Photo by Sony
By Stephen Infantolino
Since the Nintendo Entertainment System, with R.O.B. or the Light Gun, video game console manufacturers made it a staple to create additional peripherals for their devices.
PlayStation VR, originally named Project Morpheus, is a virtual reality head-mounted display designed specifically for the PlayStation 4 (PS4) system, featuring a 5.7 inch OLED display with a 1080p resolution. Although the device is specifically for the PS4, it is not limited to only PS4 games.
It released on October 13, 2016, with a price tag of $399 for the unit and $499 for the bundle.
The bundle includes the unit, the game, “PlayStation VR Worlds,” two PlayStation Move controllers originally for the PS3 system and a PlayStation camera. The camera was first available with the 2012 PS4 launch.
PlayStation VR has a pass-through system so those not wearing it can still see what the player is currently seeing. Also, the unit features a 3D audio effect with the industry standard 3.5mm headphone jack.
Nine blue LEDs scattered across the PlayStation VR allow the PlayStation Camera to track the player’s head movement 360 degrees. Combined, all of these features create an amazing virtual reality experience.
Putting on the PlayStation VR is easy. There are three different adjustment parts on the headset itself. The first button is on the band of the device; this allows you to stretch it to fit your head. Then, there is a knob that secures the device, and an adjustment button on the bottom of the visor to modify how close the goggles are to your eyes.
These three buttons make it very easy to get the PlayStation VR in the perfect viewing angle. There are very few instances where I found it difficult to get an optimal virtual reality experience. However, the system’s simple setup makes it incredibly easy to hop from game to game.
When playing on the PlayStation VR, everything seems natural. When you move your head down in certain games, it reflects that so flawlessly it is not even noticeable. Using the PlayStation Move controllers feels like you have actual control of arms within the virtual reality space.
This ease of control really immerses you into the virtual reality experiences that PlayStation VR has to offer. When playing “Until Dawn: Rush of Blood,” an on-rail horror roller-coaster shooter game, it felt like I was actually on the ride, doing all the actions I was doing in the game, and it was thrilling.
In the Playroom VR, a free downloadable game off the PlayStation Network, I was able to communicate with friends within the room to help solve puzzles and play games. Meanwhile, each of us got a different view of the action.
For example, TV players are able to see ghosts inside a haunted mansion in one mini-game, and then they have to verbally communicate to the VR player where the ghosts are so they can capture them. These two games seriously highlight the different kind of experiences this device can have, with one being a personal experience and the other being a collaborative one.
The video below shows Playroom VR from the perspective of the non-headset player.
Games are what the PlayStation VR has going for it. Many current PS4 games like “Star Wars Battlefront” will be getting VR updates. Meanwhile, new experiences like Ubisoft’s upcoming “Eagle Flight” will allow players to fly like an eagle. There are 25 games currently, or soon to be, released for the device.
However, PlayStation VR still has its faults. When a very dark or black loading screens appear, there are small dots hovering around in the virtual space. This appeared in every game when the loading screen went black.
I was very fortunate to be able to use many of the mainstream VR headsets currently out on the market including Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which feature wider display ranges, as well as crisper visuals.
PlayStation VR’s display is not awful but mediocre compared to its competition. This is expected, considering PlayStation VR is the cheapest, with the HTC Vive costing $799 and Oculus Rift costing $599.
However, this leads to another issue: its price point.
Virtual reality is still very much new. Thus, the technology to operate it costs a substantial amount of money. However, although the PlayStation VR is the cheapest, it is still $100 more than the PlayStation 4.
The PS4 retails at $300 for the slim model, while the pro model retails for $400. In order to play one game on PlayStation VR, assuming you were able to get the launch bundle, it can cost anywhere from $800 to $900.
Those who were unable to get the bundle will have to spend an additional cost of $40 for the game, $100 for two new Move controllers and $60 for the camera. This brings the total cost from anywhere from $900 to $1000, which is an excessive amount to spend just to play one game on PlayStation VR.
Like many of the VR headsets, the PlayStation VR has the same issue regarding its cables. The PlayStation VR has many cables that need to be set up in order for the device to function properly.
The device comes packed in with a processing box which needs its own separate power supply. An HDMI cable needs to run into the processing box from the PS4, then a separate HDMI cable runs from the processing unit into the TV. The VR headset then plugs into the processing box, and another USB cable connects the box to the PS4.
Fortunately, they come with the PlayStation VR and PS4 when purchased.
Still, all of these cables lead to a mess of wires, both behind and in front of your television. The manual is crucial as the setting up process is both confusing and difficult. On top of that, the wires are only differentiated by small engraved symbols.
However, if you are able to overlook the cons, you are actually in for one of the most exciting experiences currently available on a home video game console.
Peripherals for game consoles have come and gone over the years. I remember picking up the Wii Balance Board and Wii Speak for the Nintendo Wii and dropping them right after. PlayStation VR is different as it manages to hold its own. It is not really gimmicky either. It feels like its own experience separate from the PS4, despite the fact that it is not.
The PlayStation VR is an indescribable experience. If you get a chance to use PlayStation VR, definitely give it a chance. There are a wide variety of games from racing to mini-game compilations. Even other games like “Rise of Tomb Raider” have VR support. There is something for everyone on this device.
Since “PlayStation VR Worlds” only comes bundled with the launch bundle of PlayStation VR, it is unfair to combine the two into a single review as many players will not be getting the game with their VR headset. As a result, “PlayStation VR Worlds” will have its own separate review at a later date.