PlayStation VR Review

Product Name:PlayStation VR
Brand:Sony
Platform:Playstation 4
Features:Advanced VR Display - Seamless visuals keep you connected to the virtual world through an expansive 5.7” OLED 1080p display running at up to 120 frames per second. 3D Audio Technology - 3D Audio with PlayStation VR means that you'll be able to pinpoint sounds above, below, and all around you. Just plug the PlayStation VR headset and your PlayStation Camera into your PlayStation 4 system. (PS4 and PlayStation Camera sold separately)
Rating:
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Coming off the coattails of the recently concluded E3 and months after GDC, there is a lot of buzz that is surrounding Sony’s upcoming product release. Still, there are those who may be unaware of tech updates that have come out and may be wondering to themselves, “What is the PlayStation VR?”

There are possibly a huge pile of background information that is readily available to give a backgrounder from where this article derives from, to say the least. But all the same, it is important to dial it back and get a better idea of what this is all about.

 

Virtual Reality has returned, and it is in full swing.

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For the benefit of those who are hearing this term for the very first time, “virtual reality” refers to an immersive multimedia experience. Users are made to wear headsets (aka goggles) where visuals are projected (whether invented or real) in a manner that feels like you are actually inside the environment that you are presented with.

The impact of virtual reality was mildly felt back in its inception and initial release in the 90’s, but recent times have been more open and welcoming. This  renewed interest is largely because of advancements in 3D and audio, as well as the availability of the high-definition media format.

Nowadays, you would have probably heard names such as the Oculus Rift, Microsoft Hololens and the like. And while the product offerings for virtual reality headsets have grown in the past couple of years,  it is always interesting to see what kind of features each product has to offer.

 

Sony tosses its hat into the fray.

With the previously mentioned products making headway in the VR resurgence why wouldn’t Sony want in on all theplaystation-vr-product-front action? They already have to date, over 40 million PS4 units sold, and having a product that adds to its lifespan and sell-ability would make perfect sense.

The company announced Project Morpheus at the 2014 Game Developers’ Conference and claiming that their VR product will introduce a new and enriched gaming experience to gamers everywhere. The project was soon given its current name and garnered media focus culminating in it taking the spotlight at Sony’s recent press conference at E3.

To get a quick glimpse of what to expect from the product itself, check out this video (credits go to  PlayStation Access):

 

 

Form Factor: Nice, sleek and comfortable

playstation-vr-product-side

The design of VR headsets over the years often revolve around a common theme – that is, the visor takes the bulk of the weight with a frame that wraps around the head that can be strap-tightened or is flexible enough to adjust to the head’s diameter. It is a good way to secure the product, but it can prove to be heavy for extended periods of usage.

It looks like Sony reworked the frame so that gamers could use the product much longer without the weight hurting the sides of the head as well as the neck. The PlayStation VR‘s visor is hinged securely on a much slimmer frame with cushions on the topside of the visor as well as the backside of the frame. Because of this, there is a more snug fit for any head without excessive pressure to the forehead and nape, along with not squishing the visor on the face too much.

It should be noted that Sony’s design on the product is made to feel like it is part of your body, so it definitely looks the part.

I think this design is a lot nicer compared to previous headsets because of how the parts are less intrusive to the gamer. I wear glasses almost all day, and wearing tight headgear tend to strain the sides of my head and my eyes, too. For a product that does not place too much pressure all around (including with the visor),  I believe it will provide the most comfortable VR experience for gamers.

 

Function – all the bells and whistles you could ask for!

playstation-vr-product-showing-lensesIf you watched the video above, you would notice that the PlayStation VR does not shy away from specifications at all: The OLED display provides 1080HD at an insane 120 frames per second. If you think recent standards of 60FPS looked pretty and realistic, but doubling the frame count gives a smoother visual with more detail.

The product also has a couple of interesting render modes for graphics with the most notable one being the ability to project 60Hz (which is on the lower end of gaming monitor spectrum) to a higher quality 120Hz using asynchronous projection. To put this plainly, for about an 18-millisecond delay, the graphics are generated at a higher rate and will remain fluid so you can enjoy crisp graphics without compromising performance.

One other thing worth mentioning is that the PlayStation VR will have 3D audio in the visor – this provides the gamer with full quality sound that you can hear in a 360-degree radius. This allows a near-accurate depiction of sound travelling around a person in real life, making the VR world you are playing in more realistic and lifelike!

I am personally blown away with these features – and with the current console pushing the boundaries constantly, I would not be surprised if these specifications will blow gaming minds left and right. The PlayStation VR definitely seems to have enough punch for any developer to leverage, and any gamer to feel fully immersed.

 

Fun Factor – ready and able, but TBD overall?

Sony recently mentioned during E3 that the PlayStation VR will have 50 titles ready on release, providing gamers a wide variety of gaming genres to jump into. There are plenty notable ones including Final Fantasy 15 and Batman Arkham VR. Also, Star Wars!

It is interesting to note that some of these titles also leverage other accessories in the PS4 lineup such as the PS Move and the PS Camera (the latter product is required in order for the product to operate). Here is a preview of the product’s launch lineup (credits go to The Verge):

At this point, I am curious to see what kind of gaming experiences will become available for the PlayStation VR, as this becomes more of a challenge for the developers to provide this.  It’s too early to tell if there will be titles that feel forced and if others will be a more inviting and exciting one to immerse into, so I just have my fingers crossed.

 

Final Thoughts – Should we buy in?

From the initial announcement 2 years ago until the last week’s press conference spotlight, there is a lot of nice things to look forward to with the PlayStation VR. The comfort level is promising, the virtual experience looks smooth and fluid, and the library of titles on launch are massive.playstation-vr-product-packaging

From the consumer’s perspective, the price point is going to be an issue – at about USD$ 400, it is almost the same price of the PS4 in retail. Not only that, you would still need to buy a PlayStation Camera. And although Sony will also make a launch bundle to include the camera, the headset, PS Move wands and a feature game in PlayStation VR Worlds, that would still set you back by USD$300 more.

So should we consider buying the PlayStation VR?

For me, I think I would wait for the price point to drop – depending on how it does on launch week, the price of the product and similar VR headsets will hopefully change. Also, given that the product hits markets on October 2016, it may hopefully see some specials during the Christmas season (which include events like Black Friday and Boxing Day).

There is definitely a lot of potential, though, and the thought of experiencing this ahead of everyone else is not something anyone should let past. So if you have the money to spend, go order one now!

 

Are you excited for the PlayStation VR? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

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