The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR Review (PC)

Where to start with this review as Bethesda are seemingly heading the charge with re-releasing popular games of yore onto the VR platform. DOOM, Fallout 4 and now Skyrim. The only want here is why aren’t more developers/publishers doing the same? But we digress. After the success of Fallout 4 VR is the journey into Skyrim a worthy venture considering the lukewarm response to the Playstation VR version last year? Well, one thing is for sure with the PC crowd and that is the ability to mod games. Modding is where Skyrim VR on PC comes into its own. For those with a disposition against long pieces of text. The TL;DR brigade, to cut the story short, Skyrim VR on PC is pretty awesome and a must-have experience for anyone owning an Oculus Rift or Vive, even WMR headsets. Now read on to hear why.

Simply put, there is nothing like this for VR gamers. Sure we have had many contenders offering decent bite-sized VR experiences, but nothing that has been so fully fledged as what Skyrim VR offers. Based on the Skyrim Special Edition alongside some add-ons it’s still an old game at heart. Sony and its PSVR audience has done well with their Resident Evil 7 exclusivity, which to this day still stands and so it was about time PC audiences got something as equally AAA. Skyrim VR is that experience because once you enter the fantasy realms up close and personal it truly highlights what VR can do to traditional 2D games when converted right. Seeing as the game’s story is so familiar, becoming the dragonborn again has lost some of its oomph, but then again gives rise to a new appreciation for the little things that creep in and make the excursion all the more worthwhile. The game’s opening introduces us to the dragons of the story and in VR highlights their impressive scale. However, speaking to others, running away from the madness and grabbing swords and shields (or bow and arrow) takes on a new guise. Admittedly some of the interactions could be better handled as they come across quite flat. You can’t really fully interact with people or the environments for example, but that is easily forgiven considering messing around in such a manner will only hold interest for a few moments anyway. The real meat of the VR experience comes from being a part of the game’s story and living each moment whether that is basking in the flickering flames of a tavern, delving through the confines of a dungeon filled with traps and bandits, or braving the wilderness at night with companion Lydia in tow and the glistening stars for company. In VR you can really appreciate the lore and land much better when you are the lead character and everything is there to be marveled at.

Bethesda has done a great conversion here despite some oddities with swinging swords or blocking attacks and having no haptic feedback for example. Magic is on another level as is drawing a bow and arrow making for more involving play. The reality is, player experimentation to find out what suits and here you can really run wild with what sort of character class you want to be. The other niggle are the controls (we are using Oculus Touch here, but a gamepad is also supported) for the menus which are quite fiddly at first and don’t translate very well. However, after some perseverance you can get to grips with them as they become second nature (kind of). There is an element of fiddling about but this can be fixed somewhat with mods – some of which can assign voice commands to perform actions which would normally require a bit of menu diving. Thankfully, there are quite a few movement options available as well, so teleportation addicts can jump about to their heart’s content whilst those looking for free movement and smooth or snap turning are catered for as well.

In terms of visuals Skyrim VR looks pretty great even the vanilla version. Sure, the clarity won’t match a desktop monitor at 1080p even with current headsets but with a bit of supersampling applied and tinkering with the options the game can look sharp. As usual, distant objects lose some clarity but generally the game holds up well to fully immerse the player. Due to its age, it’s also quite well optimized which means lower systems should have a stutter free experience. That said, the mods of the community can turn Skyrim VR into something else entirely and it’s here where you can really add some improved visual elements to provide genuine wow moments for seasoned VR vets. Although we’re running top end hardware, with some 50 odd mods installed our game still runs buttery smooth and looks grand to boot. The audio can’t be faulted either, however it has to be said that being forced to use headphones alongside cutting off all other visual senses really gives a greater appreciation of the voice work, ambient sound effects and music.

Skyrim VR is perhaps one of the few games that you can literally sink many hours in one play session. Despite the obvious discomfort of wearing a Rift or Vive for long periods, there is enough content on offer to keep players hooked and coming back for more. This can’t be stressed enough and in the case of Oculus Rift users, be sure to stock up on batteries for the Touch controllers as they might start getting more prolonged use than usual. Side quests, main story, add-ons and mods means there’s hours upon hours playtime and the fact that it’s VR makes it all the more meaningful if you wish to experiment with different personas, difficulty settings or character builds.

We can’t gush anymore about Skyrim VR, it really is top quality content for VR and has to be seen to be believed. Anyone who has a VR headset and PC needs to try the game at least and hopefully fall in love with what’s on offer like we have. It’s an old story retold in a new visual format and simply put works incredibly well despite some niggles here and there. Enough said.

Score 9/10

Written by: Robert Cram

Robert Cram has hundreds of video game reviews and thousands of articles under his belt. He aims to remain objective and fair in his analysis. With years of experience, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement is entirely optional.