Four years ago, I thought about getting the Oculus Rift developer’s kit.
I said to myself, nah, it may not work with my PC, and it’s too expensive.
Months passed, then years. As 2017 progressed, I still had bought no VR headset for fear of technical requirements and expense.
Then I performed a Steam VR test on my newer PC, and passed. Then I spent a few weeks thinking. I thought about DOOM VFR and Fallout 4 VR. I discovered the Doom 3 BFG Edition VR mod. I realized that life is too short and any day it could end, right?
So I pulled the trigger and bought the HTC Vive.
After a fairly smooth setup and dismay at realizing I can in no way have room-scale VR anytime soon, I had the surprisingly light and comfy monstrosity on my head and was overcome with an awe I hadn’t felt for some time.
It was crossing a Rubicon – I had stepped into the new frontier that for so long I had only heard others talk about. Even with the initial awe worn off some, I am now convicted that VR is a significant part of gaming’s future.
The first experience I had, SteamVR Home, had a room with balcony overlooking scenic mountains, and it was breathtaking. Walking around some, looking up and down, and all around, and picking up and throwing objects with Vive’s two controller wands, was a game-changer. Possibilities rushed to my head; Thief aficionada that I am, I couldn’t help but fantasize about crouching and sneaking through manor houses and crypts, guards and monsters catching sight of me as I cautiously leaned around corners.
But that’s an experience I will only be able to dream about right now.
DOOM VFR, on the other hand, is an experience anyone can get right now. I bought it, making it the first game I purchased within a VR interface, installed it, and began.
It’s not smooth as butter, but it’s a great taste of VR.
First, even if you’re cramped, you can play. When launching, SteamVR warned me that the game required room-scale VR, but I have been able to play with standing-room VR. You move by walking, as much as you have space, but mostly by using the touchpad on the left-hand Vive wand. You also use the Vive’s teleport feature whereby you click down the left touch pad, aim the warp point, and release to be taken to that spot. This is used as VFR’s method for glory kills, too. When a demon is hurt and flashing, warp into them for a classic telefrag. Works every time!
So far I have just used the pistol, shotgun, machine gun, and plasma gun. The guns are moved with the wands and you only see Doom-guy’s hands holding them, no arms (as expected). You can throw grenades with the left wand and left hand. It’s thrilling to aim and shoot the weapon or to throw a grenade and see it have effect in the virtual environment. And even though I thought it wouldn’t bug me, because I know it’s not real and I’m a seasoned gamer, I nonetheless jumped in fear whenever a monster neared me. Clicking the grip buttons on the left wand pushes up-close enemies back.
You get into the action soon with a test run in a stereotypical, plain-looking VR training environment. This comes after you ride an elevator, hear hell break loose, and then see the doors open to a Pinky demon running at you. That was the first moment I cowered in fright. The way VR tricks your mind is a wonder.
I only played around half an hour. I had been messing with the headset and the initial demo for a while and my eyes were getting a little bit tired. Taking off the headset, I had a slight soreness on the top of my head for a moment. It was surprising because I hadn't felt discomfort there while playing. Any physical discomfort is minor and is a boundary only for playing hours at a time. (I can't speak for your case, though.)
For now, know that DOOM VFR is some fun if you want to do stuff like hold and use a shotgun and toss grenades against DOOM's enemies face-to-face. If you don’t own a Vive, or any VR headset, consider the price of entry. If you really want to check out VR, know that it’s worth it, but if you’re the least bit skeptical, think about it. It takes a high-end rig and does cause some physical discomfort. Then you have to choose between the Vive or the Rift, or consider the hefty price of PlayStation VR. Reading up on game experiences for each platform will help. DOOM VFR is available for PSVR but on PC only supports the Vive.
Remember, it took me over four years to finally pull the trigger on a VR headset. Looking out over a balcony at scenic mountains and aiming and firing at imps, I’m glad I finally did.