The virtual reality (VR) edition of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is set to arrive on PlayStation VR later this year and since its announcement at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Los Angeles, back in June it has become one of the most highly anticipated titles coming to the new medium. Despite essentially being a port of a videogame that’s already available on a multitude of formats in a variety of different editions, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR might actually deserve its position of pride on that list.
Shown publicly for a second time at Gamescom 2017, Cologne, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR offered the same build as its E3 debut. However, as with Fallout 4 VR, getting additional time with a vertical slice of the videogame allowed for a deeper dive into some of the base mechanics and, despite obvious issues, VRFocus once again came away suitably impressed.
The demonstration version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR is extremely limited, but offers just enough gameplay variety to showcase the core mechanics of exploration and combat. You’re not going to be getting married, buy a house and claim your Dragon Scale armour here, but you can face-off against a variety of enemies with a small selection of different weaponry and magic abilities.
Using the PlayStation Move controllers – both The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR’s greatest strength and biggest weakness at present – the player moves via teleportation and snap rotation only. A clunky and imprecise system that doesn’t lend itself well to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR’s vast landscapes and fast-paced combat. DualShock 4 support will also be included in the final release version, though has not yet been available for playtesting outside of Bethesda Softworks’ own teams. Exactly what control methods will be available there are not yet known, however there has been some suggestion to VRFocus that the controller may also be tracked in-game in a limited capacity.
In terms of combat however, the PlayStation Move is of course much more successful. The swinging of a sword or aiming of a bow and arrow with near 1:1 real world accuracy is definitely commendable, though a question must be asked of exactly how many people would entertain the idea of playing a huge 40+ hour videogame in VR with such demands being put on their own physicality. Here, in a 15 minute play demonstration, it’s a wonderful experience; at home during a lengthier session it may not be so accommodating.
Despite the misgivings regarding the control system, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR still looks set to deliver an engrossing VR experience unlike anything that’s been seen before. The massive world and potential for hundreds of hours of gameplay is simply light years ahead of the common VR offerings, and for that one could argue that Bethesda Softworks’ lack of generosity regarding the price point of the videogame might actually be justified. It’s only a few months now until we can find out for ourselves whether buying The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at a premium price for the benefit of a fresh lick of VR paint will be worth it.