The golden era of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on PS1 remains etched in my memory, a simpler time filled with friendly banter, competition for high scores, and the pulse of punk rock music.
Fast forward to today, those communal gaming sessions, with friends huddled around a single screen, have largely been replaced by online gaming, fueled by rapid internet connectivity and other cutting-edge advancements.
However, every technological evolution brings with it a new opportunity. In this case, the rise of virtual reality gaming has given birth to VR Skater, an immersive skateboarding experience reminiscent of the beloved Tony Hawk’s series. This week, I had the chance to preview a build of the upcoming PSVR2 port.
If you’ve heard of VR Skater, it’s likely because the game from DEFICIT has been carving out its niche in Steam’s Early Access since 2021. Despite some critique regarding infrequent updates, the overall reception to the PC VR version is resoundingly positive. This left me eagerly anticipating my hands-on experience with the PSVR2 port demo, courtesy of Perp Games.
First Impressions and Gameplay
The preview build of VR Skater was admittedly light on content, featuring a tutorial, two free-roam courses, and a bonus ‘Mega Ramp’. However, it provided ample opportunity to get a feel for the game. And by that, I mean countless crashes and growing perspiration.
True to its VR nature, the game demands physical involvement. Your arms control both the speed and the tricks of your virtual skateboard. After selecting your stance (goofy or regular), you accelerate the board by swinging your rear controller, mimicking the push-off motion in real skateboarding.
Adapting to using arm movements for a leg-driven sport requires some acclimatization. But, as with Tony Hawk’s games, the joy lies in mastering the controls, perfecting your runs, and executing high-scoring tricks.
Mastering the Moves and Control System
Navigating VR Skater’s courses is a task requiring mental and physical agility. You need to steer, preload your ollies or nollies, remember which arm to swing for specific tricks, and recall the correct face buttons for different rail grinds.
Fortunately, VR Skater’s motion controls on PSVR2 are impressively responsive. Any perceived lack of precision could be a game-breaker, but I found the control scheme solid and accurate once I understood the mechanics.
The exhilaration you feel when you string together successful combos is undeniably rewarding. As evidenced in the accompanying video, my journey from numerous falls to landing a series of tricks was punctuated with triumphant cheers when everything started to click.
Potential Concerns and Looking Forward
Despite my generally positive first impressions, VR Skater isn’t without its issues. Given the game’s fast-approaching release date, there are noticeable areas in need of refinement, from typographical errors in the tutorial to graphical enhancements for added realism.
Moreover, the game’s steep learning curve could prove daunting for PSVR2’s casual gaming demographic. While VR Skater describes itself as a ‘finely tuned mix between arcade and simulation’, it leans more towards the latter, making it a bit more challenging for beginners compared to more accessible titles like GT7.
A simplified control scheme for novices could ease the learning process, reducing the need for continuous crashes and arm-flailing.
However, looking at the bigger picture, VR Skater promises to be a thrilling and distinct addition to the PSVR2’s game collection, bringing much-needed diversity to the platform. If you’re a fan of physically engaging VR experiences or simply want to experience the thrills of skateboarding a la Tony Hawk without the risk of actual injuries, VR Skater is one to watch out for.