Shortly after its announcement, Bethesda has released Doom 3 – VR Edition for the PlayStation VR headset. We couldn’t wait to try it – here’s what we thought.
Even though it was released all the way back in 2017 (it’s easy to forget that PlayStation VR had been around that long already), Doom VFR remains one of our favorite VR experiences for Sony’s headset. Loosely based on the 2016 reboot of the franchise, it featured beautiful visuals for Sony’s relatively underpowered headset. It also features support for one of the best (yet underused) controllers: the AIM controller.
Doom 3 had already been unofficially ported to PC-based VR platforms, but the PlayStation release is the first official launch sanctioned by Bethesda – though the development was outsourced to Archiact. They’re an experienced VR studio and their port of Doom 3 for VR is a competent one.
Out of the entire Doom franchise, Doom 3 is a great pick for a VR conversion. It relies on frantic, fast-flowing combat far less than the first two WAD-based games or the two most recent ones, instead opting for a mode story-driven, horror-like approach. And even though some of the jump scares feel a little cheap, it’s the most tense Doom experience out there and horror is a natural match for the immersion that VR can provide.
I still remember the early demos that were being shown for Doom 3, as well as the subsequent leak, and how much of a deal the jaw-dropping graphics, lighting and animations were. Fast forward to 2021 in VR, and it’s a different story. The low resolution of the PSVR headset doesn’t help, making Doom 3 look a bit dated – even compared to the 2017 Doom VFR release. Not Archiact’s fault, but it’s worth pointing out that this is the original Doom 3 experience with 2004-era visuals where, as a reference, the very first Call of Duty was still a benchmark. A little bit of polish was added to Doom 3 with the use of new textures and shaders, but the end result still shows its age.
Gameplay-wise, especially for those who fondly remember the original, Doom 3 is still a treat, and it works great in VR. Not only do you get the original story campaign, you also get the Resurrection of Evil and Lost Mission expansions that were released after the base game launched – something a lot of people might have missed out on because this was all in a time prior to when Steam became the norm for PC game distribution.
The VR adaptation of Doom 3 also offers a few VR-exclusive benefits. No, there isn’t a whole lot of immersion in terms of touch controls that let you interact with the game world, but you do get a wrist display that acts as what would otherwise be an on-screen HUD for your health and ammo, and of course the game’s creepy hallways and lighting are great for those tense moments where you aim your flashlight around the room or try to peek around a dark corner to see what kind of hell awaits you there.
Sure, it may show its age, but if you had fun with Doom 3 when it originally launched we are absolutely certain you’ll have a blast with its VR adaptation as well. If you have an AIM controller, you’ll definitely want to dust it off and hook it up – this one is brilliant with it. It’s not as technically impressive as Doom VFR, but with its slightly simpler controls Doom 3 is a solid fit for the VR platform.