Review – Doom VFR

My love for the 2016 version of Doom is already old news if you know me even a little bit. It’s still my favorite game not only from that year, but from this entire generation as a whole. Not only that, but Bethesda did the lovely favor of porting that pretty demanding game to the Switch, and it still managed to be a pretty good port. In their quasi-Skyrim mentality of porting their games to every single device in existence, they have also managed to bring Doom to virtual reality devices. Doom VFR is not perfect, it’s no better than the console, PC and Switch versions, but, well, it’s Doom in virtual reality. It’s still lots of fun.

DOOM VFR_20180426231754

Hello, kaboom

First things first, this isn’t an actual port of Doom to VR devices. It’s actually a new story, with a new character, set in (very) slightly rearranged versions of the original game’s maps. You don’t play as Doomguy either, which is a sad aspect of this game. Your main character is some random UAC employee this time around, a character who actually talks, someone not even a tenth as cool as Doomguy. This scientist has an actual objective this time around, and isn’t here only for the sake of blasting the (literal) hell out of every demon in sight.

Just like in every other iteration of 2016’s Doom, the best aspect of this game is still the soundtrack. Oh how joyful. Mick Gordon’s death metal masterpiece is still as engaging as ever. The fact the PSVR encourages you to wear headphones while playing it makes the soundtrack stand out even more. I have probably lost a little bit of my hearing skills after playing Doom VFR, but I did so while having a huge smile on my face at least.

DOOM VFR_20180426232433

VR Doomdoll!

You’re not here to read about how good the soundtrack is, though, you’re most likely here to know if the game plays well and if it’s still fun. Well, it does play pretty well, depending on which type of controller you use.

Naturally, when it comes to VR shooters, you think the Move controller is the best one. Weirdly enough, that’s not the case in Doom VFR. The Move controls are very clunky in this game, and that mostly revolves around a couple of factors: the moving being limited to either a teleporting function or the four face buttons of the left Move stick (which is quite confusing) making turning around a nuisance. Doom VFR isn’t a shooting gallery, it’s a game set in the same levels as Doom from 2016. The Move controllers don’t have anything that help you turn around with ease, so all “camera” movement can only be done with either your head or one single button that lets you do a 180 degree spin.

DOOM VFR_20180426233853

Aiming with the PS Move is a bit more complicated than it should

The solution here is to use the Dualshock controller instead. Surely, it removes a bit of the immersion provided by actual motion controls, but it actually lets you play the game properly. The right analog stick allows you to move the camera and the d-pad allows you to do small dashes in order to walk around with ease. You can still aim with your head, allowing for a bit of immersion. It may sound like a bummer, but you can have a lot of fun with this control scheme, allowing for a very fast-paced experience, not as fast as the original console versions, but surely a lot faster than the Switch port.

The game doesn’t feature online multiplayer or the fan-favorite Arcade mode, but it does feature the classic Doom maps from the 90s for you to explore, in something I can only describe as the most amazing nostalgia bomb I’ve ever had with a VR device. Being able to look around the first level of the original Doom with that classic soundtrack being blasted into your ears is just… beautiful.

DOOM VFR_20180427114456

Retro VR!

Despite being the somewhat weakest version of Doom I’ve played so far, Doom VFR is still lots of fun. Insane amounts of fun. Being able to blast through the hordes of hell in a virtual reality environment is incredibly enjoyable, even though the best control method is the least immersive one. Despite feeling like a tech demo at times, the game did set up what can possibly be a vastly superior sequel, should Bethesda ever bother to release one. Please do.

Graphics: 8.0

A very impressive recreation of the world of Doom in a virtual reality headset. The texture quality has been reduced a bit but the framerate is still rock solid.

Gameplay: 6.0

Weirdly enough, playing the game with a normal controller is a lot better and more responsive than with the Move controllers, which don’t respond very well.

Sound: 10

I’ll say it again: Mick Gordon’s masterful metal soundtrack is still one of the best ever put into a videogame.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The campaign might be shorter, the Move controls are disappointing, but it’s Doom in virtual reality. It’s still as fun and intense as other versions of this game.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Reviewed on PS4.
Also available on: PC