Certainly, the VR Edition answers the call for more “content” in VR. The core of the experience is intact; it’s a full port of the 2004 original with both expansions included. Doom 3 offers a very different kind of hell to the 2016 reboot (and, by extension, the 2017 VR spin-off, Doom VFR). It’s still a fleet-footed shooter compared to other games but it’s a darker, moodier effort for Doom, with pitch-black corridors in which possessed soldiers and fleshy spiders patiently plan attacks from behind corners and hidden panels.
And it’s true that the haunting atmosphere, slower pacing and tighter corridors are better suited to VR than Doom 2016’s arena-based superheroic-action. Certain encounters really benefit from the added squeamishness – mostly when melee-based enemies try and rush you or the many, many times a monster leaps out from the shadows.
Now nearly 20 years old, Doom 3 is far from a scary game and it’s visuals have never looked older than in VR, but there’s a hint of heightened panic when a half-headed corpse takes a swing at you or a wall collapses to reveal a demon breathing down your neck. Holding some of the game’s weapons with the Aim controller is rightly empowering, and lighting up the darkness with the weapon-mounted flashlight carries an unmistakable Aliens-vibe.
But, even with the comparison to the most recent games in the series considered, Doom 3 is a game built around the speedy movement and the zippy turning afforded by a PC and mouse setup – two factors that don’t complement VR design. Even on flat screens this is a dizzying game; you quickly come to learn that, if you can hear an enemy, there’s a good chance it’s spawned right behind you.
Diminishing returns of this repeated trick aside, the constant spinning and back-pedalling away from approaching demons doesn’t feel great inside a headset. It doesn’t help that turning around relies on your controller’s analog sticks and not your physical movements.
Going beyond the initial comfort concerns (suffice to say this is a very intense experience with little in the way of options), the game’s pacing and controls are at odds with VR’s core strengths. It’s the antithesis of a game like Farpoint, something that very knowingly laid its action out in front of the player and even made sure enemies crawled back into view should they go off-camera. Flawed as it was, even Doom VFR’s remixed content and body-bursting telefragging (essentially a bloody means of teleporting) was further along for VR development in 2017.
Doom 3, on the other hand, goes against many of the core tenants of engaging VR design in this regard and proves that what works well on a flatscreen doesn’t always translate to well to VR. There’s nothing uniquely ‘physical’ about its combat – no need for stopping behind cover and leaning out to take pot shots as the game’s designed around dodging attacks with fast-paced moment. Don’t worry about lining up the sights on your Aim controller, as effortlessly firing from the hip more than gets the job done. Just turn your brain off, hold the stick forward to sprint towards enemies, point the gun in their general direction and pull the trigger. Rinse and repeat.
Doom 3: VR Edition Review – Comfort
Doom 3 is an incredible intense experience in terms of VR comfort. The game is smooth locomotion only and moves quicker than many other shooters out there, with enemies constantly approaching from behind. You can adjust the increments of the optional snap turning and add a vignette when moving, but even as someone that hardly ever gets sick in VR, this wiped me out after a while. Playing seated will give you the best chance of avoiding nausea.