Sony surprised us all this week by revealing its next-gen PlayStation VR controllers. It mentioned in the PlayStation Blog post that they’re being sent out to development partners imminently, which is perhaps why it decided to unveil them – there’s always a chance they’ll leak once they arrive in studios, right?
To be fair, I don’t think the orb-like accessories are all that surprising – but that doesn’t make them any less exciting. We know that they’re tracked by the headset rather than a forward-facing camera, allowing for true 360-degree entertainment. They also have many of the same features as the DualSense, so you’ll get nice adaptive trigger effects and haptic feedback.
I’m particularly eager to try out the finger tracking; I don’t think the blog post makes it particularly clear how this will work, but I remember watching some old prototype videos from PlayStation that really piqued my interest at the time. Hopefully it’s managed to deliver technology like that. It’s worth noting that the analogue sticks will also make a massive difference moving forwards.
I don’t think this setup is going to be cheap, by the way, and so we’re looking at a seriously steep price for Sony’s next-gen PSVR headset. The one benefit of it repurposing PS Move technology for its previous generation virtual reality solution was that it no doubt had a factory full of the wands from the PS3 era, and that really helped to drive costs down. This new one is going to be a big investment.
And that’s why software support, ultimately, is going to be so important. There are rumours that some kind of Horizon Zero Dawn spin-off is in development for the new headset, and if that’s a fully-fledged experience rather than a Link’s Crossbow Training-style title, then that’s the calibre of release that the headset is going to need. You’ve got to imagine a new Astro Bot Rescue Mission is also in the works.
But as far as key software goes, Sony needs to be banging down Valve’s door to get Half-Life: Alyx as a launch title. This was one of the best games of 2020, and while it didn’t win as many awards as it perhaps deserved due to virtual reality’s niche status, it still managed to command a 93 rating on Metacritic.
The game is extraordinary: a fully-fledged first-person shooter designed specifically for virtual reality. Valve’s always been open to the idea of bringing the game to PlayStation – in fact, designer Greg Coomer told us last year that it’s “not ruled anything out” with regards to PSVR. At the time, he said that it was focused on the SteamVR release.
Of course, the reality is that the original PSVR, tethered to the PS4 with PS Move controllers, could not cope with the ambition of the game; the company’s next-gen headset, with all-new controllers and a next-gen console to power it, presumably can. Technology is only as good as the strength of its software support, and as far as virtual reality games go, this is one of the best.
So I’m half-hoping and half-imploring here: Half-Life: Alyx needs to be a launch title for the next-gen PSVR headset. I don’t care what it takes or how much it costs, Sony needs to get Valve development kits as fast as possible and ensure this is ready to go day one. While I do expect PS5’s virtual reality headset to be a pricey proposition, it’ll be worth it with releases like this in its library.
Would you buy Half-Life: Alyx for PSVR? Where does the Valve game rank among your most wanted titles? Shoot up the comments section below.