PlayStation VR Review

PlayStation VR Review
 
 

Virtual reality is the future – at least, according to every tech evangelist on the internet. While such lofty claims are difficult to make until the headsets are ubiquitous, the nascent technology is undeniably impressive.

After spending a week with the PlayStation VR, Sony offers an acceptable entry-level into the virtual reality space – provided it’s tracking doesn’t break.

Out of the Box

For our review, we received the following from PlayStation NZ:

  • PlayStation VR Headset
  • x2 PS Move Controllers
  • PlayStation 4 Camera

The PSVR comes with loads of accoutrement to get it up-and-running. There’s a separate breakout box which feeds your PS4’s HDMI connection into it, as well as the headset itself. Thankfully, all associated wires are included. If you haven’t got a nice pair of wired headphones, some earbuds are also in the box.

The Review

PSVR is the easiest piece of virtual reality tech to set up – especially compared to competitors like the HTC Vive. The associated breakout box that sits alongside your PS4 is the main hub of the headset, accepting HDMI input from the system, and feeding it to both your TV and the goggles. While managing all the wires can be a bit difficult at times, the system only took me about 20 minutes to set up.

If you’re a bit of a clean freak and like your TV cabinet to be spotless however, you’ll be disappointed. Wires will criss-cross over the breakout box, into the back and front of the PlayStation 4, and down on the floor to the PSVR itself. If the area around your TV sees a lot of foot traffic – either because you’re swapping out devices, or turning other systems on, then expect to be stepping over wires and looking at them constantly.

Setting up the play space is lot more lenient than other room-scale experiences, requiring a six-foot wide by ten-foot long area. If you don’t have this space, then the PlayStation Camera – an accessory which is required to run the device – will have a hard time tracking you.

The PlayStation VR is the most comfortable headset to don – probably due to Sony’s history as a consumer-level hardware manufacturer. The device sits snugly on your head, with a button letting you slide the headband out, and another adjusting the viewport. One major gripe I had was light would leak in from the bottom of the headset onto the bridge of your nose. Nothing major, but in some particularly kinetic experiences it could be disorienting. The best solution I found was to play in a darkened room.

The guts of the headset are a different beast than the comfy exterior, and it’s clear that Sony’s efforts to make the price of the PSVR competitive have hobbled it in these regards. It sports a 5.7-inch OLED screen, outputting 1920x1080 resolution – which amounts to 960x1080 per eye. While this is fine on a TV screen at a distance, from close-up images do look aliased. The screen-door effect is readily noticeable too, and finer details look blurrier compared to the Rift and Vive – both of which use 2160x1200 resolution panels.

Outside of that, the system’s main problem is tracking. While in most cases it does work, repurposing technology made in 2010 to drive it should tell you a lot about its reliability.

The PlayStation Camera is used to track your position, with lights on the sides of the headset determining location and rotation. In fast games where you’re whipping your head around this isn’t a problem. In slower experiences when you’re dealing with objects closer to your face, the image will sometimes bob in-and-out. I’ve never suffered any form of motion sickness – be it in the real world, or in any other VR headset – but at times the PSVR had me feeling drunk, as images slowly drifted around.

What exacerbates the problem is that it isn’t always reproducible – so a solid solution escaped me. Some days the effect would be present, and others it wasn’t. It would also crop up in a range of lighting and camera positions too. Fellow reviewer Angus hasn’t experienced the problem, but other publications have. It’s unclear if this is something that can be patched out with a firmware update.

The PlayStation Move controllers weren’t reliable six years ago, and they aren’t today. While most games boast full 360 degree experiences, light from the wands will be obfuscated by your body when you turn around – meaning the camera loses all tracking on them. This creates a disconnect between what you’ve being presented though the headset, what you want to reach out and do as a player, and what you’re limited through via the wands. It’s frustrating, and awkward.

Very occasionally I also had the headset register my wand movement instead – creating the very uncomfortable sensation of having your viewport whipped around at high speed, at strange angles. This happened multiple times in one session, and prompted me to take the headset off and lie down from nausea.

One of the main problems with the software library is that – while extensive – nothing is standardized. Some games are best experienced sitting or standing, but no icon before you launch the game indicates this. What makes this more of a problem is when games switch between the two without warning. Expect to be pausing, sliding your headset back, pulling up a chair and re-entering your default position constantly. It’s inelegant, but I imagine these are just growing pains as developers comes to grips with the medium.

Overall

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are already out in the wild, but PlayStation VR is the true tip of the spear for mass adoption of virtual reality. While the system doesn’t offer as high fidelity visuals as its competitors, when it works it creates experiences that have to be seen to be believed. When its tracking breaks however – and given the aged nature of the tech driving it, it will – it could leave people with the false impression that nausea is a trade-off for all virtual reality headsets. Because of this, it’s impossible to wholeheartedly recommend PSVR at this stage.




 

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Comments Comments (22)

 
Posted by Dvst8u
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 12:38 PM
7
I know its a soft excuse but the reason I haven't bought one is I have a fear It will make me feel sick
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 1:33 PM
2
Keith, I suspect you have played a lot of PSVR games at this point, which ones required move controllers?
 
 
 
Posted by atipuss
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 1:39 PM
2
Mine are- I ware glasses
-the room is not big enough
- gaming is my relaxing time so I don't want to be standing or moving much :D
 
 
 
Posted by CoffeeAddict
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 1:54 PM
2
12 October 2016, 12:38 PM Reply to Dvst8u
I know its a soft excuse but the reason I haven't bought one is I have a fear It will make me feel sick
This is a pretty common reason a lot of my friends haven't got one. Fortunately i've never had issues with motion sickness to date (Inclusive of a lot of bumpy helicopter rides) so my aim is to let them try my PSVR to see if it suits them. I imagine this will be the way that a significant numbers of PSVRs will be sold.
 
 
 
Posted by Jono91
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 1:58 PM
-
12 October 2016, 12:38 PM Reply to Dvst8u
I know its a soft excuse but the reason I haven't bought one is I have a fear It will make me feel sick
Me too! Literally the only reason I didn't dive in on launch too. I'm useless with motion sickness, and would have hated to have sunk $600+ on something that I could only use short term.
 
 
 
Posted by Jono91
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 1:59 PM
-
12 October 2016, 01:54 PM Reply to CoffeeAddict
This is a pretty common reason a lot of my friends haven't got one. Fortunately i've never had issues with motion sickness to date (Inclusive of a lot of bumpy helicopter rides) so my aim is to let them try my PSVR to see if it suits them. I imagine this will be the way that a significant numbers of PSVRs will be sold.
That's exactly what I'm planning on doing... trying one out to see if it induces motion sickness. I'm hoping I'll be fine as I really want to get in on the VR action!
 
 
 
Posted by Tin-Automaton
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 2:01 PM
2
12 October 2016, 01:33 PM Reply to drunk_monk
Keith, I suspect you have played a lot of PSVR games at this point, which ones required move controllers?
Right now off the top of my head:

- PSVR Worlds (not required, but stuff like London Heist is made far better w/ it)
- Batman: Arkham VR
- Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
- Job Simulator
- Hustle Kings VR (not all experiences again, but some)

For on-rail experiences, the Move usually works fine. But with stuff like Job Simulator where you can move around, it can be pretty rough.
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 2:47 PM
-
12 October 2016, 02:01 PM Reply to Tin-Automaton
Right now off the top of my head:

- PSVR Worlds (not required, but stuff like London Heist is made far better w/ it)
- Batman: Arkham VR
- Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
- Job Simulator
- Hustle Kings VR (not all experiences again, but some)

For on-rail experiences, the Move usually works fine. But with stuff like Job Simulator where you can move around, it can be pretty rough.
Thanks. Damn I will need to find somewhere that sells it as I cant find them anywhere.
 
 
 
Posted by CoffeeAddict
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 3:49 PM
-
12 October 2016, 02:47 PM Reply to drunk_monk
Thanks. Damn I will need to find somewhere that sells it as I cant find them anywhere.
Has EB/JB got a few second hand ones? the new (by which i mean repackaged PS3 ones) expensive ones will be available tomorrow.
 
 
 
Posted by CoffeeAddict
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 3:57 PM
-
12 October 2016, 03:49 PM Reply to CoffeeAddict
Has EB/JB got a few second hand ones? the new (by which i mean repackaged PS3 ones) expensive ones will be available tomorrow.
Unfortunately the Wellingtons ones are out of the second hand controllers.
 
 
 
Posted by ByrdmanNZ
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 6:27 PM
1
cant wait for tomorrow!!! got driveclub VR, battlezone and eve Valkyrie on the way and will have enough money for one more big game or a couple of the experiences once the reviews start to come through. its a shame about the tracking and the motion sickness hopefully if I stick to simulators I wont come across these issues till they are smoothed out.
 
 
 
Posted by CoffeeAddict
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 6:43 PM
-
12 October 2016, 06:27 PM Reply to ByrdmanNZ
cant wait for tomorrow!!! got driveclub VR, battlezone and eve Valkyrie on the way and will have enough money for one more big game or a couple of the experiences once the reviews start to come through. its a shame about the tracking and the motion sickness hopefully if I stick to simulators I wont come across these issues till they are smoothed out.
Im going to get one of those 3 but not sure yet will wait for review. I have batman, bound and VR worlds so far.
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 8:52 PM
1
12 October 2016, 01:39 PM Reply to atipuss
Mine are- I ware glasses
-the room is not big enough
- gaming is my relaxing time so I don't want to be standing or moving much :D
I wear glasses too and it was more than fine for me. The psvr is designed for it.
 
 
 
Posted by Ryzlin
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 8:54 PM
-
12 October 2016, 03:57 PM Reply to CoffeeAddict
Unfortunately the Wellingtons ones are out of the second hand controllers.
I know that Albany eb in Auckland had a few but they well go quickly.
 
 
 
Posted by jtbthatsme
On Wednesday 12 Oct 2016 10:57 PM
-
I think this sums up everything I've said and thought about the current options for VR not ready yet....I want to wait a few years for versions 2 and 3 to come along. Problem I see with that are some may not make it to that as obviously developers need the games to keep coming and some games developers will not continue to support systems that have in the users eyes big issues. All the VR setups are quite expensive and if you turn out to be someone effected by motion sickness it's a big price to pay and lose your money on,

I do want to see and experience VR in the future as it certainly can bring a new outlook to the gaming environment.
 
 
 
Posted by Ron
On Thursday 13 Oct 2016 8:03 AM
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I'll await to see the nzg community feedback too, but I think I may wait till version 1 or 2.
 
 
 
Posted by sakuraba
On Thursday 13 Oct 2016 9:42 AM
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Just hope I find run into the wall or trip over my kids toys running away from zombies.
 
 
 
Posted by CoffeeAddict
On Friday 14 Oct 2016 10:07 AM
1
Keith - when you describe the aliasing, is that the grid like haze over the top of the pics that a few of us have noticed? Especially apparent in the darker scenes.
 
 
 
Posted by Tin-Automaton
On Friday 14 Oct 2016 11:57 AM
1
14 October 2016, 10:07 AM Reply to CoffeeAddict
Keith - when you describe the aliasing, is that the grid like haze over the top of the pics that a few of us have noticed? Especially apparent in the darker scenes.
That's the screen-door effect -- mostly to do with the resolution, where you can see the lines separating the pixels on the display. The aliasing is the jaggedness of lines/edges.
 
 
 
Posted by CoffeeAddict
On Saturday 15 Oct 2016 11:03 AM
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14 October 2016, 11:57 AM Reply to Tin-Automaton
That's the screen-door effect -- mostly to do with the resolution, where you can see the lines separating the pixels on the display. The aliasing is the jaggedness of lines/edges.
Thanks, I was worried that i hadn't set it up right.
 
 
 
Posted by maxnaughty
On Friday 11 Nov 2016 1:12 PM
-
I will wait for the Xbox Scorpio and Microsofts VR offering...
 
 
 
Posted by dylnut
On Saturday 12 Nov 2016 3:09 PM
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12 October 2016, 01:39 PM Reply to atipuss
Mine are- I ware glasses
-the room is not big enough
- gaming is my relaxing time so I don't want to be standing or moving much :D
Same as Ryzlin, I wear glasses too and it doesn't really make a difference. The headset fits over them pretty comfortably. Not all of the games require moving around or even standing, either - quite a few of them you can get away with just sitting down while you play. :)