Sony’s PlayStation VR has finally arrived, and with it comes the first major step towards virtual reality console gaming. Like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive before it, the PS VR headset brings with it a lot of expectations and a ton of skepticism. Can Sony truly deliver VR gaming to the console space without making a ton of sacrifices or short-changing the products?
After having spent some time with PlayStation VR it’s clear that Sony is on to something special. This is a device that is not going to be for everyone, but those who do buy into the potential of VR may find this is a great step forward for the technology. No, PS VR isn’t at the forefront, but it hits all the important notes. It’s more affordable, easy to use, and it has a built in install base.
PlayStation VR Setup
Setting up the PlayStation VR is fairly painless, but it is not without certain considerations. Users will need to arrange a significant amount of space as their “play area” to ensure both that the PlayStation Eye camera can see their headset, Move controllers, and movements; and so they don’t bump into anything while in VR. It’s a bit odd that PlayStation VR requires so much space (2 meters by 3 meters) considering many of the games ask the player to remain seated, but some will be able to get away with less.
The key component of the PlayStation VR package is the processing unit. This “mini PS4” connects the home console to the VR headset and is the essential piece when it comes to delivering virtual reality gaming. However, adding another link in the chain does make for a cord-heavy setup. Essentially, players will have a set of cords (attached together) running from the PS VR headset to the processing unit, and then cords running out from the processing unit to both the TV and the PS4.
Overall, the PS VR arrangement is not as cumbersome as a few other VR headsets, but it’s not hassle free either. The addition of a cord from the in-line volume control and power switch to a headset can also make for some trouble while in VR. In our experience it was easy to stay aware of where the cords were but it also broke the immersion. It’s also not a particularly tidy set-up, but that’s true of VR in general.
PlayStation VR is Easy to Use
When it comes to ease of use, the PlayStation VR is second to none. Getting the headset on and off is the most accommodating, and does not feel like the user is slapping a pair of diving goggles on their face. The headset has separate adjustments for securing the device to the user’s head, and then it has an additional slider that moves the VR goggles closer to the person’s face. For someone who wears glasses this is a godsend because it adjusts to accommodate the extra space needed, instead of mashing the glasses against the user’s face.
Similarly, the aforementioned volume and power toggle, which is attached to the PS VR cord, make it very easy to tweak important settings while playing, and it’s easy to turn the device on and off. That’s one of the serious benefits of PlayStation VR – it works perfectly for the solo user, allowing them to set everything up without needing a second pair of non-VR eyes.
PlayStation VR Games
For PlayStation VR's game launch line-up, Sony and its third party partners have put together quite the eclectic collection. Some of the PS VR launch games are meant to show off the immersion associated with 3D VR, like VR Worlds or Harmonix VR, while others give a brief glimpse at what VR games are truly capable of, like Battlezone or RIGS Mechanized Combat League. This early on it does feel like the majority of games are glorified tech demos, but they are impressive ones at that. Where a normal consoles launch line-up is filled with duds or lesser games, the smaller experiences for PlayStation VR are no less valid. In fact, many of them help better illustrate the potential of VR on the PS4, even if they aren’t really “games.”
Game Rant will have more to say about PlayStation VR’s launch titles in the coming days, but for now know that many of the games are barely that. But they are great showpieces that will have friends and family members – even those who don’t play games – oohing and aahing much in the same way people did when they first played the Wii.
Is PS VR Worth the Price?
Price is likely going to be one of the major sticking points for prospective PlayStation VR owners, pulling them towards the headset and pushing them away. On the one hand, at $399 for the standalone headset, the PS VR is the cheapest of the three major market leaders in the space. That, of course, doesn’t include the cost of games that will support PS VR and the PlayStation Eye camera that is essential for running it. When all is said and done, PS VR is the cheapest option when it comes to delivering high quality VR gaming.
Conversely, though, some might have a hard time justifying a price point that’s higher than the PS4 console, just for some added bells and whistles. VR is as much an add-on as motion controls or HDR, and it’s a very expensive one at that. Gamers really have to believe in the technology and its potential to want to pick up a PlayStation VR, but chances are once they do they will be satisfied with the investment.
Considering VR is a relatively new technology it’s surprising how well the PlayStation VR functions right out of the box. Many VR headsets that we have tested needed some fine tuning before the experience was just right, but PS VR was off and running the second it was turned on. Granted, PlayStation VR doesn’t support room scale and many of the experiences on offer are seated, but it’s hard to deny the headset doesn’t make a strong first impression. Players who purchase VR want to understand the advantages of the tech, and in that respect PlayStation VR passes with flying colors.
That’s arguably where PlayStation VR will find the most success – in convincing gamers that VR is an additive component that can deliver one-of-a-kind video game experiences. Yes, the technology may be in its infancy, but with the combination of creative development teams and the right concept, a VR game can push things forward. Granted, it’s still very early for the PlayStation VR, and only time will tell how much support the headset will garner, but for a launch product this is a very impressive package. In fact, PlayStation VR might just be the virtual reality headset that brings the technology to the mainstream.