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PSVR 2 review: PlayStation’s virtual reality headset price, launch games and more | The Independent

PSVR 2 review: PlayStation’s virtual reality headset price, launch games and more | The Independent

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The PS VR2 is Sony’s second attempt at making a virtual reality headset people might actually want to use every day. In almost every aspect, it’s a success.

The original PS VR launched in 2016, and by comparison looked like something your weird uncle would invent in his basement. It required an engineering degree and approximately four miles of cabling to get working – cables that would wrap around you like vines as you played. It was an asphyxiation disaster waiting to happen.

However, the new PS VR2 doesn’t require any extra bits – it plugs into the PlayStation 5 with a single, simple (and really long) USB-C cable. That might sound like a small improvement, but it transforms the virtual reality headset from a daunting chore to a convenient device you can grab off the shelf and start using on a whim.

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Usability is at the core of the PS VR2’s design. Virtual reality gaming is already a difficult sell to both consumers and creators. Sony is working hard to convince developers to create new games for a relatively tiny audience, for what’s effectively a console within a console. Meanwhile, players need a lot of convincing that virtual reality is more than just an expensive novelty.

The PS VR2 will ultimately live or die by its games library but, this time around, PlayStation has recognised that the ease of simply getting the thing on your head is just as critical in ensuring it doesn’t end up gathering dust in a CEX window.

PS VR2: £529.99,

As well as vastly improved setup and connectivity, the PS VR2 is generations ahead of the original headset when it comes to the VR experience, drawing on the huge advancements made in VR tech since 2016.

The PS VR2 uses a pair of OLED lenses, which can show very bright things and very dark things at the same time. This means scenes inside the PS VR2 can more closely recreate the wide range of brightness our eyes deal with in the real world – nighttime scenes aren’t washed out by an LCD backlight, and a burst of unexpected sunlight filtering through a cave opening in Horizon Call of the Mountain can feel dazzling.

Each lens has a 2,000 x 2,040px resolution, eliminating the “screen door” effect found on lower-spec devices. The more expensive HTC Vive Pro 2 (£719, has a higher resolution, but the PS VR2 has more than enough pixel density to offer decent visual detail, from inspecting tiny objects up close to gazing wistfully at distant horizons.

While impressive, the PS VR2 is still limited by what it’s technically possible to do with VR in 2023. The 120Hz refresh rate paired with the OLED display does a great job at reducing motion blur and cementing your sense of presence inside the virtual world, but there’s still some fuzziness and loss of detail around fast-moving objects.

Like other VR headsets, there’s mild distortion and flare around objects that appear near the edges of the lens. The 110-degree field of view is wider than you’ll find on the Meta Quest 2, but still nowhere near enough to get rid of the binocular vision that’s typical of every VR headset.

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Those technical limitations aside, the overall sensory experience offered by the PS VR2 is genuinely phenomenal, and difficult to convey to anyone who’s never visited virtual reality. Slipping the headset on feels like teleportation: objects appear real enough to touch, virtual characters making actual eye contact makes you feel peculiar, and your idiot brain becomes convinced that it can feel sunlight on your skin.

Helping nail this illusion is another improvement to the PS VR2. Using four cameras embedded in the headset, the PS VR2 can track your position and movement in the room as you play. Most VR games can be played while sitting down, but if you’re fortunate enough to have a 2m x 2m clear space on your floor, you can set this space as your standing play area. Then, rather than use a controller to move around the virtual world, you can walk around this small patch, using your physical feet, as you would in real life.

The PS VR2’s passthrough camera lets you view your surroundings in greyscale, without removing the headset, while setting up a play area is as straightforward as simply looking around at your floors and ceilings for a few seconds while the headset’s depth sensors map out everything. The PS5 and PS VR2 can be used without a television too, so it’s no hassle to move your setup to a room with more available floorspace.

The Sense controllers are your means of interacting with the virtual world. Unlike the wand-shaped controllers used with the original PS VR, the Sense controllers use capacitive surfaces to tell where some of your fingers are positioned, giving you a degree of fine control in games that support it. That makes it feel more natural to reach out and grab objects. This is showcased often in Horizon Call of the Mountain, whether you’re stacking rocks to build a cairn or casually twirling your axe in the air.

The tracking isn’t always perfect. Very occasionally your virtual hands can glitch or interact with surfaces in a weird way, but of the VR headsets we’ve tested that use the inside-out method of controller tracking, it’s certainly the most accurate.

The ergonomics of the PS VR2 make it one of the most comfortable VR headsets we’ve tested, which is good news for a device intended to be strapped to your face for hours on end. It wraps around your forehead and the back of the skull, with the main body of the device effectively hanging from the headband in front of your eyes.

This takes a lot of the weight off your face, and allows for a better fit and excellent light-blocking, though in games that require you to look up often – Horizon Call of the Mountain involves a whole lot of gazing upwards at distant peaks – the £530 device feels perilously close to tumbling backwards off your head, no matter how tight the fit.

PS VR2 launch games

So, what can you actually play on the PS VR2? About 30 games will launch around the same time as the new hardware, with Horizon Call of the Mountain being the standout launch title. Set in the Horizon universe, the PS VR2 exclusive spin-off is a linear adventure, rather than an open-world game, and demonstrates the capabilities of the new technology with climbing, combat, and quiet bits when you’re meticulously crafting new types of arrow while crouching in a bush.

The rest of the launch line-up is a mix of short VR experiences, such as the mesmerisingly peaceful Kayak VR: Mirage, free VR upgrades to existing games such as Gran Turismo 7 and Resident Evil Village, slow-paced puzzle games such as the jigsaw-inspired Puzzling Places, and recycled ports of existing VR games such as Job Simulator, No Man’s Sky and Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge.

It’s also worth noting that, because they were designed to work with older controllers, original PS VR games aren’t compatible with the PS VR2. Some games, like the adorable platformer Moss, have been updated to work on the new hardware, and it’s a reasonable bet that over time we’ll see a few more original PS VR games adapted to work on the PS VR2.

The verdict: PS VR2

The PS VR2 is an excellent virtual reality headset for the price, and has an interesting (if mostly familiar) launch line-up, but there’s no one game in the bunch that justifies buying the £530 accessory at launch.

The dearth of many proper, full-length VR games – not just on PS VR2 but every other platform – suggests there’s still a lack of commitment in the industry to invest in this vanishingly slim section of the market. We need more games like Horizon Call of the Mountain and Half-Life: Alyx before VR can break through.

But PlayStation’s admirable push to make VR gaming a success has produced one of the best and easiest-to-use VR headsets you can buy today. If you own a PS5 and want to tap into the wide and growing library of fascinating VR experiences that already exist, there’s no simpler way to do it.

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This content was originally published here.