Sony’s PSVR for PlayStation 4, the first serious VR add-on for a console, did pretty darn well for itself. It was reasonably affordable, well received by players and critics alike, and got a lot more post-launch support than many prior PlayStation hardware efforts (RIP, dear Vita). Now, various outlets have gotten their first hands-on sessions with an early version of Sony’s upcoming PSVR2 for PlayStation 5. The anticipated new VR hardware doesn’t yet have an official price or launch date (just “early 2023”), but based on these impressions, it’s already making waves with critics.
A variety of outlets that got these hands-on demos describe the experience as being on par with presumably more powerful PC VR offerings from Valve or Meta. That said, it’s still going to be on Sony and other developers to create compelling games, and right now the new platform’s only exclusive experiences are a Horizon spin-off and a VR version of last year’s Resident Evil Village. The latter is playable for the first time in VR on Sony’s headset. There’s also a Walking Dead game and a Star Wars VR experience, both ports of prior PC/Quest VR games.
Overall, critics sound impressed, even wowed, by the experience. Among the qualities cited are the overall build quality and comfort, which seem to compete well with already-existing headsets. It’s still tethered, but the cable length sounds suitable enough. The graphical quality and overall “immersion,” in particular, are grabbing a lot of attention. One of the most bleeding edge features is the headset’s eye tracking, which allows the unit to optimize rendering based on where you’re looking, or in the future, lock gazes with other players. There’s also haptic feedback in the headset itself. Polygon notes that both features are used in Horizon, which is the most advanced showcase of the hardware so far.
Basically, it just needs some killer apps, and the quartet of existing demos sound like a solid start. Here are some highlights from each outlet’s hands-on impressions:
“Last week, I tried Sony’s new headset for the first time and was caught off guard by how stunning two of its marquee games, Horizon Call of the Mountain and Resident Evil Village, looked. They didn’t rely on particles or stylized art direction; they looked like AAA console games that just happened to be in VR. The past few years of playing Quest had recalibrated my expectations for how VR games should appear, and it was great to see games pushing forward visually once again without requiring an elaborate setup.”
“But what does it feel like to actually play games on the PSVR2, with all of its new bells and whistles? The actual PSVR2 hardware was a joy to use. Like most modern VR headsets, it lets you adjust the head strap to make sure everything rests comfortably on your noggin, and you can tweak the inter-pupillary distance (IPD) so that the actual lenses inside the headset are the right distance for you. The screens looked great, though things sometimes felt just a little bit hazy at the edges, which could also happen with the first PSVR.”
“Wow. Wow, wow, wow. That’s the word that keeps springing to mind when I try to sum up my time with PlayStation VR2. As a fervent fan of VR for many years now, it’s safe to say that my first hands-on experience with Sony’s upcoming headset wowed my VR-loving socks off. This sleek and stylish unit was all I could have wanted for an upgraded PSVR headset and much, much more.
“In terms of technological and visual quality, this feels like one of the more memorable generational console leaps. Experiencing the difference in visuals between the PSVR1 and the PSVR2 brought back memories of graduating to the sparkly, sharp, high-definition games of a PS3 after spending years playing games on the PS2 in standard definition.”
“Sony has touted much higher visual fidelity for PSVR2, which, for the tech-spec obsessed people out there, amounts to an OLED display that offers a resolution of 2000×2040 per eye, HDR, refresh rates of 90Hz and 120Hz, and a 110-degree field of view. This is all impressive on paper, but when you experience it with the headset on, it’s a bit of magic.
“The level of detail on display was genuinely overwhelming, mostly because I didn’t expect it from a VR game. I know how dismissive that sounds of all the VR games out there, of which there are certainly more than a few impressive-looking ones. However, there’s a clear line between the way a VR game and a non-VR game look—there’s a level of richness, detail, and polish that separates the two. Horizon Call of the Mountain blurs that line on PSVR2.”
“PlayStation VR2 thankfully feels like a modern entry into the VR landscape, with top-notch visual fidelity and comfortable ergonomics. Its haptics and adaptive triggers, if implemented well, will be a welcome addition to the immersive experience. As with all new pieces of hardware, the question now falls to whether there will be enough games to make the investment worth it. First-party games like Horizon Call of the Mountain certainly help assuage those fears, and while nothing has been announced yet, I would be shocked if the outstanding Half-Life: Alyx didn’t make its way to the platform.”