VR Skater brings a new skateboarding sim to PSVR 2 on June 21, two years after releasing on Steam Early Access. Following a hands-on session with the preview build, here are our full impressions.
Skateboarding never interested me like football or rugby as a kid, but I can't deny the immediate satisfaction VR Skater offers with its movement. You'll be swinging one Sense controller like it's your leg pushing the board along, which feels pretty intuitive, as does moving your other controller to direct movement. There's then some functions mapped to button presses, like braking with the trigger or doing Ollies/Nollies with face buttons, but I soon appreciated this simplicity when speeding along levels with little time to think.
For this particular preview, only a set of tutorials and three locations in practice mode were available, which includes a bonus area called the 'Mega Ramp'. Each stage presents multiple paths to skate through, which adds excellent replayability. However, whichever path you choose, the courses themselves are ultimately linear – you're sent back to the beginning upon reaching the end – as opposed to something more in the style of a free roam map.
The courses are filled with obstacles to navigate – walls, cars parked slightly over pavements, shipping containers, and railings – with points are awarded for successful tricks.
Generous checkpoints ease frustrations if you fumble the execution, which you most certainly will in the initial stages. Pulling off tricks is where VR Skater starts to get, well, tricky. For example, doing a kickflip requires a motion where you flick the left Sense controller to the front left while midair. It sounds straightforward, but I’ll struggled to land the trick successfully and there were times were it was unclear whether it was me or the game at fault. Some work is probably needed to make elements like this more clear.
Other moves require a mix of motion-based inputs, hitting buttons, or moving the headset. That includes pulling off an Ollie to the Side, which mandates you move your controllers left or right and turn your head in the same direction. Board and lip slides involve pressing different buttons when midair, and there's a lot you need to remember. Visual representations of your controllers are helpful when playing, but you won't get any hints during levels.
I couldn't learn any advanced moves during this preview as those tutorials were off-limits, so I'm currently unsure how much trickier this gets, but I wish there were better feedback to signal what you've done wrong. I'd recommend hammering out the tutorials until the actions become muscle memory. Still, VR Skater rewards those willing to put the effort in, and I didn't mind the learning curve. Once you begin memorizing patterns, landing tricks and reaching the end without incident feels incredibly satisfying, and an energetic but limited soundtrack selection nicely complements that.
The preview only a brief look at what's to come, so that's all I can say about VR Skater right now. Ranked play and every mode beyond free practice was locked off, as was skateboard customization in the Skate Shop. I didn't get to pour over the progression system, either.
Still, in my brief time going over free practice, I've enjoyed what's available, though mechanics would likely prove frustrating for anyone seeking quick gratification. If pulling off tricks feels this good already, the full release has potential when it grinds onto PSVR 2 next month.