Will PSVR2 draw the ordinary gamer into virtual reality?


According to outlets like IGN and The edge, there was a first hands-on PlayStation VR2 press event last week. As far as I know, none of us Forbes video game pariahs have been invited, but that won’t stop us from being judged from afar as the filthy, discouraged cave trolls that we are.

Hardware looks… good but predictable? Fairly comparable to the original PSVR in terms of fit and design, though bolstered by new eye-tracking technology, higher quality 4K HDR OLED displays for each student (2000×2040 at 120Hz, to be exact), as well as enhanced capacitive and haptic feedback wireless controllers that technically match what’s inside the excellent PS5 DualSense. It looks very comfortable too, a welcome holdover from the old helmet.

Plus, there’s no need for an external PlayStation camera this time around, as the main rig has four built-in lenses that do all the tracking. No bulky external processing box either. Only one USB-C connection now. What a relief! My main complaint with the stock hardware was all the clutter required for setup. It seriously drained my motivation to even use this fucking thing.

IGN’s article mentions the complete absence of the oft-lamented “screen door effect,” an annoying visual graininess that was present in many pioneering VR headsets, including PlayStation’s own 2016 predecessor. Apparently PSVR2 features an advancement known as foveal rendering, in which the unit “uses its built-in eye tracking to increase the resolution of whatever you’re looking at,” according to the IGN article.

Interestingly, the PSVR2 also has haptic feedback on board the headset itself, which might be a first for wearable VR devices, if I’m not mistaken. I imagine that’s a great asset for some games as long as the developers take full advantage of the rumble capability, so we’ll see where that goes.

The biggest issue I gleaned from the hands-on event is that, unlike the Meta Quest 2, for example, the PSVR2 still needs to be connected to a PS5 console. I guess the advantage here is that PlayStation VR games can harness the power of local hardware, producing more impressive visuals. The downside, of course, is that in VR you’ll be constantly tethered to your $500 Sony box, like a toddler on a leash to an exhausted mom.

The Meta Quest 2 has seriously spoiled me in this regard. Sure, the graphics capabilities can’t match anything like the visuals you see on PC headsets from HTC and Valve, but the freedom of movement is sublime and makes some room-scale experiences more possible in the virtual reality.

But hey, can Sony deliver unique and engaging creative experiences, then I highly doubt I’d mind. Speaking of which, the promising first-party spin-off Horizon Call of the Mountain seems to be positioned as the marquee launch title, whenever that launch actually happens, rumored to be in early 2023. A new version of Resident Evil Village is also planned for the PSVR2, but not much else at the moment.

And that brings us to the seemingly pervasive problem with VR platforms: the lack of amazing games. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played my fair share of notable titles through headsets, but nothing will convince the everyday gamer to ditch flatscreen gaming. Most of them continue to feel like superficial novelty – fun for a short while, then back to traditional play.

However, I’ve always felt that PlayStation, of all the VR providers, offered the best value for money in terms of software. You know, selling securities that you would have Actually want to play.

Maybe if Sony puts a lot of money into VR development we could see PSVR2 take off, but I’m not holding my breath. I honestly think a PSVR2 reboot of Home PlayStation could possibly do it, especially with the digital trinkets you will soon be able to earn via PlayStation Starsalthough it seems like a longshot.

The items shown at this recent hands-on event look a lot like Okay, and Sony will need more than okay to convince regular gamers to throw in around $500 to participate, which is on top of the $500 PS5 console required to even run the headset. This is an advantage that Meta Quest 2 still holds: even at $400, there is no need for additional hardware.

With Meta’s pricey Quest Pro looming on the immediate horizon, PSVR2 is going to face stiff competition in the VR space, even though both devices aren’t aimed at casuals at all. Between poor software choices and prohibitive cost, most RVs still seem a long way from winning over the average consumer, at least in my opinion.

That said, I’m actually very excited about this next generation of devices and can’t wait to test out the latest headsets when they finally arrive. Whether there will be anything worth playing or experiencing on it remains to be seen.


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