The PlayStation VR2 is finally here and it marks Sony’s second attempt at revolutionizing the virtual reality experience. Does the new headset live up to the standards of what VR gaming has grown into the past couple of years and is it a worthwhile purchase or more of a gimmick?
When the first PSVR launched in 2016, it intrigued gamers and technology enthusiasts. At the time, VR gaming wasn’t exactly in the mainstream spotlight as the technology was still growing. PSVR was one of the first virtual reality headsets to be released for a major gaming console, and it promised to deliver immersive experiences that would revolutionize gaming. Over time, products like the Meta Quest 2, Valve Index, and HTC Vibe have further pushed VR gaming into what it is today.
With the PS5 being a massive hit in the global market, Sony is not about to let other companies ride on the VR market comfortably into the sunset. The PS VR2 is a product that highly impresses in its current state while at the same time unlocking exciting possibilities for the future of VR experiences.
Quality over quantity
If you remember, the first PSVR had a lot of things included in the package. Just to paint you a picture, it included the PlayStation VR headset, processor unit, stereo earbuds, HDMI cable, USB cable, AC adaptor, power cord, and a PS VR headset connection adaptor. That’s a lot. The cable clutter was an experience in it itself.
With the PlayStation VR2 , Sony has significantly reduced the number of items needed to operate the headset. Right off the box, you’ll be having the PS VR2 headset, one pair of earbuds (with extra ear tip sizes), two Sense controllers, and one USB-C to USB-A controller charging cable. That is it. Amazing.
You can tell how much Sony prioritized ease of use with the product and it definitely showed. I’m someone who isn’t exactly a seasoned veteran with VR technology so I was initially anxious about setting it up and the logistics of it all. However, all it took was just plugging the headset into the PS5 and the on-screen instructions will show a step-by-step process of calibrating everything. All of this only took a few minutes. The PS VR2 is leading the charge in making virtual reality a less intimidating experience. Here’s to hoping that other companies will follow suit.
Given that the PS VR2 has to be plugged into the PS5 to operate (which is a bit of a bummer for those who prefer wireless VR), there’s not a lot of hardware that’s built into the headset. This means that the device is incredibly light which is a small detail but a highly significant one. The same can be said for both of the Sense controllers. Everything just looks and feels great with a slick modern look similar to the design philosophy of the PS5 console.
Sense of accessibility
The PlayStation VR2 has a lot of extra features and customizable settings that are really aimed to make sure that anyone has the most comfortable experience possible.
After installing a quick firmware update, you’ll be instructed to configure the eye tracking, which is one of the most accurate I’ve seen. You’ll also be encouraged to adjust the lens spacing with a knob at the top left corner of the device. All of this will have a visual representation so that you’ll know which is the best position. Then, the four cameras will quickly allow you to scan your surroundings as it maps out safe areas and danger zones. It was so cool to see just how accurate it was able to scan my room alongside possible stuff I could accidentally hit.
You’ll be given the option to carve out your own safe play area using the Sense controllers. In-game, you’ll receive an on-screen prompt whenever you’re nearing the edges so that you can avoid bumping into things. Whether you prefer standing up or sitting down, the PS VR2 will adjust to your preferences. It’s also worth noting that holding down the Start button will immediately recenter the VR screen based on your head’s orientation.
A special shoutout has to be given to the fact that the headset can accommodate people who wear glasses. As someone who uses a pair 24/7, this was definitely appreciated.
There’s also the option to turn on the cameras at any given moment so that you can have a black-and-white view of the area you are in. All you need to do is press a button at the lower right part and it’ll instantly make the transition.
You can immediately change any of the settings should you feel any discomfort. There were a lot of considerations going into creating the PS VR2 and I’m glad that Sony really had it out for those who aren’t used to virtual reality just yet.
Sense of reality
The PlayStation VR2 adopted what made the DualSense controllers so phenomenal for the PS5. Both the headset and the Sense controllers have haptic feedback and adaptive triggers which makes gaming all the more immersive than it already is with the beautiful 4K HDR OLED panel and up to 120 Hz refresh rate.
PS VR2 has a feature called “foveated rendering” wherein it tracks where your eyes are focused on and uses most of its power to ensure that it is as detailed as possible. And yes, it is about as impressive as it sounds.
It is jaw-dropping seeing just how striking some of the games are with the PS VR2. Given it also has access to the hardware from the PS5, it’s no surprise that the games run buttery smooth and looks fantastic in doing so. From the relaxing and stunning vistas of Kayak VR to the visually overloaded treat of titles like Thumper and Rez Infinite.
And it’s also worth noting that Tetris Effect on the PS VR2 might just be the definitive way to experience the iconic game. The game has already proven itself to be timeless but nearly four decades after its initial debut, Tetris in VR is just something that you have to experience.
Loading up the first few seconds of Horizon Call of the Mountain is a whole new world with its immersion factor. Subtle vibrations from the headset when a giant creature walks past the screen while the resistance of the triggers occurs when pulling an arrow from a bow was such a surreal experience.
The same can be said for the fun ride that is Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge. Every explosion and blaster shot can be felt with immersive physical feedback. I’ve always wanted to roam around the Star Wars universe as a kid and this game provided me with exactly just that.
In terms of the actual build of the headset itself, there is a rubber material that goes directly on your face that feels a bit too cheap and flimsy. At times, this did cause a bit of discomfort.
The Sense controllers have a ring-like design that wraps around your wrists. It does take a bit of time to get used to but it does fit nicely into my hands once I got a good grip on them. However, there is a possibility that you might accidentally bump them into one another while playing given how bigger they are in size compared to the first iteration.
There’s also the issue of battery life. The Sense controllers only have about 4-5 hours of total playtime. While I don’t imagine a lot of you will have long play sessions in VR considering the risk of motion sickness, it was still a bummer that I had to charge the controllers more often than I would’ve liked. Luckily, Sony provided an extra USB-C cable in the package for that.
And probably the most tragic of them all, the PlayStation VR2 isn’t backwards compatible with your original PSVR lineup of games unless the developers themselves have put out free or paid updates. This is a massive bummer given how well-received the PS5’s backward compatibility is with PS4 titles. Given that the PS VR2 has just been released, the game lineup is still a bit thin. But with titles like Resident Evil Village and Gran Turismo 7 pumping out excellent updates to be VR-compatible, I can only see good things about what the future has in store.
With a whopping price of USD 550, regular consumers may have some apprehensions about making the purchase for now. However, the PS VR2 is a massive improvement from PlayStation’s first attempt at virtual reality from accessibility to impressive technical capabilities. This is a highly refined VR experience that is just way too good to not be experienced by anyone who is even just slightly intrigued by it.
The PlayStation VR2 showcases what VR gaming should be and I can’t wait to see how else other developers will expand upon the fantastic foundations that were set by PlayStation with this.