VR is everywhere these days. At our visit to E3 this year almost every vendor had their hands into it one way or another. Most that have had the experience have tried it in the mobile setting like on a Samsung Gear VR (only $99) and others trying it out on PC. PC has seen the most advancement with higher end VR units like The Vive and Oculus Rift until now.
Sony has jumped in to help bring VR to the masses at a lower cost and less requirements than some of the more known VR brands out there. We had to get our hands on the Sony Playstation VR (PSVR) to really test out and see what we thought.
Unboxing of the PSVR was great. The amount of work that must go into some of the companies trying to figure out how to fit everything into a neatly little box must be crazy. Once I had everything out of the box I opened up the quick start guide. The step by step process was very easy and fast. Pictures were in perfect detail and all cables are numbered to let you know which one they are referring to.
Total time from unboxing to fully installed was about 20 minutes. I even ended up moving the unit to another room a few days later and the process was under 10 minutes. I would feel comfortable with anyone over the age of 12-14 being able to fully do this install themselves.
Once ready to go I put on the space age looking headset and started adjusting it to my huge head. The adjustments are easy and the Playstation VR walks you through the onscreen setup on how to adjust straps and lenses for clear viewing. The biggest issue that I have had with some of the other VR headsets is the limited (if any) use with glasses. Sony has worked very hard to make sure that every kind of frame (within reason) fits great inside the headset. I will tell you that even with mine on it felt amazing. The Sony Playstation VR is hands down the most comfortable VR headset I have ever worn.
The headset does come with earbuds as well to give you full 360° feel and sound. The headset plugs into another one of the best features, an in-line control area on the headset wiring. With this you have volume, volume input selection, and power.
The camera that came with the bundle is also very easy to set up and requires about an 8×8 area to be effective. It did a great job in both rooms that I tested it in and picked up the controllers and the headset almost perfectly. I did walk outside of the frame a few times while playing and it would let me know in the visor. I did find that I would need to re-enter or recalibrate often in order to keep the controls in the right orientation, but Sony has made this very easy to do on the fly. You can mount the camera on the top or bottom of the TV, depending what works best for your setup.
Once I was ready to start playing, I threw in the disc that came with our bundle (Playstation VR Worlds) and started in on my first PSVR journey. As the game loaded up I made sure to look around and really try to draw myself in. I was greeted by a floating ball of light that was transitioning between solid and water in front of my eyes. As I looked around I was surprised at the detail in the game compared to some of my other experiences like on the Gear VR. When in black screens the PSVR did look a little muddy (almost grainy) to me, but during gameplay this is not noticeable.
I chose my first path in the game and went for an Ocean Descent. This game puts you inside a diving cage while being dropped further and further down into the ocean floor. You get to look around at all of the sea life like turtles, manta rays, crabs, and more. As you get further down you come across some jelly fish that really light up the experience. Then out of nowhere you are visited by a sharp toothed friend that would really like to come in and visit you up close. I was really surprised at how immersive the whole thing felt. At one point I got up out of my chair and looked over the edge of the diving cage. I was amazed that it truly felt like I was looking down. Gameplay was very smooth and I did not notice any screen tears or stitching in the images.
My wife was sitting next to me and loved that she could be a part of what was going on by watching on the TV in front of me. Sound was great as well but I would highly recommend upgrading into better over the ear cans instead of the earbuds for full effect. As we played a few more games I felt the same in every game we tried. Everything played very, very smooth and everything looked great minus the muddy blacks in loading screens. After hours of gameplay my legs were a little worn out but my head felt great. The headset is weighted just right to keep the headset off of your face so you can really wear it for a long time.
You have two different options when it comes to controls on the PSVR. You can use the controller or use the two wireless Move controllers (comes with the bundle). Most games work fine with the controller but you get a better feel in some of the games using the Move controllers. If you remember the Move controllers from a few years ago…yes it is those same Move controllers. I was surprised to see Sony did not up the game a little here in the controller area. With some amazing controllers out there for the Vive and the Oculus…why would they go with old technology? It’s almost like “hey we have thousands of these left over…anyway to fit them into anything?” They do the job but there are times that a more accurate and better feeling controller would really be nice. Maybe down the road.
With tons of great games available at launch the Playstation VR is a great option for someone wanting to get into VR but not wanting to spend the money involved in a VIVE and the PC to power it. The PSVR will work in most current game setups and areas so no need to devote whole rooms to VR. With easy setup and solid gameplay the PSVR is great for all ages.
The bundle is the way I would recommend going as you get the headset, camera, two move controllers (which you will want), Playstation VR Worlds, and a great demo disc full of other great games. The bundle will cost you $499 and get you ready to play anything right out of the box.
Parents out there reading this…if you have gamer kids there is no way to go wrong with this as a purchase for the holidays. Anyone purchasing this, be sure and pick up a stand. The headset is too heavy to sit on the TV and WILL end up on the floor otherwise.
Have any questions or comments let us know below.