Room-deep in the dead: DOOM VFR out today

doom-vfr

Lest 2017 didn’t already feel like the year in which everything happened all the time constantly, also joining the fray is Bethesda’s three-pronged attempt to adapt their biggest games into virtual reality. Skyrim VR is PS4 exclusive for now, Fallout VR arrives on Steam in a fortnight, and DOOM VFR – well, that’s today. Prepare for Cacovision.

As it happens, I tried DOOM VFR – yeah, you know full what that F stands for, chummer – a few months back, though I slightly hid my thoughts about it within a broader chat with Bethesda about why they’re jumping aboard the… somewhat rickety VR bandwagon now. So, to recap: it looks the part, you can’t argue with craning your neck to take in the immense sight of a life-size Hellknight, and the bodies hit the floor at approximately the rate you would want them to.

Edit: I’ve been informed that DOOM VFR has in fact had a full movement option added since last I played it. Excellent news for those with strong constitutions!

But it’s also one of those VR games that uses teleportation-based movement, as full analogue movement in a game this intense would entail an extremely short ride to chundertown. I don’t blame ’em one bit, and they’ve done some stuff to tone down its mechanical nature – a double-tap to insta-move in the direction you’re facing, and a thematic conceit in which you play as the disembodied consciousness of a scientist, who can hope from mech-body to mech-body to reach new places and explain away death.

But, the teleport thing (where you use your motion controller to point at a spot on the ground, then click to move there, as opposed to walking) wound up feeling more artificial than does being rooted to the spot and unleashing a storm of bullets in Serious Sam VR or Robo Recall. Important proviso: I only played it for about twenty minutes, and so there’s a real chance that I simply grow more comfortable with and rapid at the full thing. (Also, as per the above edit, analogue movement is an option in the release build after all).

Alls I’m sayin’, like, is that you shouldn’t buy DOOM VFR expecting the same hyper-kinetic death-frenzy that Doom 2016 did so well, but if you want to shoot some really, really big 3D demons in a virtual hellscape, I’m pretty confident it ticks that box.

It’s out at 7pm ET/11pm UK time today, costs £20/$30, does not require any other version of Doom but is both Steam and Vive exclusive (what with Bethesda and Oculus not being the best of friends).

26 Comments

  1. Hideous says:

    “But it’s also one of those VR games that uses teleportation-based movement, as full analogue movement in a game this intense would entail an extremely short ride to chundertown.”

    Well yes, for most of us (me included) that would be extremely uncomfortable. For the remaining superhumans, Doom VFR does have locomotion options! You don’t have to use teleporting if you don’t want to – there’s full on slidey-style movement in there as well.

    • Snowy007 says:

      Yes! Thank you for that info.
      Was probably going to buy it anyway, but having full motion is so much more immersive than teleportation. And leaves a hand free for an extra gun! :)
      If the game supports dual wielding that is…

      • Vandelay says:

        If it is like the Serious Sam VR remakes (not the shooting gallery referred to in the article) then dual wielding plus movement is unlikely to be viable.

        SS does have dual wielding, but as your movement in the free locomotion mode is dictated by the way you are pointing the controller, you can’t really shoot at anything with both guns and move. You can move forward and shoot with both, but strafing wouldn’t work that well. (Maybe I just haven’t figured out how to do this comfortably though.)

        Still it is a great movement system that personally doesn’t cause me any issues (I was playing SS for well over an hour and was fine. Towards the end of the session I did have frame rate issues which did make me feel ill, but definitely was fine running, strafing, jumping and swimming before that.) The only downside is needing to use the haptic pad if you are on a Vive. An analogue stick would be much more reliable, as I have had moments where I have had to make a couple of attempts to move in the direction I want. This is probably what makes dual wielding not work very well, as you really can’t rely on swiping your finger to change direction, you really have to move the whole controller.

        Full locomotion in this makes me tempted again. I saw some footage of another online site (Polygon?) and it was really stilted with the teleport. Looked far slower than I would want from a Doom game.

        On the motion sickness thing, I would really like to see some stats on how common it actually is. Most VR naysayers talk as if it is the majority that suffer from it, but I wonder if a number of the reports of it are really just from playing with poor frame rate or games that are badly put together (I had a terrible time with the Albino Lullaby). If it is as big an issue as some think, then the software and future generations of hardware need to sort it, as forcing games to require a teleporting mode isn’t really the solution.

        • grimdanfango says:

          It’s not really an issue of what percentage of people suffer badly from motion sickness. That seems to be the single perpetual argument in favour of free locomotion in VR that everyone puts forward – “most people can get used to it”.

          Most people could get used to being poked in the ribs repeatedly while playing a game… that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily beneficial to the experience.
          Controller-driven free locomotion is completely dissonant from what your body’s senses expect, and makes absolutely no physical sense – that much really can’t be disputed, it’s plain fact, even if you can numb your senses to it with enough practice… the *only* reason for its inclusion in any VR game is because it’s the simplest way to shoehorn existing game design paradigms into VR… and all you sacrifice is all other good reasons not to do it.
          That single reason is pure personal taste – fine if that’s what you personally want… but there’s really no way to argue it’s an objectively good thing for VR.

          The desire of most devs to find new ways of moving in VR isn’t solely because free locomotion causes motion sickness. It’s mostly because a lot of them genuinely want to innovate and find new ways to do things in VR, instead of just stubbornly trying to force old designs into a form they doesn’t really fit.

          Teleportation isn’t really much better… it is a little better, as it’s at least trying to define a new design language rather than wrench an old one into a new shape… but the best VR games, the ones that will be remembered, will invariably be the ones that use neither approach.

          Take a look at Lone Echo for a great example. Very little disonnance (except for needing to re-orient occasionally using the controller stick), no immersion-breaking teleports, and no sense of nausea, all in a classically nausea-inducing setting of zero-G space-floating. Not perfect, but certainly a big step towards design brilliance!

          • Vandelay says:

            I agree to an extent. Yes, there is dissonance when you are controlling someone in a traditional way and creating new methods of movement for a new medium is obviously necessary. Heck, teleportation can work wonderfully in games like Budget Cuts where it is built naturally into the game mechanics or even something like Sairento, where the teleportation is your character leaping about isn’t too bad. But with a game in which you are a man running around a place shooting things, teleportation is clearly far less ideal than free movement, especially when that game is meant to be fast paced.

            Until something better comes along, free locomotion really is the superior method to control your character in a game like Serious Sam and, presumably, Doom VFR. Maybe someone will come up with an alternative method, short of renting out a warehouse, but for the time being unless we are talking about 20%+* of people who are susceptible to VR motion sickness, then I would rather relevant games were built under the expectation that they are being played with free locomotion.

            *And I’m not saying it isn’t that high or higher. A quick Google search shows this – link to sciencenews.org

            That indicates that around 25-40% are effected by it and also suggested that as many as 78% of women suffer. Unfortunately though, the sample size used was only 72 students.

            Although this comes from a recent study, most studies on the topic apparently are quite old (if we believe Wikipedia). Seems that more work needs to be done on studying it and I’m surprised there weren’t more before the release of headsets. I saw an interesting YouTube video recently about the Sega VR headset which was due to be released in the early 90s. Apparently it was quietly abandoned mere months from release due to a study they conducted on motion sickness.

        • starvenger says:

          RE your comments on serious sam, there are options for changing which way the game thinks forward is. I know for absolute fact that there are hands like you describe, and head, which I use. I find having the game base directionality based on where I’m looking to be more usable than based on where my hands are. This makes it easier to circle strafe and shoot at multiple targets on the move IMO.

          In regards to your comments about the trackpad on the vive controllers. they have a tenancy to basically fail to register presses at the 3 / 9 positions. I already went through a controller due to this, and serious sam is where the problem became super obvious. Due to that I noticed you can set serious sam up to not require presses to move. This makes it more likely that you brush the trackpad and accidentally move a bit, but overall I found it to be the lesser of two evils.

          So for me, I used the left pad to move, touch only, no clicks, and the right pad to turn, not that I used it that often, because I can turn with my feet, but sometimes frankly I get lazy. Then I set it so forward is the way I’m looking, not the way my hands are pointing.

          I grabbed a rift over black friday, and I put 20 hours into it so far, and I have not yet played serious sam, but I have played 5 hours of arizona sunshine on the rift, and I can confirm, the analog sticks on the touch controllers are just so much better to use than those bloody trackpads in my experience.

          Anyhoo, just wanted to finish by saying if you ever want to really sit down and mess with locomotion options just to see how they all feel, serious sam is a great place to start. They have so many options for locomotion.

    • Sakkura says:

      Sliding in itself can be tolerated by more people than you’d think, especially after people have become used to VR. There’s still a substantial minority that can’t use it though, so providing a choice of locomotion options is great (as long as each of them is properly balanced etc).

      Smooth turning in addition to sliding is another matter, that gets even more people. I personally have no issue with sliding, but smooth turning can give me a bad feeling. Depends on the game though, some games are just more comfortable than others even when there’s no immediately obvious reason.

      • LegendaryTeeth says:

        You know a lot of people used to get motion sick from playing a normal FPS. People still do, especially if they don’t play games normally.

        I suspect there is a lot of “getting used to it” that can/will happen.

  2. Kefren says:

    Weirdly, I never felt rooted to the spot in Robo Recall (apart from when I first started playing) – I generally teleported out of the way of some attacks, or teleported behind and next to enemies to grab them. It was just nice that you _could_ stay in one spot (e.g. knocking bullets out of the way with a weapon, or catching them).

  3. Sakkura says:

    Wait, what? Their Twitter says it’s out on Friday.

  4. Stedios says:

    Sliding!! whats that? can I run like Serious Sam, and it’s best to turn with your body, more immersive, as long as you can strafe that is?

  5. Glip says:

    A story about VR on RPS.

    Make snarky remark about how VR is an inevitable failure: Check

    Can’t be bothered to do even the most rudimentary fact checking about the product in question and publish wrong information about it which makes it sound bad (locomotion options): Check.

    Very professional.

    • Hans says:

      This is about when Walker appears and says ITS CALLED SUBJECTIVITY BRO!

    • Herring says:

      You’ve just got to take it with a pinch of salt. I put drops in to facilitate easier eye-rolls before each VR article :D

      Notably the fact that 1 million VR headsets were sold in Q3 and between 2 and 10 million sold in FY 2016 went under the radar too ;)

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Saying “somewhat rickety” is not snarky or the same as saying “inevitable failure” though?

  6. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Booooo Vive exclusive. Booooooo. They could have just made it openVR and more than doubled their potential market. BOOOOO.

    But I’m sure there will be a mod out inside of a month that’ll let me play with my goggles.

    Still boo though.

    • DoomBroom says:

      It’s going to be interesting if I can play this with my Windows Mixed Reality headset and Rift user’s can’t.

      Also if Doom doesn’t work with Rift than Fallout 4 will probably not work as well.

      Or maybe they will both run but have Vive wands instead of touch controllers.

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        Yeah, they’re both Vive only so far.

        But Bethesda has said they want to ‘support as many VR headsets as possible’. Though… with the lawsuit I dunno if Bethsoft’s owners consider the Rift “possible”.

        Again I expect there will be workarounds. But it’s still stupid.

    • Sakkura says:

      It is using OpenVR/SteamVR. It wouldn’t run on the Vive otherwise.

      But it seems they custom coded some kind of artificial block for Oculus users. Bastards. First time in many years I’ve been tempted to become a scourge of the high seas.

      • Clavus says:

        Valve released a SteamVR Beta update that fixes the launch crash with the Rift on Doom VFR. Seems it was just a Vive feature without a fallback that caused it, not Bethesda intentionally blocking the Rift.

  7. Somerled says:

    yeah, you know full what that F stands for, chummer

    Yup … Flight

  8. goodpoints says:

    Very Financially Regrettable?

  9. Pizzzahut says:

    Where’s the Doom SP DLC already? They’ve basically got a license to print money with this title.

  10. Spacewalk says:

    I can’t wait for the new Virtual Fonzie Reality. Do headsets recognise finger snaps yet?

  11. KayAU says:

    I glanced at this on Steam and thought it was a VR version of Doom. Only when I saw the screenshot did I realize it was for Doom 2016.

  12. Herring says:

    14.99 on Amazon, or 12.99 if you’re a Prime member.

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