PlayStation VR is a thing I’ve had for a little over 2 weeks, so I feel like I can give a proper review. I don’t belive it’s something you can review very convincingly after only a day or two of using it. Between personal usage and being in the company of others using it, there’s been enough time for me to notice the good and the bad with this thing.
Until the day I received it in the mail on launch day, I had never put on any VR headset. I had read, watched, and listened to many a reaction to it, but I never had any firsthand experience with it. In these reviews and reactions, “screen door effect” and “blurry” were commonly brought up. So many times it seemed like I was being warned that the graphics were going to look horrible. It turns out, in my experience, as long as you have the headset adjusted properly, it’s rare that you get that screen door effect. I noticed it most in the Drive Club VR demo, and only in the background: the trees and such. If it appeared in any other games I’ve played, it was hardly noticeable because I don’t recall any others.
It’s a similar story with blurriness, but maybe “blurry” is a subjective term. If you’d consider PS3-level sharpness blurry, then sure, PSVR can be blurry sometimes even with the headset on right. In Batman: Arkham VR for example, you can pick up these action-figurine type trophies of various Batman characters and hold them up to your face. Those have nearly PS4 quality visuals. There’s lots of detail, and it’s very convincing looking. Again, like with the screen door effect, I was super paranoid about PSVR having horrible visual fidelity. It probably never looks like a PS4 game would on your 1080p TV screen, but in my time with it, it has never been ungodly bad by a longshot.
The audio is something that I don’t hear many people talk about. There’s a fancy name for it, but basically it mimics how sound works in real life. Like if there’s something making noise directly in front of you and you turn you head 45 degrees to the right, you don’t hear the sound in your right ear really. The sound is louder in your left ear. It might be slightly exaggerated in the game, but it still feels real. It’s awesome.
I could fact-check this, but whatever…between Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PSVR, the Sony headset was the heaviest but also most comfortable. Since I think I remember reading that, I guess I thought it would be heavy. When I lifted it out of the box, it was way lighter than I expected. It’s easy enough to adjust: there’s a wheel to tighten it in the back, and there’s a button in the front that slides the visor away from your face while keeping the rest of the device as it is on your head. This allows you to peek out into the real world without having to take the entire thing off. Good stuff. Oh, and I think this is pretty much unique to the PS VR headset, you can wear a hat and/or glasses while using it.
The plan wasn’t to review any PSVR games here, but I’ll shout out my favorite games so far. Batman: Arkham VR is fun. If you’re a fan of the Arkham games, it’s an enjoyable trip back into that world in VR that should take you about an hour to complete the main story. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is cool for what it is: a light gun-esque game that has you ride in a rollercoaster and shoot bad guys. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes provides some crazy fun if you can find somebody that will play with you. And Headmaster might be my favorite of the bunch. In a seated position, you’re on a soccer field headbutting soccer balls into nets and hoops and targets. The head tracking has been flawless for me in my time with it, so if I do poorly, it’s my own fault.
While it’s easy to find awesome things about PSVR, it might be easier to find the bad things with it. But that doesn’t mean that they bad outweighs the good. Take the initial setup for example. It requires you to connect a new, small box to your TV and also to a power outlet. You then plug that box to your PlayStation 4. And then you have cables from your PS4 going to your VR headset. If you’re not careful, cable knots could become imminent. The upside is you’ll likely only need to set the stuff up once, but if you want to bring it to a friend’s house, it’s definitely a chore.
Some games work better than others, but in my experience, the Move controllers are not very reliable. Maybe I need to figure out a different lighting setup or adjust the camera, but it’s rare that when using those wands do they work as intended. This is the reason why I haven’t played much of Rush of Blood. When I go back to it, I’ll probably try using the Move controllers again, but I won’t think twice about opting to use the standard Dualshock if my aim is off again.
Getting motion sickness is a real concern. Ultimately, it comes down to how easily you get sick, but it also depends on the game. I’ve never gotten the least bit woozy playing Headmaster or Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. But one time in Batman: Arkham VR, the Batcomputer started wigging out, shaking like crazy to the left and right, and I had to close my eyes. Another time, in a demo for a scary game that I don’t remember the name of, I felt like I had to run backwards. And the walls started moving. Given the supernatural nature of the game, I don’t think it was a glitch. That sucked too.
The first day I had it, I played it for a total of about 4 hours. I don’t think I played it longer than an hour at a time, so I took decent-sized breaks. But for the next 2 days, and it could have just been my imagination, but I felt like my sense of perception was off. Like if I was thumbing through my phone, it felt really weird. Like my brain was having trouble figuring out where my hand and the phone was or something. It was weird, but I haven’t had those issues since.
A few paragraphs up, I talked about how cool the audio was. Well, it is, but it would be better with real headphones or earbuds that actually stayed in your ears. Now, I’ve never used the rubbery type of earbuds before, so it’s possible I just don’t know how to put them in right. But they don’t stay in my ears for very long. They just fall out on their own, and then I have to settle for the boring audio on the TV.
And a critique about the ecosystem more than PlayStation VR unit itself is the price of games. To me, very few of the games available right now are fairly priced. I gladly paid $20 each for Batman, Rush of Blood, Headmaster, and Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. But many of the $30 games seem too small to not have a $20 price tag. And then there are the $50 and $60 games. None of these PS VR games appear to be meaty enough to pay “full price” for them. If those games were $30 and $40, I’d probably have twice as many VR games right now. Eventually though, these games WILL be $30 and $40. And buy then, hopefully there will be some really awesome $60 games that are worth it. Resident Evil VII is coming out early next year. It has an optional VR mode, and I’m excited about that.
Getting into the world of PlayStation VR might cost a chunk of change. If you already have the PS4, the PS4 camera, and the Move controllers like I did, you just have to plunk down the $400 for the headset. If you don’t have that extra stuff, there is a nice $500 bundle that includes it along with the PlayStation VR Worlds. Either way, if you buy one now, you risk VR burning out right away and never going anywhere. It’s like buying another console. And 3 actual new consoles are coming soon: PlayStation 4 Pro, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Scorpio. So, you know, plan accordingly.
If you have cash burning a hole in your pocket and don’t have anything else to spend it on, get PlayStation VR. But you might want to wait for more/better/cheaper games to come out and see where this train is headed.