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Does the PlayStation 4's Virtual Reality Headset Actually Work?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Mighty Morpheus

We knew all about Project Morpheus prior to its announcement at the Game Developers Conference yesterday. Sony hadn’t openly acknowledged the virtual reality headset, of course, but many of the details regarding it had already leaked out. Those rumours turned out to be true, as the peripheral is pretty much exactly what we expected: an Oculus Rift-esque head tracking device based upon the same technology in the PlayStation Move. However, up until today, we had no idea whether it would actually work.

Fortunately, the platform holder has allowed parts of the press to get some hands-on time with the accessory at the industry focused event today, and the impressions are overwhelmingly positive. It’s clear that the unit’s still some time away from release – the manufacturer has confirmed that it won’t deploy this year – but the consensus appears to suggest that it’s nailed the basics, even if there are a few caveats at the moment. Indeed, a report on Polygon points out that the firm may very well be onto something special.

So, what are the downsides at this point in time? According to almost all of the reports that we read, the unit’s field of view seems to be a bit of a sticking point, as you end up seeing black borders in your peripheral vision. When coupled with some minor light bleed that occurs under the screen, that can break the unit’s sense of immersion somewhat. Fortunately, these are issues that can be solved by tweaking the design of the device, and perhaps messing around with a different screen. In truth, they’re probably already on the company’s to-do list.

The other major issues appear to stem from the PlayStation Move controller, rather than the headset itself. One demo sees you messing around in a medieval sandbox, using two motion wands to control swords and other objects. This appears to operate like legendary downloadable puzzler Tumble, but several reports mention that the calibration on the controllers can easily glitch – again, breaking that all important sense of place. Apparently, the head tracking is susceptible to drifting slightly as well, but for the most part it works fine.

And that appears to be the overarching message at the moment: Project Morpheus does pretty much exactly what the manufacturer’s promised. There are even some unexpected surprises, such as the inclusion of fully body tracking in London Studio’s underwater demo The Deep, which sees your virtual avatar bend their knees when you crouch in the real world. All of the Sony demos are running on PS4 hardware at 60 frames-per-second, and the latter is apparently quite visually impressive. Is anyone else dreaming of an Aquanaut’s Holiday sequel?

It’s so far so good, then, but there are still a handful of issues for the PlayStation maker to solve. Fortunately, it has at least another year to perfect the technology, and it really doesn’t seem like there are any glaring issues to add to its fix list. We suspect that the real challenge will be getting developers and publishers on board, and making sure that the setup's cheap enough for the average console gamer to afford. Seeing as Sony has made a habit out of surprising us time and time again since the PS4’s unveiling last February, we’re certainly not counting the firm out just yet.

[via polygon.com, kotaku.com, theverge.com, engadget.com]

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User Comments (14)

Punkinhead145

#1

Punkinhead145 said:

It's good to hear that it works well, and I bet another year or so of development would help. While I'm impressed with the technological innovation itself and I'm greatly looking forward to the innovation it can bring to the industry, I'm not quite sure I'm 100% warmed up to it. I'm definitely gonna be watching this though, no doubt about that.

gr8apeb8

#6

gr8apeb8 said:

@BornOfEvil lol there's an idea many would secretly hope for. But on the serious side I would love to see this in an upcoming Ghost Recon game. May just be me, but I think future soldier and the gunsmith aspect would be really cool. Thanks for the updates.

charlesnarles

#7

charlesnarles said:

@get2sammyb Natsume has so many great games that don't get popular. I stupidly returned my copy of Afrika to GameStop and now it's $70 on amazon! PS4 textures and lighting could do wonders for it tho, you're right. I kinda want one now

thedevilsjester

#11

thedevilsjester said:

Not really a fan of first person games (with rare exceptions) and I don't see this working well in other perspectives so I am excited as a tech lover but will not buy one as a gamer.

JaxonH

#13

JaxonH said:

@SanderEvers
In all seriousness, I would be all for that if Nintendo would actually release F-Zero GX in Virtual Reality. There was a recent test done on Oculus Rift where they actually got F-Zero GX running on it through Dolphin, up-res'd to HD of course and changed to a first person perspective. DUDE... THE GAME IS DOPE!!! F-Zero GX was already one of my favorite games of all time (and many would argue the greatest racer of all time)- to play that game in virtual reality would be my ultimate dream come true! Forget the rest, that would be all money!!!

JaxonH

#14

JaxonH said:

Well, obviously they need a wider viewing angle. 110 degrees MINIMUM, preferably 130 just for good measure. So get a wider screen and bend it around more, so it encompasses the viewer's vision from side to side as much as possible. Fixing the light bleed should be easy, not worried about that. Finally, tweak the tracking technology. If necessary use a different camera than the one for sale now, and if necessary design new wands. Just get it fixed, one way or another.

Besides that, sounds like it's a go!!! I'm so glad Sony is bringing this to market. It may be a tad early for VR (costs have not come down enough yet), but hey, they can eat some costs to jump in first and grab that marketshare. That's the cost of being first sometimes.

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