Winter 2017 could be a major turning point for the virtual reality (VR), not because of all the deals manufacturers like Oculus, HTC and Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) have rolled out for Black Friday, but because of three videogames all from one studio, Bethesda. The biggest of which has already occurred with the launch of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, exclusive to PlayStation VR. Many would consider the arrival of Fallout 4 VR on HTC Vive the next major launch simply due to the pedigree of the award-winning title, as well as the amount of gameplay time it’ll offer. Yet sandwiched in between the two is a videogame whose name is probably more well-known than both combined, DOOM VFR. Its inclusion may not be the biggest but is surely just as important.
All of Bethesda’s VR titles had a rocky start when they first appeared last year and DOOM VFR was no different, looking like a glorified tech demo that didn’t do the name justice. Thankfully that has changed dramatically over the following months, evolving into a fully-fledged first-person shooter (FPS) that’s going to attract plenty of attention.
There are so many FPS experiences for VR headsets you’d be right in thinking ‘do we really need another one?’ Especially when there’s Skyrim VR or Fallout 4 VR to play. Well a good portion of these are stationary wave shooters, which DOOM VFR is not. Just like its siblings the FPS is a remake – albeit the newest – of its 2016 outing for console and PC, bringing DOOM’s own visceral form of hellish violence to VR then plonking you right in the very middle.
What Bethesda has done right with DOOM VFR is make it multiplatform even if it is single-player. As the studio’s only title to feature on both PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, both console and PC players have the opportunity to enjoy it over the festive period.
And by all accounts very little has been lost from the 2016 version, keeping that high intensity combat whilst making the experience comfortable through locomotion options like teleportation and a system Bethesda calls ‘jet-strafing’ which launches a player left or right without suddenly making them want to puke.
DOOM is legendary within the videogame community. It may not be the very first FPS – that honour goes to Wolfenstein 3D – but it’s the one considered by many as the reason the genre took off when it did, becoming so successful. The videogame has seen plenty of iterations, each one looking to improve on the last – not always with great success – with the last version reigniting that fire for the franchise.
It’s the importance of DOOM VFR coming to VR that cannot be underestimated. Having such an iconic IP come into the VR fold when the industry is so nascent isn’t just a boon for PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, it shows that one of the biggest studios in the world considers VR a worthwhile enterprise. And what better way is there to stamp approval than with a DOOM badge of honour.