Gamers can be a strange breed, you know? This is an industry that’s founded on technological innovation: it’s a beautiful blend of computing and entertainment. I don’t know about you, but I love this hobby because it never stands still: the games we play, the consoles we use – they’re always evolving. Compare the original PlayStation to the PS5 and look at how far we’ve come.
I found the reluctance to accept PSVR from a select number of players confusing, then. Don’t get me wrong: I understand there were real issues with the hardware and its library, but I also got a sense some felt their traditional gaming habits were being threatened by the existence of a headset. That confused me, because I see virtual reality as additive – and revolutionary at that.
Look, I’m a big believer in VR, but I don’t want to live my life with a screen millimetres away from my eyes – sorry, Mark Zuckerberg, I just don’t. However, I think the experiences that you can have in VR, as was proven by the rudimentary PSVR, are unparalleled and extraordinary: the ability to exist within an entirely different world is the epitome of what this industry has been building towards.
I remember playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR for the first time. This was a game I was intimately familiar with on the PS3, and so the fact that I was now able to exist within familiar spaces was actually quite emotional. I knew these buildings, I knew these streets – I’d seen them before, but not like this. It felt a bit like looking up a place on Google Maps, then visiting it in real-life.
And that’s despite PSVR’s well-documented issues, including a cumbersome setup process, ancient motion controllers, and an inconsistent, lighting-based tracking solution. PSVR2 will not only solve these problems, but it’ll also do it at a much higher degree of fidelity, working in tandem with the PS5’s established advantages, such as the SSD.
There’s talk of how the new headset could leverage foveated rendering, which will effectively reserve computational power in order to focus on the objects your eyes are looking at. This will make graphical detail even richer, which in turn will make worlds more believable. Consider what I just said about Skyrim on creaking technology, and then take it to the next level.
Apparently Sony has been telling publishers and developers that it’s over bitesized proof of concept experiences: it wants to deliver AAA content in virtual reality. There have been examples of this already: the likes of Hitman 3 and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard are absolutely extraordinary with PSVR. Imagine visiting worlds like Horizon Forbidden West.
Sony clearly faces challenges with PSVR2 beyond convincing a stubborn fanbase it’s a sound investment: the pandemic has made manufacturing as many PS5 consoles as it had expected impossible, and who knows what kind of impact it’ll have on headset production. The price, with the controllers included, will also be high.
But it’s a price I’m willing to pay. For me, this is an industry built on escapism – the ability to exist somewhere else entirely. When I think of all the advantages that the PS5 experience offers – the SSD, the haptic feedback, the resistant triggers – and then all the improvements touted for the new PSVR headset, I’m confident this is going to deliver the true next-gen experience of 2022.
Are you eager to learn more about Sony’s new PSVR headset, or are you over this technology already? Are you still expecting the device to launch in 2022 at all? Strap yourself in courtesy of the comments section below.