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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