Doom 3: VR Edition review for PlayStation VR

Platform: PlayStation VR
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: id Software, Panic Button, Archiact
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Doom 3 has been around for the better part of 17 years. It has been released on PC and multiple home consoles, and there’s even versions of it for cell phones. The one medium this mighty classic has never been on (but teased for years) is virtual reality. Well, thanks to the PlayStation 4 and it’s PlayStation VR system, Doom 3: VR Edition has finally come, and while I love this version of Doom, I’m not totally in love with the VR version.

First off, if you’ve never played Doom 3, this is basically a re-telling of the original Doom story. Set in the year 2145, the UAC, a military-industrial company has set up a scientific research facility experimenting with things such as teleportation, biological research, and advanced weapons design. The teleportation experiments open a gateway to actual Hell, resulting in a catastrophic invasion of the Mars base by all sorts of deadly demons. The player controls a space marine who fights through the base to stop the demons attacking Mars and reaching Earth. Once you gain control of the unnamed marine, it’s up to you to find weapons, and survive countless attacks from blood thirsty monsters, possessed humans and other nastiness. The ultimate goal is to kill everything that moves and push the demons back to hell with a variety of weapons scattered around the installation.

Nothing has changed from its original release. This is basically the Doom 3 we’ve all played plus expansions “Resurrection of Evil” and “The Lost Episode” just with VR effects added. Nothing has been reprogrammed or remastered, not even the animations have been changed. In some ways it works, because Doom 3 had a ton of atmosphere that is perfect for VR. On the other hand certain things from the original do not translate well. One thing that is a bit jarring is when the game switches resolutions for its cut scenes. One second, you are surrounded by the fantastic settings looking through the eyes of the unnamed marine, then without warning, you are pulled out of it for the cut scene. The effect isn’t pleasant the first couple of times it happens, and it takes a few plays before you can get used to it. A simple fade filter would of made this more bearable. Also, it’s advisable to turn off the snap look as this can get disorienting quickly.

If you tend to get motion sick from VR game, then this may not be for you as it requires quick movements and reactions. There is a fading effect while moving the camera that can be adjusted based on tolerance. You can also adjust the height of your character on the fly so you can me more immersed in the setting. This can also help a bit with aiming and overall interaction of the environment. So if you are having trouble pressing a keypad, or lining up shots, just make yourself taller or shorter to adjust.

Weapon aiming can also be problematic, but a laser aim assist has been added to make it a bit easier. While it can be played with a standard controller, you can also use the AIM VR controller. While both options are fine, I would have to give the win to the AIM for the shooting accuracy alone. Using the standard DualShock 4 works well enough, but the aiming can get difficult at times. Both control options have limitations and problems with navigation and camera controls, but nothing you can’t get used to with a bit of patience. The standard Move controller is not supported, since the Navigation control does not work on the PS4.

As previously stated, the audio and visuals have not been updated from the original release. At times, the graphics really show their age when compared to something like Doom Eternal, but overall it still holds up better than one would think. Same can be said for the audio, except now there is surround stereo added so you can hear the groans and growls of enemies all around you, which can be spooky and sometimes downright frightening! This is where that fantastic atmosphere of Doom 3 comes into play, and where it excels in VR.

So, is Doom 3 a good VR experience? Well, yes and no. While I have wanted this game in VR in the past, the final product is a little disappointing. Yes the atmosphere is there, and it still retains the great game play you know but, let’s be honest, there are much better ways to play Doom 3 out there, and they don’t require much adjustment. Overall I feel this really isn’t the ideal way to experience this title. That doesn’t mean that Doom 3: VR Edition is a bad game by any means, it just doesn’t mesh well with VR. With that being said, I can still recommend this for your PSVR library. It’s not horrible, but not exactly the best experience you can have.

Note: Bethesda Softworks provided us with a Doom 3: VR Edition PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: C+