Skyrim proves 'AAA' VR games can work, and Microsoft needs to capitalize fast

Skyrim VR (opens in new tab) was released for PlayStation VR (PSVR) mid-November 2017, and despite a lot of memes]( to do with Bethesda wringing every last drop of potential out of their hit role-playing game (RPG), Skyrim VR seems to be receiving favorable reviews mostly across the board.

I was lucky enough to spend hours inside Skyrim VR over the last week or so, and have had an enjoyable time. There's no new content as far as the story goes, it's not nearly as polished as many VR experiences we've seen, but the world realized in immersive 3D VR really is something special, especially at this enormous scale.

I've come to the conclusion that the Skyrim VR experience only bodes well for the future of the virtual platform as a whole. A lot of the best VR games max out at only a few hours of playtime, and many don't have the same draw as standard PC or console games that keep you coming back for more over and over and…

See Windows Mixed Reality at Microsoft Store (opens in new tab)

Competition helps grow VR

Skyrim VR is an enormous boon for PSVR, which can be seen as living in the shadow that the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift cast, at least in terms of raw fidelity. Another shadow-dwelling VR platform is Windows Mixed Reality (WMR). It has arrived late to the party that Oculus is hosting, and the HTC Vive is already good friends with everyone there. PSVR showed up a bit before WMR, but they're both in the same boat: they're quickly making a lot of friends, but the other two systems hog much of the spotlight.

Complete WMR and PSVR bundles cost less than complete Vive and Rift (including extra sensors) systems, and while the PSVR does have some shortcomings — those PS Move controllers are seriously god-awful — WMR is a serious contender when it comes to premier VR systems. The headsets are comfortable, the motion controllers track well and don't require extra sensors set up around your VR space, and SteamVR integration (along with tools like Revive) seemingly put the library of content at an equal size.

What does Skyrim VR have to do with Windows Mixed Reality?

As I was knee deep in bodies after clearing out yet another dungeon with my trusty two-handed battleaxe (who doesn't love playing as an Orc berserker?), I thought to myself: "Imagine if the Xbox One X was powering this, and I was in the Halo universe." Or the Gears universe. Or the Forza universe.

No matter what you read, the graphics in Skyrim VR as it's powered by my regular PS4 aren't anything attractive. When you're up close, say in a tense fight, the look of the game isn't bad, but as soon as you're looking at something at a distance more than 10 feet, everything gets blurry. Luckily, the gameplay makes up for it, but I do wish those stunning vistas that greeted me in the standard PC version of Skyrim could make a reappearance without all the popping in and artifacts.

We all know by this point how much power the Xbox One X is able to produce, and the VR experience with a WMR headset hooked up would no doubt blow away (at least graphically) what the PS4 is capable of. As of now, there's still no absolute answer to the question of whether or not WMR is coming to the Xbox One X.

Even if WMR isn't being powered by the Xbox One X, having a major title — something scaled the same as Skyrim VR — from Microsoft for PC would be a huge deal.

Microsoft is apparently working on Windows Mixed Reality content

Despite not knowing for sure whether WMR is headed to the Xbox One X anytime soon, it seems that Microsoft is working on some content of its own for its headsets. In a statement made to UploadVR, a Microsoft spokesperson said:

We have games from Microsoft Studios in development for Windows Mixed Reality, and several game developers are working closely with us to bring their titles to Windows Mixed Reality.

So, does that mean we're going to see one of Microsoft's beloved franchises head to VR? It's not impossible. We've seen a brief glimpse of this in Halo Recruit (opens in new tab), but we're talking something full-scale. Something built from the start for VR would be preferred, even though Bethesda did a good job of porting a game built originally for 2D play.

Having a full-scale, AAA VR game set in a Microsoft-created universe would be an enormous draw and would no doubt help grow the platform by perhaps attracting an audience that wouldn't normally be interested in VR. If WMR did eventually make its way to Xbox One X, that's again making it much more attractive for those who don't want to invest in a PC.

What to do in Windows Mixed Reality for the time being

While we wait to see what Microsoft has in store for WMR, there's plenty to do. The Microsoft Store is full of games and experiences (opens in new tab), and now that SteamVR integration has been unleashed, we have that enormous library of content to play with.

How to use SteamVR with Windows Mixed Reality

Fallout 4 VR, the sibling to Skyrim VR, is expected to launch December 12, 2017, on Steam (opens in new tab). While it's looking like an HTC Vive exclusive — at least to start out — there will no doubt be someone smart enough to promptly get it working on Oculus Rift and WMR (if it doesn't natively work on the latter platform thanks to SteamVR integration).

Fallout 4 VR promises to bring the same scale of VR experience that Skyrim VR brought, and will no doubt offer better graphics and performance due to it running on a more powerful PC. If Fallout 4 VR does turn out to be a hit, it will also no doubt bring in a new crop of people who were hesitant to get into VR.

If you're wondering where else to look for the best games for WMR, we've tested a few SteamVR titles to ensure they're in working order, and we've also put together a list of some of our favorites available directly from the Microsoft Store.

Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

  • Hi, they did say the X supports it and it will fully be supported in 2018 and you don't require a Microsoft brand VR or AR for Xbox, buy any brand (except PlayStation cause you know lol) and it works 👍🏼 (p.s. The only issue is will EA & Bethesda bring their VR games to the X, Star Wars, DOOM, Fallout & Skyrim)
  • Where is this what on the official site? I thought they removed all references to VR with the X? I don't remember any kind of timeline either.
  • The Microsoft store told me the XBox One X will support the Occulus Rift. They didn't mention any of the other headsets.
  • They told you again? BTW consoles are not ready for proper VR yet. I tried the PSVR at my friends place an I now know why it's collecting dust. He now has a PC and a Windows MR headset (in a combo deal)
  • Microsoft has confirmed for Xbox one x having vr no matter what. You really think the x can't handle vr when the crappy PS4 can??? they said back in 2016 that vr is going to be on "project Scorpio" which is the X and multiple people have confirmed it but now since they stopped any mentioning of it and basically made false advertisements about just how powerful the x was/is. The latest thing I just read is that the x might not even get vr/ar which if that happens I'm done with this company entirely.
  • What about SkyrimVR for PC, when does that come out on Steam?
  • The deal seems to be one year exclusivity on PSVR then they go to other platforms. That was the deal with Batman and that tank game and Resident Evil 7 will be coming to Steam next year as well.
  • I see. Well, that won't cut it for Microsoft or Steam. This will keep giving Sony too much lead on the market. And for what is clearly an inferior product.
  • I saw an ad last night for PlayStation VR and when they showed Skyrim it looked pretty bad ass. It's bad enough that every game ad shows PS at the end, if they don't get their VR solution in gear people will think PS is the only affordable way to go for this. I never see ANYTHING in the public space on WMR.
  • Seems like every video game ad I see says PS at the end. I mitigated this in my mind that most people know all but very few games are cross platform. So, MS gets free advertisement, is my way of thinking.
  • You mean PS gets free ads? I don't think it's free, I think Sony is paying for that. Unfortunately seems that Microsoft doesn't understand that marketing is important to sales, unless its the surface laptop (which is a stupid ad that everyone I know is tired of seeing BTW).
  • Unfortunately as history shows...MSFT will likely sit on its butt on this until its way too late, and fall behind.  I hope not...but thats what they have done in the past.   
  • I had my first look at a Vive last week. Pretty unimpressed with the resolution. Haven't looked at others, but it was way pixellated
  • WMR headsets have better resolution, I've tried all three types of headset.
  • Do those PS Move controllers even have six degrees of movement?
  • PSVR living in the shadows of Vive and Oculus? Yeah, right! According to the latest figures from canalys Sony owns 49% of the VR marked. Their solution may be crap compared to VMR, Oculus and Vive, but they are getting a lot of traction. After MS gave up on mobile, they said they would focus on the next "Big Thing", which according to them was AR/MR. But what do they do? 1. They bury hololens in enterprise. 2. Depend on OEM's to create MR headsets. Which without marketing, probably will be discontinued after gen 1, or move to Android for gen 2.  3. Suddenly stop mentioning anything about MR in connection with Xbox X, the console which was supposed to be THE console, for MR/VR. Have they learned nothing from their mobile failure? Keeping silent and hoping consumers are going to flock to your product, is doomed to fail. At least release something for the "X" so people at least consider your products for VR/MR, and build up from there. If they just stay completely quite for the next year, nobody is going to care, once they actually release something. Because they will be too far behind. But why do I even bother....this clearly has nothing to do with Azure or Office365, so it was probably doomed to be scrapped at some point, anyway.    
  • Make vr compatible with the x since Microsoft DID CONFIRM IT... kind of seems like false advertisement, if I'm not mistaken people/companies can get sued for such a thing. Now theirs rumors and people saying that THE LATEST CONSOLE FOR THE XBOX MIGHT NOT EVEN SUPPORT VR/AR and that we would have too wait til 2019 for vr and ar come over to Xbox band but NOT on the X. They are saying it for Xbox 2 which is RIDICULOUS if that's the case. I Bought the x for the capabilities I know it can run and if they do choose too not make any use of it and only remaster games from 10 years ago or even polishing new turds like Star Wars battlefront 2( even thou the graphics are exceptional the gameplay is not) will not make that console great that's just going too make it a failure. 
  • You should probably stop reading rumors and baseless speculation and calling it CONFIRMATION. MS has never CONFIRMED VR support on the Xbox One X, only ever saying that they intend to have a solution, but aren't happy with current devices in the living room due to wires.
  • Rumors and baseless speculation? I'm stating the facts about them CONFIRMING VR FOR XBOX SCORPIO back in 2016 am I not mistaken?
  • As well as xboxs in the living room? Most of the people I know game in their actual room and if Microsoft did release VR on the Xbox one x it would go very well especially since it would be high fidelity instead they choose too lead people on...