The rumours surrounding an Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) reveal of a virtual reality (VR) edition of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim were proven true, and the reaction has been phenomenal. Though it appears that this new edition, simply known as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, is currently confirmed for release only on PlayStation VR, the demonstration version of the videogame was highly impressive.
The experience began outside Bleak Falls Barrow, with a small number of bandits reason for an easy takedown as the player gets used to the control system. Using two PlayStation Move controllers, an ability can be assigned to each hand using the ‘favourites’ menu on the left controller’s Circle button. The menus will appear familiar to anyone who has previously played any version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, though scrolling through them is controlled by the Square and Cross buttons.
With fire and ice spells, a sword and bow available, players of the demo are able to mix-up their combo attacks. You’re able to grab items but not add them to your inventory, meaning the axe that was dropped by the first fallen enemy could be juggled but not equipped; a strange design edition but presumably one made to allow for the volume of players flowing through an event such as E3.
Once entering the dungeon things become much more interesting. The movement is limited to teleportation only, activated by press the Move button on the left controller, but the very precise head tracking allows the player to duck and dodge incoming attacks, lean around corners to view the dangers that lie ahead, and position themselves for stealthy ranged attacks with the bow. This all comes in handy in interior locations, especially when you’re vastly out numbered.
The visual quality of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR is, surprisingly, very close to that of the PlayStation 4’s recently released The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition. Though the demonstration was brief (a lot more time with the videogame would be needed to evaluate the minutiae of the visual differences) effects such as mist and reflection were all present and correct. The detail on magic attacks, such as ice bolts, did seem to have been significantly lessened, however.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim itself isn’t exactly criticised for its level of immersion, with many gamers across the globe having invested hundreds of hours into the videogame. However, on PlayStation VR it enters entirely new territory. It’s rare that a VR experience at a huge event such as E3 can separate you from the outside world, but The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR achieved this with ease. Any misgivings about the potential of adapting such a huge world to VR – including that of the dreaded simulation sickness – have been washed away with even just a few minutes of gameplay.
Set for release later this year, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR is currently only confirmed for release on PlayStation VR. In that respect, the PlayStation 4 has yet another reason to become new adopters’ choice of VR host platform, as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR looks set to stand tall as one of the medium’s ‘must buy’ titles.