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Preview: DOOM VFR – More than Just a Tech Demo, DOOM VFR is a Huge Leap Forward

Memories of E3 2016’s so-so tech demo are washed away by E3 2017’s hugely impressive new experience.

Bethesda Softworks’ press conference early this week seemed to disappoint many. Most to the titles revealed for console and PC formats have been deemed predictable sequels or updates, with little innovation on show. For virtual reality (VR) aficionados however, it was one of the most exciting showcases of this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

Both Fallout 4 VR and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR have proven to be popular amongst VRFocus’ audience, and now it’s the turn of DOOM VFR to be blown wide-open through the team’s hands-on preview. You may recall that year’s technical demonstration of the DOOM VR prototype was fairly bland, but now DOOM VFR stands as an original piece of content specifically designed for VR, and it’s wonderful.

DOOM VFR screenshotEssentially a sequel to 2016’s DOOM reboot, DOOM VFR is just as gloriously bloodthirsty as its predecessor. A huge variety of guns, enemies, locations, exploration and everything that made DOOM one of the best videogames of last year is present and correct in DOOM VFR. But how does such fast and aggressive gameplay work in VR? Well, brilliantly. Yes, even the strafing.

Simulation sickness has been a great concern in VR for many years, and while first-person shooters (FPS) seem ideal on paper, in practice it’s been much more difficult to create a comfortable experience. DOOM VFR is a huge leap forward for that. DOOM VFR uses the HTC Vive’s left circle pad for basic movement, which is snap-movement based and allows the player to tap for small steps in increments. Teleportation is also available, and on stunned enemies can be used to move into them for instant kills (though sadly, the glory kill animations haven’t made their way into DOOM VFR). What about that strafing? Well, Bethesda Softworks has coined the term ‘jet-strafe’, which essentially means the player can launch themselves left-or-right very quickly. This, shockingly, is a perfectly comfortable experience.

More time will need to be spent with DOOM VFR to drill-down on the ins-and-outs, hows-and-whys of this mechanic and exactly why it doesn’t induce simulation sickness, as in previous years of VR experience it most certainly should. However, VRFocus was using combination of snap-moving, jet-strafing and teleportation to eviscerate over a dozen enemies in a single scene without encountering any issue whatsoever. The experience was simply thrilling, without concern of a bad feeling when removing the head-mounted display (HMD).

Traditional videogames coming in 2017 from Bethesda Softworks may be without innovation, but in VR there’s a AAA publisher coming to rule the roost. Next to Ubisoft, Bethesda Softworks are arguably doing the most aggressive innovation in VR coming from any of the big publishers, and DOOM VFR stands as one of the most impressive VR videogames coming in 2017. Could DOOM VFR replace Epic Games’ Robo Recall as the best FPS in VR?

Right now, that’s looking like a pretty safe bet.

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