We got to play Skyrim VR at EGX 2017 in Birmingham last weekend, but is it a worthy VR port or is it a cheeky cash grab? Let’s discuss.
Let’s not beat around the bush – Skyrim VR is a groundbreaking VR game that signals great things for the future of VR. We featured it in our Top 5 games from EGX 2017 Day 2, but what is it that makes Skyrim VR so special? Creating an immersive open-world game is a giant feat in itself, but putting that in virtual reality brings the game to a whole new level. Skyrim VR is not just any old remake, it feels like a new game. You’re really taken in by the frosty plains of Skyrim, and you think: “I am the Dragonborn”, and you really are living that dream of exploring Tamriel in person.
The one big downside to the demo at EGX was that the light pollution in the room interfered with the VR tracking, so I had to crouch for the VR controllers to sync up properly. However, this shouldn’t be a problem in your living room or wherever you normally use your PSVR, it was just extremely bad lighting conditions at EGX that affected all PSVR games (I experienced the same issue with Superhot VR at EGX, but I’ve heard nothing but praise for the tracking of the game online so this seems to be an isolated incident).
Onto the control scheme! The demo itself was controlled using two Move controllers. Each remote controlled the corresponding hand. I had a fire spell in my left hand which I casted by pulling the left trigger and holding it, and I controlled the sword in my right hand by swinging my right arm. You can’t do stabbing motions to attack enemies it seems, but swinging works fine and feels great. Particularly exciting is the ability to attack an enemy with your sword in one direction, and turn around and cast off a fire spell in the other. Skyrim VR affords 360 degree movement which opens up a lot of new combat options for Skyrim, as you’re not as restricted as you are in non-VR Skyrim.
The Move controllers are easy to use, and you can rotate the direction your facing with buttons on the move controllers, much like in Resident Evil 7. Unfortunately I was also unable to block attacks by raising my sword to stop them. This isn’t entirely unexpected as you could not block while dual wielding in the original game, but it would have added to the immersion if I was able to do this in VR now that we’re working with a 360 degree field of vision.
Your can use your assigned dragon shout by pressing one of the square/triangle/circle/cross buttons on the remote (unfortunately I can’t remember which one). However, given that the PlayStation camera records sound, would it be possible to actually say the words of the dragonshout to cast it? I put this question to the staff at the Skyrim VR booth, and I was told that voice-activated dragonshouts are not currently in the game, but that of course doesn’t rule it out in the future. The staff on the Skyrim VR booth seemed enthusiastic about the idea, but I’m unsure whether they actually worked on Skyrim VR or whether they were Sony/EGX staff helping man the PSVR stand.
The most controversial control in the demo is the infamous teleporter button. There is no way to walk forward normally with the Move controllers as there isn’t an analogue stick, so the middle Move button in the remote is used to teleport. While the teleporting isn’t ideal, when the game launches on November 17 you will also be able to use the Dualshock controller for normal movement. It technically might be possible to assign a walk forward and walk backward control to the Move control buttons, but it’s doubtful that we’ll see this as launch as the team are promoting the teleportation option in the demo. Teleportation or not, it’s an absolute thrill to be wandering through Skyrim.
Content-wise, the demo took place in an early Draugr dungeon, one of the first you come across in the game. Puzzles were automatically solved so you could just get used to movement and combat, so I had a great time cutting down draugr and setting giant spiders on fire. The game isn’t noticeably downgraded for VR, and looks very similar to how Skyrim looked on launch. If you’re a hardcore Skyrim fan and a VR fanatic, then Skyrim VR as a must buy. And if you’ve never played Skyrim before, then there’s never been a better time to get into it, as Skyrim VR comes with the Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn DLC.