Doom VFR

July 18, 2018

It all got better after I got to hell.

First-person shooters where high on my wishlist for VR gaming since before I even tried a headset. I wanted nothing too strange: just tried and true controls with the added immersion of a VR headset. It seemed like such an obvious move. But I was confused whenever I read about VR shooters, even if they did place you in first person they seemed intent to try and offer anything but classic FPS controls. Sure, aiming guns with your hands is natural and pretty darn cool, but being unable to move, dodge or explore easily? That seemed rather lame.

I was excited to read about Doom coming to VR, but a bit hesitant because all the talk was about Move controllers and teleporting about. Doom to me feels a lot about frantic strafing and rushing backward while firing rockets at the minions of hell. I did find mentions of the possibility to steer using a Dual shock controller, but nobody seemed too excited about it. Neither were the developers, apparently, as they placed focus squarely on teleportation movement. You teleport from place to place, aim and fire as usual and have some quick dodges and turns available with button presses. Very much in line with the other control options (the weaponlike Aim controller and the Move controllers), but it felt meaninglessly restrictive to me. I know how I want my FPS to control.

And they were there. Buried (compared to the other options) deep (again, by comparison) down among the control options was a switch for free movement.

The chains broke, clattering to the floor of the cave. The demon rose slowly, shaking itself, the flames rising within its eyes.

Bring it on

Reviewers have a point: it is a little strange to have the guns attached to your viewport, but it never bothered me when actually playing. This was Doom the way it was meant to control, and when all hell breaks loose it is fantastic. Enemies never felt this towering, this solid, and blasting them to pieces never felt so satisfying.

The one downside is that hell took too long to really break loose. Many early levels combined long-ish (for a relatively short game) periods of exploration and very light puzzling with short bursts of super-satisfying action. Everything looked, felt and played just right, I just wanted more of the action.

Fortunately the last third (or quarter? Just guessing) of the game made that right. Once I stepped through the portal to hell the rest of the game was one long joyride of sliced and diced demons. Enormous ones, legions of small ones, in corridors and open spaces, climbing, jumping, running and flying at me. I shot them, I punched them, I blew them up and I telefragged them. All was right with the world.

And suddenly it was over.

I am still trying to decide if the game ended much too early or exactly at the right time. I would definitely like an even longer experience, but not if it was the same thing diluted with a lot of filler (more corridors, say).

Four stars

Went to hell. Destination was worth it.