VR competitors like Oculus and HTC have set the bar quite high for how a good VR experience should look and feel – which, considering these two options require a seriously powerful gaming rig that costs two or three times as much as PSVR, makes sense.
But, as it turns out, the PS4 is more than capable of displaying two surprisingly crisp images, that may not offer the most amazing, mind-blowing fidelity, but are more than adequate for the vast majority of games. (Of the titles I tried, all of them worked as advertised, but I noticed that many of them stuck with simple graphics rather than going for the real-life look.)
Similarly head-tracking was nearly as precise on PSVR as it was on either the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, with the only minor caveat being that the system would lose the Touch controllers from time-to-time, merely due the fact that the tracking space is so much more confined.
Despite having a smaller field of view than the Oculus Rift by about 10 degrees (110 vs 100), the PlayStation VR surprisingly rarely made me feel nauseated, due in no small part to the 18ms latency that made experiences mostly smooth without discernable lag or judder. I remember a time where its field of view was a major sticking point for me, however, at worse the final unit occasionally feels like viewing the world through a pair of goggles.
As for the games themselves, we’ve so far been impressed with what PlayStation VR provides. Batman: Arkham VR, Battlezone, Star Wars: X-Wing VR and Job Simulator are excellent bite-sized experiences. Meanwhile Resident Evil VII is playable in its entirety in virtual reality, which is probably one of the longest virtual reality experiences to date.
The pace of releases is showing no sign of slowing any time soon. The first-person shooter Farpoint will soon be making an appearance on the platform, and it will be joined by the excellent puzzle game Statik.
Experiences varied in levity from casual, playroom escapades to hyper-intense combat and even a horror game for added measure. The system and its specs lend themselves to more light-hearted fare rather than the fast-paced, high-intensity ones, and while the latter are passable they’re prone to making you feel more nauseated than impressed (RIGS, I’m looking in your direction).
Thankfully, VR isn’t the solitary experience TVs and movies make it out to be. Friends and family can watch you as you game thanks to Social Screen TV – which displays a 2D version of what players are seeing in 3D on your TV – while some titles, like Battlezone, actually support online multiplayer.
Another neat feature is Cinematic Mode, which allows you to watch 2D content inside the VR helmet. Cinematic mode doesn’t transform 2D content into 3D content, but it does allow you watch your favorite shows from Netflix and YouTube – or even play 2D PS4 titles – on a super-sized virtual screen.
Speaking of movies and TV shows, there are currently a number of short VR cinematic experiences on the PlayStation Store that are worth checking out. They’re not Oculus Studios quality, but I did find myself laughing aloud when I watched Invasion! and had a tear in my eye by the end of Allumette.
A recent update also allows the headset to view not only 360 videos on YouTube, but also to watch any 3D Blu-ray discs you have lying around – so you shouldn’t be lacking for video content.
However these experiences, both games and movies, are never what I’d consider realistic – trust me, you’ll never forget you’re in virtual reality if that’s your concern. Some character models have jagged edges to them and even the best animators can only do so much with the technology.
At this stage at least it’s easy to tell the virtual world from the real one and, for some people, that might make PlayStation VR come off as more of a novelty like Nintendo’s Wii rather than the ground-breaking innovation that I see it as.