Yesterday, the gaming world had the chance to get to grips with PlayStation VR2, the console giant’s long-anticipated follow-up to its original VR headset released in 2016. While that device reportedly sold five million units, the VR space has come a long way since and hopes are undoubtedly high for its costly successor.
As we covered during last week’s roundup, the VR2 carries a price tag of $549.99, making it a good bit cheaper than high-end headsets from the likes of Meta and Google.
Equipped with a 4K, HDR-enabled OLED screen capable of a 110-degree field of view, not to mention hand controllers with adaptive triggers and haptic feedback, plus eye-tracking so you can select menu items by glancing at them, the PS VR2 is, in electronic store parlance, a “serious bit of kit.”
A new generation of VR games
The VR2 is designed to be used with a PlayStation 5, which retails at $499.99, and PlayStation has said it will provide “glimpses into the next generation of virtual reality gaming, which will allow you to escape into new worlds while feeling a groundbreaking sense of immersion.”
Although the cutting-edge VR headset has only been available to buy for 24 hours, it has already generated endless talking points and reviews. Ardent gamers have wasted no time in describing the experiential sensations of donning the VR2 and jumping into Horizon: Call of the Mountain, the project’s only “true true PS VR2 exclusive” according to games journalist Jordan Middler.
In its press release to announce the device, PlayStation said it expected game developers to take advantage of the headset’s features to “design the next generation of VR games,” adding that it was “expecting more than 20 titles at launch.”
The growing list of PSVR2 games include Gran Turismo 7, Moss & Moss: Book II, Star Wars: Tales from the Galazy’s Edge, and Resident Evil Village, though early reviews have tended to focus on Horizon: Call of the Mountain, described by Middler as “absolutely beautiful.”
Another reviewer, Clare Jackson at Kotaku, was less complimentary. “When playing Horizon Call of the Mountain, you spend a lot of time climbing and looking up,” she noted. “The second I’d look up, I’d feel the weight of the PS VR2 pressing against my face, again specifically that upper region of my nose where I’d almost always have marks afterwards. This ruined a fair few sessions I had initially thought would go more smoothly.”
Cost, of course, will be a bugbear for many in light of such complaints. “The illusion of the game world broke and I’d think, ‘There’s a thing on my head that hurts and it costs half a grand,’” Jackson wrote.
Horizon: A technical showcase for VR
Developed by Sony’s first-party Guerrilla Games and Firesprite Studios, Horizon is an action-adventure video-game lets users scale mountains and hunt in a post-apocalyptic world armed with a bow and arrow. Middler extolled the release’s gameplay, saying “There are moments when you go under a Tall Neck, which is a massive kind of mechanical giraffe, and the game really tricks your brain to make you think you’re in that world.”
Guardian writer Keza MacDonald, meanwhile, had mixed feelings, saying that while she had fun with the VR2, she wouldn’t buy one – “it has done nothing to change my feeling that this is a niche technology for wealthy nerds.”
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A review by Henry Stockdale UploadVR, on the other hand, said the headset provides “high-end VR with the ease-of-use inherent to console gaming,” adding that Sony “remains the only console manufacturer committed to VR at this level.”
Stockdale’s sentiments were echoed by Ian Higton in Eurogamer, who called Horizon “a technical showcase for what’s possible with PSVR2,” adding that the game “delivers some of the greatest virtual vistas I’ve ever witnessed.”
Most hardcore gamers, particularly those already using PlayStation, are likely to gravitate towards PlayStation’s latest release, drawn by its exclusives, solid hardware features, and a swathe of largely positive reviews. If suitably impressed, it’s sort of hard to imagine such players returning to the non-VR gaming world, which could seem anodyne by comparison.