PlayStation VR is still the best virtual reality (VR) headset for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 owners, thanks to its wide compatibility and extensive library of both high-profile first-party and excellent third-party titles. The PlayStation VR, which originally launched in 2016 for $399, is now sold as a bundle with the headset, two Move controllers, a PS Camera, and Marvel’s Iron Man game for $249 to $399, depending on the current state of sales.
Sony will continue to improve its virtual reality products in the years to come, and PSVR 2 is on the horizon. Its sequel for the PlayStation 5 was released in 2021, but it won’t be out until February 2023. However, in the meanwhile, a free adapter is available to anyone who owns the original PSVR so that they can use it with the new system. Here is what you need to know about the original PSVR.
Requirements and Layout
The PlayStation Camera and Move controllers are included in the now-standard PS VR box, so all you need is a PlayStation 4 or PS4 Pro to get started. This makes a tethered, fully immersive Virtual Reality experience much more affordable than with the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, both of which require a $599 headset plus a decently strong gaming PC.
The headset is constructed largely of rounded white plastic, with a noticeable visor housing the majority of the electronics and a single, broad headband wrapping around the back of your head. Its 1.3-pound weight puts it between the Oculus Rifts and the HTC Vive’s dimensions. The visor’s connection to the headband is concealed in durable elastic, and the headband itself is held by a plastic crosspiece with an adjustable wheel and button. Multicolored LEDs are concealed behind grey panels across the front and a few dispersed over the back; these are activated when you use the headset and work in tandem with the PlayStation Camera to pinpoint its location. The provided connection cable can be plugged into the PS VR processing box via a port on the left side of the visor, which runs partially down the headband.
Control and Tracking of Motion
The PS VR is compatible with the Move controllers, which were designed to mimic the Wii’s motion controls for the PS3. The $449 bundle includes two of these controllers, however, the $399 deal only includes one. The move is a motion-control system that makes use of two wands, each equipped with a light bulb, that is tracked by the PlayStation Camera and the PS VR’s positional lighting. The outcome is a motion-control system that is almost as precise as HTC Vive’s, although without the latter’s controller’s touchpad.
Even though the PlayStation VR doesn’t require as much area as the HTC Vive does because it doesn’t offer whole-room motion tracking, it still needs a good chunk of it. It’s logical that you’d want some space if you were playing PS4 on a monitor at your workstation instead of a TV on the couch.
The PlayStation VR appears more susceptible to disruptions from ambient light and reflections since it uses visual tracking with colorful lights rather than infrared tracking. While playing in our test room with the lights on, I experienced tracking drift that caused my field of view in the headset to slowly drift to the left, as well as periodic hiccups and other tracking interruptions.
The PlayStation VR had the highest initial signal-to-noise ratio among the three major virtual reality headsets released last year, thanks to its early focus on fully developed games rather than tech demos. Though it doesn’t have a “killer app” at launch, there are enough full games to provide hours of playtime, making the headset feel like more than just a tech showcase.
Sony provides a software installation CD to get you up and running. The majority of it is demos of full-priced virtual reality games like Driveclub VR, Rigs, and Thumper. For this review, Sony kindly gave us a copy of Batman: Arkham VR, Battlezone, and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, all of which I played out in their respective demo and complete forms.
An Approachable Overview of Professional VR
Virtual reality with a strong emphasis on graphics and a tethered device has been making steady progress for a year, but it remains a pricey novelty with few must-have experiences on any platform. However, the PlayStation VR provides the most desirable combination of low cost, high performance, and extensive functionality. In comparison to the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, which require a VR-ready PC and can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000, the total cost of entry for this system is $700, including a PS4. As a standalone VR device, it also outperforms smartphone-based headsets like the Samsung Gear VR in terms of visual processing capability.