In recent times, the gaming industry has introduced new ways to provide users with fresh and exciting ways to experience video games.
Among these innovations, virtual reality remains one of the most promising ways of experiencing your favorite games. The medium aims to bring users closer to a brand new world by placing them smack-dab in the middle of the game setting.
And recently, one of the most highly anticipated VR headsets was released: the PlayStation VR 2. This VR headset promises to offer true next-gen virtual reality experiences, with several generation-defining features to boot.
With PSVR 2, the potential for virtual reality gaming to become mainstream has never been greater. But that begs the question: is it worth getting the headset, particularly this early in its life cycle?
Read on to find out all about the VR platform, what it has to offer and if it is worth your hard-earned cash!
PlayStation VR 2: An Overview
The PlayStation VR 2 is a successor to the 2016 Playstation VR, taking yet another step to redefine gaming for the coming years. With it, Sony has introduced a host of new features and improvements to the first iteration of the headset. The result is a VR headset that is leaps and bounds ahead of the first PSVR, showcasing the advancements made between both releases.
Sony has not stopped at streamlining the gameplay and visual experiences alone. The headset itself has seen a massive overhaul, with its design being more in-line with the aesthetics of the PlayStation 5. This is fitting because the headset needs a Playstation 5 console to plug into and play.
That’s right: unlike standalone headsets like the Oculus Quest, the PSVR 2 needs a console to function. But that is an inconvenience that is offset by the visual and gameplay output of the headset.
The PSVR 2 does away with the external PS camera and processor boxes seen in the original PSVR. It requires no elaborate setup for all of its advanced features, like eye movement tracking.
Let’s take a closer look at all the bells and whistles the VR headset comes with and glance at the future of VR gaming.
What The PSVR 2 Brings To The Table
1. The Setup
Setting up the PSVR 2 is simple enough: just plug in the included USB-C cable to your PlayStation 5 and start playing games! This sets the headset apart from its predecessor, which often had a web of wires poking through each external piece of equipment. Not only was it a hassle to manage the cables, but it was also an unsightly mess.
That said, the PSVR 2 does tether you to the console by a cable, which can restrict your movement during motion-intensive gameplay. Whether you play sitting down or standing up, the cable is bound to get in the way.
While cable extensions can solve the problem to an extent, getting wrapped up in a cable can become annoying rather quickly. The headset being completely wireless would have been preferable instead.
Once you hit the power button, the console will take you through a guided tour of all of its features. It will help you position the headset correctly on your head, set up an eye tracker and play space, and map the room as well. And should you ever feel the need to change the settings to fit your preferences better, the headset has easily accessible options for it.
2. Headset Comfort
If you’ve never put on a cabled headset before, it can take a little while to get accustomed to wearing the console. After all, it has plenty of adjustable moving parts and adjusting each of them one by one does take a minute or two. Thankfully, it is a one-time adjustment unless you need to readjust it in the future.
PSVR 2 has buttons on the headset that allow you to move the scope and headband to fit your head shape better. The button on the front lets you move the scope forwards or backwards, while the one on the back expands the headband. A dial accompanies the button on the back that tightens the headset, after which you can move the scope until it fits you well.
Another button on the left will allow you to adjust the interpupillary distance (IPD), which is the distance between both of your pupils. While doing so, you will see a guide on the headset screen that helps you make these adjustments effectively.
It’s worth noting that getting the highest possible image clarity on the PSVR 2 can be quite difficult. So, remember to be patient and persistent until you get it right. The visual fidelity is one of the strong points of the PSVR 2, after all!
3. Gaming Performance And Audio
The PSVR 2 pairs with a PlayStation 5 and features a similar gaming performance to the console. And since the PS5 is one of the most powerful gaming machines on the market, expect high frame rates that accentuate its graphical capabilities.
In addition to high refresh rates and visual fidelity, the VR console is quite effective at tracking your movements. Even in low-light environments, the PSVR 2 is capable of tracking physical and eye movements quite well. It’s only in near-complete darkness that the headset would demand more ambient light in the play area.
To further strengthen its tracking capabilities, the headset comes with a tracking support functionality. This makes the console target your screen and use it as a reference point to track your movement in difficult-to-track situations.
As for the audio, the PSVR 2 may not offer the ideal solution. It comes with dedicated earbuds, which are a decent enough alternative to integrated audio. Immersive gameplay sessions may lead to issues with the earbuds, particularly when it comes to stowing them away into the headsets post-gameplay.
And much like most other VR headsets, the PSVR 2 doesn’t work well with over-the-ear headphones because of the straps and their added weight. You can use your own earbuds with the 3.5 mm audio jack, but it is a little less than what would be ideal.
The controllers, dubbed the PSVR 2 “Sense,” are designed to be comfortable during use, with all the buttons and analog sticks being easily accessible. Their build quality is quite high, and the controls feel premium on touch.
Like some of the more advanced VR controllers, the Sense controller detects when you are holding it, which is then reflected in your gameplay. The sensing is not particularly refined at the moment, but it opens up great potential for game developers to add an extra layer of detail.
And much like the DualSense controllers that come with the PS5, the Sense controllers have haptic feedback, capacitive sensors, and adaptive triggers. Each of these features further adds to the inherent immersion of the VR headset and makes the gameplay experience much more enjoyable.
5. Resolution And Graphics
Much of the visual performance of a VR headset hinges on its lenses, and the PSVR 2 has made substantial strides here. The Fresnel lenses used in the headset are clear from one edge to the other, provided that you have adjusted the IPD well. There are a few spots where these lenses can struggle, such as with glare in high-contrast scenes and sunbeams.
As for the display, each eye features a 2,000 x 2,040 resolution OLED panel that provides a crisp and rich picture. Games with high on-screen detail can showcase this much more effectively, with environmental detail highlighting the color richness and saturation of these panels. This is further supported by its HDR capabilities, which widens the range of colors that are on-screen at any given moment.
Lastly, the headset features a 110-degree field-of-view, allowing you to take in as much of the on-screen detail as possible. This does require you to keep the eye lenses as close to your eyes as possible, which may become uncomfortable.
Even without comparing the headset to its predecessor, PSVR 2 is going to leave your wallet quite a bit lighter. It’s nearly 40% more expensive than what the original PSVR was priced at launch. What can be a little astounding is its price relative to a Playstation 5 console.
Compared to the price of the digital edition of PlayStation 5, the PSVR 2 is 40% more expensive. And even the most expensive PS5, the standard edition, is 10% less expensive than the PSVR 2.
The price differential can be a little jaw-dropping at first glance, particularly since the PSVR 2 requires a PS5 to operate. But if you don’t mind spending a little more money, the cutting-edge technology used in the VR headset is well worth the experience.
7. Other Features
In addition to VR gameplay, there are a plethora of features accompanying the PSVR 2. These features can serve to enhance your playing experience or elements that improve VR functionality.
First off, you can use the front cameras on the headset to switch to a see-through view. You can toggle between viewing gameplay and the surroundings, which can be handy when you need to do something without taking the headset off.
Next, you can define custom play areas which lets you know if you’re stepping over the boundaries or not. If you get close, the system will alert you.
A feature that maximizes the visual fidelity of the PSVR 2 is the Cinematic Mode, which casts the Playstation system to your screen. In essence, the Cinematic mode streams the PS5 system in full HD and up to 120Hz, giving you the highest possible picture quality. You can use your favorite streaming services in VR using the Cinematic mode.
And lastly, we have Foveated Rendering that enables menu and in-game navigation through eye tracking. This enables dynamic resolution adjustment, emulating how our eyes perceive the world, creating a much more realistic VR experience.
How PSVR 2 Fares Against The Original PSVR
The original PSVR came with a 960 x 1,080 resolution OLED display panel per eye, lacking an HDR mode entirely. It could support 90 and 120Hz refresh rates, which is fairly standard for modern PC VR headsets like the Valve Index.
In contrast, the PSVR 2 features double the resolution of the original, with a 2,000 x 2,040 resolution OLED display per eye. It does come with an HDR setting while offering identical refresh rates to the original.
2. Eye Lenses
The PSVR 2 has Fresnel eye lenses, whereas the original had single-element lenses. Additionally, the former offers a 110-degree FoV, while the original comes with a 100-degree FoV.
While both consoles come with eye-relief adjustments, the PSVR 2 made the significant addition of IPD adjustment.
As mentioned earlier, the PSVR had external cameras and processor boxes for tracking purposes, something the PSVR 2 did away with.
This also means that the original headset had no onboard cameras, while the PSVR 2 comes with four external and two internal built-in tracking cameras. These cameras are used for both position and eye tracking.
PSVR used PS Move controllers for input, the functionalities of which have been carried over and upgraded in the next-gen. The PSVR 2 Sense controllers feature feedback systems like haptic feedback that were also a headlining feature of the PS5 DualSense controllers.
5. Console Compatibility
This may be the only area where the PSVR beats out its successor, as it supports the PlayStation 4, PS4 Pro, and PS5 consoles. While it can only play older games on a PS5, the limited library of PSVR 2 makes the original a decent alternative. There are more games available on the PS4 for the time being, after all.
The PSVR 2, on the other hand, can only be used with a PS5. Of course, the list of compatible consoles may increase as time passes with newer console releases.
VR Games Available On The PSVR 2
It is fairly early in the life cycle of the VR console, which means that its library of games isn’t quite as expansive right now. That being said, there are several AAA titles from both first-party and third-party developers in the works that will expand the VR scene even further.
The following are the three launch games that came with the PSVR 2 to test the waters of a next-gen VR experience.
1. Horizon: Call Of The Mountain
Following the release of Horizon: Forbidden West last year on the PS5, Horizon: Call of the Mountain brings Aloy’s futuristic world to VR. The title was developed by Guerrilla Games with the PSVR 2 in mind. Putting you in the shoes of a rebel named Ryas, Horizon: Call of the Mountain aims to immerse you in this post-apocalyptic dystopia. With highly detailed landscapes to explore and objectives to fulfill, you can climb, fight and run through the world for a complete next-gen VR experience.
2. Resident Evil: Village
The eighth mainline entry in the Resident Evil franchise, Resident Evil: Village, brings to you the horrors of the Titular village in VR. With advanced immersion-enhancing features like 4K HDR visuals, eye-tracking, and 3D audio, you can view the world through the eyes of Ethan Winters. This title fully utilizes the movement tracking capabilities of the PSVR 2, allowing you to perform actions such as blocking by raising your arms.
3. Gran Turismo 7
Gran Turismo 7 is a VR game with more than 450 cars that allows you to experience races from the seat of a high-octane sports car. You can turn your head around to look into the corner, pinpoint the opponents that surround you, and race past them in this immersive racing simulator. Whether in single-player or online mode, you can use the headset and controller feedback for racing past your opponents and winning the race.
Is the PSVR 2 Worth It?
So, is the PSVR 2 worth it? The answer isn’t exactly as straightforward as one might think.
Firstly, the virtual reality headset needs a PlayStation 5, and it is compatible with nothing else. And since game developers have yet to leave the previous console generation behind, some users may not want to move on from the PS4 yet.
Secondly, the PSVR 2 is one of the most expensive standard consoles put out by Sony in the video game industry. Its price is rivaled only by a custom-built PC, the cost of which is often in the thousands. Then again, the PSVR 2 boasts enough power to surpass many PCs that can run VR games on maximum or Ultra settings.
If you can look past both of these points, the PSVR 2 is definitely worth the price of admission. The console is one of the most advanced pieces of VR gaming hardware on the market, and its library of games will only expand.
The PlayStation VR 2 offers a true next-gen experience, albeit with a somewhat hefty price of admission. Its capabilities complement the PlayStation 5 well, and it comes with several features that offer a glimpse into the future of gaming.
While the number of launch games is not particularly impressive, what the games can achieve with this console is noteworthy. Making complete use of aspects like haptics and headset vibration, the console can provide a new way to immerse VR enthusiasts in virtual worlds.
The PSVR 2 marks a milestone in the VR gaming industry, one that may pave the way to more advanced and immersive gameplay mechanics.