I finally gave into the temptation of buying a PlayStation VR camera and headset. Over the past two years I’ve repeatedly tried it out at every event possible — I even remember my first try when it was still called Project Morpheus. Sony has come a long way since then, and so I felt that this was a great time for me to finally jump into the world of VR.
Throughout this article I’d like to discuss my first week with PSVR and whether or not I’d recommend it. I’m also interested in others’ experiences, so if you have a PlayStation VR or similar headset at home, feel free to share your opinion in the comments section.
The setup works but feels tedious
Let’s start with the most tedious part: the setup. While everything worked fine and I was impressed with how much they fit into the box, the cable madness that immediately unfolded in my living room was not pleasant. I understand that VR is a peripheral add-on to the original PlayStation 4 and not a standalone solution, so it’s to be expected that many cables are necessary.
To give you a quick idea of what you have to do, you first connect your TV to the VR-Box (which is sort of an external processor to bring you the experience). Then you connect your PS4 to the box via HDMI and USB. The box needs power from an outlet, and then you have to connect two more cables from the box to the VR headset. You then connect headphones to your headset, and if available, you would have to charge/register your PlayStation Move controllers through USB also. On top of all this, you also need to connect the PlayStation Camera to your PS4 with a special cable that is delivered with the camera.
While sorting out the cables was a pain, I was surprised how easy the software installation process was. After a short update, everything worked just fine. I don’t enjoy the chaos that exists before my TV set now, but at least it all works.
The headset is super comfortable
I feel confident in saying that the PlayStation VR headset is the most comfortable one on the market. It’s a bit heavy, but it fits conveniently and feels soft on your head. It’s no problem whatsoever to play with glasses on; the headset is big enough and can be worn without any strain on your forehead or eyes. The included in-ear headphones are good, but not high-end, so if you’re an audiophile, you might want to use your own.
My most extended session with the headset on was about 2 hours without a break, and considering my experience from a physical standpoint, I did not suffer any pain or noteworthy discomfort.
The VR gaming experience
Something important to note: I currently use a regular PS4 and not the PS4 Pro, so I’m not sure how much better performance may be with the Pro. Please bear in mind that my discussion is based on my experience with standard PS4 hardware.
Resident Evil VII
The main reason I wanted to jump into the world of VR was Resident Evil VII. In my opinion, it was a great call by Capcom to make use of this technology with their newest iteration of the franchise. And, I have to say, I was not disappointed.
The game gives you many choices in terms of how you control your character. This is great for players that may experience motion sickness or other problems. I also found that, the more you play the game, the more you get used to the unfamiliar feeling of controlling a character in VR and that you may want to change your playstyle after a while. I’ll discuss this more later on.
Resident Evil VII is a fantastic title to experience in VR. Virtual reality works well in every instance of the game and makes the whole experience more frightening.
Another reason to get VR was the steadily growing list of ported older games. I was torn between getting Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch or PSVR, but decided to go for the latter. Like many, I had a blast with Skyrim when it first came out. The recent enhanced version of the game never really interested me, but a new way of playing it altogether definitely intrigued me.
Skyrim VR has a similar approach to Resident Evil VII, but struggles a lot more with technological hurdles. While I’ve experienced low-resolution textures and flickering in most VR games, Skyrim VR suffers from this extensively and offers the worst graphical version of the game. Visually, it felt at times like a PS2 title.
There are two other things that really bother me with Skyrim VR. First, navigating through the game’s menus with the Move controllers does not work well, and the HUD does not translate well into a VR experience. It all feels clunky and confusing. The other thing is the teleporting movement mechanic. This is also something that put me off in Doom VR. Teleporting works well enough, but it just destroys the mood for me. You can turn it off, but you lose a lot of mobility and sliding around instead feels weird. I might get used to this over time, but right now it’s making it tough to enjoy the experience.
Overall, I’d say that this is still a dream come true for Skyrim fans and RPG enthusiasts because it’s the first game to let you literally immerse yourself into a massive fantasy world. But the technical issues unfortunately can hurt the experience, at least on the standard PS4.
Batman Arkham VR
I know many feel that Arkham VR is a glorified and pricey demo for VR, but it nonetheless is an excellent showcase of how well a full Batman VR game could work.
I highly recommend the use of Move controllers for this experience, because they did a great job of incorporating them. You can use both hands freely: you can interact with the environment and even grab items from your belt. The detective aspects of Batman are integrated well, and with the exceptional voice work, it all feels right.
After the main story you have the chance to replay the game with added Riddler secrets to discover. It is short, and does feel like a glorified demo, but you will have a great time.
Why did I want to play Farpoint? It’s the closest we’ve got so far to an FPS experience native to the PSVR. I couldn’t resist picking up the Aim controller because I knew the game wouldn’t feel right without it. It goes to show that PSVR is pretty pricey overall, but purchasing things like the Aim controller will surely pay off as more games are released.
How is Farpoint? It’s a fantastic experience with the Aim controller and probably the closest you’ll get to a home arcade shooter. The controller feels excellent and responsive, and the rumble feedback and weight mirrors the in-game models closely. Aiming, shooting, reloading and changing weapons comes easy and naturally.
I love the space setting and alien enemies. The graphics are decent enough to not distract you, and the story is interesting for the roughly 5 hours you get out of it. As a bonus, you can play the game with a friend online.
This was one of the very first issues for PSVR, as combining head-tracking with separate movement can make you feel sick. However, in the current state of PSVR, almost every game has different options for camera control, which makes the experience a lot more bearable, even for people that easily get motion sick.
For example, Resident Evil VII lets you choose different levels of camera control. You can move your head to look everywhere, of course, but the right analog stick can also be customized to rotate the camera in 30 degree, 45 degree, etc. increments. It might take you out of the experience at first, but it’ll allow you to play longer without feeling sick. Once you’re entirely adapted to the control scheme, you can try the smooth camera option, which simulates typical in-game camera movement. After a while your brain should be able to accept this type of movement without giving you motion sickness. It simply takes time to get used to VR.
Even if you’ve tried VR before and gotten sick, I recommend you try it at least one more time and give it a chance with different control options. This has worked very well for me, so much so that I can now enjoy almost 2 hours of continuous play without any major aftereffects. The more you play VR, the easier it gets.
While VR is still in its infancy, Sony and other developers are sure to triple down on VR titles in 2018 and possibly upgrade their headsets along the way. It has become far more than just a gimmick, and with a growing library, I expect it’ll become something most gamers want. My biggest problem with PSVR is honestly the cable-chaos you have to endure if you’d like to enjoy the technology, and that’s obviously something most of us can live with. If you’ve got the cash and are open to new experiences, PlayStation VR is an excellent place to start with virtual reality.
What’s your take on VR? Do you own a VR headset? Be sure to sound off in the comments below.
PS. Check out these other articles on VR!