PlayStation VR Worlds feels like it should have been a pack-in title with every one of Sony’s virtual reality headsets. Not because the level of quality is particularly high – indeed, the majority of its offerings are poor at best, and sickness-inducing at worst – but because the relative size of its experiences has me scratching my head at the game’s price-point.
The main draw of VR Worlds is The London Heist – a crime drama and action title, told from a first-person perspective. The game delivers a pulpy-but-forgettable tale of crime in England’s underworld while you jump from a range of scenarios, most of which end with you gunning down a bunch of dudes. The campaign clocks in at about an hour, which is a smart choice given that range of gameplay is sparse – with shooting and a shouty cockney man being the only things driving it forward.
One major problem London Heist faces is how it swaps between positions. Some scenarios are very clearly meant to be played standing, so you’ll set up your play space for it. Then the next cut-scene triggers, and your character is placed in a chair. The game provides no warning that this will happen, meaning you’ll have to constantly remove your headset, pull up or remove a seat, and reorient yourself and the camera. It sucks.
Ocean Descent is an experience that feels right out of a 2012 Oculus tech demo. You’re in a diving cage which is lowered into the depths of the sea. The animation work and lighting that accompanies the marine wildlife is impressive, but as someone that’s been seeing demos like this for what feels like a decade, that sense of wonderment quickly fades. Also there is a shark – surprise!
Danger Ball is a 3D game of pong, where you use your head to control the paddle. The movement is intuitive and snappy, and the sensation of having a ball fly towards you is a good showcase of what VR can do – giving games a physical sense of depth that they’ve never had before. With no online play option available however, you’ll burn through the AI opponents in quick form before putting it down for good. I noticed that my neck did hurt a bit after extended play sessions, as I was whipping my head back and forth to give the ball some spin.
VR Luge is cool in concept – controlling a wheeled sled on a downhill race against the clock. You tilt your head left and right to change direction, and the sense of speed that you build up on successful runs by dodging cars and trucks is impressive. Unfortunately, it commits the VR sin of moving your viewport in a way that is out of your control. If you hit the sides of the track, the game doesn’t gently reset you – it snaps you back in to position. This made me feel very ill, and I had to remove the headset on occasion.
Outside of that, there really isn’t that much to do – there’s level variety and changes to geometry and scenery, but you’re just tilting your head to move. It can also be slightly jarring staring at a body splayed out in front of you that isn’t yours.
Finally, we come to Scavenger’s Odyssey – probably the worst of the bunch. The game has you controlling an alien explorer in a mech, jumping through space debris and floating asteroids, occasionally stopping to shoot waves of bugs or solve rudimentary puzzles. It isn’t particularly long either, and you’ll see everything there is to see in one play through.
Where the game stumbles is through its movement. Traversing environments in zero gravity means you can jump onto walls and ceilings, and then attach to them. When you make a leap, heavy vignetting darkens the corners of your vision – in what I can only surmise is an attempt to reduce motion sickness. This solution doesn’t help, and the speed and rotation of the leaps had me take off my headset, find a quiet place to sit down, and slowly drink a glass of water. I’m not sure if the vignetting made the problem worse, as games like EVE Valkyrie (which has you doing barrel-rolls all the time) never once made me feel like throwing up.
PlayStation VR Worlds isn’t a very good value proposition. The London Heist is the only experience on the disc that feels fleshed out and interesting, but it isn’t enough to support the other meagre titles – most of which are either boring, or outright nausea-inducing.