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‘Doom VFR’ Honors Franchise History Of Trendsetting

Screenshot from Doom VFR

By | December 4, 2017 |

Like its very first incarnation in 1993, Doom VFR is exploring new gameplay controls that may define future standards in the medium. After a successful launch of the Doom reboot last year, fans are able to step into the bloody shooter for the first time in virtual reality, but with a new adventure built from the ground up.

Doom VFR has users battling their way through a demon-infested space station—a concept near and dear to the heart of the 24-year-old franchise. One thing hasn’t changed in the franchise, and that’s its brutality. This game’s title is a piece of marketing on its own. Hint: the “F” doesn’t stand for “fudge-ing.”

SuperData Research predicts digital sales of Doom VFR to reach 500,000 by the end of the year. Over 100,000 digital copies alone were pre-orders. While the game may not have a huge impact on VR adoption this year, it helps “legimitize VR for those who aren’t sure if it’s a viable medium,” SuperData VP of research and strategy Stephanie Llamas told AListDaily.

It’s a big year for the infamous demon-slaying franchise, with a release of last year’s Doom on the Nintendo Switch and Doom VFR for PlayStation VR (PSVR) and HTC Vive. It seems rather fitting that Doom takes its place in the VR future of video games, considering the fact that it shaped so much of what the industry is today.

Dawn of Doom

Doom developer id Software may not have invented the first-person shooter, but Wolfenstein gave birth to a genre that took—and continues to take—the world by storm. When Doom was released in 1993, it improved on Wolfenstein‘s use of graphics and level design. The use of realistic 3D graphics was so new that many referred to it as VR.

“Back then, VR was trying to happen,” Doom designer John Romero wrote on Twitter. “[Wolfenstein 3D] was also called virtual reality when it came out.”

Id Software’s run-and-gun demon shooter became an obsession for computer users everywhere. As other developers tried to capture the same enthusiasm from consumers, “Doom clones” became what we now recognize as first-person shooters—the same way that Playerunkown’s Battlegrounds has inspired a surge of battle royale titles.

Doom was groundbreaking in helping define the first-person shooter (FPS) genre, as well as opening the door to more aesthetic freedom in games,” said Llamas. “Not only does its legacy persist in the camera perspectives, movements and mechanics of today’s FPS games, it made it OK for players and developers alike to enjoy gore and violence in video games. Its influence remains so far-reaching that last year, after being on the market less than seven months, it earned over $130M in digital revenue across console and PC.”

In Doom VFR, 13 classic levels can be unlocked—with the new gameplay controls—for old time’s sake.

Summoning Doom VFR

“When you make a game like Doom, you spend so much time playing it, and I know a lot of fans have spent a lot of time playing it,” Doom game director Marty Stratton explained at Bethesda’s 2017 E3 event, BE3. “To be able to step into the world is the most exciting part VR.”

In Doom, constant movement is the key to survival—but dashing about in VR may result in spraying more player vomit than demon blood. The solution comes baked into the premise of Doom VFR—as Doctor Peters, a recently deceased scientist, players are able to transfer their consciousness into an artificial brain matrix. Players can now strategically teleport wherever they need to go.

Unlike the unnamed protagonist of the franchise—lovingly referred to by fans as “Doom Marine,” “Doom Slayer” or “Doomguy”—in Doom VFR, Doctor Peters can hack computers, pick locks and transfer his consciousness to the body of a cybernetic soldier.

Players can still run and gun, but also take advantage of the interactive elements that VR has to offer. Teleportation allows swift movement without inducing motion sickness.

“We’re really architecting the gameplay to take advantage of VR,” said chief technology officer Robert Duffy at BE3. “It’s every bit as fast. It’s just a different type of movement.”

Bethesda, which also publishes Skyrim VR and Fallout 4 VR, has slowly built the hype for its virtual roster of franchise favorites beginning with E3. In addition to Doom VFR‘s announcement, fans were treated to a Doom-themed section of Bethesdaland—a theme park set up outside the LA Convention Center.

At QuakeCon in August, fans could don a headset and try Doom VFR for themselves. Since then, PlayStation Underground and Bethesda have hosted livestreams to show viewers the game while offering giveaways and behind the scenes information.

Marketing for Doom VFR has been rather light compared to its 2016 predecessor, as most campaigns have focused on Doom‘s release for Nintendo Switch. PlayStation, however, is betting on the game’s success so much that it has unveiled a new PSVR bundle and “Feel Them All” spot that includes the game.