Skyrim VR Is Everything I Never Knew That I Needed

When I first heard the news that there was to be another release of The Elder Scrolls Skyrim I was far from overwhelming – what are we at, like 5 releases now?

Skyrim is widely available on most platforms now, and that’s part of the reason I’ve played it so many times. Even though I keep telling myself not to, I somehow find reasons to play through the whole game again.

The recent demo I played started to change my opinion on the whole re-release after the re-release of the game. Having the chance to play this game on the PSVR it made me realize that despite me insisting I’d played the game for the last time, I know I won’t help myself come its release in November.

Firstly let me start off by saying this game controls very differently to the Skyrim you’ll be used to in terms of moving around. VR has a habit of inducing motion sickness when your physical body is not in line with moving with what’s being displayed, confusing you and essentially making you throw up.

In Skyrim VR you move by a sort of teleportation mechanic, using the left and right buttons to turn in a rather jarring and jumpy motion and then use another button to point where you want to teleport. It’s not the easiest control system to get used to and I imagine will provide a lot of frustration when facing off against the faster enemies in Skyrim. That being said, the game will still be playable with a DualShock 4 controller for those who wish.

Despite my disappointment with the control scheme there is a reason for its inclusion – to counter motion sickness. Which I’m pleased to say it does a good job of doing, even if it’s slightly jarring to move and awkward to navigate narrow corridors with sharp turns.

With Skyrim being as fast paced as it is, I can see the controls maybe getting in the way early game, until you learn to master them. On the other hand, this could be seen as a positive and reinvigorate an otherwise tired and overplayed game, but maybe not.

My real enjoyment and the thing that made me realize that I’d end up purchasing this game upon release was the combat. Fighting was always great in Skyrim, I mean come on, there are Dragons. Well, those Dragons just got a hell of a lot bigger. It’s not until you put the VR headset on you realize the scale of these monsters. They’re huge and it really adds to the sense of dread you got when you first played the game.

The atmosphere you feel when trekking and sneaking through familiar scenes or dungeons is amplified hugely. Every creak and echo in a cave are felt and enhanced when you’re truly immersed in the world. Skyrim is a game dear to me and to get inside it in VR was a treat I didn’t think I’d care for until I was there.

I had an encounter with a spider and let me tell you, I really don’t like spiders - both in Skyrim VR and very much the real world. For someone with a slight arachnophobia, this was not a treat I was ready for. Not only are they very fast and highlight the game’s problems with its movement, but they’re super creepy. The way they jump at your face or spit that greenish liquid never bothered me until I played the game in VR.

This is one of Skyrim VRs biggest strengths, it may be old and tired now and yes we’ve all finished the game a hundred times, but the experience is vastly different in VR. It’s far more intense than normal and the stakes feel higher when you have a 4-foot arachnid chewing on your virtual face.

Despite the amount of surprising enjoyment I found for Skyrim VR, I did notice that there were a few technical difficulties still. The frame rate held up well and I didn’t notice any issues here, but there seemed to be an alarming number of bugs in this version. Skyrim by nature has a lot of bugs, but there seemed to be a lot more than usual in this demo. For instance, the most glaring and frequent issue I had was seeing my sword floating in the air. This happened most of the time I was using it and did concern me as to how the finished product would behave.

Skyrim is a game I used to play for hours on end in long drawn out sessions, but with the VR version, I can’t imagine me playing this for more than 30 minutes at a time. At times moving around and navigating the world felt tedious and overly complicated. I can imagine the patience of some players wearing thin pretty quickly for this reason.

Overall I enjoyed my short time spent in Skyrim once again and I think that price will be a huge factor in whether this game sells well or not come November. If you already own a VR set and the game is cheap enough, it’s surely worth a punt to experience a familiar world in a new and exciting way.

My biggest disappointment is by far the control system and unfortunately, that won’t change come November. I understand the reasons for this particular design choice, but I’m struggling to see how I’m going to navigate a tight and winding dungeon whilst being chased by a bunch of enemies. I’m sure I’ll figure that out come November.

Constantly threatening to write a book, but always with a story to tell. Tom has a typical northern English soul. He may sound as mundane as Jon Snow, but at least he tries to articulate. Lover of video games, comics, geek pop culture and wishing he could play Dungeons & Dragons.
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