Playstation VR - first impressions

by scruffosaurus in

We got to take a few rounds with a Playstation VR, and here are our first impressions.


When we arrived at the demo station for Playstation VR, it almost looked like a Sony photo booth.  There was a lone chair set up in front of a single colored background.  The Sony representative running the demo welcomed us to give it a few rounds, which we gladly did.  

I was curious to see if we would actually use the Playstation Move controllers they had on hand, but they never moved from their holder.  At first it seemed odd, but using a Move controller is generally a new experience for most, and this was geared more towards people's first virtual reality experience.  I'm not sure we missed out by playing every demo with the controller either, as Move controllers are kind of primitive.  The DualShock 4 is a modern controller which has familiarity for both new and old gamers alike.

The Playstation Move controllers were not the only piece of conspicuous hardware, as the standout box that makes virtual reality possible sat out along the console as well.  What Sony calls the Processor Unit, which looks like a Playstation Jr., is the hub for cable management, 3D audio and other features needed to make Playstation VR possible.  It is a bit of an eyesore, especially if you consider that even an external power supply is becoming taboo.  Also, the Processor Unit does not pass HDR through to your main display.

The coil of cords continue beyond the Playstation Jr., too.  Remember, the Processor Unit is handling the 3D audio, meaning that wireless headphones like your Paystation branded ones will not provide 3D.  You will need headphones that have the 3.5 mm headphone jack to take advantage of the surround sound feature.  Sorry Apple, no Lightning port here.  The headphones must be plugged into a connector that is built inline to the VR headset.  As you can see in the pictures, it really does create another bundle of wires that you need to be mindful about.  Of all the things Playstation VR gets right, they miss the mark in many ways when it comes to the audio.  This experience is greatly aided by the 3D audio, and not supporting your own hardware is a miss.

Fortunately, the rest of the Playstation VR is on point.  The fit of the headset is fantastic.  Playstation VR is easy to put on, adjust and use in the matter of a couple minutes.  It was very comfortable to wear, more so than the Oculus Rift.  There has been some negative feedback on the Playstation VR screen quality, but I found it adequate.  Just remember how much you paid for Playstation VR, and how much the hardware running it costs- it is doing a great job all things considered.  It would be equally as silly of me to critique say Gear VR on my smartphone because it wasn't the ultimate virtual reality experience.  For the price, Playstation VR is doing pretty good.

As somebody who does not find themselves losing touch with reality when I put on a VR headset, I had zero motion sickness issues.  I tried every circling, spiraling loop in EVE: Valkyrie I could for extended timeframes and never felt dizzy or sick.  I thought it super important to demo the most disorienting game in the most dizzying way possible, just to see how Playstation VR performed and how it made me feel.  I am glad to say that both the performance and my stomach were rock solid.  It could just be my inability to forget I am sitting in a room and not actually in outer space, but I feel confident with the Playstation VR hardware.

Other games like SUPERHYPERCUBE felt a bit unnecessary in VR.  I have heard  a lot of people say that it is needed in SUPERHYPERCUBE, but in all reality, all they have done is mapped a joystick's camera control to your head.  If I wanted to pan my camera to the left, I found myself instinctively pressing left on my joysticks.  SUPERHYPERCUBE just does not need VR to be the game it is, a joystick can handle that just fine.  And that is where EVE: Valkyrie shines.  You are already using your two thumbsticks to control your pitch, yaw and roll.  But with the introduction of VR head tracking, you can now see out of the windows all around you while still piloting your ship.  Battlezone was also a good example of how to make use of head tracking that genuinely improves a game.

The bottom line is this: Playstation VR is the best mid-range VR system out there.  For the price, you will not find a comparable headset in terms of features and quality.  The entry point from owning nothing to a full VR setup is under one thousand dollars, which is honestly astonishing.  While they do not currently have the best VR controllers they could easily make better, more modern ones if Playstation VR sells well.  Playstation VR is a solid experience for the money, even though it has limitations like not being able to fully turn around due to only one camera/sensor to detect movement.  With interesting games, experiences, and a comfortable headset, Playstation VR is worth the price.  If you are uncertain about virtual reality, I would suggest you first invest $20 to $60 on a Google Cardboard, Gear VR, or a View-Master to see if it is right for you.