The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR is the role-playing game (RPG) experience that many have been craving for in virtual reality (VR). The videogame has been designed specifically for the purpose of immersing you in a world of high fantasy; allowing you to create a character and then play out his or her story however you see fit. ‘But we’ve done it all before!’ I hear you say. Not like this, you haven’t. Not in VR.
It’s true that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has seen many re-releases across multiple formats in the six years since its debut. In fact, if you follow the PlayStation console bloodline alone, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR would be your fourth opportunity to purchase the videogame at retail. The most recent of these, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Edition, brought the videogame to PlayStation 4 for the first time, but even if you chose to purchase this package late last year you still haven’t truly experienced The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at its fullest immersive quality.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is played in first-person by default to give the player the feeling that they are the character within the world, opposed to entering the ill-fitting shoes of a prefabricated avatar. Aside from the opening moments of the videogame you are free to choose your own backstory, your own allegiances and even your own moral code. The world has rules, of course, and breaking them can be met with severe penalties, but that in itself is part of the wholly engrossing design of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
In VR, it’s no longer a case of looking through your characters eyes via a window. You’re not removed from this unique personality you have created by way of a glass screen and living room table. Instead, you are standing in his or her shoes. You are making the decisions not for the character’s betterment, but for your own. VR can put you into a world unlike any other medium, and in the case of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, it’s a gorgeous high fantasy world brimming with opportunity to explore, assist, or cause havoc.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR is more than just another in a long line of re-releases. This is taking the franchise into a brand new medium for the first time; more comparable to a film adaptation of a book than a simple new port of a console videogame. The fact that Bethesda Softworks is delivering the newest edition of a well worn videogame at full price can be taken two ways: that it’s a publisher trying hard to milk their franchise, or that it’s recouping investment in a nascent but exciting new medium.
For owners of the PlayStation VR that have truly experienced what the medium can offer, the second point of view is likely to define their holiday season.