As a gaming platform VR has yet to have its big break. Yes, Quest 2 has sold better than anyone had expected, but compared to console sales there is a long way to go, and the other headsets on the market are far behind Meta's headset in terms of raw numbers. That goes for the original PlayStation VR as well, even if it was the first to prove that it was possible to sell millions of VR headsets. Seven years and a lot of valuable experiences later Sony is now ready to release the next generation of a VR headset. Can PlayStation VR2 (PS VR2) take VR to the next level and differentiate itself in a crowded market? PlayStation recently invited us to spend an hour with PS VR2 to see for ourselves. Here's five things that stood out.
Most Quest veterans will probably agree with me when I say that comfort is not a factor to overlook when it comes to the still relatively bulky headsets. My neck has often cursed the poorly proportioned headset design from Meta. Therefore I'm happy to report that PS VR2 feels very comfortable, at least judging from the hour or so I wore it. Like its predecessor it can be adjusted in the front and the back. It's soft and has nice, round curves, and it feels lighter than its predecessor. Comfort might not be at the very top on the wish list for most gamers, but it's still lovely that Sony seems to have designed a comfortable headset.
With its OLED screen, 2000 x 2040 resolution per eye and 110 degree field of view PS VR2 has impressive specs, and as you can read in my preview of Horizon Call of the Mountain they, in combination with the power of the PS5, are able to produce experiences that far exceed those of the first PSVR from a visual standpoint. The sharp picture quality that does away with the notorious screen door effect is, in particular, a very welcome upgrade, and with its internal cameras the tracking is also greatly improved. Just the fact that you can now turn 360 degrees without the tracking going haywire is wonderful.
The death of the Move controller is one of the best things about the new hardware. The awkward sticks have been replaced by a couple of Oculus Touch inspired controllers that feel very natural to hold. There are finally two analogue sticks and the placement of the buttons feels just right. And of course they come with haptic feedback and adaptive triggers (more on that in a bit). If you, like me, have spent a considerable amount of time with the Touch controllers, it feels like a small upgrade, but if your reference point is the original PSVR, you're in for a serious treat.
Speaking of haptic feedback the controllers aren't the only thing to use this. The headset itself comes with that feature. Don't worry, a strike from a Watcher's tail won't knock you out as Sony are less radical than Palmer Lucky in a design sense. But feeling the wind in the air after a close encounter with a Stormbird or the vibrations through my hands and head when a Tallneck passes close by enhances the immersion greatly, and I actually think that haptic feedback and adaptive triggers have a bigger potential in VR than it does in traditional gaming. I for one am excited to have my very own Jurassic Park moment the first time a Thunderjaw approaches. As always these features run the risk of becoming less noticeable as time goes by or even become neglected by developers, but right now I'm curious to see how the upcoming games implement the features.
When PS VR2 was announced the biggest criticism was the single wire connecting it to the PS5. Personally it didn't worry me too much, and during my time with the headset the appropriately long cable wasn't a hassle. Would it have been even nicer had the PS VR2 been wireless? Probably. But it's a trade off I can understand if it means higher resolution and lower latency. Although, I'm the type who likes wired earphones, so take that how you will.
As mentioned in the introduction all this is based on just an hour with the headset, but things are looking good, and I'm looking forward to going more in depth with Sony's new accessory when it launches on February 22.