TRANSCRIPT:

Is that hyperbole? Absolutely. But it’s not without truth at its core — after all, DOOM 3 VR had the potential to not only be a great game – which it is, when played with an AIM controller – but also to send out a clear message that classic First Person Shooters can have new life if brought to VR.

Really, it’s a no-brainer – they’re already in first-person, so conversion isn’t absurdly complicated the way it was with Resident Evil 4, and paired with the right control scheme, they’re all just as playable now as they were when originally released. The biggest obstacle for most games is finding a way to make menus and maps work naturally.

Of course, all of this is predicated on getting that control scheme right – modern VR control schemes have a distressing lack of buttons. The PSVR move controllers lack thumbsticks which makes moving around the game world a chore, while the Vive, Index, and Oculus controllers do have thumbsticks, but also a dearth of buttons. So long as the player merely has to shoot enemies things are fine, but add in inventory management, movement modes, and environmental interaction, and the controllers prove inadequate.

Here’s my attempt to play Doom 3 VR with a Dual Shock 5. As you can see, for some reason the gun hovers in the air approximately where the camera is placed, and although it’s kind of funny to watch imps charge at me before getting unexpectedly shot in the back of the head, this is obviously unworkable.

Now let’s see the Dual Shock 4 – the aiming is at least functional here, but it’s awkward as hell. Tilting a controller to target enemies is counterintuitive and slow, and especially rough when trying to deal with fast-moving enemies. So, unless the player has access to an aim controller which allows for free movement, easy menu and environmental interaction, and accurate aiming, the game is a complete waste of time.

The tragedy here is that the problem of how to play a VR first person shooter with a console controller has already been solved years ago. I give you Resident Evil 7, also on the PSVR.

It’s playable both flat and in VR with the exact same control scheme – the only difference is that the right thumbstick only turns Ethan’s body left and right, it doesn’t cover looking up and down. Everything else is the same except for the aiming, which the VR mode handles by (and I know this sounds crazy!) letting the player look at the thing they want to shoot. That’s it.

If they’re not pressing the aim button they fire wildly in the direction of the thing they’re looking at, if they press the aim button, an aimpoint appears on the screen and they fire at that. The system works perfectly, and it makes Resident Evil 7 a pleasure to play in VR – it has all of the depth of the main game, but the shooting is infinitely better because looking is, obviously, much easier than fiddling around with a thumbstick.

This control scheme could be tacked onto any already-existing FPS, transforming nearly any game into a fantastic experience – I’ve played a bunch of Doom 3VR and stalking around the Mars base is magnificent in VR. If only it wasn’t locked away for anyone who doesn’t have an AIM controller!

Also, the game doesn’t have subtitles. This is inexplicably hostile to the hearing impaired, and the developers should really do better. Here is a couple of seconds of a 90-second sequence of me standing in front of a screen, having no idea what a guy is saying, because I didn’t have headphones on. Could I have just put headphones on? Yeah, but there’s plenty of people who don’t have that option, and this should have been taken care of.

So this is my request to people who own the classic FPSs – I’m talking about your Urban Chaos: Riot Response and literally nothing else. I mean, I’m sure there’s Halo and whatnot, but who cares – Urban Chaos: Riot Response – the best console-only first-person shooter ever made!

Please look into this! It doesn’t matter if they’re low-poly worlds. Doom 3 doesn’t look as good as a modern game, but just being in that world in VR, as long as all of the art is internally consistent, is an incredible experience. It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be all-encompassing, and the VR sells it all on its own. So, get us more retro FPSs in VR, and just let us look to aim. You’d be surprised how many people will be knocking down your door to doors to play these ancient games — and, of course, the real one that everyone wants… Can we get No One Lives Forever in VR?

That would be fantastic.

Daniel Weissenberger
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