A reader slowly earns his VR legs on PlayStation 4, as he describes moving from tech demos to the full Skyrim VR experience.
Last weekend the fantastic offer for PlayStation VR (the headset, camera, PlayStation VR Worlds, and Skyrim for £249) made me finally give in to find out for myself what it’s like and I have to say I’m hugely impressed.
It’s very straightforward to set up, and I thought the best place to start was with the free Playroom software. I’m glad no one was there to see me, not because I felt embarrassed wearing a headset, but that my jaw was hanging slacker than Cletus’. I was in a state of complete wonder simply leaning back and forth or turning around to see what was behind me, and that was simply playing a VR version of a claw machine.
As much as I wanted to go straight into Skyrim, aware of the universal advice to ease yourself in gently to VR to avoid motion sickness, I instead dove into Ocean Descent. For those that don’t know, you are in an underwater cage and are lowered gradually deeper down to the surface looking at the wildlife as you go. I tried standing up initially but I starting getting vertigo whenever I looked directly down, so had to relax into the safety of the sofa.
I had picked up Star Wars: Battlefront on a whim a few months ago, when the game (including DLC) was on offer for eight quid. Apart from being a highly revered VR experience, I remember GC had said that they experienced no nausea with the X-wing mission, so that had to be next up on my list to try.
I definitely had a few stomach plunges when I made hard turns through space. However, that’s probably to be expected when you are weaving in and out of asteroids while peering all around in different directions to see the view, all while in your first hour of VR. I’ve played it half a dozen times since and can safely say I now have my space legs.
I don’t think I can say more than has already been said about how incredible the actual gameplay is, all I’ll say is that if they released a full game with levels like this (à la Rogue Squadron II on the GameCube) it would surely sell VR to the masses.
Over the next couple of days I tried the other VR World experiences and downloaded all the available demos to try. There were a few that gave me a fair bit of motion sickness which was beginning to concern me as I still hadn’t tried Skyrim yet. Particularly as they seemed to be games that involved a lot of sudden movements. Driveclub I found particularly nauseating, though on-rails games like Thumper or Rez were fine. There are probably around seven or eight games whose demos I tried that are now on my wish-list.
I decided it was time to try Skyrim. The visuals are certainly a lot fuzzier than on a regular screen, more-so than I expected given it’s a last gen game. However, the intro is a perfect demonstration of why the immersive effects of VR can outweigh the lack of visual clarity. You are sat on the back of a cart rolling into town and it feels so much more natural, literally turning your head to follow conversations between characters rather than moving the stick.
So far so good. I was about halfway through the introduction level (20 minutes in) where you escape the village when I had to stop because I was feeling a bit sick. The first part of the game involves a lot of running and a few jumps/falls which are less than helpful to a delicate stomach.
The next day I gave it another go making a conscious effort to move and turn slowly. This time I managed around 40 minutes before the queasiness prevented me from continuing.
The day after that, I played for an hour and a quarter and it included much more energetic action and combat, yet by the end I still felt fine (I stopped purely because of time constraints).
The next time I play I will continue to be cautious of running or spinning around too fast but I’m greatly encouraged by how much I have got used to the motion and balance issues that affected me at the start. The whole world seems bigger with the headset on and everything feels more alive.
All in all, I’m really happy with my purchase and would absolutely recommend VR to anyone. I’m hoping it gets the support it deserves from publishers as it’s definitely capable of doing more than just tech demos. Bethesda seem the only large publisher that is making a lot of effort, with several of their big games getting the VR treatment.
In fact, if you’re reading this Bethesda, please do Dishonored next – the Blink teleportation and stealth mechanics are ideally suited to VR.
By reader SuoTempore (PSN ID)
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.