REVIEW – Skyrim. After six years of marketing, I do not have the memory of having once heard a negative criticism of this game already become cult. It must be said that the game is a clever cocktail of all that is needed to please knights, magic, heroism, dragons, a Scandinavian atmosphere, an open world and a life almost infinite for the most passionate. The rumor of VR compatibility last June had the effect of a small bomb within our community of virtual reality enthusiasts. Could Skyrim VR be this long-awaited “must-have VR”? Maybe…
Wearing a title in virtual reality that includes dozens of hours of minimum play is a real challenge, but it is the entirety of the original game and its three extensions (Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn) that are available in this version VR. You will be able to discover (or rediscover) the whole universe of the kingdom of Bordeciel going from Markarth to Falaise through the chateau of Blancherive.
Faithful to the original
A little return on the scenario for those who do not already know it: in Skyrim, you play as an anonymous prisoner who will find himself in the heart of a civil war well in spite of himself and who will discover a unique innate talent: he is the Dragon child. His nature allows him to speak naturally the language of the dragons and he can absorb the soul of these. Talents that will allow him to face Alduin, the most dangerous dragons.
An epic synopsis that’s always enjoyable to replay and offers virtual reality one of the longest and most exciting immersive adventures ever made. We still talk about several hundred hours of play for those who will be eager to fulfill the secondary objectives! So we are miles away from the classic lifetimes that can be observed in games in virtual reality.
What’s still the same
Rather successful when released in 2011, the game is now far enough from the graphics standards of the moment. With textures in low and medium resolution and models that start to miss crunchy polygons, the game blows hot and cold in virtual reality. Not to mention the resolution of the PSVR and the technical limitations of the PS4 (and I am talking about the Pro model) that offer us a continual aliasing that stings the eyes and an impressive blur in the backgrounds (well, even at 10 meters from the player that).
However, now that we have talked about the things that get angry let’s talk about the general experience that will make your eyes full despite what has just been said. Because yes, discover for the first time on a real scale, this is the slap that we could expect to receive! Some decor elements such as a water mill or sawmill, which may seem anecdotal on a normal screen, take on an incredible dimension in Skyrim VR. The high ceilings of some structures make you turn your head (raise your head in the throne room of Blancherive for example). The bestiary and more particularly the dragons are imposing. Moreover, what about natural elements! The mountains in the background are truly huge and very believable. The waterfalls in the distance are sumptuous, and these are just simple examples of what awaits you in Skyrim VR.
The pilgrimage to the temple of Haut-Hrothgar, on the highest mountain of Bordeciel, is truly vertigo. I took so much gambling that I came to give myself a little meditation session in the Hrothgar tower, dominating the world of Skyrim. A magical experience and we say that it is high time that virtual reality goes to the higher definition so that we do more than one with our virtual worlds (without taking a slurry of pixels in the backgrounds).
The immersion of the game is greatly enhanced by a perfectly spatialized sound. The immersion is greatly enhanced, although it is sometimes necessary to approach a character so that it remains audible (but a little like in fact actually!). The music is very well made and stick perfectly to the universe.
Gameplay: no doubt, it’s a port!
The game is currently only released on PSVR, and we can really regret it because, with a gameplay very limited to 180 °, PS Move offers a very frustrating experience especially during the phases of combat (as well as the body to body at a distance). If the tracking of PS Move remains correct as long as we remain facing the camera, it quickly picks up when we turn what happens regularly in the action of a fight. Moreover, if bow play (which I particularly like) is pretty well done, it becomes unplayable when surrounded by enemies. What a pity!
For trips to PS Move, the gameplay is pretty well thought out with two modes available. The first choice is a teleportation mode for those most sensitive to nausea (like me), which makes it easier to move quickly. Note, however, that too many consecutive teleports play on stamina which will limit the scope of the teleportation, just like the weight of the inventory. The other mode of displacement that emulates a directional stick is more classic and fluid, but it can be more difficult to support. Both modes are associated with a system of rotation notched on the pressure of the keys Cross or Square of the right controller, obligatory to use because of the playability 180 °.
(PS) Move your body!
Whatever the mode of movement, it is the movement “fluid” that will be retained when you are riding on horseback. Displacements are accompanied by a reduction of FOV during movements too fast to reduce motion sickness which is rather effective since I did not feel any discomfort after sessions of several consecutive hours. Everything is configurable in the menus which are very appreciable.
The fights at PS Move are quite limited, especially with the sword or the mass. The weight is not represented at all, and it is, therefore, possible to make multiple fast movements with a swordfish for example (which greatly facilitates some close encounters). The “hit box” is also too wide with these weapons with one or two hands and the animations transcribed during the duel are therefore inadequate with the blows. It does not really hurt the experience, but it breaks the immersion. This is fortunately much more realistic for spells and ranged combat.
In the absence of a directional cross, the “sliding” floating menus disrupt the first few hours of play, but eventually, one gets used to it in the long run and thinks that it would have been difficult to think otherwise unless one revisits all the interfaces. Note also that the skill tree and the map are quite dizzying in virtual reality.
Those who do not appreciate all these issues related to the limitations of PS Move will obviously be able to rely on a classic controller between the two hands and find a gameplay all that is more conventional.
Even if it is only a port, discovering or rediscovering the universe of Skyrim in virtual reality is truly enjoyable. Everything is not perfect, far from it. PSVR and PS4 greatly limit the experience on the technical aspects, and PS Move proves once again that they are VR controllers from another time (just like the game that still dates from 2011). However, what a joy to browse the real scale of Skyrim. What a delight to be faced with real size dragons, a bow in your hands. What a pleasure to sit on the edge of a cliff at thousands of meters of altitude and to contemplate the distance while admiring flakes of snow falling around you.
Fus Ro Dah! To live the epic adventures of the Dragon Child in total immersion is your foot! Skyrim VR is the promise of incredible immersive adventures in the years to come when all of today’s technical limitations have been swept away, and we will be able to discover worlds of incredible richness miles away from experience on a screen classic.
+ A grandiose RPG that takes on a whole new dimension
+ An epic adventure over dozens of hours
+ A successful port
– Technically outdated
– A gameplay too limited to PS Move
– Interfaces not always practical
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Release date: November 17, 2017