So after a long wait I finally had a chance to spend a few hours with PlayStation VR. A friend of mine, Rotech, bought over his PS4 and PlayStation VR for me to try out. I have to say at the end of the experience I was truly impressed. Sony have definitely bought VR into the console market and have done a great job of it.
The first PlayStation VR experience I got to try was the newly released Farpoint. I also got to use the new gun controller that you can buy with the game. This works amazingly well and sets a great scene for a sci-fi type shooter. I loved how they had mapped the arms and gun inside the VR world. It makes you feel absolutely bad-ass. That is until you remove your VR helmet and see this white plastic gun with a glowing orb at the end of it. The accuracy of the gun though was very impressive and you could even look down the sights to become even more accurate. Playing this game really made me wish they would convert stealth games like Alien Isolation to VR. I would play that again in a second in VR.
Farpoint’s resolution is a bit rough around the edges, much like other VR games but because you are completely immersed you immediately forgive this. The game has you trying to find missing survivors of a missing scientific expedition on a planet that looks a lot like Mars (apparently it is Jupiter). I spent a few minutes joking with my friend about how I should start growing potatoes while walking around the first few minutes of the game. The movement is well done and the gun accessory has two thumb-sticks and a variety of buttons you can use to fire primary / secondary weapons. The hour I played of this definitely left me wanting to play more.
Then Rotech put on Shark Encounter. This is a VR experience that puts you in a underwater cage that gets lowered deeper into the depths. Shark Encounter REALLY impressed me. I was absolutely blown away about how good it was. I use to scuba dive in real life frequently and they absolutely nailed the feeling of being deep underwater and going deeper, without getting wet. The resolution on this experience was a lot better too, even on the humble PS4, probably because it wasn’t a game as such but more of a on rails experience. Even so, this experience completely sold me on the PlayStation VR. I could see non gamers loving experiences like this. The only thing that took away from the immersion of this wonderful VR experience was when you looked down you couldn’t see your body or legs. Suffice to say I did jump a few times.
Next up was the DriveClub VR demo. I was itching to try this because I love racing games and wanted to be immersed. This didn’t disappoint either, despite the resolution not being that high. I raced around a track in a BAC Mono and not surprisingly the VR is absolutely excellent. I found myself doing quite well in the game too and using a standard controller with this VR experience was excellent. I only noticed a bit of vertigo when I spun out and hit the wall. Apart from that everything felt fine.
My final game experience was the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare experience – Jackal Assault. This was truly impressive as well. The immersion was amazing and looking around trying to spot your targets inside a virtual cockpit just feels so natural it will be hard to go back to traditional flight games again. The graphics here were very impressive and the resolution seemed better than Farpoint and Drive Club. It was very quick and responsive and despite me doing barrel rolls and flying every which way I didn’t get queasy at all.
The one other thing I did try was watching a 3D Blu-Ray movie. Amazingly this worked out of the box using the standard Blu-ray software the PS4 uses. Not only did it play the movie in 3D to the size that it looks like you are in the front row of the cinema, it also passed through the 3D signal to my TV as well. This means you can actually have one person watching the movie using the VR headset while the others still use the normal 3D glasses. This feature was icing on the cake for me but once again Sony’s PlayStation VR really knocked it out of the park for me.
Just some final notes on my experience. The headset was by far the most comfortable I’ve worn with glasses, which I wear daily. It is adjustable and you can really make it fit snug on your head to provide the ultimate immersion. One thing I’ll add is a good pair of headphones or surround sound home theatre is a must. I have a decent Yamaha home theatre setup and it really adds to the immersion when you can hear the sound all around you.
I seemed to fare the best out of everyone that played with PlayStation VR in terms of motion sickness. Kit felt a bit queasy at the end of the Shark Encounter but admittedly she didn’t wear her glasses, which may have helped. Another friend of mine, Mosquito, was fine with the Shark Encounter but struggled once the action got going in Farpoint. In the end I think if you are on the fence about buying one try and spend a few hours with a friend who has one before making the purchase.
I’m completely sold on PlayStation VR. I can understand now how Sony have managed to sell more PlayStation VR units than the other PC VR headsets. It does have mass market appeal because of the console space. You don’t have to spend a lot of money upgrading your PC to play VR and even the vanilla PS4 is fine for running it. I just hope Microsoft actually do something with their soon to be released Scorpio and VR. Based on what I’ve seen of Sony’s offering, VR is not going away anytime soon.
Words can’t fully express how immersive VR is, you just have to try it for yourself.
Reviewed on a standard PS4.