Opinion: PSVR and PS Move Are Holding Skyrim VR Back From True Greatness

by David Jagneaux • November 17th, 2017

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “The PSVR is really impressive for VR powered by a four-year old game console, but the PlayStation Move controllers are really lame.” Chances are if you’ve ever talked to anyone that owns or has tried PSVR at any point in their life, they think the PS Move controllers are just plain lacking. They don’t have a D-Pad, analog stick, touchpad or any other movement input system and you’re lucky to get through an hour without a glitch or weird tracking bug. To make matters worse the PSVR is a front-facing only device with a single, outdated tracking camera that severely limits what you can do while immersed in a virtual world. The last thing I want to do when playing a VR game is have to worry about which direction I’m facing in real life. That means no moving around a room, no ducking or crawling, no rapid movements, and no turning around at all. Facing forward in a seated or feet planted position are your only options.

Consider me surprised then when I learned that not only is Bethesda porting over one of its most massive, sprawling, and immersive adventures (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim) to VR, but it’s bringing it to Sony’s PSVR first with timed exclusivity. Talk about bittersweet.

While the end result is much better than it has any right to be (read our full review here) that’s mostly in spite of the PS Move controllers, not because of them. Reaching into the world of Skyrim to punch a dragon in the mouth, pick up a dagger and fling it across a room, or just beat bandits to death with a big warhammer feels great right up until the PS Move controller tracking gives out. Craning my neck up to look at a towering giant or deadly dragon really puts me in the moment right up until I turn around to shoot it and realize the camera can’t see my hands anymore. These, and plenty of other issues, are all outlines in great detail in my review.

What I’m getting at here is that Skyrim VR is a great game. It really is. But that’s because Bethesda struck gold with its original release all the way back in 2011 and its been milking that cash cow ever since with releases on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, PS4, Xbox One, PC again, Nintendo Switch, and now the PSVR. Skyrim proves that a great game is great regardless of when or where it launches and that includes VR devices.

Standing at the top of the Throat of the World and looking down at the landscapes of of Tamriel in VR literally took my breath away. I got chills the first time I got surrounded by Draugr in an old Nordic crypt. Reliving key moments from my Skyrim-laced memories brought smiles to my face. Playing a game like Skyrim VR feels both like you’re coming home and you’re in a strange new land with a strong sense of déjà vu.

Imagine what it could have been like if the first time Skyrim VR released to the public it had the full weight of a roomscale-tracked environment with proper motion controllers such as the HTC Vive wands or Oculus Touch. The visuals would look crisper and more detailed, movement could be accomplished with a trackpad or analog stick, and the power of mods would be much more likely than they are in the PSVR iteration of the game.

I’m sure Sony paid Bethesda a hefty sum to keep the game exclusive to their headset for a little while and we should eventually see Skyrim VR on other platforms like the HTC Vive, but I can’t help but think that part of me feels like the Skyrim VR will forever have a lackluster first impression for a lot of people. That isn’t to say that games should never launch first on PSVR, but a game like Skyrim that has the PC culture at its root and core and prides itself on intense, immersive realism, should really be empowered by its platform, not hindered.

I’ll be the first to admit that PSVR continues to surprise me with how much it can do. Honestly it’s my heasdset of choice a lot of the time and is still the most comfortable one to wear. Skyrim VR is a great game and easily ranks as one of VR’s best, most ambitious, and most elaborate titles to date. Anyone that considers themselves a fan of RPGs owes it to themselves to give Skyrim VR a try.

But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been even better from the get-go.

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  • Vagda

    PSVR3 or 4 or 5 will keep holding VR back From True Greatness, in…2030-40.
    But they will also be the greatest oportunity for developers to make huge AAA games. Because the sweet spot of 300-400euros can promote these investments(big installed base)

    therefore I am glad they have those bad move controllers today that keep the price affordable. So I can play Resident Evil VR and have this healthy first party support.

    • Wiines 007

      You’re on crack if you believe that. VR would fail without Sony even with its limitations. No Sony no VR future!

      • Vagda

        the one on crack its you. Read again my post.

        • GmailIsDown

          Lmao

  • Sean Lumly

    Yes.. Exactly.. The PSVR is poorly designed hardware behind poorly implemented software. There are some really big wins (eg. the comfortable “hat” mount, the relative low cost), but there are SO many things that could have been better implemented if only for some simple changes to hardware and software.

    • Andy

      I think the headset itself is great (comfy, looks nice, high quality). It’s the camera and move controllers that are inferior (bad tracking). If they updated those, it could be a lot better.

  • Alexander Stream

    Did you get any motion sickness? I’m dying to try this game out in VR, but I generally get slightly nauseated when playing on my PSVR, worried that this game would be even worse for me. Any thoughts?

    • If you have PS Move you can play with teleportation movement. That shouldn’t cause any motion sickness in all likelihood!

    • sly_fox

      After a few hours i felt slightly off kilter with dualshock whilst seated(i dont have move). The graphics are slightly poorer than i was hoping but the experience is good overall and enhanced by the fact skyrim is a great game. So far, scaling the mountain to the temple to retrieve golden claw was amazing. The scale was jaw dropping as was the attacks by the bandits from above on the parapets as well as from the ground – really immersive for me. Worst case you drop the cash, it doesn’t work out and you trade it in for something else.

  • drd7of14

    The simple solution to most of these problems seemed to be tied to the line of sight tracking.

    I really don’t think the PSVR’s HMD unit is the source of all problems, as it is a pretty functional piece of tech at an affordable price point supported by an affordable system. These trackng issues rarely occur with it, as it has lights tracked on all 360 degrees of the unit. The issues lie solely when it comes to the Move/DS4 tracking.

    Whether it be lighthouses, 1 or 2 more cameras, or some other new R&D tracking system, the current PS Camera tracking is limited, despite being functional.

    The Move 2.0 controllers having an actual analog/trackpad or something of that nature is certainly the next step as well, but the tracking cutting out tends to be people’s biggest gripes in regards to “leaving the play area”.

    I have yet to play Skyrim VR, but despite the limitations, which would still be awkward regardless of the device (irony with my VIVE experience is getting twisted, which happens less frequently with PSVR [though this could just be :P]), I cannot imagine it being anything but a blast.

  • Steve

    Personally, idgaf about room-scale vr, and I definitely DO NOT want to have to jump around and swing my arms all over like some deranged monkey shitfight in a zoo just to play a game. I like the vr experience sitting in my chair after working all goddamn day, and “reviews” like this seem designed to run down a product rather than providing any knowledge. All this “reviewer” did was harp on the Move controllers, which I also despise, yet the game plays great with Dualshock4.

    • Michael Walts

      While I do hear ya, this isn’t the review (as is made clear in the text), it is an editorial opinion piece. I personally own both the PSVR and HTC vive… and I would much rather experience Skyrim in my vive if it was possible so I understand the writer’s point.

      I still love my PSVR, but I feel this sort of immersive experience would benefit from roomscale movement, better tracking (especially for me. My PSVR setup is a little cramped which can cause me to leave camera view at times, while my vive has more space), and my higher powered PC. Still on the fence about getting this on PSVR or waiting for the timed exclusivity to run out and getting it on PC.

    • Ugur Ister

      Even if one does not want to stand and move the body around a lot, better tracking and especially no glitches of the controllers annoying one in between even while playing sitting is a HUGE benefit of the PC VR systems, especially the Vive.
      Nothing against the game though and it’s great for the PS4 and PSVR that they have a timed exclusive like this, actually makes me consider buying it seriously despite already having the PC VR headsets.

    • Maciej Nowy

      Everybody who don’t have proper VR setup (Vive/Rift) or enough space in their room saying that. Room-scale is a game changer, same as good motion controllers, I cant even imagine playing VR sitting unless it is a racing/flight simulation game. I tried to play Skyrim with xbox controller over a year ago using VorpX and while it does look beautiful (unlike the PSVR version), playing VR using a gamepad just sucks… So yeah… Skyrim VR will be a great game, WILL BE… on Vive or Rift.

      • Reels Rihard

        The game is already great on psvr whether you like it or not. It’ll be even greater still on Rift/Vive.

      • Graham

        Oh please! Games can be good on platforms other than PC.

        • CQCoder

          What in the world makes you think that? They are behind the day they release. They are always less than their PC counterparts. This is simply a fact.

    • gothicvillas

      Roomscale is awesome

    • This isn’t a review. It’s an opinion piece specifically about Move. You can read my full review (linked above) for a more holistic impression of the game.

    • Bub&Bob

      It’s a fair and well written article. No need for you to be so salty.

  • Раф

    Sadly, I liked this site, I like VR absolutely on all platforms, but I love PSVR and often encountered hate in her direction… ((
    They beat off all the desire to come here ((
    Сорян за ломанный английский)

  • Fear Monkey

    I have never understood why Sony didnt also bring back the Navigation controller, it would have been a nice controller option for the PSVR.
    PC gets Fallout 4 VR first, and its going to be amazing. I hope it comes to PSVR even if its in reduced alot in quality.

  • Graham

    I don’t really understand the point of this article? unless it’s just to generate clicks from the rival fanboys – something I’m already bored of on this site

    Will Skyrim vr be better on pc vr? Yes of course it will.

    Should we just celebrate the successful release of this game instead of whining about it not being on pc straight away? Well I certainly think so.

    Lets just enjoy this huge step forward and celebrate it on pc when it comes. I only have a psvr at the moment but I’ll still be hoping fallout 4 on pc vr is awesome

    • Ugur Ister

      Well, if an article like this leads to
      a) Sony pushing on making better controllers and tracking asap
      or
      b) leads to Valve maybe actually paying for timed exclusives, too so we can have nicer bigger VR games on Steam quicker and more often while devs pushing for that while not doing horribly while the install base is still small
      that would be a big win in my eyes.
      So an article like this totally has it’s place and could be beneficial.

      • Graham

        So yes would be great for those 2 things to happen – especially number one (you’d hear the collective cheer across the world!)

        To help achieve that I’d suggest articles titled “Sony, upgrade the move controllers or we’ll kidnap your dog” or “opinion – should valve pay more for timed exclusives”

        What I think was completely unnecessarily negative and divisive was to run an article on the day that Skyrim, one of psvr’s biggest games has just launched (very successfully based on initial comments/reviews) saying psvr is holding Skyrim back and wouldn’t it be better on pc! Let’s just be positive for one day at least!!

        • Ugur Ister

          On one side, yes, i like being constructive in positive way more than in negative way, and yes, i agree, the article could have also been worded in friendlier tone still conveying the important message. On the other side, yes, it is an important message and well, in a case like this, it makes most sense to point it out (again) that even when one of the biggest and best games hit the system, it is still (and actually especially) held back by the controllers/tracking.
          Probably makes Sony listen more than if it was mentioned for a game no one talks about.
          We’re already on mid console cycle console upgrades now, i’d love it if Sony would push for improved tracking/better controllers which have all the buttons and analogue sticks as the rift touch has without having to wait another 2-3 years for that.

          I see the PSVR as great medium level VR option, way better than current phone based stuff, more affordable than PC VR with a high end graphics card pc etc. And with every new great (timed) exclusive on it i get teased more and more to buy it despite i already have a gaming pc and both pc high end headsets.
          So far each time it has been the controllers and the worse tracking of the psvr holding me back in last minute, because i get very annoyed of tracking issues very quickly, so yeah, get rolling on improving those asap Sony =)
          I imagine in the long run they’d maybe go for inside out tracking, but in the shorter term i’d already be happy if one could add additional cameras to post around one and they’d also update the move controllers to have all the analogue stick/buttons setup like a rift touch.

        • Xilence

          I mean, I doubt it would change. Everyone knows, all players, non-players, and Sony know the controllers and tracking has to be improved next-gen. However, as it stands everyone tolerates it because PSVR is the best place for VR in the home (non-enthusiast.)

          • Graham

            Sadly I think you’re right and controllers will be part of the next gen update. We can live in hope though…. 😉

    • CQCoder

      I have a Vive. I’m thrilled to see the lower end entries into the VR economy, especially the Windows sets. The more we have with them, the more development we get.

      • Graham

        Yep, the better all the headsets do then the better for vr. Hoping to splash out on pc vr as well next year at some point

  • popo123

    What do you mean there’s no turning around in PSVR? You don’t need a tracking device(camera) to be able to have 360 degree view. So yes you can complete spin around in psvr. Also you can duck as well but not crawl. You can also move around but in a very limited space provided the developer opted to use the entirety of the space in which the ps camera recognizes.

    • Ryan Summers

      You clearly dont get how it works, if it cant see you it doesnt know where you are, therefore if your body is between you and the camera your hands dont exist to it

      • popo123

        Right. Clearly you’re not aware that the psvr has gyroscopic tracking. I was talking about the 360 view; the headset tracking, not the controller tracking.

  • Walldude

    Yeah the move controllers suck. But if you are having tracking issues then you need to fix your camera and playing positions. I read a bunch of these reviews that complain about the move controllers which I found very intuitive and while not perfect, certainly up to the job at hand. Yes we need move controllers with analog sticks, but for now Bethesda has come up with a way to freely walk in any direction and strafe all without the use of sticks. They should be commended for coming up with solutions to limited hardware, not berated for someones lack of understanding of how and where to setup their camera and play position. Tips: stand or sit no more than 5 feet from the camera and set the camera at at least 6.5 ft high. Make sure the full range of your arms are seen by the camera and you won’t have any issues. I have played hours both standing and sitting and have not had a single tracking issue. Also no light behind you, it interferes with tracking, put your light source under the camera.

  • Tekkenfighter123

    I miss the good old days when gaming information was about telling you about the games we all love and highlighting the positives instead of all the negative or half ass opinions. The game is great on a great system. It’s going to come to pc and run on the stronger vr headsets. Don’t see the point of shitting on something because it’s cheaper and has a bigger sell rate than two of the “better” headsets. This site and the writer diguest me.

  • The move controllers are so frustrating. They just suck so much. I’m about 4 hours into Skyrim VR and it’s actually a really great port. I love it and the Dualshock 4 controls are great. I actually even think they did a great job making the Move controllers shine as much as they are going to, and the tracking is actually decent. I still find it barely playable with Move though. The locomotion is bad and the game sucks with teleport. Dualshock is the clear winner until Sony has enough sense to make some motion controllers with an analog stick on them.

  • Also, I don’t get the comments here. I love my PSVR, actually it’s the only headset I own and I have zero regrets about that, but it has some serious shortcomings that are worth discussing. We are never going to get better controllers if you guys keep pretending Move isn’t terrible.

  • Ugur Ister

    I hope Sony releases an updated version of the move controllers and they’ll surely do that at some point (and i hope it’ll have a proper joystick then then to all the buttons a rift touch has), but i wonder when that would make most sense, still for this PS version or maybe with the next console upgrade, and then maybe already for an inside out tracking headset upgrade?
    That would be sweet but i expect that to take at least another year or two if they want to deliver something really cool and not just a slight bump over the thing now.
    Regarding Skyrim, well, it’s no surprise it’s a PS4 timed exclusive. Because Valve doesn’t really pay much or at all for timed VR exclusives (sadly), so the only other option for getting payment for a timed exclusive gig would have been Oculus and well, the lawsuit Zenimax had with Oculus pretty much destroyed any chances for that happening.
    (To anyone wondering: obviously i’m in the camp of people supporting timed exclusives, because that’s partially needed right now for devs being able to put out larger games for VR while the install base is still too small to make up for that in sales)
    I wonder if it’ll ever come out on the Rift store, but yeah, at least on the Vive it’ll likely come out in 6 months if not earlier.
    I’ll probably still get it again then for the Vive to play it with nicer tracking, freer body movement and pc visuals again, for now i’m considering to get the PSVR seriously for the first time for it though.
    Up to now i resisted getting a PS4 Pro and PSVR because i already have a Vive and a Rift, so the PSVR (besides headset comfort) seemed like the all around way worse than those option, but with getting a gamae like this so many months earlier, i’m really teased to get it.

  • Arkipako

    I’ve been a hardcore gamer for 35 years. I’ve also owned every major gaming device since C64. It means that I am not easily impressed. This applies to VR as well. I have both PSVR and Oculus Rift. Many games like Superhot and Eagle Flight have felt cool in the beginning but I’ve grown bored of them rather fast. But somehow Skyrim VR has blown my mind.

    I don’t feel like that I play Skyrim. Rather I feel that now I partly live in it. And the best part is that I haven’t felt any nausea although most PSVR games (like Rigs) make me extramly sick rather fast. And I use the direct movement method with the move sticks.

  • Gonzalo Novoa

    Two months ago I would have said controllers are ok for VR, I bought psvr first, I played RE7 with dualshock and it was fantastic, I loved it from start to finish. My idea was that playing with a controller was perfectly ok. Then I bought the Rift last month and oh God was I wrong! After playing with the Touch controllers, the perfect tracking, the possibility to move around and so on the difference is huge. Some games are still good with a gamepad but the majority of them are a million times better with real controllers. I don’t have a big play area so I don’t really move much, just turn around and even if you wanna play seated still the difference is BIG. I imagine RE7 with Touch support and I cry with joy.
    I know people who only own PSVR will probably feel just like I did two months ago and I can totally understand it; if you don’t have Rift/Vive to compare then it’s ok and VR is still great but believe me, once you move to real controls and good tracking there is no going back.

  • We all wait for the SteamVR porting…

  • VSorceress

    Do I detect a bit of PC elitism in this article? One would have expected that no matter what your platform of choice is, skyrim on PSVR is a big step for ALL platforms of VR, not just Sony’s playstation…

  • Ombra Alberto

    With the generation two headsets VR for PC. There will be ease of use and ease.

    In the meantime, we wait for six months of exclusive passion quickly. I look forward to a good PC experience.