Skyrim VR Review
Essential 2022 Insights & Recommendations
Skyrim launched way back in 2011, which now makes me feel incredibly old. Since then, it has been released, re-released, remastered, and evolved into countless reiterations across multiple platforms and across generation after generation of consoles. A much-beloved game that has clearly held high value to consumers over the years. Put simply, they would not keep re-releasing the game if people weren’t buying it. Everyone and their Granny has now played Skyrim over the years and the cross-over into the virtual reality space in more recent times has also brought old and new players back to Skyrim all over again. Skyrim VR was released on PSVR in 2017 and on PCVR in 2018. So how good is Skyrim VR compared to its flat-screen equivalent? More importantly, why does it deserve a review and a revisit in 2022? Let’s get into it!
In The World
Whether you’re playing Skyrim for the first time or you’ve played it before, Skyrim VR is on another level! The first thing you’ll notice is the game world itself. For me, I had sunk many many hours into the PlayStation 3 flat version of the game long before trying it out in virtual reality. It is a weird sensation as getting to play through the old familiar ground in VR manages to feel fresh but familiar all at the same time. It’s like watching an old favorite film in 4K for the first time. You know exactly what you’re about to see but the visuals stagger you. Wandering around Riverwood in VR made me stop in my tracks. Actually getting to walk through this world I’d played in so often felt really amazing. I found myself constantly stopping to soak in the visuals, from rolling landscapes to snowy mountains, I found myself constantly stopping just to look around. A world I’d sank hours into previously suddenly felt fresh and more alive than ever. It’s simply joyous to get to feel so immersed and I imagine newcomers to Skyrim will also feel the same way. The visuals have not really dated for such an old game and it’s a credit to Bethesda that they created this varied, vibrant gaming world for us to explore. Never better realized than when using VR.
The second thing you’ll notice once you’ve picked your jaw back off the floor is the fighting mechanics. No longer bound to using a joypad, you can independently work your hands. Swinging melee weapons and shooting crossbows or throwing fireballs feels absolutely amazing to start with. No longer clicking a button on a controller, you now actively swing your arms which vastly improves Skyrim’s combat. It’s not a new feature or anything as anyone who uses VR knows, hand movement is a basic standard, but it still feels very satisfying to get these mechanics in such an old familiar game. Shooting and melee mechanics has always been a popular draw in many virtual reality titles and it’s great to get to use these here. There are a few improvements that are needed but I’ll get into that shortly. So the visuals, immersion, and hand movements alone add a very fresh coat of paint to this old beauty and should be enough to get gamers engaged but for me, Skyrim VR falls a little short on its own. Let’s find out why?
I’ve covered the good above but that’s kind of where the overhauling stops. Aside from sticking the headset on and letting you swing your arms, Bethesda has not really added any other improvements. The port is lazy. Every other interaction you have in the game is mapped to buttons like the old game. Whether it’s opening doors, pressing switches, or pulling levers we’ve come to expect the ability in VR to physically control these interactions. Not so here, you press a button! Same goes for conversation, inventory management, and menus. Nothing has been re-designed to suit VR and you’ll find yourself getting lost in the many extensive menus which are very off-putting and exhausting. The game is also very buggy. I mean you can’t mention any Bethesda game these days without discussing bugs, but I encountered enough glitches during gameplay to frustrate me. Broken animations, sound cutting out, or clipping issues all hindered my gameplay. Nothing game-breaking but still enough to bring down the quality of my gaming experience. I also mentioned how the combat has been dramatically changed with getting to use your arms but again, this has been done so much better in VR in other games. As a VR user, the floaty hands and weightless weapons aren’t really acceptable anymore. Wiggling your hand fast with any weapon in it will decimate your foes which feels just cheap and nasty. Not a great experience. Add to that the constant jarring knockback/stagger when you’re hit and you’ll soon tire of interactions. Not a good experience the longer you play through. It becomes disappointing after a while.
Why Essential Then?
So you would think that playing a game from 2011 with bugs and the most basic of VR mechanics added would be one to avoid surely? You would be wrong! I insist that Skyrim VR can be one of the greatest VR experiences you can possibly have in 2022. The quality of the game and more importantly the vast possible improvements to gameplay can all be acquired thanks to mods. Skyrim has always had a large and devoted fanbase and the modding community support is some of the best I have ever seen. Every aspect of the game and every possible quality of life improvement that you can think of has already been created within the modding community. Graphics, lighting, realistic weapon physics, 3D audio, haptic feedback, improved combat, overhauled archery, and hand gesture improvements are just a few of the aspects of the game that you can explore improvements through modding. Here is an extensive guide of some of my recommended Syrims mods for 2022.
The sheer amount of mods to explore is absolutely staggering. Ranging from the quality of life improvements to fun skins or created content there is a lot worth experiencing here. Some mods are just fun additions but quite a few of them I would now consider essential for Skyrim VR. With just a handful of my favorites mentioned in our mod guide (Link) the game jumps from an average VR experience to a must-have title. The ability to fight realistically while casting spells makes the combat fun and exciting beyond any previous experience I had. I felt nearly god-like as I threw an axe towards one enemy while shooting an arc of flames towards another. The modder’s love for Skyrim is clearly on show as the level of detail and care they’ve put into making these gaming improvements really help to elevate Skyrim VR into God-tier territory. Not an experience to be missed! Also, the community never stops and mods are constantly being added or updated with provides an almost endless supply of content and improvements adding longevity to this amazing title.
So I’ve covered the feelings you get entering into Skyrim’s world in VR for the first time. I’ve also covered the vast improvements that can be made in VR with modding. But I’ve failed to cover why it’s an essential purchase? The main reason is the game itself. When you strip back the mods and you take away the virtual reality, you are still left with an absolutely amazing gaming experience right down to its core. Skyrim has been going strong since 2011 for good reason. It’s difficult not to fall in love with this game once you’ve played it and it remains the greatest game of all time to a lot of die-hard fans out there. The vast open world is brimming with life and packed with interesting characters, powerful collectibles, and amazing side quests. The RPG elements of gaining experience and leveling up make each playthrough different and getting to choose your race can drastically alter each run through. That only scratches the surface too. The sense of player choice is unmatched in any other game. The amazing characters you’ll meet throughout your journey coupled with the different dialog options make Skyrim feel like a living breathing world ripe for exploration. To say Skyrim is a special game is just selling it short. The amazing and ever-growing community who help fix bugs and constantly produce content to help polish and shine this gem shows how much love there is for Skyrim in the world.
It really deserves to be played in any form but if you’ve never played it before then I can definitely recommend picking it up in VR. Try installing a few essential mods and then let yourself get lost in the world of Skyrim. So what say you DragonBorn? Are you ready to dust off your Bloodskal blade and take down the mighty Vulthuryol? You only have endless hours of a masterpiece in gaming ahead of you … I envy you!
Stick on your headset, pick from the juiciest Skyrim mods in our list and embark on the adventure of your lifetime. You won’t be disappointed!