Through a combination of parents who didn’t understand game ratings, and my own ingenuity, Doom has been a part of my life since I was a young lad slaying demons in DOOM II on my Apple Macintosh computer before going to bed and having horrific nightmares. Seriously, those games scared me as a kid.
Doom 3 holds a special place in my heart as well, which is why I was floored when I saw that Doom 3: VR Edition was coming to PSVR. As one of the slower, more horror-focused titles in the series, it seems like a great fit for VR. How does it hold up after all these years with a fresh coat of VR and Aim controller support? Let’s find out!
Making the Case For VR, One Shotgun Blast at a Time
To illustrate my experience with Doom 3, I shall take you back to the early 2000s. I was a young lad, and as part of a birthday celebration, my friends and I went to a local LAN center near my house. For $10 an hour, you could rent out high-end gaming PCs and play everything from the original Far Cry, to the hottest horror shooter of the time, Doom 3.
So, picture young me sitting in a LAN center with a gaming headset on, playing Doom 3 for the first time on the most powerful PC I had ever seen up until that point. It was terrifying, exhilarating, and took me back to several years prior playing Doom II on my parent’s computer.
I later rented Doom 3 on the original Xbox from a Blockbuster (remember those?), and finally finished it. I had to rent the expansion: Resurrection of Evil, separately since at the time it was on a different disc.
So yeah, the nostalgia is real for me with Doom 3. I’ve also been an unapologetic lover of VR since the beginning, so this is a winning combination for me. That being said, I’ve played a lot of VR titles, so I’m not going to go easy on this one.
First and foremost, Doom 3: VR Edition support DualShock and Aim controller support. No Move support here, but with this being a traditional FPS, I imagine things would have been too clunky with those controllers on anything but the easiest difficulty, and even then it would have been rough.
Of the two options, I prefer the Aim controller for sure as it lets you feel like you’re holding these classic weapons, but the DualShock support here is no slouch either. You can move the controller around to tilt and aim the guns just as you would with the Aim, so if you’re lacking an Aim controller, the DS4 implementation doesn’t water things down much, or at all.
Controller options aside, Doom 3: VR Edition is a straight port of the classic Doom 3, Resurrection of Evil expansion, and the Lost Mission, all in glorious VR. This fact alone means you’re getting a lot of gameplay for the $20 price point, even if it’s an older title.
I’ll be honest, I played the most recent release of Doom 3 on PS4 prior to the VR release, and while I enjoyed it, the years left me without that thrill or fear I experienced as a kid in that LAN gaming center all those years ago.
Doom 3: VR Edition brought back that feeling for me, and while I have some qualms with the presentation, graphics, and missed opportunities, I cannot understate how fun it is to jump into this classic shooter with virtual reality support.
Speaking purely from a gameplay standpoint, Doom 3 and the aforementioned expansions take place on Mars and tell the story of a demonic invasion and research being done into the history of the red planet itself. Those unfamiliar with the game should know that it’s a little slow in the beginning prior to the moment the proverbial excrement hits the fan, but if you stick with it, the game becomes a claustrophobic trip through steadily more terrifying environments.
It doesn’t help that the cutscenes in the game abruptly switch to a 2D perspective, which has you watching the events on what I would describe as a jumbo screen in VR before the gameplay resumes and you’re back in VR.
The same thing happens when you open your PDA , which you’ll do often if you want to listen to the audio logs you find and watch the video discs you pick up. I would have loved a 3D model of the PDA that you could hold in front of you, but the 2D version works well enough.
Doom 3: VR Edition expands on its lore and story very well through these audio logs. I especially enjoyed the in-universe videos about the technology and research they were doing on the planet. Audio logs often reveal locker codes as well, which allows you to open these stores of ammo and health when you come across them, so this is a great example of a title leveraging the audio logs for more than just story exposition.
While the action stays consistent after the slow opening, Doom 3: VR Edition leverages VR quite well when it comes to atmosphere and audio design. While many of the classic jump scares don’t affect me these days on a flat screen, VR got me a few times in the first couple hours, which is a testament to how much more intense the experience is in this format.
Playing with the DualShock or Aim controller allows you to perform precise aiming with the weapons by moving them in 3D space. Weapons like the Pistol and Machine Gun have a handy laser sight as well. The shotgun doesn’t have one, but it’s hard to miss when you’re up close with that weapon.
In the Resurrection of Evil Expansion, you also get an early weapon called The Grabber that lets you pick up or catch projectiles and throw them. This type of weapon is made for VR and is quite satisfying to use in this format with either control scheme. Trust me, the first time you intercept and return an Imp’s fireball, you’ll understand.
One thing I also appreciated was the option for left or right-handed folks. I am left-handed myself, so being able to orient your hands and gun on either side made things far more comfortable for me. Little touches like your health and armor being displayed on your wrist are also appreciated, but things like the aforementioned 3D PDA or even any kind of VR-centric reloading system are absent.
We’ll discuss the presentation next, but from a gameplay perspective it’s important to note that the controls, comfort options, and sheer volume of gameplay on offer here is more than plenty to justify the $20 price tag, especially for fans of the original Doom 3 release.
A Middling Presentation Doesn’t Ruin The Fun
Having played a lot of VR games, I’ll tell you that Doom 3: VR Edition is neither the worst nor the best looking one I’ve played. Without any kind of PS4 Pro support, it’s clear the resolution isn’t as high as it could be. The jump from the VR gameplay to the 2D cutscenes shows this difference, for example.
Textures across the board range from fine to incredibly muddy, but in motion it’s not something you’ll really notice. Beyond the moments when the game stops to autosave (which isn’t ideal), the frame rate is very solid during combat and navigation.
Small glitches like your hand passing through screens when you try to interact are a known issue and I imagine will be fixed in a patch. Perhaps the most distracting issue from a presentation standpoint are the sizes of people and specifically heads in VR. The first time I walked up to a person I had to do a double-take because their head was far too small for their body.
A scaling issue to be sure, and I hope it’s something they fix in a patch. It’s less noticeable with enemy sizes, but most certainly something that stood out to me. Honestly though, I can overlook most of these things because I really enjoyed having my flashlight on the gun itself instead of attached to my chest like the flat version of the game. Being able to shine the light around the environments really helped with immersion.
At the end of it all, I could go into more detail about the ways this could have been improved or enhanced for VR, but given the $20 price point, I think the team at Archiact did a fine job of bringing over a classic into VR. The controls are great, the action is smooth, and the overall feel of it all brought me back to that LAN gaming center, and that’s really what the magic of VR can do, which makes this an easy recommendation from me.
Final Score: 8.5/10
A copy of Doom 3: VR Edition was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes.
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 4/1/2021