So the Playstation VR is now finally upon us. The most affordable VR headset is now on the shelves for £349.99. However, like many new pieces of hardware it is better to look at the fancy piece of kit as an experimental first step into the new frontier of virtual reality. There are yet many stepping stones for VR to traverse. The list goes on with things like optimizing comfort, shrinking tech, cramming in more power for higher resolutions and frame rates etc.
For now, the Playstation VR is what we’ve got. While it’s not the most powerful headset available to the consumer, it’s easily the most accessible. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the lay of the land after the headset’s release. Is it smooth sailing or rough tides?
Playstation VR’s Release Titles
For the most part we’re looking at indie titles like Headmaster and Battlezone. Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s worth remembering that to play these, you’re wearing a chunky headset at the tail end of a bunch of wires trailing across your living room floor. So these things aren’t necessarily meant to played for really long periods of time. Some have complained about the fact that they’re not getting many full blown games, so much as tech demos so far. But, c’mon guys, the developers have a lot of new tech to work with and it will take time to fully leverage the Playstation VR to their benefit and ours. It’s not all bad as the short nature of these games is reflected in their price.
Physics heavy tower puzzler, Tumble is going to set you back less than £10. The more renowned Until Dawn spin off, Rush of Blood is also surprisingly going to ask less than £20 from you. Not bad for fairly cutting edge tech in your living room. That’s not to say there aren’t some heavy hitters out there for the hardcore gamer. RIGS: Mechanized Combat League and EVE: Valkyrie are far closer to the typical retail price we’ve become used to. As titles that will no doubt demand everything your PS4 has got and that offer more longevity in play, the price is justified.
Oddly, in a spectrum of its own, the music / rhythm genre may well have finally found a true home to snuggle up in. Games like Rez Infinite, Harmonix and Thumper all offer different renditions of bass blowing nutty musical pychadelic jams to whiz through at high speeds. If that doesn’t sound like it’s born for VR, I don’t know what does. In fact, Sam Machkovech of arstechnica.co.uk said his experience of the Rez title was so profound it made him cry. He even felt obliged to give the game’s creator a hug from a sheer sense of gratitude for experiencing it.
This video is courtesy of Polygon
Playstation VR Is…Nauseatingly Good
About a year ago, I managed to get a hands on experience with a prototype for the Oculus Rift. I was placed into a tech demo and so came my first experience of a virtual reality world. It was nothing fancy. Nothing too shiny or mind boggling. It was just a very nicely rendered Spanish villa with some good views. Everything was mellow as I wandered around its grounds. Until the time came to head upstairs. I began to ascend and suddenly my stomach twisted as if I were on the receiving end of a Big Daddy’s drill… Yes, there are some like me who will suffer from nausea when using a VR headset.
Of course, that was a prototype model so let’s not get too up in arms about this. Sony’s fancy new headset has gotten around this somewhat with a gap on the bottom of the visor. This allows you to look down and see your lap and, well… the real world. Just so your brain can say “yes, my legs are still there”. As a result, the Playstation VR offers you a constant anchor to reality. Some may say this isn’t cool. However, when this feature lessens the chances of seeing your lunch for a second time in one day, you’ll likely be thankful for it.
Notice the use of the word ‘lessens’, there. The problem yet persists with some of the action oriented or busier movement games. EVE: Valkyrie and RIGS are likely strong candidates for this scenario. In fact, IGN have even come up with a list of release titles and how likely they are to mess you up if you play for too long. Reviewing games now comes with new hazards, it seems.
Playstation VR Works With Xbox One!
Sources online have divulged that you can indeed plug the Playstation VR headset into an Xbox One. Don’t expect full functionality, however. Cheeky Xbox One players can at least enjoy Playstation VR’s cinematic mode, allowing them to enjoy their games on a virtual cinema sized screen. They can even plug first party Microsoft headphones into the device and they will function perfectly too. A not so intentional treat from Sony for people who own both consoles. Oops!
Many sources have suggested not playing with the HTC Vive or Oculus for too long. Not because of the nausea issue, so much as the comfort factor. These headsets, with the bulk of their hardware at the front can lead to top heavy issues. People have complained of a wearing down on their forehead and around their ears. However, in Playstation’s case, it seems Sony have complemented the convenience factor with the most comfortable headset on the market. With a soft band under all this hardware, players will feel the weight far less. So they won’t feel like a brick has fallen on them. The Playstation VR also has an adjustable headband for all the odd people out there with tiny or massive heads! This distributes the weight evenly across the top of the head, allowing for longer sessions for more hardcore gamers
What’s The Future For Playstation VR?
Recently, we have learned that there are at least one hundred games lined up for Playstation VR in 2017. A strong indicator that release figures have exceeded Sony’s expectations. Many people have indeed struggled with picking up a unit for themselves due to how Sony underestimated just how quickly these things would fly off the shelves! They must be doing something right.
More interestingly, back in March 2016, we learned that Sony had filed a patent for a mysterious gaming glove. Presumably to be used in conjunction with the VR, judging from the intriguing blueprints that have been released to the internet. Could this be a replacement for the Move controllers we currently have?
Sony has also been very clever in the placement of their VR product. Neil Schneider at displaydaily.com sums things up perfectly.
“Console in every way, shape, and form has it made. I estimate that Sony PlayStation 4 will have 35 to 40 forty million units sold by the end of 2015. Thanks to their console’s fixed specification and their HMD’s committed resolution limit, it’s an easy sell. If there are 35 million PS4’s in the world, and if they could sell the PSVR HMD to 10% of them – that’s 3.5 million units sold in the first year with sequential market growth to follow. The genius of it is that PlayStation is suddenly in the display business as well as the console business. Even if they have a modest success, their hardware consistency makes for a promising future.”
If we take a moment, let’s pull away from Playstation and look at Xbox for a minute. During the lifecycle of the Xbox 360, we saw the release of the Kinect. As the Kinect was a purchasable accessory for Xbox 360 which later became available with base unit Xbox Ones… Would it be fair to assume VR units would be available with base unit PS5s? This would largely be due to the exponential growth of technology and the ability to make hi-tech products more accessible to the average consumer. Just look at how far mobile phone can come in a year!
Increasingly Affordable Tech For All
With GPU developers making more money on the VR industry, especially so in the PC market, it’s easy to predict that vr display tech will finally afford to drop in price and therefore satisfying the average consumer paradigm as mentioned. Also, with this price efficiency that we’ve seen in so many other tech progressions, Sony would likely afford to add a VR headset with base console releases. Food for thought…