SONY PLAYSTATION VIRTUAL REALITY IS ALMOST HERE
Since its announcement at GDC 2014, Sony’s PlayStation VR headset has been the centre of attention generating a lot of interest and excitement along the way, as unlike the HTC Vive and Occulus Rift, it does not require a high-end gaming PC to operate. All it requires to run is a PlayStation 4, which a huge amount of gamers already own (there are 36 million PS4 consoles currently on the market). Over two years on and the PlayStation VR headset has finally arrived, and early reports are good.
PS4 – £259, Out Now | PS4 Pro – £349, November 10th | PS VR Headset – £349, October 13th (Pre-order on Amazon)
PS4 PRO IS NOT REQUIRED FOR PSVR
Sony is keen to stress that both the normal PS4 and the PS4 Pro will be capable of playing all PlayStation VR games. However, the PS4 Pro will offer superior performance to the VR experience, Sony’s Mark Cerny confirmed at PlayStation Meeting earlier this month that:
“with PS4 Pro, the developers can choose to increase the crispness of VR scenes, make special effects richer, or to offer higher frame rates, making your VR experiences even more immersive.”
Using a PS4 Pro the company demonstrated the headset using Farpoint, however, PlayStation’s sales and marketing boss Jim Ryan says that the Pro is definitely not a requirement for VR:
“We absolutely maintain the primary platform for PlayStation VR is the standard PS4, all 40m of them are capable of a great VR experience. It’s very important that people are clear about that.”
ALMOST HALF THE COST OF THE HTC VIVE
During the GDC 2016 PlayStation VR event, Sony CEO Andrew House announced the cost of the PlayStation VR headset as £349. Sony’s competitors Oculus Rift and HTC Vive costs £499 and £689 respectively, HTC Vive – in fact, costs almost double the amount of Sony’s headset. Amazon is already accepting pre-orders for the PlayStation VR headset ahead of its October 2016 release, which can be found here for £349.99.
The PlayStation VR headset itself is a very sleek-looking product, and unlike other VR devices, it sits on top of the head. It also features a handy button which extends the device specifically for users that wear glasses that need more room around the eyes. The reports on the whole are that its very comfortable to wear and use.
According to the Sony CEO the headset boasts a 5.7in 1920×1080 full-HD OLED display, equating to 960×1080 per eye. The high-quality display coupled with a 100-degree field of view and an 18ms response time should provide users with an experience indistinguishable from real life. The headset features a 120Hz refresh rate and thus has the potential to render games at 120fps, which is notably higher than the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive’s 90Hz offering.
However, despite the impressive specs, the resolution of the screen and general VR experience is still below that of the more expensive competition. As Sony wanted PlayStation VR to be the most affordable and accessible headset on the market, making these sacrifices was a necessary strategy.
Sony’s vice president Masayasu Ito recently told Polygon:
“If you just talk about the high-end quality, yes, I would admit that Oculus may have better VR, however, it requires a very expensive and very fast PC. The biggest advantage for Sony is our headset works with PS4. It’s more for everyday use, so it has to be easy to use and it has to be affordable. This is not for the person who uses a high-end PC. It’s for the mass market”.
Its also worth noting that while the PlayStation VR can track your movement, you can only move around three steps in any direction before you go out of range and lose tracking altogether. As soon as you’re out of view of the Playstation VR camera, you’ll see a message pop up asking you to move back in range of said camera. Regarding this limited movement, In a statement issued to Popular Science, Sony said the following:
“We have some tech demos that allowed users to play while standing up, however all the PS VR titles we plan to release in the future will recommend that users remain seated. We will announce further details of guidelines or regulations when ready.”
Sony announced at its event at GDC 2016 in San Francisco that the company has over 230 developers working on content for the PlayStation VR headset and there will be 50 VR ‘projects’ readily available by the end of 2016. Sony is also working on a number of non-game options, including a cinematic mode and the chance to experience 360 degrees video and photos.
PlayStation VR allows users to play standard PS4 games with PlayStation VR, but it won’t turn the game into a VR game. Instead, it’ll offer users the opportunity to sit in a huge virtual cinema with three different screen size preferences – small, medium and large. The large preset is reported to be the equivalent of sitting in front of a 226in screen. As well as playing games, being able to watch TV shows and movies with streaming apps like Netflix is also possible. Essentially, you’ll have your own virtual private cinema for gaming and movies, which sounds great.
The retail box contains the VR headset, a HDMI cable, USB cable, an AC adaptor and power cord, headset connection adaptor, studio earbuds and a processor unit. Check out the official unboxing video below:
NO PLAYSTATION CAMERA?
However, the CEO left out one vital piece of information. The PlayStation VR headset doesn’t come with a PlayStation Camera, a vital piece of hardware that’s required to use the headset. This is because It’s actually been available since the PS4 first launched. An updated version of the camera will be launching alongside the VR headset on the 13th Oct, and is identical to the original model but boasts a smaller physical form and an improved stand making it easier to attach to various locations like the top of a TV.
The firm also forgot to mention that the VR headset won’t be powered solely by the PS4 console, owners will have to install an additional box that’ll connect to the PS4 and provide most of the processing power for the headset. The box will also provide an output for the TV, allowing others in the room to see what’s going on inside the headset.
The official PlayStation 4 Camera costs £39 on Amazon at the time of writing, which brings the total cost of the PlayStation VR headset to £389 – still a very competitive price when compared to other offerings on the market, but nonetheless not as cheap as first thought.
PS MOVE CONTROLLERS NOT INCLUDED
It’s a similar issue with the PlayStation Move controllers, which aren’t required to use the VR headset like the camera, since all VR content will be compatible with Sony’s DualShock 4 controller. However, they are utilised in several VR games – including but not limited to: Job Simulator, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, VR Worlds and Tumble. The Move controllers offer a more realistic control mechanism for the VR experience, as opposed to the traditional DualShock controller. A special Move controller twin-pack bundle is being launched alongside the PSVR on October 13th, for those who wish to maximise their experience.
This list of games by IGN includes all known or announced titles coming to PlayStation VR. These games are all slated for release or compatibility with the new PS VR platform formerly known as Project Morpheus: IGN