Reviewed on PlayStation 4, copy supplied by publisher.
If you thought the only thing Skyrim was lacking was blurry visuals and an overwhelming sense of nausea, then you will be so stoked with Skyrim VR. Okay, maybe that sounds bad, but in reality, Skyrim VR is a pretty solid game. Sure, you’ve probably played it a million times already, but the world does benfit from the new perspective, even if it is clumsy in practice.
In my opinion VR is still as rough as a cat’s tongue (trying to not swear in articles this year), but Skyrim VR actually manages to make the medium more immersive than it’s ever been before.
From the moment you jump into the game and sit in that all too familiar cart that takes you through the game’s introduction, it’s hard to not be mesmerised. If you’re like me, you’ll have played Skyrim multiple times, and not much about the game is unfamiliar, but looking around the world in VR for the first time is way more exciting than it should be.
It’s when the cart hits town for the first time that the world starts to lose its sense of wonder. Soldiers move around in what should be the foreground, talking to each other and building the world’s lore. Well that’s how that scripted moment usually plays out. With the PSVR anything more than a few metres infront of you is near impossible to make out. So the seemingly important conversation that sets up the world you inhabit is taking place between two pixelated monsters.
This was the first sign that the game isn’t a masterpiece, the second came shortly after the antagonist dragon, Alduin, attacks the village. At this stage I was playing the game with a controller, and upon having to move in this configuration I was met with the urge to fire my lunch at the TV. That’s where my first adventure in Skyrim VR ended.
Those who have suffered from VR sickness (you can read my previous accounts of VR vomiting) will know that it doesn’t fade fast. So it took me quite some time to pluck up the courage to go back into Skyrim VR. For my second run I used the Move Controllers, which have you teleporting instead of smoothly moving around, and surprisingly this felt better on my motion sickness inflicted brain. Moving still doesn’t feel good, but it’s a means to an ends for exploring the world.
Once I got into the swing of Skyrim VR, it was an exhilarating experience. I’d seen this world so many times before, and never realised its scope in a way that matches seeing it up close. Simple doorways to dungeons are massive and tower above you, frost spiders are TERRIFYING and much larger than I remember in VR, and the horizon goes on and on. Sure, the mountains in the distance look like a painted on set and not dynamic at all, but it’s all still amazing in first-person perspective.
Some of the most fun I’ve had in Skyrim is using the Move Controllers to pull back arrows and launch them at a charging enemy, desperately trying to land the shots. In fact archery in general is brilliant in Skyrim VR. This new way of playing the game rewards ranged combat, as swinging swords close range feels clumsy. My usual warrior play style has been shaken up and switched to a rogue/assassin style – and I love it.
I didn’t finish the story in Skyrim VR, even though I enjoyed my time in this realisation of Skyrim, I still don’t think VR really lends itself to long game sessions, which is what Skyrim asks of you. However, I’m still thrilled with how this game turned out, especially after how poor the demo was, and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who owns a PSVR headset.