VR Skater offers an enjoyably challenging sim that does skateboarding justice on PSVR 2. Developed by Deficit Games, read on for our full review.
You can tell where Deficit worked around VR Skater's hardware limitations. With two Sense controllers and your headset for tracking, acceleration relies on arm swinging instead of your legs, face buttons for jumps and gesture motions for tricks. Real-life skateboarders may find this approach strange, though basic controls begin feeling natural after the opening tutorial.
However, learning tricks is a different story as VR Skater doesn't provide hints during levels. Some tricks don't necessarily mirror real life --an Ollie to the Side requires turning both your head and controllers left or right simultaneously, for example. You also can't rely on the same moves for high scores. A gold, silver and bronze ranks your performance and VR Skater punishes repetition. Repeat tricks continually halves your scored points until hitting a lower limit.
Memorizing gestures and combinations is tough and somewhat fiddly, so the extra tutorials almost feel mandatory. Chances are high that you'll coast through the initial levels as you find your footing, taking nothing but bronze medals. The difficulty curve may feel off-putting – this game requires patience rather than rewarding instant gratification.
Still, pulling off tricks as I'd grind down railings or avoid obstacles feels both stylish and satisfying. I've never been good at real-life skateboarding, so landing moves like a 720 Shuvit or Backside Tailslide was quite thrilling. Earning my first gold medal after several hours practicing felt like my efforts were eventually rewarded.
VR Skater has eight maps - three more are planned post-launch - to test your skills across the local neighborhood, a construction site and some other locales. There's a good location mix, though the visuals aren't particularly stunning, complemented by a rock soundtrack that wouldn't seem amiss in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Every map ends at a set destination and multiple paths often keep gameplay interesting. That said, some routes lack opportunities for tricks and feel empty for it.
Mega Ramp is a bonus map and therefore an exception, using two high-speed ramps with no room for divergence. Moving away from the usual street settings, it's designed for catching significant air when practicing aerial moves. Map variety is always welcome but that alone doesn't make Mega Ramp interesting. I stopped returning after several tries.
Maps are mostly unlocked through Tour Mode. Mega Ramp aside, each provides a free practice mode and four challenge types. 'Spot Challenges' focuses on individual obstacles, tasking you with performing tricks over three attempts. 'Best Trick' involves performing five tricks and creating your total score from the best four. If you fall over or crash, that counts as a trick with zero points.
'Street Run' involves completing a run of the whole area. A checkpoint system respawns you after crashing, but it sometimes places you directly in front of an obstacle. With little means of going around without crashing again, I had to restart maps several times and that disrupted my momentum. Though infrequent, that got annoying and it leaves the game feeling slightly unpolished. Trying to teleport elsewhere often bugged out, too. Finally, 'Sudden Death' plays like Street Run; the only difference is that a single crash ends your whole attempt.
“Beating” Tour Mode only takes three hours, though viewing it this way arguably misses the point. VR Skater is designed for replayability and tracks high scores for each challenge. I didn't feel compelled to retry challenges after earning gold medals, but getting there is another matter. Several times where I barely missed out on silver or gold saw me jumping straight back in.
Starting position can be changed through teleportation. Once a level begins, VR Skater uses an arm-swinging motion for acceleration, which means seated play isn't advisable. Positioning yourself as you would on a skateboard, the ‘Regular’ or ‘Goofy’ stances swap which foot is placed in front and your dominant arm for steering. We saw no vignetting settings or other notable comfort features.
Progression is further incentivized through the EXP system, awarding extra points for silver and gold medals. You won't get faster skateboards or easier tricks, but this unlocks customization options in the Skater Shop, letting you pick full-colored boards, checkered designs, flames, new raw trucks, wheels and more. For anyone after that extra personalization, it's a nice touch that isn't too much of a grind.
VR Skater Review – Final Verdict
VR Skater is an enjoyable skateboarding sim that may frustrate anyone seeking quick gratification. Memorizing new tricks is tough, making it challenging to master and a steep learning curve means basic controls only go so far. If you're willing to invest time into learning advanced moves, earning gold medals across maps feels rewarding but rough edges make it difficult to outright recommend.
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