The PlayStation VR2 hits the market on February 22, and we’ve already had a chance to test it out. We dove into the Virtual Reality world and don’t want to say goodbye to it for a long time yet. We don’t have to, as long as support keeps coming through rock-solid games. In any case, the beginning is promising.
Improvement in almost all areas
When PlayStation first debuted in the world of Virtual Reality in 2016 with the PlayStation VR, it was nothing more than a glorified attempt to compete with the big boys. There were some exclusive games that were definitely worth playing, but there was plenty to criticize about the device itself. The per-eye resolution of 960 x 1080 was on the low side, the method of control with PlayStation Move controllers was not ideal, and most importantly, you had to put up a whole structure with multiple cables before you could get started with the VR glasses. A lot of these pain points are being addressed and resolved with the PlayStation VR2.
The contents of the PlayStation VR2’s box are somewhat minimalist. This immediately shows a big improvement over its predecessor. The PS VR2 connects to the PlayStation 5 with a single USB-C cable. Unfortunately, it is not a normal USB-C to USB-C cable. The headset cable is embedded in the glasses and also controls the motors in the headset. Motors? Yes, just like the DualSense controller for the PS5, the headset uses Haptic Feedback. Consider, for example, that if a Tallneck steps over you in Horizon: Call of the Mountain, the ground may shake. That in turn affects the headset and the controllers themselves, sucking you into the game even more than you normally would in Virtual Reality.
Other items in the PlayStation VR2’s box include the new PlayStation VR Sense controllers, a thin manual, a USB cable to charge the controllers, and in-ear stereo headphones with extra caps for a different fit. Those headphones attach via an AUX input on the back of the PlayStation VR2 and form around your neck. This way, the headphones are incorporated into the headset in a pretty neat way. Although these stereo headphones are not bad, you still prefer to use headphones when you have them at your disposal. This just turns out to be easier said than done. Because of the band format of the PlayStation VR2, it is almost impossible to wear another pair of headphones over the Virtual Reality glasses. It feels like a minor design flaw in a design that is otherwise fairly close to perfection.
Comfort is not an issue
That the included manual is so flimsy becomes clear as soon as you connect the PlayStation VR2 to the PlayStation 5. You are immediately taken by the hand in setting up the headset so that within five minutes you can start playing your first games. Once the headset is familiar with the room, all you have to do the following times is let it know whether you are using the headset in a seated or standing position to get the hang of it. We ourselves have used the glasses both ways. Sitting down is especially useful when using the PlayStation VR2 in a slightly smaller space. Even in your small bedroom, this means you don’t have to worry about using this device either.
We were able to test several games, including Horizon: Call of the Mountain and Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge Enhanced Edition, whose reviews will soon be available here on IGN. The graphical difference of the PlayStation VR2, as well as with other glasses, is significant. Per eye, the headset uses 2000 x 2040 OLED screens with HDR. That’s pretty impressive especially in this price range, although I understand that it still feels on the high side for some due to the price being at the same point as the PS5 itself.
Those screens produce beautifully colorful images, with black being really black due to the use of the OLED panels. Sometimes the brightness is so high that it almost produces lens flares. Especially in Horizon: Call of the Mountain, the franchise’s well-known color palette comes off fantastically well. The VR games I’ve played so far approach the graphical quality of regular PS5 games.
In order to test the games as much as possible, we had to keep the headset on for a fairly long time, in several play sessions of over an hour. You shouldn’t try longer than that, either, because motion sickness is a really big side effect if you don’t take a break in time. Aside from the motion sickness, by the way, having the PlayStation VR2 on your head for extended periods of time is not a problem. The strap is quite comfortable, although as we mentioned earlier, it is a bit on the large side. After hours of play, the player does have a slight imprint from the band, especially if it is a bit tighter. Furthermore, it is also not an issue to use the headset with real prescription glasses, although as glasses wearers we still find that it is nicer not to wear glasses before diving into the virtual world.
A round knob on the back lets you easily adjust the headset to fit the shape of your head, then use a small knob to tighten it again. If your eyes are a little further apart, or a little more inward, that’s no problem either. On the front of the glasses is a small dial that allows you to position the lens in the correct position for your eye. Sony has thought of everyone for this headset. If you get an important phone call in between playing, you can turn on the camera on the front of the PlayStation VR2 with the push of a button. This allows the user to look directly into the room where the headset is being used.
So all the graphic violence is transferred to the headset with one “simple” cable.
Brand new Sense controllers
Finally, we need to talk very briefly about the updated Sense controllers. These are somewhat reminiscent of Nintendo’s Joy-Cons. Even the joystick, which finally makes its way onto both controllers, is reminiscent of the Joy-Con. It is to be hoped that the build quality of these is slightly better, although time will have to tell. In terms of material, this is similar to that of the DualSense. It feels reasonably premium and robust.
This is also due to the features that are not immediately visible to the naked eye, but are expressed while playing. We’re talking about Adaptive Triggers, Haptic Feedback and Finger Touch Detection. Time will have to tell how many developers will make use of these, but with Horizon: Call of the Mountain this is finally of absolute value. Haptic Feedback in particular has an almost perfect effect. For example, there are moments where you need two picks to climb a mountain. Then you really have to put some effort into ramming those iron bars into that stone, only to feel a tiny bit of recoil in the triggers.
Because all the buttons on the Sense controller can also be found on the normal DualSense controller, it is also possible, for example, to move through a world by yourself, instead of having to teleport. As a result, many VR games let the player choose how the games are played. Teleporting, or some other way of moving, can, for example, reduce motion sickness for the user.
We are incredibly positive about the PlayStation VR2. There is little wrong with the device itself, although we would have liked to be able to play games with our own headphones instead of the included earbuds. In terms of graphical splendor, the PlayStation VR2 is a great addition to an excellent console. Every detail seems to have been thought of. The initial omens are good, but whether it will actually be a success is entirely up to the games. With Horizon: Call of the Wild we already get a taste of what is possible in this wonderful world, but these accessories depend on long-term support.