I’ve never played Skyrim to completion. Heck, I’ve barely played the story mode at all. I’ve started the game a handful of times on various platforms, and each time I just kind of wander into the nether. First it was the PS3 version, then I double-dipped for the Xbox 360 version some time later, and then I eventually parted ways with my cash for the PC edition some five years ago. And I never even completed it. Scum. Absolute scum.
Skyrim VR is, quite obviously, for the PlayStation VR. You’ll need a PSVR headset wrapped around your noggin to play, and you’ll need at least a DualShock 4 controller, though there’s the option to play using the PS Move wands, too. It’s nice to have options, isn’t it? I suppose that’s Skyrim’s great undoing: too many choices.
I didn’t really know what to expect going into Skyrim VR. I knew I wouldn’t finish the game in time for my self-imposed pre-vacation deadline, but I thought I’d at least make a dent. Some 12 hours of gameplay later and I’m already regretting taking on review duties for Skyrim VR. Why? Because I’ve lost sleep over this game. Precious sleep. I’ve stayed up far too late to play, and I’ve gotten up stupidly early to go for a mooch before heading to my real life work. I’m not saying it’s addictive, but it has a quality to it that keeps me coming back for more. No, actually, the quality of the game itself keeps me coming back.
What we’re looking at with Bethesda’s millionth release of Skyrim is the full fat experience. This isn’t a stripped-down version. This isn’t a shit version. This is the Skyrim you’ve spent hundreds of hours causing mischief in already, and it’s pretty much the exact same game, though there are a few things that have changed, for better and for worse.
For one, the graphics. Any PSVR owner knows that to expect top-notch graphics is to set one’s self up for disappointment. Naturally, then, you shouldn’t go into Skyrim VR expecting the game to look as lush as the PS4 version, or even the PS3 version for that matter. It doesn’t look terrible by any means, but it’s clear where concessions have been made. That being said, the trade in graphical quality is more than worth it when you delve deep into this excellent port.
From the first moment I was presented with that oh-so familiar wagon, I was in awe. It’s one thing to see something on the telly, but to be sat beside my fellow lads on the way to the chopping block was a little surreal. Looking left and right to face whoever was speaking was a natural reaction, and I soon found myself looking up in fear from the chopping block, despite knowing exactly how the scenario was going to play out. The dragon appeared and I was a little scared. Not too scared. I’m still a manly man, but I did find myself aware that my hands were losing grip of the DualShock 4 due to sweat. Ah, controllers. Let’ get onto that.
You’ve got two choices with Skyrim VR. You can either play using a traditional DualShock 4 controller, or you can use the PS Move wands. Either is fine, though I found myself much more comfortable with a DualShock 4 in hand rather than swinging the Moves wildly. The Mrs appreciated it, too, after already having sustained a few VR related injuries.
Thankfully, either way you play you’ve got comfort options. It’s a given that people have different tolerances for VR, and Bethesda has done well to accommodate for as many as possible. You can use the Moves to teleport if you so wish, but you can also use them to move around the massive open world freely. You just hold the left Move button and away you go. The face buttons handle turning in increments (adjustable) and bringing up menus, talking to other characters, and generally interacting with this immense world. Personally, it was all a bit too much for me. I was constantly fiddling with the buttons, pressing the wrong thing and getting annoyed at myself more than anything; the control scheme works really well, but I guess it’s down to personal preferences. My colleague, Jeremy Peterson, is playing exclusively with the Moves and, smugly, he tells me that they’re perfect. Bastard…
Using the Moves allows for a little more freedom. You’re able to swing a sword exactly how you want to. You can use a bow and arrow as you would in real life – minus the inevitable injuries – to slay any fool you deem slayable. You can defend against bullies, brutes, and bastard monsters by drawing up a shield in front your face before unleashing hellfire from your magical hands. It’s incredibly liberating to be able to stand in this world and command yourself as you would in the mundane real one, providing you can wrap your bean around the controls.
The traditional controls work perfectly fine, too, and if you’ve spent any deal of time with Skyrim on consoles, you’ll be instantly familiar with the setup. It just works. What more could you ask for? Haptic feedback when you take an arrow to the knee? Possibly, but I think we’ll have to wait until the next generation for that one.
Skyrim VR is more than I thought was possible. I’ve played most PSVR games that have been released. Some were ports of existing games, others were re-imaginings, and others were just plain shite. Skyrim VR, like Resident Evil 7 before it, shows that there’s definitely room for full-blown AAA games in VR. Yes, sacrifices have to be made to make it possible, but trust me when I say that once you’ve run up a mountain, killed some weird dude who was hanging around at the top, and then flung yourself off it while screaming “I AM THE DRAGONBORN!!!”, all the while standing naked in your front room, everything else just feels kinda lame. Good job, Bethesda. Bloody good job.
Skyrim VR PS4 Review
Skyrim VR is amazing. I'm not the biggest fan of RPGs, and I typically refer to anything to do with elves and orcs as "nerd shit" that's beneath me. Yet Skyrim VR has pulled me in 100% and I'm ready to get back to my virtual second life as soon as I've finished writing this review. Got chicken and rabbit to hunt, yo.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.