Doom VFR Review
Doom VFR – Proof PlayStation need to invest in a better tracking system.
Doom VFR is a sequel to the 2016 Doom.Bethesda built Doom VFR from the ground up for virtual reality and the F in VFR stands for the same thing as it does in the iconic doom weapon the BFG. The storyline has the facility you are working in infested with demons and it is up to you to save the day. Pro tip, if the place you are working in needs to rate demonic invasions in degrees of severity, it is time to think of a new career path.
After a brief and terrifying cutscene the game starts with a full tutorial which teaches you all the basics of the game. Take your time in here as the bizarre control scheme takes time to get used to.
Your first actual mission is to secure the floor you are on, which then becomes the hub for the other missions. The story is light and told through voice over speech, it exists solely to be a reason to go from one firefight to another. Intense firefights loosely strung together with a tiny thread of plot are an integral part of the doom franchise.
One of the main features of Doom (2016) was the “Glory Kill” where once you had done sufficient damage to a foe they glowed, a melee strike later and you had an impressive kill to watch. In VR this would break immersion and so they replaced it with a new system. When the enemy glows you teleport into them and pop goes the weasel (or Imp). This is not as revolutionary as has been made out, Tele-frag has been in the game since the original. Though in the original Doom (1993) and a few other games, tele-frags were more a case of luck rather than a skill. Unreal Tournament added this ability as a weapon back in 1999. Questions of originality aside it is a lot more fun than it should be to teleport into an enemy and explode them around you.
Some other features that have made it from the Doom (2016) include leveling up your suit abilities, such as health and the weapon modification upgrade. These are both majorly cut down though, in the case of weapons there is only one upgrade each gun. The upgrades add cool features and animations to the guns but a few more options would have been nice. This was likely done to accommodate the abridged nature of the game.
Controls are one of the main letdowns of Doom VFR. They are so weirdly designed that even the UI is a nightmare to use. On a standard PSVR title right PSMove is main controller, the move button is ok, and the circle button is back. In Doom VFR the trigger on the right PSMove is ok and the trigger on the left PSMove is back. Nor is this the only weird mechanic in the UI, when presented with a bar for say volume, it is usual to slide the bar back and forth with the trigger and laser aim of main PSMove; in Doom VFR you select it with the PSmove and then use buttons to move it.
There were also options off the screen and since I could not drag the slider up and down I may never know what was there. This meant I went into the main game already a little flustered at the controls.
There are several locomotion methods standard in VR and nearly every VR player has a favorite and hated method. In Doom VFR there are only 3 types of movement.
- Teleportation: The main way to move about the map, press the move button on the left PSMove to get an arc, when it turns green you release and teleport there. This is disorientating at first and many believe it dispels much of the illusion of being in the game. I also found it was hard to find a green “ok to teleport to” spot sometimes. Time slows down when you hold the button and this is an invaluable aid when surrounded. Use of the time dilation effect is essential on later levels.
- Dash movement: The buttons on the left PSmove allow you to dash 1 foot forward, back, left or right. Useful for dodging but not practical for main movement.
- Smooth move locomotion: This is your standard game movement. This is only available to people that use the Dualshock controller or the Aim controller.
To further compound the control issues there is a 180 degree turn button but no small turning buttons and the auto center method (hold options button) does not realign your forward view.
In Doom VFR you are often assaulted from every direction and it is easy to lose your bearings. Many times my guns were floating in odd places as I found I had my back to the camera but no time to correct it. Other times I got hit as I looked at the compass to see where the camera was and tried to align myself as best I could while still facing the action. As I was forced to turn more physically it resulted in me moving around more than I should have done, a few times in my first play I can be heard to say “Ah that’s my window”. In short no consideration seems to have been given for the PSVR tracking issues.
As you can see, the controls are a real issue with Doom VFR and although I managed to compensate and adapt to them it took a few hours, and the game was over shortly after. Having got the controls so perfectly right in Skyrim VR it is strange that Bethesda adopted this bizarre control scheme for Doom VFR.
There are two tables in your hub which allow you to pick up and examine some of the models used in the game. As I moved one about and examined it I was really struck by the attention to detail. Even though we are mostly talking denizens of hell, these are some beautifully crafted models. Similarly the levels are all well strewn with props and blood stains, these do not feel like the bland environments we are used to in VR, these are real levels.
The animation on the gun modifications are equally intricate and detailed. Graphically this is a solid and well rounded game. Everything seemed just that bit crisper than Skyrim VR. In terms of the atmosphere Doom VFR is spot on, the music and iconic sound effects are used perfectly. Though my nerves could have done without the occasional monster growl behind walls, and usually behind me.
As you play through Doom VFR you find secrets that unlock classic levels. These levels are accessible in any order via the main menu. The assets used for the weapons and monsters are the same as the main game. While the textures and level designs are straight from the original games. Combined, it feels a little off and I can not help thinking the classic levels would be better suited to being fully retro.
Another thing that spoils the enjoyment of the classic levels is the lack of an activate button, to open a door or pull a lever you run into it. Having to find the secrets to be able to unlock these levels is equally annoying and I would have preferred to choose to go through them after completing the game.
Doom VFR is rather cheap for a “full” PSVR title and this is a reflection of how short it is. I had completed the game in under 4 hours. Doom VFR has secrets to find and classic levels to unlock but there is not enough variety possible to make playing through the game a 2nd time fun. I am certainly not in a rush to collect all the secrets. Doom VFR is not cheap enough for the content. It is a title that you should pick up when it inevitably drops in price, however.
Disclaimer: PC Aficionado was provided with a code for the purpose of this review. All thought and opinions expressed in the review are the writers own and are not influenced by the developer and/or publisher in anyway.
- Fun to play through once.
- Hectic mayhem of the gun play will appeal to many.
- You can find and unlock classic levels.
- Detailed models.
- Fully made for VR.
- Can upgrade weapons.
- Let down by PSVR tracking tech.
- Difficulty is too hard.
- No turning buttons (PSVR)
- Too short.
- No smooth locomotion without a control pad (or Aim controller)
- Bizarre and counterintuitive choice in control schemes.