The day has finally arrived, what was once known as Project Morpheus is now known as PlayStation VR and gamers around the world can get their hands on it as of today. For the past two years I’ve been lucky enough to get some hands on time with PSVR but for the past week I’ve had a unit at home and have spent countless hours playing a bunch of games (12 to be exact). The questions that are no doubt on the minds of the masses are, What’s it like and should I buy one? The short answers are it’s a lot of fun and yes you should buy one. To qualify those remarks I shall get into a proper review.
What’s in the Box
Inside that shiny new PSVR box you’ll find:
- the PSVR Headset (crazy I know)
- the Processing Unit
- Stereo Earbuds
- an HDMI Cable
- USB Cable
- Power Adapter and Cable
- Headset adapter
- Demo disc
One thing to note here is that it doesn’t come with the PS4 Camera and PSVR will not work without it. Sure there a probably a few people out there who bought the camera previously but I actually don’t know anyone who has a PS4 camera so it still seems a little strange that PSVR doesn’t come with one.
The demo disc actually has a surprising amount of content on it. You’ll find demo’s for VR Worlds, Driveclub VR, RIGS, Tumble VR, Battlezone, EVE: Valkyrie, Wayward Sky and Headmaster. THe demos are just a taste of what the PSVR experience is all about. It’s a good taster but you’ll want to buy some full games. I’ll have a top 5 PSVR games article coming shortly after this review so make sure you take a look at that too. As a teaser, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is ESSENTIAL!
In terms of design, nothing has really changed since PSVR was first announced. Sure there have been tweaks to the display to help minimise latency but in terms of the look and feel of the VR unit, it’s stayed the same and that is by no means a bad thing.
The display visor has a button on the right hand side that will allow you to slide the visor in or out depending on things like how your eyes focus and general comfort feeling. I found that I got the best experience with the visor pushed all the way in as that focussed best for me and also has the benefit of blocking out all natural light so that you are fully immersed.
The headset has a nice forehead cushion and is surrounded by a solid plastic band that has elastic in it so that you get a good fit around your head. On the back is an adjustment wheel if you need to make minor tweaks.
I’ve tried all the main VR units, Gear VR, Oculus, Vive and now the PSVR and without doubt PSVR is the most comfortable of the lot. Even after a solid four hours playing Until Dawn: Rush of Blood there was no discomfort or neck soreness that can happen with prolonged VR experiences. In this regard PlayStation has done an impeccable job comfort wise.
Outside of the comfort the comfort factor the design is not completely flawless. The plastic band that wrapped around the head definitely helps create the comfort but it does so at the expense of headset accessibility. The band ends up sitting right above the ear which means that the average gaming headset will not get a completely closed off fit around the ears. The addition of the Stereo earbuds gets around this issue but for those wanting to use their surround sound headsets there is a small sacrifice there.
The most important part of any VR is the experience it creates and how well it does it. Not all VR headsets are created equal, some deliver a better experience than others. Let me say this, PC VR is still the ultimate VR experience but it comes with a major cost investment, the headset is over $1,000 and most people will need to upgrade their GPU and potentially more so the Premium PC VR experience is going to set you back a minimum of $1,500 but more likely closer to $2,000. Over 4 million PlayStation 4 units have been sold and PSVR will work on each and every one of them. The overall experience is one that is highly immersive and maintains a good level of graphical quality thanks to the 5.7 inch 1920 x RGB x 1080 screen inside the visor. You need to factor in that the resolution is lower per eye, 960 x RGB x 1080 so it is lower than Full HD yet still high enough to create beautiful looking worlds to get immersed in.
When it comes to the VR experience refresh rate is, in my opinion, more important than the quality of the screen. If the refresh rate isn’t high enough then it creates latency which can give off a sense of motion sickness for the user because there is a disconnect between what ou are seeing and what your body is processing. PSVR has two refresh rates, 120Hz and 90Hz. Having a refresh rate of 120Hz means that you should not get any latency issues and that motion sickness feeling should be at a minimum. There is a caveat on that though, some games are more prone to giving off a feeling of motion sickness, something that I experienced mildly in a couple of games. The main offenders are games that are fast paced and have a lot of lateral movement. Moving forward and backwards quickly is mostly fine but the moment you add sideways movement at a fast pace the body will tell the brain that it isn’t moving yet your eyes are telling the brain you are moving. This disconnect means the body get out of whack and you start to feel sick. The games that were more prone to this in my experience, were Driveclub VR, Battlezone and RIGS. In Driveclub the feeling passes quickly, in Battlezone and RIGS it lasts longer so my best advice is to start with short bursts on those games of no more than 30 minutes and slowly build up longer sessions which certainly helped me overcome motion sickness issues.
Outside of those games though the overall experience really needs to be experienced to be believed. I took PSVR into work with me and also invited some friends around to check it out first hand. If I got a dollar for each priceless reaction from that first PSVR Experience I’d have about $10 (I don’t have many friends). My point there is that the first experience, even more so if you’ve never experienced VR is a sense of wonderment and complete immersion. When the visor goes on and the ear buds are in the outside world ceases to exist and you are transported into a virtual world that is going on all around you. VR Worlds features some great content like London Heist and Ocean Descent are a great first up experience. Ocean Descent will put you in the flippers of a Diver who has a terrifying encounter with a Great White Shark. London Heist will see you interact more with the environment and shoot your way out of trouble which when coupled with the PS Move Controllers (also sold separately) creates one hell of a realistic shoot em up.
There is another game that I must mention which highlights the wonders of the PSVR experience and that is, Batman Arkham VR. The entire game will last about an hour and has taken some flack for the length of the game which I don’t think is fair. The entire experience is about becoming Batman and PSVR does that incredibly well. Experiencing the Wayne Murder from the eyes of Bruce as a child was emotional. Experiencing the first moment of putting on the Batsuit, Gauntlets and Cowl then seeing yourself in the mirror is every comic book fans dream come true!
Should you get yourself a PSVR? Hell yes! If you have the money then make sure you buy it with the camera and move controllers, that is the ultimate way to experience PSVR. That entire package may set you back around $850 but it’s well worth it and with around 50 titles available at launch there is a wealth of games available ranging in price from $15 – $105. If you are still sceptical about the potential of VR then try and find somewhere that is doing a demo, like Armageddon in Auckland over Labour Weekend and I’d be surprised if you aren’t a VR convert. PSVR is VR for the masses and PlayStation have delivered bigtime.