Virtual reality is a completely new way of playing games. Well, the idea has been around for sixty years and the first wave of vr headsets came out in the 1990s. But since 2016 vr really works, is affordable and is supported by major software developers. PlayStation VR is Sony’s attempt to tap into this new market and that raises a number of questions.
What is PS VR?
PS VR stands for PlayStation Virtual Reality. This is the official name for the vr headset that was known for a long time under the name Project Morpheus. PS VR is a helmet that you set up, with a screen and lenses. Because of the way the lenses and the screen are positioned, your entire field of view is filled and you see the game world as if you were in it yourself. PS VR has motion sensors and uses the PlayStation Camera to track the position of the headset, which allows you to look around freely.
What do you need for PS VR?
PlayStation VR runs on a standard PlayStation 4. You do not need PS4 Pro for that. You do have to have a PlayStation Camera, which is not in the box with the PS VR. Without the camera PS VR does not work at all, because it is necessary for tracking your head movements. Many games also use the Move controllers. A game like Job Simulator is not or hardly playable without two of these digital lollipops. Yet “Move” is not absolutely necessary if you only want to play games with the controller. For example, games such as BattleZone and EVE Valkyrie do not need “Move”.
How good is PS VR compared to Rift and Vive?
Amazingly good. There are of course a number of technical differences. For starters, the PC you need for vr with Rift or Vive is many times more powerful than the PS4. However, that does not matter much for the quality of playing games.. The power of vr is mainly in a convincing feeling of being there, and that has more to do with good 3D than with detailed textures.
Furthermore, the screen of the PlayStation VR has a lower resolution than Vive and Rift. Again this does not matter as much as you might think. In some cases PS VR looks even sharper than Vive and Rift because of the good lenses.
Can you play room scale games with PS VR?
No. Unlike the Rift and Vive it is not possible to walk around freely in the room. The camera only keeps an eye on you from the front, which means that if you turn around, the Move controllers will no longer be followed. Sony recommends that you play PS VR standing or sitting and that you keep a close eye on whether you have sufficient room to move. PS VR also has no in-game monitoring to determine whether you are outside the safe playing field. Rift and Vive do have such monitoring. If you therefore step outside the predefined playing area, you will see a grid in the game.
Can you become nauseous?
This is possible. That has everything to do with the design of the game. Whoever makes ferocious maneuvers for a long time in EVE Valkyrie can indeed become nauseous. Motion sickness occurs when your eyes receive different information than your equilibrium organ. So if your eyes see movement but your organ does not feel anything, you can become nauseous. This is possible with all vr systems and is not specifically a problem of PS VR. Not all VR games make you nauseous. Games like Job Simulator are very comfortable because you do not experience artificial movement. A game like BarttleZone can certainly be a heavy experience for vr-beginners.
Do you get used to motion sickness in VR?
Yes, you can develop ‘vr-legs’. But only if you build it slowly. The biggest mistake you can make is to continue playing if you feel discomfort. You can not break through the simulation sickness. You only get sicker. The only way to build up resistance to VR disease is stop immediately if you feel like it and do not play for at least a few hours. Slowly but surely your tolerance built up.
Can you connect the PS VR to a PC?
Officially not. Sony itself has indicated that they ‘consider the possibilities’. It is also to be expected that hobbyists will try to have the device work with a PC. However, it is too early to say anything about it.
Can you play ‘normal’ games in vr?
Yes and no. You can play all your ‘old-fashioned’ PS4 games with the PlayStation VR headset, but then you play those games in a virtual theater with a virtual large screen. This looks pretty nice, but it is not comfortable. Especially because the resolution of that virtual large screen is less high than that of your regular television.