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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Doom VFR is a PlayStation VR and HTC Vive virtual reality port of 2016's horror-themed first-person shooter, Doom. The game is filled with images of hellish environment and grotesque demons, as well as a steady stream of blood and gore. Violence is the central component of the game, with players using a variety of futuristic and brutal weapons to kill the enemy creatures in the most graphic way possible. The game also features regular use of strong profanity in the dialogue. The switch to virtual reality causes the controls to have a steep learning curve, and even those familiar with FPS game will need time to retrain themselves to play effectively.
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What's it about?
When the world all around you literally goes to Hell, it can only mean one thing: Doom has finally made its way to virtual reality. DOOM VFR gives players the chance to get up close and personal with all the infernal carnage of 2016's hit first-person shooter. After an experimental research facility on Mars uses its technology to tap into the limitless energy of Hell, it serves as a harsh lesson that some doors really shouldn't ever be opened. Thanks to the machinations of some shady characters, the scientists lose control of the portal to Hell and are quickly overrun by an army of grotesque creatures. You are the only human to survive the demonic invasion … or at least you were until you were killed. Death is only the beginning, though, as your consciousness is somehow transferred into the building's computer system as its last line of defense. Controlling a variety of robotic systems, you're given one mission: Stop the invasion, drive back the demons, and regain control of the facility.
Is it any good?
Virtual reality, when done right, lets gamers get closer than ever to the action and become a real part of some amazingly immersive adventures, but this shooter isn't it. When games miss that mark widely, it creates a frustrating disconnect that can be hard to resolve. Doom VFR falls squarely in the latter category, make no mistake about it. The game looks and sounds great, putting players smack in the middle of a detailed apocalyptic world surrounded by creatures pulled straight from their nightmares. The violence is visceral on a level the needs to be seen to be believed. For fans, this has the potential to be the pinnacle Doom experience. Or at least it does until the minute you start to interact with that experience.
Making the jump to virtual reality meant that certain changes had to be made to the standard first-person shooter gameplay. The biggest change is in movement. Doom VFR ends up making a lot of use of the "teleport" style of movement a lot of VR games currently use. It's a bit awkward in an FPS, but it's manageable. One thing that makes this pill easier to swallow is that it can be used as a weapon of sorts, stunning enemies with a shoulder check on the first hit, then teleporting inside of them and causing a bloody explosion on the second. Movement issues are exacerbated on the PSVR, which has a much smaller range of motion than the HTC Vive due to hardware restrictions. While the developers try to make up for this by offering three different control options (DualShock 4, Move, and Aim controllers are all supported), the harsh truth is that only one, the Aim controller, feels genuinely effective … and it requires players to go out and buy the peripheral if they don't already own one. Even then, it takes a fair amount of tweaking in the control settings before things start to feel comfortable. That's not to say players can't get used to any of the control schemes in time, but it never quite feels natural and therefore takes the player out of the overall immersion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. How much violence is too much for young gamers? How does the graphic portrayal of violence affect kids?
Talk about the benefits and drawbacks to virtual reality. What are some of the ways VR can introduce you to new experiences? What are some of the potential detrimental effects to current VR gaming?
- Platforms: HTC Vive, PlayStation VR
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Bethesda Softworks
- Release date: December 1, 2017
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.