Isn’t it ironic that, in a year where we all could have benefited from escaping the real-world, PlayStation VR got lost in the shuffle a little bit? The excitement surrounding the PlayStation 5 was palpable, and it left very little bandwidth for Sony’s creaking but still very entertaining entry-level virtual reality headset. Hitman 3, playable entirely with PSVR, serves as a timely reminder of the technology’s potential – and based on this evidence, we can’t wait for the next inevitable iteration of the headset.
First, let’s clean up the caveats, as there are a few to keep in mind: PSVR is only available in the PlayStation 4 version of the game. That’s because Sony considers the headset a last-gen peripheral, and therefore has decided to restrict use of it to PS4 games only. However you purchase Hitman 3, you’ll get access to both the PS5 and PS4 versions of the game, and you can have both installed on your next-gen console if that’s what you want to do.
In addition, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the title ditches the PlayStation Move motion controllers in favour of the DualShock 4. You'll need to use Sony’s last-gen controller even if you’re on the PS5, because it utilises the light bar to help with its motion tracking. Despite this, you’ll primarily be interacting with the world in the same way you would the non-VR version of the game; that means picking up items with buttons and even opening doors with Triangle (although you can reach forward with your controller if you prefer).
Given how dated the PS Move controllers feel these days, it’s a smart decision. You actually lose none of the playability from the standard version of the game, but you gain a lot in immersion. And we mean, a lot. Hitman 3 is much more difficult in PSVR, as you can’t rely on Agent 47’s “instincts” to see through walls. However, you will find yourself naturally peeking around corners and looking over objects in order to observe the position of NPCs.
Actually being able to physically visit all of the game’s locations, many of which you’ll be familiar with from playing the core release, is a jaw-dropping experience. The scale of Dubai and even the Dartmoor estate is unprecedented once you’re inside it, and playing on PS5 via backwards compatibility, the image quality is extraordinary. Every location looks large and clear – we cannot emphasise enough just how remarkable it is to be physically present inside these outstanding levels.
Everything works identically to in the core game, as well. We’ve got a good route figured out in the UK level, where we infiltrate Alexa Carlisle’s office, steal her files, and then drop a chandelier on her head, and we were able to execute it almost perfectly in PSVR. In fact, some aspects are enhanced by virtual reality, because you can better judge your surroundings and where NPCs are in relation to you.
That said, the control scheme isn’t always perfect. Anything involving platforming is awkward, and we did notice some very minor changes to the terrain in Chongqing to account for this – there’s a ledge you can crawl across to access a climbable pipe, where in the non-VR game you need to hang off the edge of the wall and reach it that way. Things like punching feel weird, too, as you’re effectively thrusting both hands forward with the DualShock 4, while scoped gear such as sniper rifles and the camera revert to a flat screen when you aim down the sights, breaking the immersion.
Other actions, like subduing guards – something you’ll be doing a lot of – work better: you effectively reach forward with your hands until Agent 47 adopts a throttling pose, and then you tap R2 to put your victims to sleep. Weapons are aimed manually using the gyroscopes, but there’s an added visual aid if you half-squeeze the trigger to help you line up your shots. While you’re unlikely to be doing a lot of shooting in this game anyway, we found we were able to hit our targets precisely every time.
A lot of work has gone into adapting the control scheme to PSVR, then, and there are a ton of customisation options if you don’t like how things specifically work. For example, the default turning option relies on a snap system, but you can change the size of those rotations to your liking or even revert back to a more traditional movement format if you prefer. Obviously, that’s going to require a strong stomach, but the toggle is there.
The biggest downside is that, in areas where there are large crowds, the game needs to filter these in and out in order to retain a smooth framerate. This means that you’ll physically see NPCs appear and disappear around you as you observe your surroundings, which can be take you out of the experience. In locations like Dartmoor and even Chongqing, where there are not many characters on the screen at once, this isn’t a problem; in places like Dubai, though, it’s disappointingly obvious.
But, as alluded to earlier, physically existing in these spaces is outrageously immersive for the most part. Not only can you appreciate the scale of your surroundings, but the Hitman trilogy has always traded on its virtual tourism aspect, and so you can have just as much fun simply exploring the locations as actually assassinating your targets. The fact that the entire trilogy is here, available to play in its entirety, is a mind-boggling achievement.
And it’s a reminder, at a time when the technology has been pushed into the background a little to make way for the PS5, that Sony is still very much onto something special here. Virtual reality sure has its fair share of jank – and PSVR, with its tiring technology, is the biggest example of that right now – but even with all of the shortcomings, Hitman 3 still manages to immerse in a way that’s seldom seen. IO Interactive deserves real credit for what it’s achieved here.
Will you be playing Hitman 3 with PSVR? If you're looking for a more general overview of the game, check out our Hitman 3 PS5 review, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Hey everyone, thanks for reading! Happy to take your questions about the PSVR mode!
If it's a last gen peripheral, why hand out those free adapters? Sony has been quiet on the VR front. I hope a next model is in the works, but the drought of VR software doesn't really help.
Yesterday I set up the PSVR on PS5 for Squadrons. I expected it to be easier, but it was more of a hassle than it should've been. I had no idea the DualSense wasn't supported. I knew the camera doesn't support it, but still. I hope that doesn't mean they're ditching the tech. Do we know if the PS5 contains a breakout box or something similar? Cause I hope that a new PSVR 2 system is just a simple plug and play. It should be really.
It's cool IOI is doing this, but releases should be far more frequent. I may check it out, but I'm not sure I'm willing to 'sacrifice' the PS5 version and the DualSense just to play in VR.
I hope psvr 2 Hitman VR very cool
@Octane Ofc the Dualsense would not be supported. They dont have the light bar thats needed for tracking
@Octane Well, the PS5 is 99.9% backwards compatible. If they didn't offer the adaptor, then it would lose a chunk of its PS4 library as none of the VR games would work. Hence why they're offering the adaptor.
I agree with you on the setup, it is off-putting at this point. I'm okay with PSVR2 having a cable, but it needs to be just a single cable that plugs into the front of the console.
@IonMagus If the DualSense can't be tracked, it doesn't bode well for a new VR unit...
@Octane Not necessarily. The assumption is that they'll use new tracking technology for a new headset.
Very happy to hear they have made a serious effort in developing this for PSVR. Sounds like they have done the best they can. I will definitely be getting this.
Not really a fan of the series, but I’d try it if it came to plus. Only annoyance is that I can’t connect my PSVR to my PS5 without losing the ability to play my 3D movies, plus I’m concerned that the image of native PS5 games won’t be as good running through the breakout box...
@get2sammyb Let's hope so!
I know that the levels from Hitman 1&2 can be imported and played in Hitman 3, so is that the same for the PSVR version?
Can we replay levels from the previous 2 games in PSVR now?
I would love a mode akin to AC Origins discovery mode where theres no combat or anything. Simply just virtual tourism. Feel that would be best for PSVR with this game as I would love to virtually visit all of these places without any gameplay elements.
@get2sammyb Thanks for your in-depth coverage on both versions 👏
I've noted comments in reviews elsewhere suggesting that the hybrid controls make the VR version more frustrating to play than the pancake version (e.g. due to gunplay being less accurate).
What is your preferred way to play Hitman - VR or pancake?
I can not wait to play this in VR. Easily right up there for most anticipated game of 2021 for me.
@Futureshark Yes, all levels from the PS4 version of H1 & H2 are fully playable in PSVR
@Futureshark Yes, all of the levels from Hitman 1 and 2 are playable in Hitman 3 in VR.
@Jayslow Yeah, that would be awesome, agreed. You can obviously play on casual difficulty which gets you close to this, but a complete no-combat mode would be fun so you can just walk where you like without worries and really soak up the atmosphere.
@C0NNERS It's definitely easier to play in pancake mode, and as I want to get Silent Assassin on all levels and complete all the challenges, I'll certainly be spending much more time in pancake mode. That said, I had a lot of fun playing in VR, and will definitely return to that mode just to have fun with it.
I think the fact that you get both versions for the same price means you can mix and match and just have fun playing both ways!
@get2sammyb Sounds like a win / win - muchas gracias mi amigo!
Stupid question (maybe)... if I buy the PS5 disc version... can I install the PS4 version with this disc on a PS4?
Personnally, I prefer to keep PSVR connected to my PS4 Pro for now...
I’m so pumped. I’ve been playing Hitman 1/2 so far as I bought them to prep for my pre-order of Hitman 3 because of the PSVR mode. I’m so happy to hear it’s one of the best PSVR offerings and the graphics look good.
@get2sammyb How hard is finding targets? You said that they removed instincts? That’s my only concern.
@KorsaRaph I believe you get a digital copy of the PS4 version, but I’m not sure if that’s a code that just adds it to the library, but I think it is.
Your progress between PS5 and PS4 syncs if you play both on the PS5, though.
Very ambiguous from ioi. Hoping it’s the code route.
I love my PSVR but it's the controllers that spoil it for me.
I've hardly touched it since I got the Quest 2.
Roll on PSVR 2.
@Futureshark Yes, you can play Hitman 1 and 2 in PSVR. The new design elements from Hitman 3 will be added to 1 and 2 when you import them into 3.
I’m not sure about anybody else, but for me the novelty of the PSVR wore off fairly quickly. Once I got my PS4 Pro, the tedium of having to keep messing about with so many cables due to the processing unit’s lack of HDR pass through (unsure if this is still the case) became a tedious chore.
As a result, my headset has become a display in my gaming setup rather than something I actually use.
First time post though been following for years now, love Pushsquare great job Sammy and the team.
My question is how does it run on the base ps4? Seem to be struggling a little on ps5 (with NPC's popping in when busy)
Ill be playing on ps5 and using psvr as well
Exactly. I got an HDMI 2.1 cable to connect my PS5 to my expensive TV, and I'll need another cable to hook up the breakout box to the same standard. I doubt the breakout box supports 2.1, and I don't want to be switching wires around just to play a VR game.
When you say the dualsense isn't supported, you just mean the haptics etc dont you? I've just ordered hitman 3 on ps5 to play in vr and thought i might have to re-buy a ps4 pad for a minute which would be balmy.
@Terry12 No, for VR it needs the Dualshock 4. PSVR uses the lightbar so any VR game that uses a lightbar needs a DS4.
@Terry12 No, this game uses the lightbar on the DualShock 4 to track your position in 3D space. As the DualSense doesn't have a lightbar, you need to use a DS4.
@mastrz Thanks for reading! I haven't tested it on PS4, but I imagine that fading issue that occurs on PS5 backwards compatibility is there to help with performance on a base PS4. PS5 likely benefits from super-sampled resolution.
@Jaz007 You can push the up button and it'll overlay an icon showing their position in the world, but you can't see through walls or anything.
@KorsaRaph No, I'm not sure how they're handling PS5 to PS4 to be honest. If you want to do that I'd recommend just getting the PS4 disc instead.
@get2sammyb Does the vr mode have any graphical enhancements on ps5 such as games like Blood and Truth? Or is it strictly the ps4 pro version outside maybe load times and pop in due to the ssd?
@get2sammyb great write-up, but I can't be hassled to hook up my PSVR again. Maybe not cordless, but the sequel to PSVR needs to be a MUCH easier set up so I can actually use it and unplug it without consulting a manual. I really loved VR and think it has potential for SP games, just need to get more comfortable resolutions on the eyes and of course, get the cords down to a minimum. Hopefully I can play games like this natively on PS5 one day.
@Octane New unit will have different tracking of course. One of the biggest things holding PSVR back is the light-based tracking. It's also expected that the PSVR2 will be wireless, or at least have a wireless option, maybe two different price points. Cheaper wired version available was talked about. I think simplicity will win out, because the wired version would hold games back as they'd have to worry about you turning around too much and getting twisted in the wire.
@Terry12 There's no light bar to track on the DualSense, so the DualSense doesn't work in VR at all. Has nothing to do with the haptics. Yes, you'll need a DualShock, and the free camera adapter for the PS4 camera, PS5 camera won't work.
@TommyArter The V2 version of the PSVR that reduced the cable to a single cable, and no heavy box hanging off your head, also added HDR passthrough, so no issues with having to swap cables anymore. I upgraded for that, and it was a nice quality of life improvement, the headset feels much better without the heavy cables pulling on it as well.
@KippDynamite The breakout box supports 4K and HDR passthrough, the only thing it wouldn't support would be 120Hz, VRR, and ALLM, but that only applies if you have a TV that supports those. Otherwise it doesn't matter. There's only 2 or 3 TVs out currently that support VRR. If you have one of those, then yeah, you'll want to swap cables or get an HDMI 2.1 switcher. Looking forward to PSVR2 being wireless and that not being necessary. Luckily for me I only have 4K HDR tv, so no cable swapping necessary.
I have an LG CX which does support those features. However, only a couple of games currently support those features so maybe I can get away without swapping cables for a year or so. Either way, it's annoying that it's not seamless - but understandable.
I loved my PSVR so much, and recently got an Oculus Quest 2, mainly to play some racing games. It's almost perfect for VR as you're sat down the whole time and makes me sad stuff like Project Cars 2 never supported PSVR. Hope PSVR2 is more widely supported.
I hope this feature comes to PC eventually, I don't have a PSVR but I do have an Oculus that hasnt seen much use lately and I love this series so playing it in VR would practically be a dream come true for me.
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