PlayStation's VR2 headset will be available soon. Here's what to expect
- Sony is launching a successor to the PSVR headset after six long years.
- The headset feels light and uses foveated rendering.
- The Sense controllers are a big reason why gaming seems so real with the PSVR2.
The Sony PlayStation Virtual Reality (VR) headset will be available for delivery to users later this month and aims to bring PC-level VR gaming to its gaming console.
Priced at $549.99 — more than the PlayStation 5 itself — the headset sits in the same segment as Meta's Quest 2, the pocket-friendly VR headset. So, if you have been waiting on the decision to get a VR headset, here's what you can expect from Sony's VR2.
The VR2 is being launched more than six years after Sony debuted the first VR headset (PSVR) for its PlayStation. A lot has changed during this time, and comparing Sony's products alone, the two will look and feel vastly different.
Back in 2016, the PSVR did not even use analog sticks on its Move controllers and now has progressed leaps and bounds with the PSVR2 ones, which are simply called Sense.
Sony has borrowed ideas for its controllers from the likes of Valve and Meta but some reviewers say they have executed them to perfection. Each of the controllers now has an analog stick and two control buttons. The Sense controllers also have triggers and clickable grip buttons below them.
The rings on the device feel natural and comfortable making it easier to grip things during gameplay, which is something we will get to in some time. Just to put it out there, the new PSVR2 controllers might not just be Sony's best offering so far but might as well be the best VR game controllers in the market soon.
The PSVR2 headset does not have anything radical to offer from how it looks when compared to other VR headsets. The headset has a black rubbery shield that blocks light from coming inside but is also wide enough to allow users to wear their glasses inside while gaming.
The OLED display has a 110-degree field of view, which is much larger than the Quest 2's 89 degrees and one does not feel like staring at a video display inside a blackened space.
Sony hasn't really thrown too much weight behind the display resolution of the PSVR2 itself since, in absolute numbers, the pixel resolution is only marginally better than the Quest. Where Sony has made a difference, though, is in making sure that graphic quality is high and the contrasts are bold.
An interesting addition is the foveated rendering in the headset which is a smart way to utilize the resources available at hand. VR headsets are known to track eye movement to deliver the gaming environment.
The new headset, however, takes eye tracking a step further and focuses only on where the fovea of the eye is looking to maximize resolution. The data is used to render images in the sharpest detail, only where the eye is actually looking.
This lessens the load on the processor, allowing better graphics punch with fewer pixels while also improving the gaming experience.
Another improvement from Sony is the absence of the PlayStation Camera, which was earlier needed to track the user's movement inside a room. Now, the four in-headset cameras do the job themselves, making it easier to use the headset.
Cameras on the headset show the real world, and the headset can also "mesh" the physical space. By scanning walls, floors, and obstacles in the room, it can get a clear sense of the play space, as well as create a boundary you can play in.
Another unique feature is a live broadcast mode. This uses the PlayStation 5's TV-mounted camera to record yourself overlaid with footage from your live gameplay into a single stream.
Although the need for the PSVR2 to stay tethered to the gaming console might seem excessive to Quest 2 users, the setup is much simpler than that on the PSVR. A USB-C cable is all you need now to connect the PSVR2 to PlayStation 5, and you are ready to game.
A major step that one finds with the Sony PSVR2 is the quality of the haptics that one experiences during gameplay. Gone are the days, when the controllers vibrated in your hands for set periods of time to indicate that something different has happened during a game.
With the PSVR2's Sense, the haptics has become subtle, at times not even cognizable, and that's where they wow you. With the player completely immersed in the digital environment of the game, Sony has allowed developers to tone down the haptics so that they do very little, creating an even more realistic response.
Interestingly, it has also equipped the VR headset with the ability to deliver haptics, so you can feel the gameplay around your head too, during gameplay. The softer haptics of the headset can make those spin-chilling moments believable like never before, something that the Quest 2 simply cannot do.
The Games you can play
The best parts of the PSVR2 perhaps come together in Horizon: Call of the Mountain, a game Sony has developed in association with Guerilla Games. Set in an imaginary world, this game has the best mix of action ranging from climbing up mountains to shooting arrows in a landscape that also showcases dinosaur-like creatures. It is hardly a surprise that Sony is also bundling it with the headset itself.
For those, who have enjoyed playing Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge on Meta Quest 2, there is even better news. The game has not just been ported to the PlayStation platform but has also been improved for it.
The graphics look better, and the haptics plays an important role in giving you a unique experience while using different weapons in this first-person shooter game.
Whether you are looking for high-octane racing or jump scares from Resident Evil, the PSVR2 is set to entertain you through and through. If you are looking for some stunning environments and story-telling, there is the award-winning Moss and Moss, and if you are much of a builder, then there is Cities VR.
While the Meta Quest VR headsets are designed to serve the parent company's idea of a metaverse in the near future, Sony has no such plans. The PSVR2 has one purpose alone: to take the console VR gaming experience to a new level, and it does exactly that.
Sony has been very careful with the design of the headset, and instead of just delivering a high-resolution unraveling display, packed it with so much potential to unlock that developers can keep unraveling new action with each game upgrade.
Even though the current offerings offer great value, it is likely that more games will be launched after the headset delivery begins later this month.
The headset set-up with the console has been made much simpler but might still be a sore point among gamers, who would rather prefer an untethered experience. Sony has done a great job improving its controllers and making the experience as real as it can get.
The price tag, however, might discourage potential buyers. For all its great features, the PSVR2 is still an accessory to the PS5 but costs more than the console itself. It is also not backward compatible with all the older PSVR games.
Users need to be convinced that the PSVR2 opens up a whole new level of gaming for them. That might happen as the headsets begin getting delivered and users spend more time gaming inside the VR world.
For those, who have already placed their orders for the headset, the February 22nd release date might seem like a long wait, but it is possibly going to be worth it.