I was lucky enough to have Santa bring me a shiny new PlayStation VR (version 2 – CUH-ZVR2) this Christmas. It’s an experience I’ve wanted to try for some time but, for multiple reasons, I’ve just not got around to it. So yes, like many, I’m late to the VR game, but I believe now is as good a time as any to jump in. It’s Christmas after all, there’s nothing to do outside right? With that said, reader, here are my impressions of PS VR so far.
PS VR – Setting It Up
From the clear and informative packaging alone, there’s no mistaking that Sony has thought this whole endeavour through to a serious degree. The PS VR is accompanied with a step-by-step guide to setting it all up. It’s a process that perhaps takes slightly longer than getting your average console up and running for the first time but is simple nonetheless. Most evidently, the company have prioritised ease of use for those that are new to the concept of virtual reality, replicating its welcoming price point compared to others in the market.
The core design follows these same fundamentals. The PS VR looks sleek and remains accessible – stylish, but practical. It’s also comfortable to wear and can be adjusted to fit a wide array of different head sizes. Glasses-wearers need not fear either: the VR headset will have no trouble accommodating you.
In terms of the changes from CUH-ZVR1, the first model released, we’re basically looking at an easier, slightly tidier setup. The revised headset features a dedicated place to store your stereo headphones (that come in the box). We also see smaller more shrunken cables, a refined processor unit, and last but not least, HDR pass-through. The pass-through is great for 4K TV users who don’t want to keep switching and crossing their wires to achieve that extra colour range, but it won’t mean much for everyone else.
Once you’ve fixed the headset to your noggin, the camera is correctly facing you, and you’ve got your controller in hand, it’s on to the Virtual Reality experience itself. What to try first then? My bundle included PlayStation VR Worlds, a good starting point to begin the build-up to VR tolerance.
The VR Journey Begins
VR Worlds starts with a glowing orb flying in circular strokes in the room you now find yourself. You can move your head, impressively, in a 360-degree rotation and see the room light up as you follow this orb. After that’s ended, it’s time to choose your first VR experience from the selection. I chose a deep sea descent that promised I would meet an angry shark. I was feeling brave, you see.
Now in a mini-sub, the descent began. The further down we went, the more I started to appreciate the VR effect in front of me. Deep, striking blues filled my vision while scared fish swam in the other direction. We were entering their territory, clearly. Flora and fauna coalesced back and forth as the sub continued to descend. Suddenly, I’m being told that something has been detected on the underwater radar – can you guess? I look up and there’s a huge, menacing shadow approaching.
I now find myself face-to-face with a great white shark. The shark bites at the front of the sub trying to break its way in. It looks, at times, completely real to me. Frightening, sinister, but hugely exciting, the adrenaline is pumping. I’m told the dive has gone wrong and they’re going to try and rescue me. Then I’m being yanked back to the top as the shark continues its relentless and vicious assault. Luckily, we manage to escape its domain and make it back to the top. I’m safe and sound and my first PS VR experience is over. It flashed past so quickly, yet all I’m thinking is: what’s next?
Real Or Not? That Is The Question
Back to the menu of VR Worlds, I picked an experience decidedly different from my first. Welcome to The London Heist. Forget the delicious and aforementioned blues of the sea, I’m now in a foreboding garage and a large, bald, towering man is shouting at me while I’m strapped to a chair. The heist has gone wrong and I’m to blame apparently. He’s now staring directly at me, and it’s pretty uncanny. This guy looks real, yet I have to keep telling myself he’s not. This is VR working, and frankly, at times, it’s incredible.
Fast forward ahead and I’m shooting guys off bikes with an automatic during an epic chase scene, and then I’m in that garage again, getting abused and beaten up by my old friend. One section in particular (near the end), where a different individual lunged at me with a knife, had me recoiling back to protect myself. I almost felt where the knife landed in my stomach. What are you doing? It’s not real. Or is it?
And that, readers, was my first time using the PS VR headset. To answer a burning question: I didn’t experience any lasting motion sickness other than my first minute or two and was simply left wanting more. At this early point in time, I’m really impressed with the ease of use of the device, the memorable journeys I’ve already had and the level of realism being produced from what is, arguably, a more ‘budget’ VR headset. Sony is right when they say you need to try the headset on before you make your judgement – it isn’t just clever marketing.
So, game-changing? From what I’ve seen so far, it could well be the start of the next revolution to come.