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Doom VFR

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: id Software
Release Date: Dec. 1, 2017

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PS4 Review - 'Doom VFR'

by Michael Keener on Feb. 27, 2018 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Doom VFR brings the fast-paced, brutal gameplay to virtual reality. Immerse yourself in the UAC facility on Mars and the depths of Hell, as your skills are put to the test through intense combat and challenging puzzle-solving.

Buy Doom VFR

Doom seems to have a way of putting itself at the forefront of video game history. While the '90s title was one of the first shooters with a 3-D game world, Doom VFR is one of the first big-name first-person shooters to utilize virtual reality technology. If you loved 2016 remake, you'll likely enjoy the VR version because it captures the franchise's essence and elevates the in-game immersion. There is no multiplayer mode, and the story is more of a CliffsNotes version of last year's novel, but it still serves as a great foundation for a great direction.

If you've seen the trailer, you'll know that a giant demon charges at you as soon as the elevator doors open. This is how the game begins. You're in the elevator, looking at your virtual hands in amazement just as every VR game inspires you to do in the first few moments. Some loud noises, flashing red lights, and loud growling make you realize that something is seriously wrong. The elevator falls a few stories and opens up to a huge monster, and you've just interrupted his dinner. He turns to charge, and as soon as you see its huge mouth, everything goes black. Game over, right? The system kicks in the extra life ability, and you're staring at your dismembered body. Grab a nearby power suit and take revenge because it's going to be a chaotic ride through hell.


From here, it's a fun but gruesome tour of the ship as players blast everything and anything in the way. In total, the campaign lasts about five hours, depending on the selected difficulty and how quickly you grasp the controls. There are three difficulty levels, and you'll unlock two more that will test even the best players.

In order to be efficient in this fast-paced shooter, you have a choice of three different control systems. The first one is the tried-and-true DualShock 4 controller, which provides great control over your character and shooting. The catch is that you aim with the VR headset, and the guns stay in a locked position at the bottom of the screen. This detracts from the immersion, since you can't look to the left but shoot to the right.

The second option is the motion controllers, which should be a great option since you're dual-wielding guns, but I almost threw my controllers out of frustration trying to figure them out. You can look left and right but cannot turn. If you do turn, it's a complete 180 degrees. If you try to go down a corridor and then turn 90 degrees in any direction, it's almost vomit-inducing. I want to believe I'm just missing something, but I've looked online for a solution and only found a lot of frustration from the community about this issue. Bethesda's other title, Skyrim, and a handful of other action VR games have smooth locomotion walking with the motion controllers, and I tried to configure the settings a bit but had no luck.


The third option is the Aim controller, and I loved it. It's a little weird at first since you're controlling two guns with one gun controller, but it's optimal since the VR headset can be used to look and not aim, and you can move your virtual gun to shoot. The left-handed grenade launcher stays stagnant in its position, but it's still used with the left trigger on the Aim controller. Using the analog sticks to move is a better solution than the confusing and difficult turning and teleporting of the motion controllers.

While the game may not have been developed for the Aim controller, it works great. My first experience was with Farpoint, and although it's an interesting game, the huge spaces made my stomach spin a little after a while. I'm sure something like the Vive VR handles big room simulations better due to more pixels within the headsets, but the PSVR looks best when kept to small in-game spaces. This is where Doom gets a pass because although the graphics don't look great when examined close up, it's easier to progress through the small rooms and corridors. The graphics are masked, especially when you're shooting everything and your focus is on surviving and not graphical quality. Expect to see all of the enemies you love to hate. They're progressively integrated into your adventure, and everything may feel like it's coming at you fast.

You'll have access to an arsenal of weapons and upgrades will come in time. You can get up close and personal with the powerful shotgun, stand back and shower big enemies with a minigun, play quick and safe with rifles, or stun them with whatever so you can use the fists of exorcism. If you're playing in teleport mode, once an enemy is stunned, you'll slow down time, and if you teleport right on top of them, it'll cause them to blow up and shower you with blood and gore. It's arguably the most efficient way to rid the ship of all demonic scum, and the slower pace – even if it lasts only a moment – lets you take a breath and strategize.


Aside from the mildly reminiscent feeling you'll have of seeing similar rooms and hidden Easter eggs from the latest main installment of Doom, you can experience the classic in full VR. It's obviously going to look really bad, but in a retro way that's cool to try at least once. The enemies are pulled from the campaign, but the maps, textures, explosive barrels and shooting are all the same as it was 25 years ago. It's not a reason to buy the game, but it's a happy addition. Everything controls the same, and you can either rely on teleportation to get you around or the analog stick (on anything other than the Move controllers).

Doom VFR won't look as badass as the last main installment's version looked on regular televisions and gaming monitors, but such is the burden of enjoying it all in VR. Sure, you'll have to forfeit the complete run-and-gun tactic that was almost required, and you'll need to take more of a strategic approach until you're well versed in one of the three control schemes. It's easiest with the DualShock 4 controllers, miserable with motion controllers, and downright fun with the Aim controller, so the play style is up to you. It's not a masterpiece, but it's a pretty good start. It feels great that the game wasn't a quick money grab priced at the full $60, and it gets a pass due to the lack of VR titles, but any sequel that comes next will have to really step up to the plate. The motion controller difficulties can't persist, or it'll be a major downfall for the Doom franchise in the VR marketplace. 

Score: 7.0/10


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