The dust has now settled somewhat on my day one excitement for the PlayStation Virtual Reality (PSVR) device, and with four days of gaming on it totaling approximately 26 hours of gameplay with 10 different ‘experiences’ and games I thought I would revisit my initial findings and see if they are still the same.
I am still impressed, I am still thoroughly enjoying the experience and the device as a whole, even more so watching friends and family members come over and try it out for the first time. Seeing the huge smiles light up on their faces is simply priceless.
Do I still feel as impressed as I was on day one though? No. It’s not a dramatic change in my opinion however I have now spent a sufficient amount of time on the device to identify some things that I think could use more work or should have been implemented differently, along with a few games/experiences that don’t really seem to have fully embraced the capabilities that VR has to offer.
The issues that I have come across, albeit some of them trivial, with the device are as follows:
- Screen fogging if the device is not sitting in the exact right position
- The quality of the resolution
- The smallest movement can sometimes result in being told you are ‘out of the playable area’
Screen fogging if the device is not sitting in the exact right position
Whilst this is an issue that can be resolved by finding the exact right spot to sit the headset at and by tightening the headband just enough, it can be extremely annoying. I didn’t find that this would last too long however, I guess due to having a smaller sized head, finding this exact right combination would take sometimes 5 – 6 attempts of having the screen fog up, clear the screen, and then try again. I would imagine that not everyone would have this issue depending on the size of their skull, however it has most certainly been an annoyance for me.
The quality of the resolution
The quality of the resolution of the device isn’t always an issue depending on what games/experiences you are playing, however there is no denying that in general the screen is a tad ‘grainy’. The best way I can explain it is like when you buy a new pair of sunglasses and the lenses have a protective film on them. You put the glasses on and it’s a tad grainy and out of focus. You remove the protective film and everything is crystal clear. I feel like I just need to take the non-existent protective film off of the device and it would be crystal clear.
Some games do a very good job of working with the restrictions that the resolution has to mask it quite well such as Until Dawn: Rush of Blood and EVE: Valkyrie, however other games let themselves down in this regard such as Driveclub VR (which I go into detail about below).
The smallest movement can sometimes result in being told you are ‘out of the playable area’
In certain games you are required to be seated, in a cockpit for example, and need to stay within a small area of space to be effective. Occasionally, with the smallest movements that are within the area of play, the device will decide that you have moved outside the area of play and stop you from interacting further until you return to within that space. This doesn’t happen often but enough that it is noteworthy as this can become quite annoying when you are in the middle of a race or trying to shoot.
These small issues aside (well the resolution thing is not so small but it’s not massive either when playing certain games that compliment it), the device does a lot of things very well, for example:
- Being completely immersive
- Ease of set up and use
- Embracing the next generation of gaming
This is something that opinions may vary on due to the size of one’s head etc., however for me the headset completely covers my vision and blocks out all light, leaving me purely in the world that is being created in front of me. It’s almost like something out of Alice and Wonderland where you are dropped from the reality that you know into a completely new one. You know you are sitting on your couch in the lounge room however that doesn’t matter as everything else you are sensing at that time tells you otherwise. If you can allow yourself to let go and fully and embrace the virtual world around you it is a mind-blowing experience. Different experiences hit the mark more than others on this device, which you can read about below, and this certainly affects the overall end experience on the device. With over 50 titles releasing for PSVR between release day and the end of the year, I haven’t even touched 20% of them yet so there is plenty more still to come.
Ease of use and set up
As you would expect there is a certain knowledge of the DualShock 4 controller that is required with some games for you to be able to navigate yourself around using that controller instead of the motion controllers, however most games have made this easy for beginners by showing you the controller on the screen if you look down.
The integration between the camera and the motion controllers is very smooth, I didn’t notice and lag between my movements and what was happening on the screen. Although if you have been using your PlayStation 4 without the camera for a while now keep in mind that it comes with a microphone, so don’t go unplugging your headset to insult your team mates because they will still hear you.
The set up process was very simple. A step by step guide is provided and whilst it looks like it will be rather daunting when you unpack everything out of the box, the entire set up took me roughly 6-8 minutes.
Embracing the next generation of gaming
VR is certainly a focal point of discussion when you bring up the topic of next generation gaming, along with 4K capable devices. With the PlayStation Pro (the Pro) designed to complement both of these innovations landing on shelves next month, we will see VR really shine on that console. There is no denying that VR is a very strong influence on the way the next generation of gaming consoles are being developed. The PSVR completely facilitates that and has set a benchmark for plug and play console VR devices.
The games/experiences that I have played and a brief over view of my opinion on the quality of each:
- EVE: Valkyrie
- Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
- The Assembly
- PSVR Worlds
- Ocean Decent
- Street Luge
- London Heist
- Scavenger's Odyssey
- Driveclub VR
Note: All of these games allow you to use the DualShock 4 controller and do not force you to use the motion controllers, you do however, have the option to do so if you wish.
This is one game that does an amazing job of working with the device to create an experience that doesn’t suffer from the restrictions in resolution. There is a real sense that you are actually sitting in the cockpit of a space fighter and the simulation mechanics of the game are very well done. There are a few ‘WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOO’ moments in this game that really surprise you. Over all this is a very well-crafted game that I highly recommend and so far have not come across any notable bugs or calibration issues. If you are a fan of dog fights and Star Wars you are going to love EVE: Valkyrie.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
Again, this is another game that does a great job of working with the device to lower the effects of the issues with resolution. You are not spending your time trying to bring your eyes into focus so this allows for you to enjoy more time looking around and taking in the dark and creepy surroundings that you are in. To begin with the jump scares are extremely effective, however after a while you become used to it and know what to expect so I didn’t find that the fear factor lasted very long. All in all though, this is a really well done horror game that is a lot of fun.
Note: The ‘virtual arms’ that hold your weapons are very responsive at least 90-95% of the game, however towards the end they consistently start getting stuck out to the side. This does correct itself after a short time though.
A great concept that puts you into situations where decisions must be made and you may not like having to make them. I feel that there could have been a bit more refinement to the visuals as the ‘shimmer/reflection’ on the edges of objects in the first stages of the game/experience make it hard for your eyes to stay in focus and take away from what is actually quite a lovely looking game, albeit a tad blurry, but only just the tiniest bit.
Note: The controls for this game are easy enough to follow but I didn’t find them to be completely intuitive.
PSVR Worlds (5 games/experiences on one disk/digital download)
– Ocean Decent
A wonderful experience that instantly put a smile on my face. From the coral reef to the turtles and fish, everything is pleasing to the eye. As this is intended to be a short experience there are some parts of it that drag on a little bit too long to add some substance to it, however if you have a friend or family member who has not used VR before this is the perfect experience to start them on.
– Street Luge
If there was any game on VR that I thought would cause me nausea it was this one, however I was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn’t, not even the slightest bit. Screaming down roads dodging traffic and falling logs, launching over jumps and trying to stay on track, this experience is simply a lot of fun. Great for all ages and short running times which makes it a fun family activity.
– London Heist
Now this is a lot of fun, an East End pub, a burly gangster, bullets flying, all the things you want out of a heist simulation. The shooting aspect of the game is very well done using a 3D world to really get you right into the action. You don’t realize it until after you have been doing it for a couple of minutes, however you will find yourself physically trying to duck for cover and improve your aim by holding your ‘gun’ like you have a real one in your hands instead of a controller.
The only complaint that I have about this ‘experience’ was that it was too short. This could have definitely been a release title on its own if only it was just a bit lengthier.
- Scavenger's Odyssey
Instantly this game made me think of the scene from Aliens when Ripley yells at the alien to “Get away from her you B!TCH”. You are in a similar type of mech in an air lock with some simple tutorial tasks to complete like moving items around, which must be completed before venturing outside as these tasks prepare you for the rest of the experience.
There’s lots of jumping, wall running, shooting, you know - all the fun stuff, along with dodging and slaying waves of aliens. This really is quite a lot of fun however Scavenger’s Odyssey is the first experience I have played on PSVR where I actually was affected by nausea, nothing too concerning just a few seconds of wooziness, as you are moving at a very fast pace changing direction and aspect frequently. Wooziness aside though, this was a lot of fun.
This is a very simple concept coupled with bright neon lights and using your head instead of a paddle to hit the ball. Basically think of it like 3D pong on steroids and you are now starting to get an idea of what to expect. It’s a lot of fun that the entire family can enjoy which results in a lot of laughs as your spectators watch you try to hit the ball with your head as it’s flying at you.
Fun times to be had in a rather simplistic but amusing game.
This is probably one of the top two experiences I was most excited to get my hands on for the PSVR device. As a big fan of Driveclub on the PlayStation 4, making the move to VR only seemed like the perfect direction for this franchise to head in.
The driving element of this experience was great, you do feel like you are inside the car and that presents a challenge for those who are used to a more 'arcadic' style of racing. I was not however, impressed with it visually. Everything outside of your immediate vision (within a couple of meters) is a bit blurry and the further away from your vehicle you look the blurrier it gets. This caused me an immediate problem because my eyes were constantly trying to bring it all back into focus and after 15 minutes I had to stop playing as a headache was setting in due to this.
Overall I am rather disappointed. There is so much potential for this experience to become a full game however not in its current state.
Rigs - Mechanized Combat League
“The thunder of engines, the roar of the crowd, the clash of metal on metal. Excel as an individual. Triumph as a team. Game On, Pilot”.
Yep, that sums up Rigs pretty well actually. I think we may have stumbled onto the next big game to storm the competitive eSports scene.
Rigs Mechanized Combat League is an arena-based team sport with two teams of three going head to head. You are the pilot of one of these massive mechs which are called “rigs” and compete in 5 minute matches. With various game modes, rig choices and unlockables, there is massive replayability value here with the competitive nature of this game being what will drive it into the eSports arena if there are enough early adopters to help gain some momentum behind it.
If you are a fan of Titanfall and Rocket League you are going to love Rigs.
Note: Along with EVE: Valkyrie this is one of the most stunning games I have played on VR.
So there you have it, my opinions on the PSVR device and a fair chuck of the games that were available upon release date in Australia after having spent a few days playing as much as I could fit in. I think for the $400 USD that the device costs you can see I believe it to be value for money. I hope this helps make your decision easier as to whether you are going to be an early adopter of this device or not.
Once the Pro hits shelves next month I will take another look at how the new console improves the quality of PSVR games/experiences and just what kind of upgrade to the device/games/experiences has been made and provide you with my findings via the Real Game Media website.