This isn’t the way to inspire the VR revolution.
The virtual reality upgrade console that gamers have been waiting for is the PlayStation VR 2, but is it really worth $550? It depends on how much high-quality VR you require.
Today’s virtual reality environment is very different from that of 2016. During the height of the VR boom, which began with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vivi, the first PlayStation VR was released. Even though they weren’t flawless, using any of those devices was like sticking your eyes straight into the next significant advancement in computing. And if virtual reality gained traction, it was only a matter of time before everyone was donning augmented reality goggles. It hasn’t happened, obviously.
The PlayStation VR2 is less of a necessity now that most of the initial hype surrounding VR has subsided and is more of a curiosity. It costs more than the PlayStation 5 itself, but it offers all the features you’d want from a next-generation headset. While Sony claims there will be more than 30 titles available during the PS VR2’s debut period, it’s unknown how effectively it will be supported in the coming years.
And honestly, when the $399 Meta Quest 2 gives you entirely wireless VR (albeit of much inferior resolution), what’s the point of an expensive tethered headset? Every way you slice it, the PSVR2 is a hard sell. I can’t help but be amazed by it, though. The PS VR 2 includes the most cutting-edge PC VR technology, such as eye tracking, as well as something completely new: haptics for your head!
But first, let’s take a look at the PS VR2 in more detail. At first appearance, it appears to be an improved version of the original, with a look more akin to the PS5. The PS VR2 appears more like something made with aesthetic ambition than like a bloated Fisher Price toy. (Be prepared to scoff when it is emphasized at MOMA.) Although it is still made of plastic, at least it is high-quality plastic, the same material that was used to make the Dual Sense controllers and the outside of the PS5.
Because the core hardware of the PS VR2 is such a significant improvement, I also didn’t hate the plastic much. It has two twin 2K OLED panels that together provide a 4K image. Moreover, the field of view has been increased to 110 degrees, putting it on level with the majority of other premium VR headsets. Although the screens still support 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rates, I find that everything looks smoother because of the PS5’s increased processing capability.
Four sensors that track the headgear and its new Sense controls are located up front. The PS VR2 doesn’t need a PlayStation camera to track its movement like it once did because of these “inside out” sensors, which are also present on the Meta Quest and many other headsets. A button to extend the headset’s front portion and a dial to change the pupillary distance are both located along the top. By manually adjusting the lenses to match the space between your eyes, which was notably lacking in Sony’s original headset, it does this.
The power button, selection button, and tiny microphone are located at the bottom of the PS VR2. You must insert the included earphones along the rear of the headset to hear sounds. You are free to use your own earphones or headphones, although the wire arrangement would probably be a mess.
I was relieved to discover that Sony didn’t make many changes to the wonderfully comfy original model when it came to attaching the PS VR2 to your head. The PS VR2 has a bigger cushion behind your skull as well as comfortable padding for your forehead. The headset’s arms can be extended by clicking the dial on the back, and you can lock it in place as before by turning the dial. The PS VR2 is a delight to wear because to its perfectly balanced design and light weight. It would have been much simpler to slip on and off if the headset had flipped up like those forgotten Windows Mixed Reality gadgets.
Still, I’m glad Sony paid attention to the numerous complaints about the Move wand controllers on the initial PS VR. The new Sense controllers, which are virtually identical to Meta’s Quest controllers and feature a huge tracking ring, analogue sticks, two face buttons, triggers, and grip buttons, were really designed specifically for virtual reality. Both remotes feature haptic feedback, PlayStation buttons, and a split version of the Dual Sense’s sharing and option buttons. But it would be wonderful if they were simpler to put on when you’re confined to VR, they’re a significant improvement all around. It’s challenging to distinguish between the several controllers, and their intricate design makes it challenging to place your fingers correctly.
But every time I felt annoyed with those controllers, I took a deep breath and recognized what Sony did well. For instance, the PS VR2’s setup is much easier than the one for the first version. Now all you have to do to activate the headset is attach a single USB-C cable into the front of your PS5. Although you still have to deal with a cable that is almost 15 feet long, at least there isn’t a separate breakout box and camera involved.
I connected my Sense controllers to my PS5, went through the routine of scanning my room, and then lowered my controllers to measure the floor. I was pleased with how well the PS VR2 recognized the secure play area I had in my basement, but I also valued the flexibility to customize particular elements. You can opt to play games while sitting down or standing up when using any other VR headset. Although I enjoyed both positions, having extra space is beneficial for demanding titles like Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain. While you’re working up a sweat, it’s simpler to feel like a post-apocalyptic warrior.
The game Horizon VR turned out to be the ideal way to demonstrate all that the new headset was capable of. The PS VR2’s panels stunned me right away with their vibrant color and superb degree of contrast. You can credit OLED screens’ strength for that. Although I’m familiar with the intricately detailed locations of the Horizon games, ascending cliff faces and looking down mountains in virtual reality is a very different experience. For menu selection and foveated rendering, which focuses the PS5’s processing power on what you’re looking at, Horizon VR leverages the eye tracking sensors included into the headset.
I was taken aback to discover that the PS VR2 was rattling around my head as I gawked at the synthetic creatures in the game. I almost got out of my chair when I used the haptics for the first time because I had forgotten that Sony was adding them to the headset. I’ve already tested a tone of VR headsets, several of which have screens that are much better than the PS VR2. Yet none of them affected me as deeply as the other. Although headset haptics have the potential to be misused in the future, many developers are already attempting to use it sensibly.
With a vibrating headset, the opening sequences of Jurassic World Aftermath, for instance, struck very differently. You experience a pterodactyl attack, a plane crash, and a ravenous T-Rex in the first few minutes. And every time a dinosaur roared, my head vibrated. Of course, if you want, you can disable the haptics in your headset. I personally, though, am eager to see how new games utilize it. We’ve all encountered haptics before, but Sony is implementing it in wholly novel ways. It’s almost like using the Dual Sense controllers for the first time.
The tracking technology used by the firm also seems more advanced than that of the Meta Quest 2 and Quest Pro, in my opinion. It rarely has hiccups, something I experienced regularly with the original PS VR. Rees Infinite, a game with a high pace, and Tentacular, a game that needed precise movement, both ran smoothly with the new inside out tracking technology. In that game, you take on the role of a massive tentacle monster assigned with unusual chores like collecting massive shipping containers or smashing buildings. Tentacle arms are challenging; trying to control them with faulty motion tracking would be considerably more challenging.
It comes as no surprise that the new Sense VR devices feel terrific, even during extended play periods, because Sony is skilled at making excellent controllers. They usually lasted for four hours or so, so I’d advise buying the $50 charging station to keep them fully charged. Otherwise, keep in mind to use USB-C cables when connecting them.
If you’re forced to share a living room TV, the PS VR2 also makes for a fantastic personal cinema when you’re not playing video games. The movie is far more immersive with the headset than it is with ordinary televisions since it appears as though you are a few feet away from a 100-inch screen. I was able to relax and watch several Blu-rays, Netflix, and YouTube content in comfort. It’s difficult to eat or drink when linked into VR, so I wouldn’t recommend this for binge viewing anything, but it’s wonderful if you don’t have room for a projector screen.
Even though I had a great experience using the PS VR2, several of these games felt like they took place in the past. I’ll play Rees Infinite whenever I get the chance, and it looks much better with the new headset. But in essence, it’s the same game that was launched on the PS4 back in 2016. (itself a remake of the original 2001 title). And honestly, that’s the tale of a lot of the PlayStation VR2 games. Although though Jurassic World is an even older game than Tentacular, it was released on the Quest 2 last year. Perhaps upcoming VR titles like Resident Evil Village and Grand Turismo 7 will strengthen the case for Sony’s new headset. But as of right now, it seems like that comes a number of years too late.
There is also the cost. Those who spent about the same amount on the PS5 feel like they are being punished by being asked to pay $550 on an attachment. If you purchased the camera and controller together, the original PS VR cost $500, but its base price was only $400 if you already owned both components. The PS VR2 should have cost $400 or less if Sony truly wanted to advance VR adoption rather than simply maximize profits. It’s especially difficult to swallow now that the $400 Meta Quest 2 is available (and keep in mind that the game was originally only $300 until Meta raised the price). But hey, at least the $1,500 PS VR2 seems like a better deal Pro Meta Quest.
Although I’m confident that the price of the PlayStation VR2 will eventually drop, it looks like Sony is botching what ought to be a significant launch. It resembles the PlayStation Vita more than any other Sony product at the moment; it’s a cutting-edge device that the corporation simply doesn’t know how to handle. Also, I’m hopeful Sony will ultimately take into account PC compatibility because that could assist to defend its higher pricing. (While pairing the controllers might be a problem, I won’t be shocked if third-party drivers appear shortly.)
The PSVR2 is exactly what you’ve been waiting for if you own a PS5 and have been eager to experience what PC VR enthusiasts have been enjoying for the past few years. The rest of the group should simply wait until the price decreases and additional new games are released. And that discount might occur sooner than you anticipate if the VR market maintains its present downward trend.