Is Skyrim VR Worth It?

Is Skyrim VR good?
VR in Skyrim. Is it good?

Is Skyrim VR Good or Bad?

Skyrim has been remastered and ported to new consoles too many times. 

However, with the introduction of Virtual Reality into the mix, Bethesda had an opportunity to once again drag us into Tamriel.  Despite the excitement I felt as I donned my headset and stepped into the shoes of the Dragonborn, I was left somewhat disappointed. 

Don’t get me wrong, wandering the hills and vales of Skyrim in virtual reality is amazing, but the base game felt clunky and unfinished.  It falls far from it’s potential, but, luckily Skyrim has a dedicated community of modders to keep this gem alive.  However, that is the topic for a different article.  For now, let’s look at the quality of the base game… or lack thereof.

Campaign Story

Ah the story of Skyrim.  Arguably the most ignored adventure in video game history.  Unfortunately, VR does not change that.  You thought you had trouble focusing on the main questline while you were looking at a flat screen monitor?  Ha!  Just try it when the world around you is alive with all manner of side quests, dungeons, and things that go bump in the night to keep you occupied.  Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, getting side tracked is all part of the Skyrim experience.  To make things even better, the trek between points of interest is considerably less boring when you can look around at the terrain around you with your own two eyes.  It’s surprisingly exhilarating to gallop through the countryside on your noble steed, never knowing where you’ll fight next.

What About The Realism?

Even in virtual reality, arguably the most immersive gaming experience available at this point in time, you never really feel like you’re actually there.  A combination of the flat sound, the cardboard graphics, and the mediocre movement system make this game feel like just that, a game.  Other titles I’ve played in virtual reality, such as The Climb and Resident Evil 7, do a great job of making you feel like you’re in the environment, not playing a game with a headset on.  Skyrim VR does not live up to these standards.  After you’ve finished admiring the scenery, make sure you try the combat as well.  Watch as an enemy rushes towards you, prepare to nobly defend yourself from his mighty blows, and then just wiggle your hand a little bit until his health bar reaches 0.  Despite all these drawbacks, Skyrim VR still somehow manages to be wildly entertaining, an incredible feat in and of itself.

What About The Adventure?

Adventuring has always been half of the fun in Skyrim and it’s made even better in stunning Virtual Reality.  Climbing mountains, riding your horse, and swimming into the depths of rivers and lakes becomes an entirely new adventure.  Finding new places to go is a journey of its own. New caves, new bandit camps, anywhere you want to go, the world is yours to explore.  Mountains and valleys, towns and villages, everything is bigger in Virtual Reality.  The first time I fought a dragon I nearly wet myself.  When you’re in the world, immersed inside, you realize how big everything is, and how small you truly are.

What About The Combat?

I know I touched on the combat before, but it really deserves its own section, so here we are.  Melee combat in Skyrim is in two words, a bad joke.  My dreams of riding into battle, mighty broadsword in hand, cutting down foes left and right, were miserably crushed.  Instead of the heroic and noble swordplay I had envisioned, I found the best way to dispatch of your opponents was to just jiggle your sword around.  Believe me, it looks even more pathetic than it sounds.  When you attempt to re-enact the glorious battles you envisioned in your mind, you are immediately cut down by enemies with far better ability to attack than you.  The combat system’s only saving grace is the magic and archery mechanics.  Nothing feels more badass than shooting lightning out of your fingertips and shocking your foes into Oblivion.  And the bows are just as amazing.  Using one hand to nock and draw back your arrow and the other to aim.  You feel like a real archer, sniping your foes from the shadows, a true master of the night.

What About The World

Skyrim’s massive, open world is perhaps the main thing that set it apart as Game of the Year material.  With such a vast expanse of land to explore, there’s almost no shortage of roads and outposts to discover.  Each village has its own atmosphere and citizens to make it unique and all of this was translated wonderfully into VR space.  Nothing is out of place, nothing is different, nothing except the fact that you’re there in the world of Skyrim.  One of the coolest additions in Skyrim VR, in my lowly opinion, was the revamped world map system.  When you hit map on your menu now, instead of being presented with a simple topographical map of Skyrim, you’re transported into the sky, looking down at all the land.  It gives you motion sickness if you have a weak stomach, but I personally love swooping and soaring through the skies of Skyrim and being able to see each mountain crag and river valley.

What About The Graphics

Absolutely laughable.  If you look closely, you can see each individual polygon.  Actually, you don’t even have to look that hard.  The graphics look like something I might play on my Xbox 360 back in 2011.  Two-dimensional billboard models are used to create the illusion of a piece of grass too far to be worth rendering fully.  The only problem is that Skyrim VR seems to think that 5 feet away is too far away to be worth rendering.  While it is entertaining to see the landmarks you know and love in your own virtual world, it’s disappointing to see the great mountain The Throat of the World rendered as a very large triangle.

What About The Sound Effects?

Stereo sound works fine in headphones while you’re staring at a rectangular display, not so well when you’re immersed inside the world.  It doesn’t feel like Bethesda adjusted the audio at all for the VR port of their blockbuster title.  The sound effects and ambient noise feels flat and lacks depth.  Audio is one of the most important factors in a truly immersive VR experience as it allows you to feel the wind in your face, the arrows whizzing past your head, and each strike you deliver with brutal detail.  The unconvincing sounds this game delivers significantly detracts from the gameplay experience.

Is it Fun?

This game is seriously flawed, half-baked, and disappointing in almost every aspect.  And it is outstandingly fun, an achievement of its own considering the quality of the game.  Despite its drawbacks and faults, this game manages to be one of the most entertaining gaming experiences of my life.  I would strongly recommend getting this game if you have the required hardware to run it.  It takes a game you’ve probably been playing for years and sheds a whole new light on it, making it feel like a brand-new game.  In addition to this, all the flaws I’ve listed in this article can be remedied through mods.  Updates are few and far between, but mods come out every day, making sure the game always has something fresh and new.  Play this game, and you’ll never be able to play Skyrim with a controller ever again.

 

You may also be interested in:

Top 10 Games Like Skyrim (Games Better Than Skyrim in Their Own Way)

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10 Reasons Why VR Gaming Is Facing Slow Adoption from Gamers

You'd be hard pressed to find a shirt not made of flannel in Matt's closet. Even harder to find him not playing the latest RPG until 4:00 in the morning.
Gamer Since: 2002
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Skyrim VR
Top 3 Favorite Games:Batman: Arkham City, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn, Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine
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