Playstation VR – Video Review

Playstation VR – Video Review

As you know, I picked up a PSVR recently after being very skeptical about VR’s potential for greater immersion, but won over by a really strong launch lineup. With that in mind I put together something I’ve never really done before; a video review! (With me on camera and everything…) Check it out below, and I have a few final thoughts after the vid if you keep reading.

Now since I posted that to the channel I’ve had a little feedback I’d like to address. Firstly, there were some concerns that I’d reviewed the unit without the Playstation Move controllers. While the motion controllers are heavily marketed with the PSVR, they are sold separately, and unlike the Playstation Camera, aren’t essential to the device. I, and many others, bought the unit without the move controllers, and as such I think reviewing it without was appropriate. Most importantly, most of the game I covered in the review itself played great with the Dualshock 4 alone and so it didn’t influence my opinion of the hardware itself. I’m a consumer too, and like most consumers, I’m on a budget. I can only review what I can get a hold of, and if Sony wants to sell them without, they need to be prepared for reviews without too. Fortunately the VR passed.

Secondly, I didn’t cover a lot of software in the review, limiting my discussing mainly to the Demo Disc and VR Worlds as these two packages are generally considered to be the PSVR’s pack-in software. (Even if they are charging extra for worlds.) The reason for this was firstly, that this was mainly a hardware review and not an exhaustive look at PSVR software which I’m covering separately, and secondly, that the Demo Disc and VR Worlds contain a wide variety of experiences and interaction styles that gave me enough to communicate my opinion about the hardware as a whole. (Also, while these are my honest and genuine thoughts on the VR, it’s a light-heart, 7 minute video intended to get a few laughs across too. It’s about my experience with the device, not shilling extra games for Sony.)

So, how do I feel about the VR since I filmed this? The X-Wing Battlefront VR mission has launched since I made this so it’s a shame I couldn’t include my sheer joy in playing that game here, but VR continues to be one of the most exciting experiences for me. Mileage may vary, but for me each new VR title is a joy to dive into.

Finally, this was a really knew type of video for me. I’d leave to hear your feedback in the comments!

VR Works, and I’m as surprised as anyone about that.

PSVR Shark AttackBefore I bought my Playstation VR I had one burning question about the tech l that I just couldn’t find an answer to. I’d scour reviews, watch play throughs, read previews, everything, but they were really sparse on details relating to my specific question…

Does VR Really Work?

The problem is this means a different things to different people. Does the 3D look real? Is the head tracking responsive? Are the games fun? All little pieces of the experience that come together for the final effect. What I wanted to know was more than that. I wanted to know if the fundamental promise of VR, that you will feel like you’re actually their in the game, was hype or reality.

This is a claim I’ve been skeptical of since 3D TV spectacularly failed to impress me and flopped completely in the games market, but the hype has been very similar. You will feel like the game is really there in the living room with you. With 3D I didn’t, and so I put off diving in to the VR for the longest time because of that. I even made a little video about why I was pretty sure VR wasn’t going to be the next big thing, citing the discomfort and artifice of 3D displays as a major concern. I still stand by a lot I said in that video, VR is expensive and cumbersome and won’t be replacing the TV any time soon.

The big question still remained, however. In ideal circumstances, if you could afford one of the damn things and fired up the right game, were the promises true? It seemed the only way to find out was to actually try one out myself. (And since I refuse to pay GAME just to demo a unit, there was only one way to get my hands on one.) I scoured my shelves for long unplayed games and took a wheelbarrow of old discs down to my local Trade-In store and exchanged it all for a PSVR headset.

 

And I’m so glad I did.

If you’re like me, and you found the same questions so completely unanswered by the press coverage of VR, let me help you out. The basic promise of VR is, at least by this headset, fulfilled. When the game is right and the headset is set up correctly you genuinely feel like you exist inside the game. It is effective, exciting, and one of the first genuinely new developments in how games are played for years.

PSVR London Heist GameI don’t want to get too carried away here, VR still has a lot of hurdles for the typical consumer. The resolution is low, the headset are bulky, the cables are a pain; it’ll all work much better when they become wireless, but right now it’s crazy how well the tech works on limited technology. Results vary from game to game. Invasion, a short cartoon in VR, was the first piece of software I booted up and when the credits rolled I was already contemplating packing the bits up and taking it back to the store. Interaction was limited to little more than 360 degree video with 3D effects and I never once felt like I was really there. However the more games I played, the more other games blew that experience out of the water just by adding to the immersion in small ways.

PSVR London Heist GameBoth the Playstation VR Worlds disc and Sony’s packed in Demo disc do a fantastic job with this, featuring menus that place you in 3D space, capable of looking up and down, leaning in around the items you see in front of you, but more importantly they show virtual PS4 controllers that respond to your touch. The PSVR can use basic PS4 controllers for most interaction, and can track them really accurately via the lightbar on the front. This means the virtual controller turns and tilts just like the real one in your hand. This was the last push my brain needed to really believe I was what I was seeing. I had no hands, my mind quickly acknowledged and understood that they were totally invisible now, but my actions, the results of my physical behaviour were rendered there on screen perfectly. This, combined with the 3D and head tracking, seemed to be all my brain needed to calibrate for VR and buy the illusion completely.

The PSVR isn’t very high resolution, or even the most cutting edge VR tech on the market, and yet this simple combination of sensory illusions took me into the game completely. By the time I dropped into my first lengthy experience, Ocean Descent, I was as convinced as I could be while still sat on my office chair.

I could talk at length about sensory tricks. I’d like to, because they’re fascinating. But I’m not going to, I’m going to review more PSVR software in depth in the future and I’d like to save the details for later. I’m not even going to tell you to rush out and buy a VR, because the financial investment, the nausea, the potential discomfort… these are issues that matter and you need to weigh them up on your own. What I can do is answer the question I couldn’t find a good answer to.

Does VR feel real? Yeah, it really does.

It’s fiddly and some games are better than others, but when it’s right, you feel like you’re really in the game.