DOOM VFR is a very handsome game with PlayStation VR, a statement we’re noticing ourselves make more often as virtual reality titles mature. Bethesda’s also gone out of its way to support all three of Sony’s PSVR controllers: the DualShock 4, the PlayStation Move, and the (underused but outstanding) PlayStation VR Aim Controller. Unfortunately, none of them feel quite right.
For those who don’t know, this is a new game set within the world of id Software’s excellent 2016 reboot. It really does look stunning with PlayStation VR, but for once it’s not the scale that stands out, but the sheer clarity of everything. Enemies move incredibly convincingly, and despite being quite confined, the world feels like a very real, futuristic place.
Games are really starting to look very good with Sony’s virtual reality hardware, then, proving that developers are beginning to grasp what the hardware can do – especially on the more powerful PS4 Pro. One thing that they’re still struggling with, however, is controls – and the few hours we’ve played of DOOM VFR so far prove that there’s a lot of work left to do.
The problem is that, while the game features admirable support for all the PS4’s peripherals, none of them feel like the game’s been designed with them in mind. Take the PSVR Aim Controller, for example, which we love using given the opportunity; the game’s oversized guns are supposed to be held in one hand, but Sony’s plastic firearm requires two hands, so you end up with a grenade randomly floating around in your peripheral vision.
Switch to the PlayStation Move and everything suddenly makes sense: you have a grenade in your left hand and a gun in your right. But now, without the analogue sticks, you lose the option to rotate either incrementally or smoothly – and you’re forced to teleport unless you dash. The DualShock 4 gives you better control, but you aim using head tracking, so it feels like your guns are protruding out of your neck. It’s just not quite right.
The real issue is that you can see the trap Bethesda’s fallen into: it’s designed the game first and then forced the controllers to fit, when it should have considered the controllers first and built the game around them instead. You’re left with a lovely looking release that gives you a ton of options, but none of them suit the title like they should.
It’s interesting because the developer’s clearly thought about how DOOM’s frenetic pace would fare best in virtual reality; teleportation is used as a navigation method here, but it’s also a key game mechanic, allowing you to finish off stunned enemies by warping into their bodies. It’s a cool system that maintains the notorious speed of the series without making you chunder.
But the controls, the controls, the controls. We unlocked half of the Trophies in just over an hour of play, so we’re going to assume this isn’t going to be the longest of spin-offs. But considering how much Bethesda’s charging for it that seems fine. We just wished it controlled better, because as things are, we don’t feel truly comfortable with any of the trio of options available.
We’ll have a DOOM VFR review in the coming days. In the meantime, let us know how you’ll be playing the game with PSVR in the comments section below.