With the recent Facebook purchase and ambitious MMO goals of the Oculus Rift VR headset, it’s easy to forget about other virtual reality headsets that are currently being developed. Oculus definitely has the most traction so far, but a few other companies are preparing similar gamer-focused virtual reality products that will likely end up rivaling the Rift headset. It’s no surprise that Sony’s Project Morpheus aims to capitalize on the market of console gamers, but the groundwork for the headset’s eventual release was apparently in the works long before the console launched in November.
It was no surprise when Sony announced its VR plans last month, but the company failed to mention how the top secret project impacted the design of the PS4 and its existing peripherals leading up to the console’s release. In a recent interview with TechRadar, SCEE senior designer Jed Ashforth spilled some details on how Project Morpheus led to the inclusion of one of the PS4’s seemingly out of place features.
“The tracking light… it was our department that said we need that on. It was for tracking for VR… And when all these things were coming out six months ago and everyone was going ‘it’s reflecting in my TV,’ we were going ‘oh no’ because we couldn’t tell anyone what it was for.”
The controller was unveiled long before the November release of the PS4, which means the teams at Sony have had to stay quite on the subject for quite some time. Hopefully, now that its real purpose has been explained, we will start to see more games making use of the light bar in creative ways. Better yet, the complaints about the light bar functionality and the always-on glow now have been addressed. It was all part of the plan.
So far, the DualShock 4’s light bar is only utilized by a handful of games. The current uses of the light bar are flat out shallow at this point and don’t often enhance gameplay very much. For example, in Killzone the light bar evolves into different colors as the player takes damage. Many users went to the PS4 forums with complaints or inquiries about the rarely-used light bar, which actually led to a recent patch’s inclusion of the option to dim the source of light. Players still can’t turn the light all the way off and perhaps now we have a better idea of why.
Despite criticisms from some members of the video game community, it seems increasingly likely that PS4 owners will eventually have the option of a virtual reality experience. The inclusion of hardware specifically designed to ease the transition to VR shows just how serious Sony is about capitalizing on that opportunity in-house and gives hope for the longtime owners of PS Move peripherals who’ve had little opportunity to use the motion controls. No release date has been announced for the Sony VR headset, but hopefully we’ll get a closer look at how the light bar and the headgear work together soon. E3 is right around the corner, so we may see a few more previews of the hardware there.
Do you think Project Morpheus will be able to build as much hype and excitement as Oculus Rift? Let us know in the comments.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.