Game Informer recently reported that PlayStation Virtual Reality (PS VR) sales are expected to reach 2.5 million by the end of 2016, which seems like a lot, but then again the demand for PS VR is huge! The second batch of units that are due out in November are again nearly sold out with supply not keeping up with the demand. Actually, this is Sony – could this be a marketing technique…
If you are like me, then you have been waiting months for your pre-ordered PS VR to finally arrive. People were lined up at midnight openings across the globe to get their eager gaming claws into this highly anticipated piece of technological wizardry.
I know I had to order my online due to my local retail store being sold out upon the day of official release back in March. After being told “sorry we are all sold out”, I rushed home to find stock was still available online. To my wife’s delight (haha), I ordered the PS VR on a panic driven impulse to not miss out. Luckily, I am happy to say the result has me now squeamishly justifying my decision with my wife because PS VR is fricken awesome!
What's Good About It?
1. The VR Experience & Games
Without putting on the VR headset you can’t really grasp the dramatic difference between the 2d and 3d effect VR provides. To put it simply, it’s ridiculously fantastic. If there was ever any doubt in your mind about the future of VR, then please stand on this Bat symbol and be prepared to have your head blown clean off your shoulders. Far out Brussel sprout, Batman VR was one of the most immersive VR experiences I have ever had. I can't speak highly enough for how great was. The game is really short, however the quality of the production and how and where the journey takes you, is (exaggerated pause) amazing. No bullshit - it's amazing!
Another great example of the great line up of games and VR experiences is RIGS. At first I was trying to play from a 2d perspective i.e. pivoting the character to change my view. VR changes all that, you don’t need to pivot your view, just look over your shoulder and see what is around you. Once your head begins to adjust, the 2d perspective will fall away as you lose yourself into the virtual world you have been waiting for.
The immersion will take you by surprise, it really will! One moment you will be sitting in your lounge room, and the next, you are harnessed to a mechanized walking big gun suit thing similar to The Matrix.
2. The Headset Feels Awesome
I jumped on and played for around ten hours the first day, and the weight was evenly distributed with no skin irritation, or noticeable wear and tear on my boy band set of hair. It does take a bit of practice to get the positioning just right to clearly view text and images, but after a few tries it becomes second nature. No light sneaks in to disturb your experience, and overall the field of view looks and feels right.
The ergonomics are spot on. It sits perfectly on your head, well, unless you have a huge cranium like William here.
Every time I put on the PS VR headset, I play out the fantasy of donning Darth Vader's helmet as depicted from the meditation chamber scene in Empire Strikes Back.
I add some sound effects and begin to imitate his breathing as part of my routine before beginning the action. The PS VR is not as encompassing as the real Vader one, but I like to think of it as his summer attire.
In regards to accuracy and responsiveness, so far, there has been no problem with the headset during my VR experience. I have literally turned 180 degrees without a problem in the world. In actual reality, the house could be burning down and I would not have a serious clue.
From within the VR perspective, whatever is happening outside can wait outside!
3. Little Extras That Have Potential, Like Littlstar VR
There are lots of free content to download that allow you to explore the VRs capabilities. Some are just small VR animation experiences, while others such as Littlstar VR Cinema, show where VR could be headed more broadly.
Littlstar VR Cinema is a VR channel, which allows you to utilize the VR headset to watch shows that have been specifically shot for VR. There are three channels to choose from; SHO (sport), Discovery VR (documentaries) and World of Tanks (tanks stuff…).
I watched a Myth Busters episode where they take you frame by frame through an exploding postal van. With the SHO channel, you watch the highlights of a boxing match. You are literally ringside, and are able to look down or behind to look at the spectators reactions. The World of Tanks channel is a short documentary on the very first tank used in WW1. In one scene there are four screens all around you, all showing different footage as you sit in a virtual cinematic cube of immersive viewing.
Admittedly at the moment there are only a few shows and categories to choose from, but the idea really has some merit to further grow VR's appeal.
What Doesn’t Really Work
1. VR Can Be Nauseating
Playing for long sessions on some VR games can at first be too much for your stomach to handle. A simple trick is to remember to eat. I started feeling sick yesterday and it wasn’t until I unplugged that I realized I had skipped lunch and it was getting close to dinner time. Unfortunately, we need to sustain our physical selves so remember to take it slow and pace yourself.
For people that just get sick constantly, I suggest mixing up your games so you can build up a tolerance to the games that have more movement and pace. Think of it as getting your sea legs. It's always good to adjust first on calm waters before you weather the storm.
2. 2D Game Play Is A Real Disappointment
I really wanted to be able to use the PS VR for all my gaming but, unfortunately, the 2D experience sucks VR balls. There is an option to change the size of the virtual TV with only the small view having any comparative chance of normal 2D gaming. The main downside to the 2D experience is the reduced viewing quality.
Don’t get me wrong, 3D VR shines, but the 2D experience feels like an afterthought. I tried playing it with Destiny and the difference was too noticeable to take it serious, in fact, it was awful. It looked too undefined and scratchy and more reminiscent of a poor quality monitor than any modern TV equivalent.
3. Hopefully Your Room (Gaming Command Center) Is The Right Size
I could just be admitting I am a major noob, but I could not get the VR to work where my couch is placed. I sit back around 3ms from my TV, and no matter what I did I could not get it to work. The camera /set up could not sufficiently zone my location to allow me to play. I ended up moving my coffee table and sitting on a table chair, which finally allowed me to play. This is very annoying considering the cord extends to my normal seating position.
Yes, I checked the light, adjusted the camera, adjusted the light on my controller and VR headset – all of that. I don’t know, it’s not really a problem for now, but if I wanted to play while my wife was also watching TV then I could foresee a problem that shouldn’t really need to exist.
Virtual Reality Will Only Get Bigger
Sony definitely has put a lot of time and investment with their VR. The slight downsides to this generation of VR are easily forgotten by the focal point that is the experience. At the end of the day, each person’s opinion on this is really subjective. I can live without the 2D limitation so long as the 3D steps up, and it has.
Sony has nicely set a strong foundation for consoles and their PS VR should prove an ongoing success. The long list of games being developed along with the complimenting tiers of content to support the overall cost benefit to the consumer will only increase as more and more gamers understand how this medium is a game changer.
What has your experience been like with PS VR?