This week I got the chance to play a whole suite of upcoming PlayStation VR (PSVR) titles at a private PlayStation press event in San Francisco, CA. In addition to trying Skyrim VR with full locomotion, Bethesda also brought DOOM VFR running on PSVR along with a PS Aim controller. I was a huge fan of the controller when I reviewed it (and Farpoint) and have loved it with Arizona Sunshine, ROM: Extraction, and other games since, but DOOM’s PS Aim support I’m a bit unsure about.
For those unaware, DOOM VFR is a completely new VR game that’s built from the ground up specifically to be played with VR headsets. It still takes place in the same universe as 2016’s DOOM reboot and even features a lot of the same locations, enemies, and weapons, but it’s a new adventure that’s designed to take advantage of VR’s unique capabilities. We went hands-on with the game at E3 earlier this year and then again at QuakeCon, so you can read those previews for more details on the game as a whole. The highlight of our latest demo this week though was the PS Aim support.
Both of our previous demos were using standard motion controllers so the introduction of a plastic rifle accessory was a big change. From the get-go it’s a bit jarring because in DOOM VFR your character is actually dual-wielding. In your left hand there was a grenade launcher-type device I could activate using the front-most L1 button on the Aim controller. It felt weird to press a button at the end of a rifle to shoot something out of a gun in my left hand.
This also means that in the real world I’m holding a two-handed PS Aim rifle, but in the game world the primary weapon in my right hand is not a dual-wielded weapon at all. Firing a pistol by pulling the trigger on my PS Aim controller feels a bit odd, but I look past that pretty quickly.
One of the major roadblocks is the complexity of the controls. Remembering where buttons on the controller are, what they do, how to turn, how to teleport, how to strafe, which button is for which weapon, pulling up the weapon wheel, etc. It’s a lot to take in for a foreign input device. One of the strengths of Farpoint is how it made you forget you were holding a gun controller, but DOOM VFR constantly reminded me.
Another big gripe is the way movement works. When using the Vive wands or PS Move controllers it feels fine to teleport around. You point, you click, and boom — you’re moving across the map. It felt like a needed compromise for a game that’s usually so fast-paced. But when I’m holding the PS Aim controller (a hunk of plastic with two analog sticks) it feels like a missed opportunity to not let me do more. Telefragging is still super satisfying (teleporting “into” an enemy and watching them explode like a piñata full of blood) but I’d take the ability to actually kite enemies and circle strafe any day of the week.
DOOM VFR is a game that’s been built with teleporting and VR in mind so it can be as polished and cohesive as possible when it releases, but the PS Aim support didn’t blow me away. Despite the aforementioned issues though, it was still a ton of fun to actually aim down the sights of a gun in the DOOM universe. Pulling the trigger on my Dualshock 4 is fine and dandy, but nothing quite beats holding a gun in your hands when playing a game like DOOM.
DOOM VFR is set to release on December 1st, 2017 for HTC Vive and PSVR. Let us know what you think down in the comments below!