to get you to apply some logic.

            Vive and cv1 are in line with expectations for gen 1 consumer vr.

            It will be a few years before a new oculus and HTC hmd appear and then the price will drop a little but it still won’t be in the price range for mainstream adoption.

            This is all basic information that every vr user should understand to avoid spreading fear and panic and bullshit.

          • Stefan Eckhardt

            Ok, I see is my fault I alienated those people. Next time when someone feels ill, I’ll just bind that person to the chair and let them have VR for hours, days or months. They WILL love it eventually. (ROFL)

            Remember where we started? I was just saying that games need to be adjusted for VR and offer options to accommodate to sensitivities and allow freedom to those that can enjoy these. That way, VR can grow further. If only hardline ignorants like you would have a say, it would stay in the corner it is right now. Luckily, those that are making VR games know what to do, it will be fine.

          • Yes, i agree that games need to be adjusted to accommodate different players. When you sit people who don’t own vr down to try it…. I hope you make it clear to them that new users can feel ill and that the symptoms can pass? Otherwise you give them the feeling that vr makes them ill and they can only play some games with comfort mode. In other words you leave them with the belief that their vr will only ever be in comfort mode. There are extreme cases where the most sensitive retain high levels of sensitivity. That’s a small percentage. Most vr users experience a reduction in symptoms over time and some report no symptoms at all over time.

            VR sales areas within range of expectations given the high end peripheral price point. So you should avoid those fake journalism stories about vr being in decline or failing. I really get so sick of reading false BS… Why would anyone think a niche peripheral at 600 to 800 would achieve mass adoption? Oculus and HTC aren’t idiots. They know gen one isn’t about mass adoption. Vr is an inevitable technology and it has been on a steady development curve for many decades. The price has dropped steadily over many decades from the early lab prototypes down to current consumer vr.

    • LoreII

      I think 5 hours of violence it should be more than enough, and more hours could be boring like many 2D games in which you repeat for hours same things, we should let the vr be free to make shorter and more intense game respect traditional gaming

      • Bizarre…. So this is a new fad now is it? Gamers suddenly wanting very short games? I’ve been playing games since 1981 and never have i seen people asking for short games until now. Un-fucking-believable.

        You can take your short games and shove them up your arse.

        • LoreII

          Maybe for me ( and some others) short game are enough also cause we have other things to do in our day… so the game experience can be shorter and more intense

          • Again there is no correlation between game length and game intensity. This idea of wanting very short games seems to be a new fad. Do you really believe any long games can’t be intense? It’s absolute nonsense.

            Perhaps you have a thing where you have to complete a game in one sitting and you can’t wait to get through it. In Freudian terms this could be you not wanting to spend much time in vr.

            Your arguments don’t make sense… You have things to do in your day… Implying that you can only play short vr games you can complete in one sitting. Since the 80s we’ve had long games and still had things to do in our day and we didn’t expect to complete a game in one sitting.

            Are you mostly on a diet of casual vr games? Games like space pirate trainer are short burst.

    • JMM21

      Well they can afford to do better if they can find another company to sue to make money instead of actually spending the time and doing it themselves.

      • Given the list of issues with OculusVR the court battle may have been justified. There is a 50/50 chance either way whether you like it or not.

        Fact: oculus lost the court battle.

    • DeeHawk

      The original Doom campaign took 4 hours average to complete 😉

      Also if you read the article, they actually explain that the goal was to extrapolate on the concept of not getting people sick and to be fair they already are working on 2 full VR ports.

      Too bad if you want Doom more than Skyrim and Fallout, buy hey you can’t please everybody at once.

  • Char Feld

    Will it support Aim controller for PSVR?

  • Nice. Keep all these big-name games coming, developers. . . .

    Bethesda deserves a lot of kudos for what its doing in the VR space right now.

  • ender707

    Can you pick the direction you will be facing at the end of a teleport like robo recall?

  • kool

    I hope they add aim support.

    • LoreII

      That should be great!!!!!!!! Wtf!!!!!! Super! 🙂

  • dan bryant

    So not the Doom 2016 we wanted?
    Only 4 hours long?
    No normal movement as an option?
    Wow thanks Bethesda

    • DeeHawk

      It’s almost as if they are trying to develop new stuff!

  • DeeHawk

    We seriously need a decent rifle controller soon!

  • Buddydudeguy

    I feel like ” for HTC Vive” is designed as a statement to invoke shit flinging. ” for the HTC Vive” is inaccurate as, it’s for SteamVR. which the Rift supports.

    • marktopic

      ah..your back again i see

      • Buddydudeguy

        And you are?

        • marktopic

          If I wanted to ‘troll’ you, believe me you would know about it.

          Truth is, I simply cannot work up the interest.

          • Buddydudeguy

            But I do “know about it”. You’re doing it . Get a life 🙂

          • marktopic

            Then we would both have given the same advice.

    • Strigampire

      It’s not because the Rift is actually supported by SteamVR mena you’ll be able to get the same experience on a Rift. Even running via SteamVR, there’s some games with Rift that are having issue but not on the HTC VIVE and vice versa. For HTC VIVE mostly says that they might not focus of the bugs you might encounter when you play using a Rift.

  • Heos Phorus

    i’m a little disappointed that there seems to be no free movement in this. i already got my vr-legs, and having every new game put you in a box is getting old already. i can understand the reasoning, as especially new players who are not used to vr can get motion sickness, and it’s all about bringing vr to the masses. still, i remember lots of people getting motion sick from he original doom, but despite this it did not default to an “eye of the beholder”-style – step movement – people just got used to it and a new genre was born.

    but then again, it’s still doom, and it’s priced reasonably for 4-5 hours (another beef with vr – where are the “real” games?), so i’ll probably check out.

  • martiandynamite

    Why oh why couldn’t they have just gave the option for normal movement

  • martiandynamite

    Have been gaming for 35 years and the new doom is the best game I’ve ever played….why oh why ID do you not provide the option for normal movement..

  • marktopic

    anyone remember doom 2 !!!