During the pre-show press hour at PAX West, I knew that I had to take the opportunity to try a game at one of the major booths while I had the chance. After all, once the rest of the public was let in, lines and wait times were going to go through the roof.
After wandering the expo floor and looking at a few displays, I wound up in front of the Bethesda booth. Alongside a walk-through display promoting Dishonored 2, there was a set of six curtained-off rooms labeled “Bethesda VR.”
As there was only one other person queued, I decided to spend my time checking out what this booth had to offer. Turns out, said offering was a VR demo of either Fallout 4 or the recently-released Doom. Figuring the latter would be more impressive in VR, I opted to kill some demons and hellspawn.
There were a few initial technical difficulties in getting the game running, but once those were smoothed out, I put on the HTC Vive headset and found myself in an introductory lab room. In here, I could explore and manipulate various character models, moving around the room using a teleport system mapped to the left-hand controller trigger.
After a few minutes here, I was moved to a metallic corridor, where I got my first taste of combat. Aiming and firing the guns in VR space was easy and intuitive, but for some reason, I had a hard time throwing grenades. These were activated by pressing the left controller touch pad and then making a throwing motion, but much of the time, my grenades would just drop down in front of me.
Using the teleport system to move around the map and strafe enemies felt easy to do, but the next map made that more difficult. After a few minutes in the corridor, the next battle map was a rocky canyon. The third dimension comes into play here, as there’s a number of high-up rock outcroppings you can jump up and down to.
The teleport system became more finicky here, refusing to move me if I pointed just a few inches off from a landable area. Luckily, the game enters a slow motion mode when you activate teleportation, giving you time to find a place you can land.
The final phase of the demo was a boss fight against a giant spider-like demon. The fight took place in a basic flat room, but teleporting around the boss dodging attacks while chucking grenades at its face was quite fun.
Also, accidentally teleporting right into the face off the boss was a bit terrifying.
Despite not having played the newest Doom game yet, I left the Bethesda booth feeling satisfied after running through the VR version. Despite some minor difficulties here and there, it was a solid demo that could work well as a solid game.