I’ll be the first to admit that when all the different dedicated gaming VR systems were announced to be released (The Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive and the Playstation VR), I was extremely skeptical; VR is something that has been toyed with for decades and never quite achieved the greatness it promises (I’m looking at you Virtual Boy!). So imagine my shock and surprise trying Playstations’ VR system for the first time in my own living room at how very real everything felt. To try to describe the first time you will experience having a full view of a room that isn’t really there or interacting with an object that came from a game or experience is actually extremely difficult outside of the word ‘astonishing’. Before being able to discuss the uses of such technology or the available experiences, it has to be said that the technology itself truly has the potential to be mind-blowing and revolutionary.
The biggest competition that PSVR has are its’ PC-geared rivals: The HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. While the other two have been around for slightly longer and are more powerful than Sony’s system, the different in price is pretty huge, and that alone will hopefully allow the PSVR to bring virtual reality to the masses in a way that the other two couldn’t. With the Rift being £549 and the HTC Vive being £800 (as of 21/10/2016 on amazon.co.uk), virtual reality was, ironically, unrealistic to acquire for a large majority of gamers due to how expensive the headset was to buy, let along the PC needed to be able to run one. PSVR clocks in at £349, but that price point could be seen as a little misleading seeing as having a £60 Playstation 4 camera is absolutely mandatory, and many games require one or two Move controllers that cost around the £30 mark each. Even with those extras, however, the price point is definitely a plus for the PSVR over its’ competitors. It might not be quite as powerful, but it most definitely defeats the various low-end VR systems many phone users have had access to for a while!
Luckily for my own experience, the room I use to play VR games is very suitable to the task having a fairly wide area of movement available and seating being approximately 6ft away from the camera. It does seem relatively necessary to have a space like that available if you plan to play PSVR as I can only imagine that with less space, I would find myself bumping into things and accidentally moving outside the boundaries of the Playstation camera pretty frequently, and that would most definitely break the immersive experience somewhat. I did find that the field of vision of the camera was a little limited, and I found myself trying to pick objects up off the floor in Job Simulator that I just couldn’t reach no matter how much I tried (which was a very strange feeling, I might add!). It may also be difficult in the future to create experiences where you can interact with objects behind you due to both the camera having to follow the lights on the VR headset and the controllers, and one of my biggest issues with the VR headset as a whole; wires. While I understand the need for wires for the sake of speed that wirelessness simply cannot reach, the amount of wire mess the Playstation VR requires makes it very difficult to keep your gaming setup looking neat and tidy, which may not matter to some, but it’s definitely something well worth pointing out.
Something I was pleasantly surprised by with PSVR is how comfortable and adjustable it is to wear. With two points of adjustment and a firm grip, at no point did I feel really uncomfortable wearing the headset, which when you plan to wear something that big and cumbersome for an extended period of time is a massive boon to the product. It’s also quite cool to see your controller in front of you and little effects coming out of your button presses (most prominently featured in PSVR: Worlds) meaning that Sony have made a purposeful use of the light coming from the controller. While I think it’s great that the PSVR makes use of already existing peripherals in the Move controllers, I had minor issues with the fact that an updated Move controller hasn’t been released, such as having to dig out my old PS3 charging cables in order to charge the controllers. Due to the way the headset is made, no light was coming in from outside, meaning that your attention is undivided toward the game you’re playing. I didn’t have any rings or impressions left on my head or eye area when playing for a while, and the only time in which I felt nauseous was while trying the demo for RIGS and jumping around (and therefore, falling back down!).
My biggest hesitation to run out and purchase a Playstation VR is the current number of applications it has. Like any console or system in its’ infancy, there are little to no fully fledged games that fully utilise the capabilities of the machine. Sure, I had fun playing around with some of the games, like Eve: Valkyrie, PSVR: Worlds and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, but generally speaking, the library of available games for the system is extremely lacking, and it will probably take some time before any meaningful releases emerge. The current releases feel like little more than tech demos, though those tech demos most certainly gave me a good impression of the potential that VR really has.
So the question still lies; is it worth running out to buy Playstation VR at this moment in time? If you want something to show off to your friends and spread the good word of VR, then yes, most definately. There honestly isn’t an easy way to describe how being in VR feels, so the only way to truly know is to experience it for yourself. If you plan on owning it for the games it provides, it may well be worth holding off for a while until more meaningful releases arrive, but the potential for virtual reality now is limitless, and I’m very much looking forward to the ride.