PSVR, is it any good?

Last week the pre-order of the Sony PSVR arrived and the question many people may have is it in any good? The short answer is yes. There are a few things caveats but in general I like it.
#psvr launch day
Despite being a bit more negative towards VR, compared to AR, it is hard not to feel a rush of amazement as a VR scene fills your field of view. The unit is easy to set up, some numbered cables get you installing an HDMI pass through box from the PS4 to the headset. This serves a dual purpose, one it lets others see what you are seeing on the main TV screen (if you want them too, albeit at the lower resolution the lenses use) or it lets you not turn the headset on and use the PS4 without any faffing around. The headset has a sliding front mechanism to allow you to easily install your face plus prescription glasses it, and then a sprung and adjustable back to keep it in place. The on switch is on the cable right next door to the volume controls, which is a little awkward if you press the wrong one. A set of in ear headphones plugs into the the same block, though we swapped that for some noise cancelling over ears.
@elemming and the predlets all had a go, and it is unfortunate that the unit says you have be 12 and over to use it. I am not quite sure what that is, though there are a lot of weird things that happen to your eyes and brain once inside a VR rig.
The headset has distinct blue lights on the from, sides and back that enable the camera to track it in space, which means you can stand and move a little, more on that in a moment. I dug up the PS3 Move controllers and after a lot of trying to charge, hitting the reset pin etc they seem to now be back to capacity and working. They are not essential, but they do enhance a few of the experiences (note I didn’t use the word game)
Predlets getting their #psvr fix
I used the supplied demo disc first, it created a wide and bright area to present the game selection menus. I picked Battlezone, for old times sake. Cockpits always work well in VR. If you are sat down with a controller indoor hand the cockpit feels right as you are already sort of in one. The demo gradually lit up the cockpit and you definitely feel a buzz. The lower resolution that a normal HD screen is noticeable in some moire patterns on textures but only if you look hard. I was soon whooshing the tank around reliving the early battle zone which was vector graphics and a two handle tank level control in amusement arcades, where you looked through a scope to see what was happening. So it fits with the upgrade to PSVR. Interestingly the demos all had an in view buy button, though no clever VR payment system here, it just goes back to the flat shop only delivered in VR.
Next I tried the paid for set of demos that is PSVR Worlds. The intro to this starts very dark, but you are aware you are in a hall of heroes, a flaming ball gradually illuminates whilst the sound crescendos. As menus go its pretty impressive. An important thing this does is let you see your controller in the VR view. It even lights up the right buttons as you press it. The tracking and view of the controller adds a lot to the experience even just as a menu. If you have put the controller down you can look around to find it, rather than pat around with your hands as if your eyes are shut with ones that don’t track the controller. This experience got richer playing gate London Heist experience. I enabled the two move controllers and holdings the game started they morphed into a pair of hands, pressing the trigger clenched them to a fist. The tutorial has you opening a draw, throwing a can into a bin and the most interesting is picking up a handgun. Because you are holding a controller already the grasping with the trigger does feel oddly like picking something up, which them moves around as you hand does. With the other hand you reach for a clip of bullets and push them into the gun in the other hand. The trigger then acts as, well, a trigger. It is very cool. The vignette of story gets you into a few shoot outs, though it is very short, yet the experience is impactful. Another option is to hit the shooting ranges. Sometimes with two uzi’s. You can reload these buy slamming the gun on the magazines stored vertically on the table, then go all John Wick on the targets point forwards with each gun in turn or taking multiple targets.
I stuck with the move to become Batman in Arkham VR. This is pretty stunning too, though once again very short. Some of the AR style features in VR assembling things are very convincing, again because of the Move controller. The freaky psychological elements of batman game recently where you turn around and a room has changed work very well in VR too. Reaching to you utility belt to grab the batarang or the grappler and hooking things back on there again is great. You play better stood up, though you can’t walk anywhere, you have to blip teleport to defined locations. It is a pity that all the batmobile and batwing interaction is not there you do no driving just grapple to the batwing, a quick loading pause and you are at a new venue. None the less I will remember this for a long while. It is one of those experiences, like the t-rex in tomb raider.
Back on PS VR Worlds the undersea adventure is an interesting one. It puts you in a dive cage and then you descend, it mention sharks in the title, so yes, there is a shark. You have no controls, you are in a cage and you feel utterly powerless. The rest of the family all experience the fear in different ways, but again it wont be forgotten in a hurry.
Then it was Driveclub VR. This one suffers the most from the resolution drop but when you are hurtling around and glancing across as you overtake you soon forget that. It is fast and can be quite nausea inducing. On my first race I pushed replay and watched again sat in my car, I chose to stand up and see what happened. I was standing up and turning around in a car doing 120mph around a corner. I nearly fell over, and certainly had to sit down and take a bit of a VR rest. It was pretty intense 🙂
Other things we have tried is the VR playroom, Predlet 1.0 was inside the headset playing the main character, I was able to join in on the TV with a normal view, seeing her avatar and the thing she controlled move around and working with her was cool.
The other collaborative experience is Keep Talking and no-one explodes. The headset view is of a bomb, with lots of different components, the external view for the other player(s) is of an instruction manual of text and pictures. Through descriptions and finding a common language like “the squiggle button with a dash on the top” you work together to stop the bomb. It is a fantastic party game and if you are disarming the bomb you feel a sense of powerlessness not seeing the manual, and vice versa for the manual readers.
Finally Eve:Valkyrie. Well this is pretty intense but my favourite full game. The cockpit and the combat are stunning. It has a feel of the BSG reboot, a quietness to the space and the ship turn very quickly unlike maybe in Elite Dangerous, where there is more momentum. As a fan of flight games and dogfights, probably are than the fps shooters on the ground I feel in my element. Targeting with missiles uses the headset and the extra glass in you canopy to be able to get a visual lock which certainly makes you look around. The frantic firing and explosions and space debris has you ducking and weaving. It is wonderful once you get over space sickness.
So yes the PSVR is great. I like it a lot. We just need more full content done well, like any new tech.

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