On October 13th, Sony’s widely-anticipated launch into the world of virtual reality will occur with the release of the PlayStaion VR headset. The PlayStation VR will compete with the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, both of which released earlier this year. However, unlike the PC-compatible Rift and Vive, the PlayStation VR is the first headset to be released for a console, which means it’s also the first headset to truly target a mainstream video gaming audience.
But is it worth picking up? What kind of pricing are you looking at? These are all extremely important questions to ask before making the plunge. We’re going to make it much easier on you, so keep reading!
Pricing and Affordability
Whereas the Vive and Rift require a fairly high-end (around $800-$1000) PC to work properly, the PlayStation VR is compatible out of the box with every single PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Slim console. It’s the thriftiest buy of the three major video gaming VR headsets on the market right now. Compared to the HTC Vive’s $800 price tag and the Oculus Rift’s $600, PlayStation VR puts virtual reality into gamers’ hands at a much more modest $399.
You’ll also either have to pick up the peripherals needed to actually use the PSVR, a PlayStation Camera and two PlayStation Move controllers, or pay an extra $100 for the two PlayStation VR Launch Bundle which includes the PSVR headset, a PlayStation Camera, and two PlayStation Move controllers. Additionally, you might want to wait if you don’t already have a PS4. The upcoming PlayStation 4 Pro system has been stated to help increase frame rate and graphical capabilities of the PSVR so for those that want to most out of the PSVR there will be another $399 purchase for a PlayStation 4 Pro.
With the cost savings compared to other VR units, PSVR, as expected lags behind its more expensive counterparts in some ways. The PSVR’s display is made up of a singular 5.7 inch panel that only offers a resolution of 1080 x 960 per eye as opposed to the Rift and Vive that incorporate one display of 1080 x 1200 resolution per eye. Sony seems to have made up for their resolution shortcomings a bit by upping the refresh rate to 120 Hz as compared to the Rift and Vive’s 90 Hz. Upping the refresh rate may also help those that suffer from motion sickness when using VR, meaning the PlayStation VR may be a viable alternative for those who can’t use the Rift or Vive for that reason.
The area where the PSVR most notably lags behind its peers is peripheral input. Unlike the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive’s head tracking and motion controllers, which were built specifically to work with those headsets from the ground up, the PSVR repurposes two of Sony’s previously released peripherals, the PS Move and the PlayStation 4 Camera. The PS Move was first seen in 2010 and was Sony’s attempt at replicating the success of Nintendo’s Wii Remote. The PS Move never really caught on. Although it has been compatible with the PlayStation 4, the PSVR and games designed around it is the first big attempt by Sony to utilize motion controls since the failure of the PS Move to take root in its first commercial go-around.
Because the PS Move wasn’t originally designed for a VR experience, there are some quirks to using it with the PSVR. The button arrangement isn’t ideal for a tactile-only way of using a controller, and it can be awkward and unintuituve to control PSVR games with the PS Move. Additionally, the PlayStation 4 Camera, which controls the head tracking for the PSVR, isn’t nearly as precise as the Rift or Vive’s setup, so at times it can seem like head movements are lagging behind in-game as opposed to your actual movements in the physical world. Some of this loss of accuracy is mitigated through the comparatively modest 10′ by 6′ play area needed for proper usage of the PSVR as opposed to the 15′ by 15′ that the HTC Vive uses as its maximum area of play.
The PlayStation VR headset features a varied set of launch games from a mix of both familiar and unique IPs, with powerhouses behind it like Batman: Arkham VR, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood and the gorgeous Rez Infinite, a remake of the PS2 and Dreamcast cult classic. EVE: Gunjack and EVE: Valkyrie are planned for the docket, as well as a varied mixture of games that should please fans of different genres. There’s something for everyone, especially if you’re a more hardcore gamers.
Before You Buy
Though VR definitely has potential, the argument can be made that none of the platforms, including the PSVR has truly sold it as being essential to the gaming experience. The HTC Vice and Oculus Rift’s scarcity and huge PC requirements have kept many from adopting either of those platforms, and in a way the PlayStation VR is custom tailored to overcome those two obstacles. However, though the launch titles for the PSVR are definitely interesting and quite fun, there isn’t a killer app available out of the gate for the platform.
If you’ve already got a PlayStation 4 and have wanted to get into the VR craze, the PSVR is a solid device. Given the mass appeal of its lower price and easy setup, game developers may be less skeptical to expend major resources toward a game that finally is touted as a “definitive virtual reality experience.” Will PlayStation VR be that for you? Possibly if you already have a PS4 and an itch to explore virtual reality.
Are you planning on purchasing a PlayStation VR headset? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured image credit: Sony Computer Entertainment