Skyrim is unplayable on the Oculus Rift: Don’t believe the hype

Skyrim is unplayable on the Oculus Rift: Don’t believe the hype

There's a video going around that's showing people playing Skyrim using the Oculus Rift, and it's being written up in a variety of gaming blogs and news sources. That's not an issue, but the problem is that people are speaking about the game in virtual reality in glowing terms based on the video, and they're leaving out some very important things.

Such as the fact you can't actually play Skyrim with the Oculus Rift - at least not for long. The menus and user interface just don't allow it. Watch the video that's being passed around again, do you notice how little time is spend in a menu? The Rift does not do well with menus, in-game text, or any user interfaces that aren't purely graphical. It's a major shortcoming of the hardware, and it makes games like Skyrim that throw many menus of that kind at you intolerable to play in a serious way. You'd have to remove the headset every time you need to read anything, much less compare weapons or assign skills.

Cymatic Bruce, who gave us some great information before our own development kit showed up, actually called out Skyrim as a game that's unplayable.

“As far as a game not working at all? I would have to say that Skyrim needs a major UI mod before it is playable for me. The intro was beyond fantastic, but Skyrim is a game that is heavy on information: chests to loot, menus to access, inventory to manage,” he explained. “Most of these menus are invisible or partially visible through the Rift. Propping my Rift up to view my monitor for info every 5-10 minutes is not ideal.”

Keep in mind that most of the people creating these videos are doing very little work to get these games functional. Right now Skyrim is playable due to an open-source driver, you simply run the program, and then open Skyrim. It's a very simple process.

You'll want to fiddle with a few options, but this has been available for a while, it only works when you don't have to read any text, and the talented men and women creating the Perception driver deserve a ton of respect for the work they've done on getting these games to run on the Rift, and they're almost never mentioned in stories about these videos.

The trouble is these videos present these games as working flawlessly, and the reality is far from that illusion. It's going to take a talented modder a significant time investment to get the menus and text of Skyrim workable, and that may not be done for a long time, if at all. If you're thinking about buying a development kit just to play Skyrim, hold off. It doesn't work as well as you're being led to believe.