With first VR shipments slowly beginning to trickle through, the status of Sony’s very own virtual reality headset remains comfortably ‘in development’. As a smattering of first titles designed for the frothily-awaited Occulus Rift and the as anticipation HTC Vive were available to play at Rezzed 2016, it was the Playstation VR itself that formed the figurehead of Sony’s EGX showcase.
Previewed on: Playstation 4
Also Available On: N/A
Release Date: October 2016
The hands-on came in the form of a half-hour demo, sampling a game scheduled for release as part of a VR-related upgrade for the PS4’s Playroom, developed by Japan Studios. It was a casual affair reminiscent of those that encircled the PS3’s Move and the PS2’s Eyetoy, only with a slicker interface.
Cat n’ Mouse’s demo has a simple set-up involving three players. Whilst two players use standard PS4 controllers as the ‘mice’, the smug headsetted individual acted as the ‘cat’. The job of the mice is simple: collect all pieces of cheese that have since become scattered across the floor using household objects to conceal themselves, to avoid being spotted by the cat. The cat’s job is even simpler: catch the mice in the act.
This simple casual game is well-integrated with the headset. Whilst analog stick controls are the norm for the mice-operatives, the cat is concealed behind a curtain, which can be parted when player three moves their head forward, and drawn upon leaning back. It’s an amusing, comfortable game of Grandma’s footsteps that’d go down well on family occasions, but those looking for more depth, immersion or stimulation whilst inside the Playstation VR might find this particular demo a little restricted and not necessarily representative of the system’s limits.
One of PS VR’s most striking features is how it looks. With an illuminated visor and slick, streamlined design, Sony’s headset is noticeably aesthetic in comparison to the Oculus and the Vive. It’s also surprisingly comfy for its bulky size. After previously finding the Oculus Rift to pull down below the eyes ever so slightly, the PS VR headset feels marginally more secure, proffering an adjustable strap that is pleasing to both eye and head.
The headset is underlaid with a 5.7 inch OLED screen with a 1920 x RGB x 1080p resolution. This equates to 960 x 1080 per eye, with a 100-degree field of vision and 120hz refresh rate. With a 18ms latency rate, the headset should be less problematic for motion-sickness. Whilst wearing the headset, gameplay felt fluid and was generally nausea-free, although the movement included in the demo wasn’t really diverse or varied enough to claim that future Sony games will work so well.
Technically speaking, both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have been widely received as impressive, and having made their homes on high-horse-power gaming rigs, it’ll be interesting to see how PS VR steps up beside them. With less divulged information and few playable titles to judge its performance,
The demo version of the headset now sports seven blue lights, allowing the Playstation Eye to track the player’s movements. Whilst this was smoothly integrated in the straightforward demo, I only ever needed to move forwards and backwards during my short feline experience. Whilst the PS VR accommodates more predictable, repetitive player movements, it will be interesting to see how camera tracking fares with decidedly more complex games with more happening at once, or even multiplayer experiences.
The Playstation VR is scheduled to release in October 2016, costing $399 (or £350).