Skyrim is a game that like it’s predecessors is known for its fantastic open-world, quests and is remembered as an overall fantastic game. Originally, Skyrim was released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC with visuals that when compared to Oblivion seemed so realistic. Players put in a lot of hours playing as the Dragonborn to bring an end to all of Skyrim’s voes by fighting Dragons and ending a Civil War that had caused so much bloodshed. Five years after the release of the original game, they announced that Skyrim would be releasing for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and PC with updated visuals and all the DLC and would be known as Skyrim Special Edition. People now got another excuse to play as the Dovahkiin. This move had a lot of mixed reception as people were really expecting a new Elder Scrolls game. A few months later, they announced a version for the Nintendo Switch. This led to a lot of memes being created, regarding the fact that Skyrim would soon run on your calculator or toaster. The only platform left was VR, which was a platform that had people excited to try and experience and they finally announced it during E3 2017.
Skyrim is finally on VR and right of the bat, it is a sight to behold. Sure, I’ve been through the same areas and heard the same dialogue multiple times by now but never have I ever experienced it in such a way. The first time I played Skyrim, I was in awe. I never had that feeling return, until I tried Skyrim VR. The spiders in the cave were genuinely scary, woolly mammoths and giants were gigantic, and the dragons? The dragons really put into perspective the greatness of the Dovahkiin. When you normally play the game, you can see that they’re bigger than you but it doesn’t really phase you after the first time or two. To say that I was unphased whenever I saw Dragons in Skyrim is a lie. I was scared, scared for my life. The roar of the dragon, the terror in the voices of people and finally seeing the Dragon drop down and wreak havoc right in front of me was an experience I thought I’d never get. After all these years, after all the modding, I was finally in Skyrim, experiencing it like I lived there. That was, until I had to actually explore and move around.
Instant immersion breaker. You’re so engrossed and experiencing everything and enjoying the whole experience until you need to move, which is clunky and feels restrictive. There’s two ways to do this, either by short hops by teleporting or by free movement. I really recommend the free movement scheme if you don’t feel absolutely nauseated because of the movement. The two handed fighting system can also be frustrating since using your off-hand to block an attack and running back use the same controller. This can lead to either you getting hit by an enemy or getting stuck while trying to dodge an attack.
And while you begin experiencing the clunkiness of the combat system you will begin to notice the drop in visual quality. The Special Edition struggles to maintain a constant 30 fps on the PlayStation 4 and for VR to work without making you feel sick, it needs to run at a smooth 90fps. To achieve that target framerate of 90, a lot of sacrifices had to be made in the visuals department. This includes a drastic degradation in the lighting and shadows, blurry and low quality textures, a short draw distance and lot of pop-ins. Not to mention how bad the character models and animation can be at times that just makes you remember the game for what it was.
While Nostalgia did play a huge part in me loving this game, after playing it for sometime the true experience of the game came back with the bad character models and animations coupled that were now coupled with a clunky combat system and bad visuals. Not to say that this is a bad experience overall, it is quite fun but I would say that it is not really the best way to play Skyrim unless you play on the lowest difficulty and don’t mind the visual drawbacks. If you have a PSVR and already have tried a few games and want to try out another game that you can actually play to completion, Skyrim VR is a good option. Buying a PSVR solely for Skyrim VR however, would not be a very wise decision.