TECH – The PlayStation VR is now available in the stores, which means Sony entered the world of virtual reality, becoming a competitor against the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. It’s cheaper (no beefed up PC required), and while it’s technologically weaker compared to its rivals, it tries to sell itself to most of the 43 million PlayStation 4 owners. Is the lack of power its doom?
VR. Put the device on your head, and you’re good to go… and if you don’t calibrate it properly, you might lose your ability to use it for a while. Defensive strategy – the PlayStation VR was never devised as something that you can use for 4.5 hours in one sitting (standing). You need to get used to it, especially because of its „fogging.”
What do you need?
A TV. A PlayStation 4. A PlayStation Camera. A set of Moves for some games. That is all. It doesn’t require a lot, but in return, it’s in a distant third place regarding technology specifications behind the Vive and the Rift. However, it has a much more reasonable price, because you can get everything you need for six hundred dollars, or even less, if you have a PS Camera or the Move set – in this case, you’re good to go with 400 bucks.
The PlayStation VR tried to be revolutionary: it’s the first VR headset specifically made for consoles. The Nintendo Virtual Boy was a separate platform so that I won’t compare it to the PSVR. You can easily set the headset up, making that demo disc played in just mere minutes. (Unfortunately, Europe got half the amount of demo discs than what America got, because Sony didn’t want to go through the age rating procedures again. The demos will be available from the PlayStation Store, though.)
A lot of cables
Despite the PlayStation VR being easy to set up and ready to go, it got a ton of cables. An HDMI and a USB cable from the PS4 to the processing box (I’ll call it PSVR box from now on), an HDMI cable from the box to the TV, an AC cable from the box to an electric socket, and a cable from the box to the headset. That’s five cables.
I believe Sony will create a PlayStation 4 with the PSVR box implemented into the console. (If I happened to give an idea for the Japanese, please pay me for the idea!) Add the Move controllers into the mix, and it won’t just make your gaming lair a cable labyrinth, but it will also turn your desk full of gadgets, too, bringing up the question „do I have enough space for all this sh_t?”
Calibrating the PlayStation VR is easy. It won’t take more than ten minutes, so even from unboxing the package, you’ll end up playing in like half an hour. One hour in the worst possible scenario. If you’re done, you end up on the PS4‘s UI in its Cinematic mode.
Its basic size is 163″, but you can change it to 223″, if it’s not big enough for you – prepare to do more head movement in this case, though. If you turn the PSVR down, don’t forget to shut down all VR games and applications to restore the normal size on your TV, too.
Thankfully, the PlayStation VR doesn’t weigh even two pounds, so wearing it will not strain your neck. You can easily get the straps on the front and the back to suit your head size – do it before you even start to play because nobody wants to literally drop four hundred dollars due to mispositioned setup on their heads.
Don’t make it too tight, because it will cause headaches in just mere minutes. Watch out for the display’s fogging via your breathing, too. It can happen, and if it does, it disappears after 5-10 minutes – wait on the PS4‘s UI for a few minutes, just to be safe.
The PlayStation VR, like everything else, isn’t perfect. First off, you can’t move around wearing it. The HTC Vive is capable of that, although it costs about two and a half times more than the PSVR – you must pay the price for the movement…
The cables can be in your way, too, especially the one between the headset and the CPU box. If you wear clothes with buttons on it, the cable might get stuck there. The volume control can be quite sensitive as well – you might notice the volume blasting to the max with one unintentional move. Not a pleasant experience. If you stand (some games will require you to stand up), the cables could become even more of a problem, and you might hit the table in front of you multiple times. The movements affect what the others see on TV, making the video vibrating to an extent. I saw this many times on YouTube.
You need to get used to game on the PlayStation VR. Make sure that you always put the Move controllers and the DualShock 4 on the same, easy-to-reach position at all times to access them without disrupting your experience. Be about 7-8 feet away from the PS Camera, too. The Kinect might be in your memory, but the situation is not that terrible here unless the camera deems you as too far from the device. If you move around with the Move (pun not intended), your body might block the sensors of the Move – it will be a problem for many.
The experience isn’t perfect because the devices don’t seem to be on the same level – the Move could be that weakest link in the PSVR-PS Camera–PS Move chain.
Let’s get through some technological details, too. As I’m already on the third page, it doesn’t matter if I end up with either four or five pages – I’d rather go all the way through at this point in the sake of completion.
The PSVR comes with a 5.7-inch OLED display with a 1920XRGBX1080 resolution with either a 90 or 120-hertz refresh rate – this is the reason why there’s that CPU box included with the PlayStation VR: it takes some power requirement off from the PS4‘s shoulders. (No VR games are allowed to go under sixty hertz, though – Sony doesn’t allow them on the platform!) Regarding audio, the PSVR is capable of 3D audio – for this, you must have a wired head/earphones. If you have something wireless, it will not work. The PSVR can be used with headphones, if it’s stretchable a bit, although I think the basic earphones should work better for the long term…
Sony launched the PlayStation VR with a ton of games, but let’s face it: most of them are tech demos. For example, I’d mention the US demo disc’s The Kitchen demo, which is part of Resident Evil 7. It can be completed in four minutes. Yes, 4 minutes; all you do is just sitting in one place, tied to a chair, with almost zero interaction.
100ft Robot Golf has an outstanding story, and its gameplay tried to do something new, but the commentary is so repetitive, and the game gets so boring that it ends up flying out of our PS4s in no time. It’s a good launch title, but the result isn’t perfect. I hope there will be a sequel, and the devs will be a bit braver.
Batman Arkham VR already was in the talks with its length. Sure, it’s an okay puzzle game, but come on, you can beat it 100% in like 4-5 hours if that. You can beat the story in 90 minutes even if you mess up. While throwing Batarangs can be fun, the lack of ability to move around in the room ruins the experience.
Wayward Sky is charming, it has a good ambiance, but the gameplay is so basic, and the visuals are so meh – it’s like a plane that is capable of taking off, but it ends up stuck to the ground. It lacks that extra push and polish.
Then there’s Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. It’s fun to shoot everything with the Move controllers, but it’s a rail shooter after all. The amusement park plays around with the usual jumpscares. The boss fights, as well as the last level, isn’t as good as the other segments of the game, though, making the result only “good” instead of “good and memorable.”
Battlezone tried to stick to the 1980 original as much as possible, but where is the competitive multiplayer? Why is the AI so predictable, making the campaign boring? On the other hand, the game has a ton of weapons, tanks, and easy controls.
In Tumble VR, we put blocks on each other. That’s it, really. While the game is a fun puzzle title, I don’t see the point in making a VR port for it – it gets boring after the novelty wears off. What next, a Tetris VR game? Come on.
DriveClub VR is an interesting one: I’ve seen a publication (DigitalSpy), where the reviewer ended up puking, but another one (IBTimes) deemed the game as an enjoyable. The already disbanded Evolution’s game splits the community, but to me, it’s an empty bullet: what’s the point of re-releasing a game in VR two years after the original launch?
Then, there’s EVE: Valkyrie. Space battle a la Star Wars. Great game, and it’s much better than a Star Wars Battlefront Rogue One X-Wing Mission (or whatever it’s called). While that game has an official Star Wars coat of paint, EVE does it better, plus it has cross-platform multiplayer with Oculus Rift owners. Easily a recommended title.
Thumper is for the music-minded. If you always liked Rock Band or Guitar Hero, then I can recommend this one, too. It’s like a Guitar Hero title with the style of Audiosurf.
RIGS: Mechanized Combat League is another great one. It’s just like Titanfall but in the disguise of a sports game. The question is, can it become a competitive eSports game? The PlayStation VR‘s success is depending on this title in the long run.
Here They Lie is scary and exciting. As a VR-horror title, it tries to be one of the key selling points behind the PSVR with style similar to Inside or Limbo. It’s easily another one worth buying.
Rez: Infinite? The original was an excellent title one and a half decades ago, and it still is today. Beautiful, an artistic shooter that aims to be both Tron and VR. It’s one of those titles that I would name as one of the rail shooters that all fans of the genre should try once.
Hustle Kings is a pool in VR; Super Stardust VR is an obligatory port of this shooter – let’s just say it is an immersive game. Job Simulator is fun, too – picking up that donut can cause some laughs.
I’m close to the bottom of the fourth page, so after mentioning most of the important VR launch titles, let’s think about the future of Sony‘s device.
What can Sony do against the repeat of the Kinect? First off, they must provide us great, quality games that don’t take two hours to complete or end up as boring in 15 minutes. RIGS is one of those potential success titles. That game should be the standard for future PSVR titles, and while porting games over could be fun, the repeat of the past isn’t always a sharp idea. We should also mention non-VR games‘ VR modes. Rise of the Tomb Raider did its best, Star Wars Battlefront did the obligatory run, and we have yet to see how Infinite Warfare’s extra mode will fare. (I’m still curious about Robinson, too.)
The PlayStation VR will quickly end up as a side device if Sony doesn’t start focusing on development. They have to win the hearts of the undecided to make them buy a PSVR. Most of the current games are just tech demos. There are a few good ones, but some of them are boring after thirty minutes.
VR, as a genre, will succeed only if Sony‘s device ends up selling in the long term. The low price will pull in more customers, but Sony has to keep them interested. If the Japanese company does that, it will be a VRevolution or the PSVR will see the same fate as the Kinect.
Sony needs to keep the hype alive, or the headset will just pick dirt up in about a month. Serious AAA developments have to take place. Who the hell will play say, Tumble VR in two years?
These make the VR great:
+ It doesn’t need a lot of space
+ Easy to use, doesn’t need a strong PC
+ Some great launch titles! (RIGS, EVE: Valkyrie, Here They Lie, Thumper)
These could make some problems in some time:
– Cables can be in your way, somewhat ruining the experience
– How many titles will be developed for it after say, Resident Evil 7?
– Will it get a large technical disadvantage in comparison to its rivals?