The PlayStation VR2 is the next big leap in game design when it comes to testing the capabilities of virtual reality. The PSVR 2 was first released this year in February, and we've seen a few inspiring titles like Horizon Call of the Mountain and Switchback VR that have put the console to its technical limit. But after getting early access to a brand new name in the game, I think I've found the next big PSVR2 hit – and that's VR Skater from developer DEFICIT Games.
After recently writing about our excitement for this game, Creative Bloq were lucky enough to get a hands-on early demo code for the new title while the game is still in development, and in my few hours rolling and skating around I've kind of fallen in love. In fact, I think VR Skater will easily slot into our list of the best PSVR 2 games.
VR Skater is designed to be the most immersive, true-to-life skateboarding game yet thanks to the PSVR 2 hardware and the use of Unreal Engine 5. Players can choose from a variety of maps to explore, customise their boards and choose their own music from the tracks available in game. VR Skater will feature online leaderboards too, so budding skaters can challenge each other to take the top spot. There are various tutorials for those completely unfamiliar with those cool skate tricks and terminology (like me!).
So what did I think? Well, if you couldn't tell already I'm sold. I spent about four hours in total playing through the unlocked sections of the game. This included three maps (although it seems like there will be seven in total), as well as the tutorial sections and a bonus map called the Mega Ramp.
I explored the main maps in "tour mode" – this allows players to freely skate around the environments without any kind of challenge or time limit. It was great fun to just roll around at my own leisure as I learnt the basic tricks and got the hang of the board, taking in the tunes of skate-punk soundtrack all the while. I loved being able to just switch off and enjoy my time on the (virtual) road, especially as I got more confident in my moves.
Amazing sound design
I absolutely love how immersive the worlds are, even in this early demo. The sound design and physics are fantastic – the board has a really good 'weight' to it when you're changing direction using the VR controllers.
One of my favourite elements, however, is the sound design of the board wheels. Each surface has a different, accurate sound of the wheels rolling over it. From the gentle hum of concrete to the clack-clack-clack of tiling, it is an audiophile delight and I was really impressed with how immersive this seemingly small detail made the game feel. The docks level were a particular highlight, as there are lots of satisfying metal surfaces to skate over that just sound really great.
The use of Unreal Engine 5 (UE 5) is also a great selling point of this game, with expansive realistic environments and impressive lighting physics that make each map feel alive. The textures all look great and are easily distinguishable, which is always appreciated in a VR game where you have to think fast when looking around and overall the game is just a visual treat.
Knowing the capabilities of UE 5, I'm really looking forward to seeing how DEFICIT Games further develops this world. It's already a visual delight, and a great look at the lengths at which game developers can go using the latest version of Unreal. When playing a skateboarding game, you wouldn't expect to be so enthralled by the visuals but I consistently found myself just wanting to slow down and take in the environments. The graphics are great mix of realism and vibrant cartoony colours, giving the whole game a really fun look that I'd say the PSVR 2 game catalogue is lacking.
Learning new tricks
So let's talk about the skating itself. I'll happily admit I've never been on a board, so the natural actions and terminology definitely took some getting used to. But luckily for budding new skaters, there is a concise tutorial section that eases you in with simple wording and helpful visuals. Now, I will say, I struggled with a few of the tutorials whilst getting the hang of more advanced tricks as the provided information lacked some key details. The most prominent example of this was doing a kick flip – I could easily get up into the air in a spin, but the game didn't tell me I then had to grab the board again. As someone entirely unfamiliar with skateboarding, this was a struggle to learn and was only apparent once I was informed by one of the team. But this was a small issue, and an easy fix in a future patch with just that extra little tidbit of info.
And hey, once I'd learnt how to do it properly, I think I can say I mastered those kickflips like a pro. The skating is pretty straight forward – stand with either your left or right foot forward and use the VR controllers to your heart's content. Your forward facing hand will be primarily how you steer, and the back one is mostly reserved for executing tricks. It's a simple set up, but it feels really efficient and natural.
The Mega Ramp
I have to give a special mention to the Mega Ramp level. This thrilling bonus map is, as the name suggests, a collection of ramps situated in an expansive desert that you can freely practice your tricks on. It's fantastic fun, and the intense ramps are a thrill in VR as you jump up high in the air. I loved using the ramps with my ollie and nollies (check out those technical terms) to master my kick flips. There are only two available ramps thus far that are next to each other, but in the future I would love to see DEFICIT Games expand on this map to add more exciting ramp options.
A smooth ride
I also have to mention that I was a bit concerned about motion sickness. In previous VR headsets, I've struggled with motion sickness and dizziness. Considering the nature of a skateboarding game, I was worried the constant movement would cause me some issues. However, I'm happy to report that I had no sickness issues whatsoever. The movement all felt natural, riding on the board feels smooth and the use of the PSVR 2's eye tracking feature helps make sure visuals are accurate.
Overall, I loved my time on VR Skater, and it's made me sad I don't own my own personal PSVR 2 to play the full game when it's complete. While I had limited options when it came to maps and customisation, the potential for a larger game has left me incredibly excited to see how DEFICIT Games continues to build upon this already solid experience. If you're a fan of the original Tony Hawk's and SSX games, this title is a must. It's even tempted me to pick up a real skateboard at some point.
If you can't wait to play, an early access copy of VR Skater is available to download on Steam right now if you own a different VR headset. It's important to note that this is a version of the game still in development, so there are some small bugs and a limited amount of maps available as mentioned above. PlayStation players will have to wait a bit longer, as it's not yet available on the PSVR 2. But keep an eye on the PS store to see when the release date is announced.
If you want to know more info about PlayStation's latest VR console, make sure to check out our own hands-on PSVR 2 review of this incredible console.