In early September, I was fortunate enough to experience Sony's first endeavour into the virtual reality space with Project Morpheus, now officially known as PlayStation VR. While attending Fan Expo Canada, a celebration of all things pop culture in downtown Toronto, the Japanese giant showcased many titles hitting store shelves soon. Of the various titles ranging from Star Wars Battlefront to Street Fighter V, the highlight of the show for many fans was the then codenamed Morpheus demo available to the public through appointment.
Over the course of the weekend, I was able to experience three drastically different experiences that PlayStation VR could provide. The first of these was London Heist.
Developed by London Studio, the demo places you into the heat of a robbery gone wrong. Seated in the passenger seat of a getaway van, you'll assume the role of a voiceless protagonist tasked with defending your haul from incoming enemy forces.
The demo setup consisted of multiple elements to fully immerse you into the possibilities of virtual reality worlds. Immediately upon being seated, I was fitted with a PlayStation VR headset along with a pair of headphones. What truly set this demo apart from the others playable on the floor was the use of two PlayStation Move controllers. Each controller corresponded to either your right or left hand, with the trigger on the back performing a grasping action if near interactable objects.
Prior to this demo session, my only VR experience was a third-person 3D platformer on the Oculus Rift over a year ago. Although it did showcase the technical features well, my initial impressions of virtual reality gaming were mixed and, unfortunately, made me slightly nauseous.
Fast forward to this year and immediately following the title splash screen, the PlayStation VR experience was one that excited me immensely. The words that immediately came to my head were, "This is the future of gaming." I will let this impression hang while I explain my reasoning.
The first thing that I did once plopped inside this new world was examine my hands. And fortunately, to my surprise, the Move controllers followed my motions very accurately thanks in part to the vastly improved PlayStation Camera. Once movement was tested, I began to turn my head to see how the visuals and head tracking technology fared. And yet again, there was no noticeable lag from head motions. PlayStation VR definitely nails the technical aspect of VR. And thankfully with no motion sickness to report.
In truth, the London Heist demo is definitely one of the most fun gaming experiences I have had in a long, long time. Looking out of the window of a speeding vehicle by leaning to the side and looking over one's shoulder really makes you feel as if you're there. And impressively, many of the aspects of the experience are interactive. For example, you can grab a bottle of soda from the cupholder of the car and throw it at the driver if you so desire – or simply examine it and put it back.
The minimal story in the getaway sequence informs you that authorities have been alerted to your robbery and are on your tail, with permission to engage. With enemy's pressing, you use the Move controllers to open the glovebox in front of you and retrieve a submachine gun as well as discover a plethora of ammunition. This is where PlayStation VR makes for an unforgettable experience.
Using the Move controller, one hand holds the SMG, with the trigger on the back enabling you to fire the virtual weapon. The second Move controller really makes the situation that much more immersive. With your free in-game hand, you can grab ammo from the glovebox or from a bag between the seats. When your weapon runs dry, you can touch the ammo holding hand to the bottom of your weapon holding hand to reload, enabling you to once again rain down fire on the enemy. Although it feels like a small and gimmicky feature on paper, the combination of the VR setting and the accurate motion detection creates an indescribable experience.
In my honest opinion, this is without a doubt the direction that gaming is heading. Since playing and witnessing firsthand the experiences possible, I feel that the potential for a platform such as this is infinite. For example, imagine No Man's Sky – one of the PS4's most anticipated titles – supporting the headset, and allowing you to explore a fully interactive galaxy.
Sony still has to prove that it can get the right kind of software on board, of course, but if it can create beefier experiences that capture the immersion of the London Heist demo that we played, then it will have a hit on its hands. The future of gaming is almost here – let's hope that after coming this far the manufacturer doesn't falter at the final hurdle.
Are you excited by Andrew's enthusiastic PlayStation VR impressions, or do you think that the jury is still out on this upcoming accessory? Enter another world in the comments section below.