I spent 30 minutes with the PlayStation VR2 in my head and I felt dizzy

At CES in Las Vegas, Numerama was able to preview Sony’s PS VR2 by playing the first 30 minutes of the game. The Bell of Horizon Mountain. An amazing display, even if the helmet has a few regrettable flaws for a €600 product.

Accustomed to presenting new TVs at the CES exhibition in Las Vegas, Sony has decided to change its strategy in 2023. In order to differentiate itself from Samsung and other technology giants, the Japanese manufacturer has decided to focus on other activities. TV series Our lastmovie Gran Turismoa a metaverse dedicated to soccer and its Honda-designed electric car was shown off with virtual reality at a press conference on January 4. Unsurprisingly, PlayStation VR2 is coming on February 22nd.

I was lucky enough to be in Las Vegas to cover CES for Numerama. Arriving late to the press conference and finding myself at the back of the room, I had the opportunity to occupy the second place in the long line reserved for the media (on January 4th, few journalists were able to use headsets). I had the opportunity to play for 30 minutes The Bell of Horizon Mountain On PS VR2. What is the value of the PS5’s future companion? Here are the first answers.

Very attractive OLED screens and eye tracking

Before we talk about the gaming experience, we need to address the headset itself. Like the Meta headsets, the PS VR2 features a “mixed reality” system that allows you to view through a headset with hidden cameras on each side of the device. This interface appears when you put the helmet on your head for the first time. It allows you to easily find the controllers and place yourself in a pleasant place without the risk of hitting a wall (you can also model the room). Then we can activate virtual reality. The idea is pretty good, but we really regret Sony’s choice to limit their product to black-and-white cameras, while the Meta and HTC have already moved to color. From this point of view, it is a pity to sell an already outdated helmet for 600 euros.

PS VR2 then asked me to do two settings:

  • The first concerns the distance of the eyes. Thanks to a very well-designed app, the PlayStation interface told me that my eyes were not placed in front of the holes. Thanks to the wheel on the top left, I was able to adjust the distance between the lenses so that I could place them in front of my eyes. I immediately felt the visual difference, everything became very clear.
  • PS VR2 also supports view tracking. Another program asked me to look at bright spots with my eyes, training the headset to recognize where I was looking. This is an important item because this is how you move between menus later. You select by looking at the option without touching the joystick.
The PS VR2 headset is quite thick, but fits the user’s look perfectly. // Source: Numerama

Since this configuration takes place in an app with a black background, it also shows how much OLED changes things for the virtual reality headset. The PS VR2’s contrast ratio has nothing to do with the Meta headset, which makes it much more enjoyable to use. Even if you have to see the PS VR2 as a headset dedicated only to video games, if Meta and HTC go further, the immersion is really successful.

As for keeping the helmet on the head, it didn’t bother me at all despite its size. Everything is well balanced, which is most important in VR. There is only one thing that spoils the experience…

The cable hurts

Indeed, like its predecessor, the PS VR2 is a wired headset. Sony’s headset, which connects to the PlayStation 5 using a long cable, can’t do anything on its own. As a result, we cannot act as we really want to. I was often frustrated when I tried to turn my head, because every movement of my feet put me in contact with the cable… and I was at risk of falling. The demonstrator told me to use the joystick for rotation and not my feet, which completely kills the immersion. I already see this as PS VR2’s #1 flaw, hoping to change my mind in full testing.

The PS VR2 is on display at CES in Las Vegas.  // Source: Numerama
The PS VR2 is on display at CES in Las Vegas. // Source: Numerama

We loved playing with the PS VR2

What about The Bell of Horizon Mountain Sony’s star game launching at the same time as the PS VR2? (The brand also announced an update Gran Turismo 7). Once the headset was configured, I was able to test the headset for 30 minutes, starting the adventure right from the start. An opportunity to meet the helmet and its controllers to gauge their reality.

Graphically speaking, the PS5 is a formidable machine for VR. The first minutes of the game The horizon He put me on a ship where I had nothing to do but contemplate the scenery. This is smart because it encourages the player to admire the finesse of the PS5’s graphics, which are just as good in VR as they are on a flat screen. The field of vision of the helmet is good, the fluidity (120 Hz) as well as the quality (almost 4K in each eye)… The first impression is very positive, until the boat suddenly capsizes. Proof that the dip worked: I stood up and tried to protect myself with my arms.

At the beginning of the game, we just watch.  You can always give objects with your hands to get haptic feedback.  // Source: Numerama
At the beginning of the game, we just watch. You can always make objects with your hands to get haptic feedback. // Source: Numerama

Then the game begins. Quick tutorials show how to use controllers that use the same adaptive triggers as the PS5’s DualSense. We use our middle finger to punch and climb, we move forward with our arms holding the Cross and Square buttons, and we turn back with the joysticks (because you have to limit your movements in order not to get caught on the elbows. cable). Everything is quite intuitive, although I was a little disappointed with the controls. Haptic feedback isn’t much better than with the DualSense, for example, I didn’t get the impression of touching the water by dipping my hand into the lake. To be honest, all the feelings were the same for me. They are nice but not great or better than Meta Quest Pro. On the other hand, haptic feedback on the forehead is a good idea.

Sometimes you feel small vibrations in your bottom.  For example, when you hit  // Source: Numerama
Sometimes you feel small vibrations in your bottom. For example, when you hit // Source: Numerama

I climbed (many) rocks during my trip. Proof that the experience was real, when I looked down, I was so afraid of heights that my legs were shaking. Missing a stone early in the game, I even fell a mini from a few meters, which scared me a bit. Sony has managed to create a very realistic experience with no screen glitches in these first 30 minutes.

The best part of the game comes when I discover the bow I’m holding in my left hand. I could hold the arrows with my right hand behind my back, slide them into the bow, and then fire at targets or objects. By the end of the session, I was even able to face the first opponent… I was able to dodge his attacks. If I had to use the cross button to do dodges, I couldn’t help but move my body. The battle went great… but then the session stopped.

Archery in virtual reality is very good.  // Source: Numerama
Archery in virtual reality is very good. // Source: Numerama

Despite spending 30 minutes with the helmet and feeling acrophobic during climbing sessions, I experienced no post-VR nausea. On the contrary, I even wanted to continue. The PS VR2 may be less comprehensive than the Meta Quest Pro, but it has better specs for gaming (and a more powerful PS5 mobile chip).

Now I’m looking forward to receiving the product on February 22nd, hopefully after a few hours of play it will convince me.

Numerama is in Las Vegas for CES 2023

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