I spent 30 minutes with a PlayStation VR2 on my head and I was dizzy

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

Accustomed to the launch of new TVs at CES in Las VegasSony has decided to change its strategy in 2023. To differentiate from Samsung and other tech giants, the Japanese manufacturer has decided to focus on its other activities. The TV series The last of usThe film Gran Turismoor metaverse dedicated to football AND his electric car designed with Honda were the focus of his press conference on January 4, as well as virtual reality. It’s not really surprising, PlayStation VR2 arrived February 22.

Present in Las Vegas to cover CES for Numerama, I was quite lucky. Arriving late to the press conference and finding myself at the end of the hall, I had the opportunity to take the second place in the long line reserved for the media (few journalists were able to try on the headphones on January 4). For 30 minutes I had the opportunity to play Horizon The Call of the Mountain on PS VR2. What is the future companion of PS5 ? 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 Meta’s helmets, the PS VR2 has a “mixed reality” system that lets you see through the helmet thanks to hidden cameras around the device. When you put the helmet on your head for the first time, this interface appears. This allows you to easily find your controllers and position yourself in a nice spot without risking hitting the wall (you can even model a room). Next, we can turn on virtual reality. The idea is quite good, but we really regret Sony’s choice to limit its product to black and white cameras, while Meta and HTC have already switched to color. It’s a shame to launch a helmet that is already outdated in this respect, even more so at 600 euros.

Then PS VR2 asked me to make two settings:

  • The first has to do with dividing the eyes. Thanks to a very well-designed app, the PlayStation interface told me that my eyes were not positioned in front of the holes. Thanks to a wheel located at the top left, I was able to correct the distance between the lenses to place them in front of my vision. I immediately noticed the visual difference, everything became very clear.
  • PS VR2 also supports eye tracking. Another app asked me to look at bright spots with my eyes, to teach the headset to recognize where I’m looking. This is an important element, as this is how you navigate through the menus afterwards. You select an option by looking at it, without touching the joystick.
The PS VR2 headset is quite thick, but fits perfectly with the user’s appearance. // Source: Numerama

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

As for keeping the helmet on my 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 is disappointing

Indeed, like its predecessor, the PS VR2 is a wired headset. Connected to a PlayStation 5 using a long cable, Sony’s headset can’t do anything on its own. As a result, we cannot move as we wish. I often got upset when I wanted to turn my head, as every movement of my legs brought me into contact with the cable… and I was in danger of falling. The demonstrator told me to use the joystick to turn instead of the feet, which completely kills the dive. I already see it as PS VR2’s #1 flaw, hoping to change my mind during the full test.

PS VR2 stands at CES in Las Vegas.  // Source: Numerama
PS VR2 stands at CES in Las Vegas. // Source: Numerama

We enjoyed playing with the PS VR2

yes for Horizon The Call of the Mountain star game released by sony at the same time as PS VR2? (The brand also announced an update to Gran Turismo 7). Once the headset was set up, I was able to try out the title for 30 minutes, starting the adventure from the beginning. The opportunity to familiarize yourself with the helmet and its controllers, to measure their realism.

Graphically speaking, the PS5 is a formidable machine for VR. The first minutes of the game horizon he put me on a boat where I had nothing to do but contemplate the scenery. It’s smart, as it prompts 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 view of the helmet is good, its fluidity as well (120 Hz), as well as its quality (almost 4K in each eye)… The first impression is very positive, until the ship suddenly capsizes. Proof that diving works well: I jumped and tried to protect myself with my arms.

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

Then the game begins. Quick instructions show how to use controllers that use the same adaptive triggers as the PS5’s DualSense. We use the middle finger to make a fist and climb, we move forward holding the Cross and Square keys and make movements with our arms and we turn with the joystick (since you have to limit your movements to avoid caught in the cable). Everything is pretty intuitive, although I was a little disappointed with the controllers. The haptic feedback is less good than on the DualSense, for example, I didn’t get the impression of touching water when dipping my hand into a lake. Truth be told, all the vibes felt the same to me. They are nice, but not spectacular or better than in Meta Quest Pro. On the other hand, haptic feedback on the forehead is a good idea.

Sometimes you feel slight vibrations at the bottom.  For example, when you get a hit.  // Source: Numerama
Sometimes you feel slight vibrations at the bottom. For example, when you get a hit. // Source: Numerama

During my trip, I climbed (many) rocks. Proof that the experience is realistic, I was so afraid of heights when I looked down that my legs were shaking. Losing a rock early in the game, I even took a mini-fall a few feet that freaked me out quite a bit. Sony has managed to reproduce a very realistic, error-free experience on the screen during these first 30 minutes.

The best part of the game comes when I discovered the bow, which I held in my left hand. With my right hand behind my back, I could catch arrows and slide them into the bow, then shoot at targets or objects. At the end of the session, I was even able to face a first opponent… dodging his attacks. If I had to use the cross button to dodge, I couldn’t help but move my body. The fight was really cool… but the session stopped after that.

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

Despite 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 a better spec sheet for gaming (and the PS5 is definitely more powerful than a mobile chip).

Now I can’t wait to get the product on February 22nd, hoping it will convince me just as much after a few hours of play.

Numerama is in Las Vegas for CES 2023

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