The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR review for PSVR

Platform: PlayStation VR
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

As someone who has only recently become familiar with the fantastic world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I was intrigued by a VR version but, at the same time was skeptical. I couldn’t imagine a world this vast being done in VR, let alone being a complete version of the game. It just seemed like an impossible dream. Thankfully, aside from some very minor details, I can safely say that Skyrim VR for the PlayStation VR is everything I dreamed of and more.

For the two of you out there who never played Skyrim, the game’s main story revolves around the player character and their quest to defeat Alduin the World-Eater, a dragon who is prophesied to destroy the world. The game is set two hundred years after the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and sports the largest world in any Elder Scrolls game. Over the course of the game, the player completes quests and develops the character by improving skills. The game continues the open world tradition of its predecessors by allowing the player to travel anywhere in the game world at any time, and to ignore or postpone the main storyline indefinitely. It really sucks you in from the moment you begin playing and once you start, you’ll find it hard to stop.

This is the recently released HD enhanced version of Skyrim that was released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC a short while back, that contained updated graphics and extras not seen in the original release. The visuals have been watered down a slight bit, most likely due VR processing, but it still looks amazing. This entire game is presented in Virtual Reality and all of the action unfolds through your eyes. Making a game like this in VR is an experience that is pleasing to all of your senses, as you live and fight, and try to survive in a completely interactive world.

Most games like this that claim to be in VR have an annoying trait where free movement is restricted by a teleport system. Basically you move an arrow to where you want to go and instantly blink there. Games like Arizona Sunshine, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Sports Bar VR and the upcoming Doom VFR all use this method, and in my personal opinion it’s terrible. While this method is present in Skyrim VR, you don’t have to use it, and you are allowed to play the game as it was intended, with 100% completely free movement. This simple addition makes playing this game an absolute joy. More VR games NEED this method of movement, even if it’s only offered as an option.

You have a few control options to fit your personal style. You can use the standard DualShock 4 or can completely immerse yourself in the world with 2 Move controllers. With Move controllers, you can now attack multiple targets simultaneously using spells. Each hand has 360 degree full range of motion, and can operate independently of the other hand. The skills and map menus are also now a 360 degree experience. Free movement happens when pressing the Move button (the large button on the left Motion controller) and pointing in a direction. To turn, use the right Motion controller X or O buttons. It does take some getting used to, but after a short while you will be a force to be reckoned with. I personally felt more comfortable with the DualShock 4, but I did enjoy both methods of control. Combat is definitely better with Move, but can easily be mastered with either control option.

Audio is fantastic, with the sounds of the living world and the triumphant music completely surrounding you (while wearing headphones). Voices are all done well, and contain all of the cheesy lines you love. Visually, as I said before looks really great, if not slightly watered down from the HD remake. This is where the very few minor issues with this game begin to appear. Sometimes, while wandering around, textures will take a few extra seconds to load meaning you’ll have some random pop-up in front of you. Another issue is the game trying to correct itself when a character or object clips where it doesn’t belong. I had several instances of people walking through closed doors or walls, only to disappear and pop up a few steps away instantly. It’s these little issues that sometimes take you completely out of the VR experience, but really don’t affect the game play at all.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR is a MUST HAVE if you own a PlayStation VR. As much of a fan as I am of everything VR, I can safely say that this is what I have been waiting for. The only other game that even comes close to this form of immersion is Farpoint, but Skyrim blows that away!

I wanted an experience where I felt I was living and interacting in a complete virtual world and Skyrim VR accomplishes this magnificently. Despite it’s very minor issues, I can highly recommend getting this even if you’ve never played an Elder Scrolls game before. Even if you’ve mastered the previous versions, you owe it to yourself to give this version a try. This is one I will be definitely playing for a long time.

Bethesda provided us with a Skyrim VR PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A-