PSVR2 Hardware Review
Sony’s PSVR 2 drives improvements in almost every way over its predecessor. From the ease of set-up, the comfort in use, and the cutting-edge technology that makes PSVR2 a credible alternative, rather than something of a passing novelty.
Getting Set Up:
When you open the box, you are met with a headset, two controllers, a set of earphones, and a single USB-C charging cable.
The first thing that struck me as I lifted out the headset was how light it was. The second thing is how little fuss there is involved with the setup.
PSVR1 came with an additional box and a series of cables that ran from the headset to the box, from the box to the console and to the TV, PSVR2 has this all been stripped back to a single USB-B cable, and it plugs into the front of the console making the initial setup even easier.
Because there is no reliance on additional sensors that need to be placed around the room or a camera that needs to see you. This ensures it remains a clean setup.
The earbuds clip to the headset and remain tucked away. While they don’t offer the sound profile of the 3D Audio Pulse headset, they do fit nicely into the headset and is one less bit to worry about.
Popping on the headset was easy. A single button on the back of the strap allows you to extend it to easily fit comfortably over your head. A cog around that button then tightens it in place to prevent it from moving during play.
A second button on the main visor lets you pull it away from, or bring it closer to, your face (which is very handy if you wear glasses). The final wheel on top of the visor lets you move the two lenses apart, or closer together, to match the distance between your eyes.
The final part of the set-up is to configure the eye tracking. This impressive technology can tell where your eyes are looking with incredible accuracy. The potential to use this in-game stretches from selecting menu items by simply looking at them all the way to aiming at enemies with your eyes.
Once that is set up a black-and-white version of your room is displayed inside the headset, this pass-through camera lets you track your room from ground to ceiling and see all the obstacles around you. It tracks everything that could potentially be a trip hazard from a footstool to a wandering dog. You get a final editing option to mark out the room scale and with a press of a button, it builds the virtual safe area around you.
This is all taken care of during the initial set-up flow. As the software takes you through each of the steps to ensure you get it fitting comfortably and your eyes lined up with the “sweet spot” in the middle of the lenses (more on that to come later).
And that’s it, from unboxing to being ready to play in less than five minutes. Once the initial setup is done, all subsequent sessions will be ready in seconds.
The final part of the setup is to pick up the controllers, the pass-through camera helps here. The controllers again are well made with a solid feeling despite being again very light. Each controller has a circle design that you pass your hands through, the buttons are spread evenly across both. Each has a thumbstick and two face buttons, a trigger and a second button on the handle for your middle finger that is used to grip items in-game.
Outside of getting used to having the square and triangle buttons in your left hand, it is all pretty intuitive.
It might have been my bad luck, but the two VR controllers did arrive with almost no power in the batteries. So after less than five minutes of playing my first game, I was told to stop and charge them. As the bundle only ships with one USB charge cable I had to root out a second cable and find another spare port on the console so I could charge them, but I at least could crack on with GT7 as it uses the Dual Sense controller.
But it did lead me to go out and buy the additional charge station the next day. Because this plugs into a normal wall socket and can charge both controllers at once. Not only does it free up two precious USB ports on the console, but it is a nice design. I much prefer having the controllers sitting in the charger rather than being left rolling around with cables hanging out of them.
Digging into some of the technology under the hood you begin to realise just how much bang for your buck you are getting.
The headset uses a series of cameras to provide inside-out tracking, removing the need for clumsy external sensors or cameras. This allows you to have a 360-degree space to play in.
The controllers have built-in touch sensors so it knows when you have your finger on a trigger or thumbstick. This gives a much more realistic interpretation of what your fingers are doing. Yes, it was fun to give loads of thumbs up in the game!!
Both controllers feature haptic feedback triggers, and along with the headset, rumble technology. What sounded like a gimmick has actually turned out to be one of the areas that really improve immersion. Any time your car hits something, you get shot at, or a large creature stomps by you feel it.
Two 4K 120 fps lenses that support full HDR ensure you get amazing visuals and a noticeable reduction in motion sickness. This will be different for every person. I used to tap out around the 20-30 mins mark on the PSVR1 but I was easily heading towards a 1-hour session with no sign of any waves of discomfort.
Eye-tracking technology is simply outstanding. If you are new to this, the headset actually watches your eyes and knows where you are looking. This allows for clever features like navigating menus by just looking at the option you want all the way to aiming at enemies in-game by looking at them. Or in horror games by moving things when you aren’t looking!!
It also allows the headset to render higher fidelity to the spot you are looking at and lower it for your peripheral vision. While I didn’t notice this in practice I am unsure if it is not widely implemented or you just can’t see it, but due to the lens shape the edges do always get blurry.
This is the one negative (and I don’t seem to be alone on this) is how blurry the edges are, and how soon you reach this blur if you stray from the “sweet spot”. When you put on the headset you do have to try and line up your eye with the exact middle of the lens. If they move up or down during play, or you simply look too far to the edge of a lens you will notice the screen gets very blurry very quickly.
I had hoped that eye tracking would be showcased here so every inch of where you looked in-game was crystal clear, but this seems to be a limitation on the lens shape more than the power of the headset.
The headset is only going to be as good as the software it supports. The good news is there are 7 or 8 demos already on the store to dip your toes into right away, and multiple studios have released free updates for other titles too.
Notable demos for Horizon, Resident Evil Village and Star Wars offer insight into the potential. And free updates to existing titles like GT7 and No Man’s Sky mean you have full-length experiences to enjoy.
The entire GT7 game (bar split-screen co-op) is now playable in VR. You can spend hours marvelling at the cars in virtual showrooms, visit the VR “cafe”, compete in full races, and you can watch the replays from the trackside, all in VR.
No Man’s Sky delivers its free VR update alongside many other improvements. Wandering around the endless weird planets and all their inhabitants in VR is amazing. But they take it to the next level with their VR implementation. Small touches like the holographic inventories make you feel like Tony Stark has it emerging from your left hand and you browse your inventory with the right hand. Or how you have to touch your head to turn on a scanning visor. These small but important touches really lean into the sense of wonder VR can bring.
But it was the first time I sat into my spaceship, reached down and grabbed the virtual throttle and joystick that I felt like I was having a game-changing moment.
As I took off (and got to grips with flying), I looked out the side window at the high-altitude view of the horizon below before smashing through the clouds and blasting out into space. I realised at this point I can probably never play No Man’s Sky without VR ever again.
Of course, VR games are going to be the main use case, but it does support a cinematic mode where you can watch other video content, or play non-VR games, on a massive cinema screen. While cinematic mode only supports 1080p resolution it does support frame rates all the way up to 120fps ensuring what you are viewing is butter smooth.
Overall: Sony PlayStation’s PSVR 2 is not cheap, at €600 it is more expensive than the actual PS5. But with that said, the tech you are getting is incredible.
Its lightweight single-cable 120fps design means it is simple to set up, and comfortable to use. Removing the main barrier to play for people that just can’t face the hassle of setting it all up for a 20 min blast on a game before feeling ill.
The pass-through camera makes you feel less “locked away” as you can quickly reconnect with the outside world with a press of a button should you need to check who just walked in or what direction you are now facing.
This is the first time I’ve owned a VR headset that I see as an alternative way to play rather than something that is “kinda cool once in a while”. In the case of No Man’s Sky I’m not sure I can play it without VR anymore it was so much fun.Please Join us on your Social Platform of choice
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