The PlayStation VR2 launches on February 22nd and we’ve already had a chance to test it. We have immersed ourselves in the world of virtual reality and we are far from saying goodbye to it. We don’t have to as long as the support comes from rock-solid games. In any case, the beginning is promising.
Improvement in almost all areas
When PlayStation debuted in the world of virtual reality for the first time in 2016 with the PlayStation VR, it was nothing more than a glorious attempt to go head-to-head with the big boys. There were some exclusive games that were definitely worth playing, but there was a lot to criticize about the device itself. The per-eye resolution of 960 x 1080 was too low, the control method using PlayStation Move controllers wasn’t ideal, and most importantly, you had to build a whole structure with multiple cables before you could get started with the VR glasses. Many of these pain points are addressed and resolved with the PlayStation VR2.
The content of the PlayStation VR2 box is somewhat minimalistic. This immediately shows a great improvement over its predecessor. The PS VR2 connects to the PlayStation 5 with a single USB-C cable. Unfortunately, it’s not a regular USB-C to USB-C cable. The headset cable is embedded in the glasses and also controls the motors in the headset. Engines? Yes, just like the DualSense controller for the PS5, the headset uses haptic feedback. For example, consider that the ground can shake when a Tallneck steps over you in Horizon: Call of the Mountain. That, in turn, affects the headset and the controllers themselves, sucking you into the game even more than you would normally in virtual reality.
Other items in the PlayStation VR2 box include the new PlayStation VR Sense controllers, a thin manual, a USB cable to charge the controllers, and in-ear stereo headphones with additional caps for a different fit. These headphones connect to an AUX input on the back of the PlayStation VR2 and are placed around the neck. This integrates the headphones fairly neatly into the headset. While these stereo headphones aren’t bad, it’s still better to grab headphones if you have them. This just proves to be easier said than done. Due to the strap format of the PlayStation VR2, it’s almost impossible to wear another set of headphones over the virtual reality goggles. It feels like a small design flaw in a design that’s otherwise pretty much perfect.
Comfort is not an issue
The fact that the instructions included are so poor becomes clear as soon as you connect the PlayStation VR2 to the PlayStation 5. When setting up the headset, you are immediately taken by the hand so that you can start playing your first games within five minutes. Once the headset has familiarized itself with the room, the following times you just have to tell it whether you’re using the headset in a seated or standing position to get the hang of it. We ourselves used the glasses on both sides. Sitting down is particularly useful when using the PlayStation VR2 in a slightly smaller space. So even in your small bedroom, you don’t have to worry about using this device.
We were able to review several games including Horizon: Call of the Mountain and Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge Enhanced Edition, reviews of which will soon be available here on IGN. The graphic difference to the PlayStation VR2, as well as to other glasses, is significant. Per eye, the headset uses 2000 x 2040 OLED screens with HDR. That’s pretty impressive, especially at this price point, although I understand that given the price sits at the same point as the PS5 itself, it might still feel high to some.
These screens produce beautifully colorful images, with blacks being truly black due to the use of the OLED panels. Sometimes the brightness is so high that there is almost a lens flare. Especially in Horizon: Call of the Mountain, the well-known color palette of the franchise comes into its own. The VR games I’ve played so far approach the graphical quality of regular PS5 games.
In order to test the games as well as possible, we had to keep the headset on for quite a long time, in multiple gaming sessions of over an hour. You shouldn’t try for too long either, because motion sickness is a very big side effect if you don’t take a break in time. By the way, motion sickness aside, having the PlayStation VR2 on your head for a long time isn’t a problem. The strap is quite comfortable, although as mentioned, it’s a bit too big. After hours of playing, the player has a slight imprint from the tape, especially when it’s a little tighter. In addition, using the headset with real glasses is also not a problem, although as glasses wearers we still find it nicer not to wear glasses before diving into the virtual world.
With a round button on the back you can easily adjust the headset to your head shape and then tighten it again with a small button. If your eyes are a little further apart, or a little further in, that’s not a problem either. There is a small dial on the front of the glasses that allows you to position the lens in the correct position for your eye. Sony thought of everyone with this headset. In the meantime, if you get an important call, 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 a “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. The joystick, which eventually nests on both controllers, is also reminiscent of the Joy-Con. It’s hoped the build quality on these is a little better, although time will tell. In terms of material, this is similar to that of the DualSense. It feels quite high quality and robust.
This is also due to the features that are not immediately visible to the naked eye, but are expressed when playing. We’re talking adaptive triggers, haptic feedback, and finger touch recognition. Time will tell how many developers will make use of it, but with Horizon: Call of the Mountain, it’s finally of absolute value. The haptic feedback in particular seems almost perfect. For example, there are moments when you need two pickaxes to climb a mountain. Then you have to work really hard to ram those iron bars into that rock just to feel a little recoil in the triggers.
Since all the buttons of the Sense controller are also on the normal DualSense controller, it is also possible, for example, to move through a world alone instead of having to teleport. As a result, many VR games allow the player to choose how the games are played. For example, teleporting or some other form of locomotion can reduce the user’s motion sickness.
We’re incredibly positive about the PlayStation VR2. There’s little to fault with the device itself, although we would have liked to be able to play games using 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 first signs are good, but whether it will actually be a success depends entirely on the games. We’re already getting a taste of what’s possible in this wonderful world with Horizon: Call of the Wild, but this accessory needs long-term support.