QuakeCon 2016 is full of amazing games and demos, but Doom VR has wowed me in a similar fashion to the game's 2016 release.
Doom VR is a playable demo at QuakeCon 2016 that is not a mere port of this year's smash hit game. id Software built this demo from the ground up with the HTC Vive Virtual Reality Head Mounted Display in mind. The result is an outstanding proof of concept that showcases just how great a shooter can be in virtual reality.
One of my favorite aspects of the HTC Vive are the controllers. Doom VR addresses locomotion in virtual reality by using a teleport function that is tied to the left trigger. This is similar to Valve's The Lab and countless other VR titles. When the player holds on the trigger, the game environment slows down into a bullet time effect, teleporting the player when the trigger is let go. This lends to really fun gameplay that lets you plan your next steps as the demonic onslaught begins.
The demo begins in a white laboratory setting with 3 tables featuring various holograms. Players can manipulate the holograms to look at them from various angles. This room is really meant to teach players the new gameplay mechanics in VR. After a few more moments I heard that iconic sentence, "Demonic presence at unsafe levels. Lockdown in effect." It was time to slay some demons.
The first combat environment is a hallway with 3 dead ends. Some imps appear and it is time to get to business. Players can move around the demo space, but teleportation became my go to method of locomotion as things began to escalate. More enemies start coming at you from all directions. Firing your weapon is as simple as pointing and shooting with the right controller and players can easily switch weapons by pressing the right touchpad. It felt amazing to finally wield the plasma rifle as I lit up the first few waves of damned souls. Two mancubuses appeared on either side of me and I started having to hustle.
Within a few minutes of playing this game I was no look teleporting behind myself and left and right like a boss. The gameplay transitions with remarkable fluidity between the slowed down bullet time and traditional breakneck speed. The demo faded to black before I could kill the second mancubus.
The second combat environment was a return to hell. I have never been so delighted to go to hell and it was especially great to be there in virtual reality. Once again, imps appeared but they brought some Berserker friends this time. It was intense having to dodge their bull rushes and fireballs, but I was able to do it for Shacknews with my newfound teleportation skills. After killing nearly every demon in sight, the demo faded to black one last time.
The final environment begins with the player surrounded by enemies. A voice advises you to "stay still" and a BFG round clears out everyone surrounding you. Coast was clear, or so I thought. A boss dropped down on the ceiling with four legs and a hunger for Doomguy flesh. I did my best to fight him off, shooting rockets, plasma rounds, and anything else I had. I was out of time and out of luck as the boss made his way close to me and the demo faded to black.
The Doom VR demo was one of the most exhilarating experiences in virtual reality I have ever had. I immediately asked the person running my demo when I could buy it. The future of VR shooters is not ports of games that already exist, but instead they will be re-imaginings of franchises built from the ground up with a different locomotion paradigm. id Software is off to an amazing start and I look forward to seeing a full fledge VR title from them in the future.