Sony has been holding events throughout Ireland to hold public demonstrations of their PlayStation VR headsets, to which I was in attendance to try out some console based Virtual Reality for myself.
Firstly my attention was drawn to the PlayStation VR headset and its unique design (the only headset I’d tried up until this point was the HTC Vive). Compared to the Vive, PSVR felt much lighter – it almost felt weightless, which made me feel like there was more of a free-form movement when playing demos and you don’t need a weighty piece of tech strapped to your head when trying to lose yourself in a game’s environment. It was also very easy to adjust Sony’s headset; under the right side of the lens unit is a button, which when pressed allows the user to move the headset to focus until visuals look clearer. Adjusting the headset is simple to do, and as someone who needs to wear glasses, it didn’t feel at all uncomfortable to wear.
As much as I’m impressed by the look and feel of the PSVR, it’s the games and their performance that needs the most attention here. Luckily, PlayStation brought along an excellent selection of demos to trial – all of which will launch alongside the headset itself.
First up was London Heist, which is included as part of the PlayStation VR Worlds collection – which can either be purchased separately or comes bundled in with the headset, alongside a PlayStation 4 camera and some PS Move controllers for a higher price. This demo puts you in the shoes on an east end London gangster, making his way back from a successful heist with another member of his gang taking the wheel. Pretty soon after the demo begins, you are handed a gun and must open fire to fend off your pursuers.
Sadly the motion controls in London Heist felt slightly off, which could have been attributed to the now six-year-old technology PlayStation’s Move controllers. In the game, it looked as though the gun I needed to grab was located straight ahead of my focus, but in reality, I had to reach above where I thought it was just to pick it up. This also applied to reaching for the ammo bag that was right beside my seat in the game. However, aiming felt fine and the motion needed to reload the gun worked every time, so the motion controls seem to be hit and miss for London Heist.
Next up was Battlezone – which is a reboot of the 1980’s Atari’ Arcade title of the same name. This demo throws you into the cockpit of a tank and then sends you through a training simulator. The tank is controlled using the DualShock 4 with players also able to move the camera on the fly by moving their head. The variety of enemies was nice with a good mix of light and heavy tanks, as well as quick flyers to fend off.
So far my impressions of PlayStation VR are good. Compared to the Vive, moving my head with PlayStation VR was much easier and easy to adjust when the headset was on. Both demos I played through were fun. While London Heist was great for showing the potential of VR on the PlayStation 4, Battlezone didn’t give off the same vibe. Yes, it was a great immersive experience, but there was no aspect I saw in Battlezone that showed why it should be a VR game.
After my time with PlayStation VR I am looking forward to seeing how virtual reality turns out for the PlayStation 4. I’ve enjoyed my time with the headset and looking forward to picking one up when I get the chance.