PlayStation VR was a bit of a mess. Sony’s first foray into the world of virtual reality was filled with ambitious games that pushed boundaries, but so much of the experience felt compromised by technical limitations and way, way too many wires that donning its debut headset never felt convenient. Being able to escape into this medium with little more than a basic console was a huge step, and given the scope of VR-ready PCs it still is, but all of these shortcomings meant that replicating the premium VR offering found on PC was all but impossible.
We received fantastic games like Blood and Truth, Farpoint, Moss, Beat Saber, and so many more that showcased what the medium was capable of, but every single one of them was hamstrung by inconsistent controls or visuals that showed the grainy nature of outputting from a piece of hardware that is now over eight years old. They were great VR games, but not ‘great games’ in the way The Last of Us, God of War, and Persona 5 are for PlayStation. Despite all of this, PlayStation VR remained the perfect way for newcomers to jump in. Then along came Oculus Quest.
This headset changed everything. It didn’t require a dedicated PC, any wires, and could basically be played anywhere. It was a major breakthrough, and after picking up the Oculus Quest 2, it now feels impossible to go back. I don’t even bother using a Link Cable alongside my gaming rig because I’ve been conditioned to view the wire as an obstacle to my enjoyment. PlayStation VR was left firmly in the dust, and with rumours of a successor on the way, there was no way it couldn’t ape the success of Facebook’s headset.
CES 2022 saw the reveal of PlayStation VR2, a next-generation virtual reality platform that will take full advantage of PS5. While we didn’t catch a glimpse of the device itself, Sony confirmed that it will support 4K HDR, an increased refresh rate, inside-out tracking, and a number of other features that once felt like a distant dream for console players. Now, we have powerful enough hardware to justify treating VR with the reverence it deserves. You’ll still need a console to make use of it, but it uses the same logic of VR gaming on PC with far fewer strings attached. It sounds amazing, and could change the game forever.
You’ll need to keep the headset charged – and hopefully the battery life is better than the DualSense – but knowing I can use a premium headset alongside my primary console by simply throwing it onto my head and jumping into myriad games is so exciting. I love virtual reality, but my OCD means I will often obsess over the inconsistency of visual settings or wires being incorrectly arranged, so I’d often walk away in frustration instead of persevering through games I should otherwise love. I made it through Half-Life: Alyx, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t fraught with challenges. Now this masterpiece can be ported to PS5 with a headset that should have no problems making it shine.
PlayStation VR always felt like it was held together by elastic bands. You required a bulky external power unit, so many cables, and Move Controllers that went out of fashion in 2012. Few new peripherals were made, and ones that only worked with a select handful of games and weren’t worth the investment. It was the beta stage for the hardware, and a successor feels like it could iron out all of the kinks while making it a fundamental part of the PS5 ecosystem. New controllers are on the way too and will feature everything we’ve come to love from virtual reality in the modern era. Games can take advantage of them in ways we can’t even fathom right now and that’s so damn cool.
It will need to be relatively affordable though. Oculus Quest made such an impact because it was relatively cheap, the basic model costing only £299 while offering far more than its expensive contemporaries. No wires, no fuss, and while the library isn’t as robust, it has all of the big hitters and even a handful of exclusives. PSVR2 could replicate this success while also offering backward compatibility, carrying over a vast library of excellent games while improving features that always felt half-baked on the old model. Playing traditional games through the headset or embracing the theatre lifestyle is a real possibility now, and if rolled out with the right cadence, could change everything for virtual reality.
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