Whenever we step into the world of Dreams, we're reminded just how brilliant it is. There's never a shortage of weird and wonderful things to discover, and that's if you don't bother making anything yourself. No matter how you enjoy Media Molecule's mecca for user-generated content, it provides countless hours of entertainment. Now, with the PlayStation VR update, it's only grown bigger, better, and weirder.
As soon as you boot up Dreams in PSVR, the game detects the hardware and begins an induction into playing in virtual reality. Media Molecule has prepared lots of PSVR-specific content to get you started, and as always, the studio's work is fantastic. An Introduction to Dreams VR is your first taste, and it does a good job of getting players acclimated to being in a virtual space. Once you've played through this, you can play Inside the Box, the studio's own VR experience, and it's awesome.
Inside the Box literally takes place within a mysterious cube, and it presents you with various interactive spaces and mini games to play as you please. Everything in here is of a high quality, but we'd recommend starting with the galleries. The team has built a series of art pieces that you can observe and interact with using levers and wheels. There's plenty of variety, and while they're all top notch, the best installations take full advantage of VR. A towering mech, for example, is exceptional. You can walk around it and appreciate the sheer size of it, but it's worth noting the ridiculous detail, and that's before you enable any of its animations. This thing is nuts, and someone needs to make a full game out of it. Another highlight is a miniature living world. You can view it from above and spin it to take in the scenery, but you can also shrink down to see tiny pea-like creatures living their lives on this diorama. It's gorgeous.
Outside the galleries are some more game-like experiences to sample. One is a neat series of puzzles in which you need to guide little cubic critters to the exit using simple mechanics, while another is a number of shooting ranges that track your score and your time. Both of these highlight advantages of PSVR; the puzzles go above you and wrap around, meaning you need to look all around to get your bearings, while the gun levels show how accurate you can be in a truly 3D space. Finally, there's a breezy third-person platformer through which you escape the titular Box, and again this uses perspective and scale to its advantage. Overall, Inside the Box is a fantastic gateway into PSVR -- it's not assumed that you're familiar with the tech, so it's perfect for beginners.
Dreams also prioritises comfort when playing in VR, enabling a few safety settings by default. This includes a pretty aggressive vignette when moving freely, a limit on how low the frame rate can go before the game warns you, and incremental turning. Again, these comfort settings are ideal for those new to PSVR, but if you're more confident, you can disable or lower these options.
The trick, though, is that the overwhelming majority of creations in the game are not only made by other players, but made with flat screens in mind. Many creators have already enabled VR compatibility in their existing levels, while others have built things with the hardware in mind. Exploring these creations again while playing in VR feels like starting Dreams afresh; you're not quite sure what you're getting yourself into.
And the experience does vary. We're pretty well seasoned PSVR users, and some community levels did make us feel a little lightheaded. That said, it's worth noting we disabled some of the game's comfort options purposefully to check out a broader spectrum. So, how can you tell which user-made, VR compatible creations are okay to play, and which may give you motion sickness? There's a combination of new markers that give you an idea. Creators can set whether their work is non-VR, VR compatible, or VR only, but players can assess creations after playing based on comfort level. When you look at the landing page of a creation, it'll tell you whether it's playable in VR, and also how experienced you should be before jumping in. It's a simple system, but it works well enough.
What about creating things in VR, then? Media Molecule has various how-to videos that explain new gadgets introduced in this update, and it's all as thoroughly explained as the rest of the game. Sculpting benefits the most from being in VR while creating, as you're able to get a proper sense of depth. For those already adept at modelling in Dreams, a pair of Move controllers in PSVR feels like the ultimate setup. You can access the entire toolset within VR, but there's less of a reason to, say, build logic or create music with the headset on. The ability to judge scale is an immediate bonus, though, and it's already given us some ideas.
All in all, Dreams' PSVR update is a big success. It's of course early days, but based on what we've played so far, the extra options afforded by virtual reality only serve to make this game even more exciting. Give the community a few months, and we can't imagine the type of things we'll get to play.
Have you been exploring the Dreamiverse in PSVR? What are some of your favourite VR creations so far? Tell us in the comments section below.