PlayStation VR: Updates

Hands-on review: Updated: PlayStation VR

For a minute there, I was worried that virtual reality was going to be something that was better experienced on a PC, with devices like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive the obvious leaders right now.

After spending some time with the final consumer version of Sony’s PS4-exclusive headset at GDC 2016, however, I can finally put those fears to rest.

But, before I dive into the strangely wonderful world of first-person gaming, let’s get a few of the facts out of the way.

First off, know that PlayStation VR hasn’t lived its entire life by that moniker. Up until the 2015 Tokyo Game Show, PS VR was better known by its codename, Project Morpheus.

The headset itself has undergone a few iterations since its first unveiling back at GDC 2014 but, as of Sony’s GDC 2016 PS VR event, we can now definitively say that we’ve touched the finished product.

The unit will start shipping in October 2016 for $399 / £349 / AUD$549 / €399, which is a bit more than we’d like honestly, but considerably less than its two rivals, Rift and Vive.

Hands-on review: Updated: PlayStation VR

Sony Group CEO Andrew House was the one to make the announcement at GDC and added that PlayStation VR would ship with a single game for free: The Playroom in VR, a spin-off the tech demo that shipped with the PlayStation Move.

House said to expect over 50 games to become available sometime this year for the system, some of which will be developed in-house, although many will come from indie and third-party studios.

House claimed there are over 200 developers with dev kits who are actively working on titles to supplement the first 50 games, and that gamers could expect to see a good mix of genres when the unit ships in the fall.

Finally, and this is important, the PlayStation VR requires a PlayStation Camera to function, although you won’t find one in the box of a new PS VR. Some games also require a set of PlayStation Move controllers – again, not included.

What you will get in every box is a headset, a processing box, power cable, earphones, dual HDMI connector that links the headset to the PS4, an HDMI cable and a micro USB cable.

It’s a far cry from a complete package, but for $200 less than an Oculus Rift, I’m not complaining.

Hands-on review: Updated: PlayStation VR

How does PlayStation VR work?

Since its announcement, we’ve gotten our hands on (and heads in) Sony’s VR headset a few times, and each time has been better than the last. Sony has been cracking away over the past two years to improve the user experience as much as possible before release. And its early efforts have resulted in one of the most comfortable VR headsets around, even for those of us who wear glasses.

Like other virtual reality headsets on the market, PlayStation VR has the arduous task of completely immersing you in a video game by producing two images simultaneously. But unlike the competition who require expensive graphics cards to get the job done, PS VR can do it using only a PlayStation 4 and a small black box that sits between the headset and the console.

The early tech demos we’ve seen through PlayStation VR have impressed, too. Simply put, they’re as awesome and zany as you would hope they’d be. We’ve been in a shark cage, we’ve held up a bank and we’ve done street luge, dodging cars while going downhill faster than the speed limit. If Sony can continue to corral this kind of massive developer support for PS VR, gamers will be in for a treat that keeps delivering when it launches.

Hands-on review: Updated: PlayStation VR

As much as we like what we’ve seen of PlayStation VR, however, there are still some quirks to work out before launch and important details that Sony needs to fill in. Some of our editors encountered a bit of nausea during their time with PS VR, which is one of the biggest challenges that VR developers have to surmount.


PlayStation VR isn’t a wild reimagining of the VR headset, but it’s one of the most attractive efforts that we’ve seen so far.

The head-mounted display (HMD) screams minimalism with a tag team of black and white matte plastic touches. Its most recent iteration is interspersed with seven blue lights that the PlayStation Eye picks up to track your location and head movement. It’s a pretty elegant and accurate head-tracking solution.

The design of the PlayStation VR’s strap looks good and. thankfully, also yields comfort, which is a crucial box that not enough VR headsets can tick.

Inside the headset is a 5.7-inch OLED screen with 1920 x RGB x 1080 resolution, which comes out to about to 960 x 1080 for each eye. The PlayStation VR offers a 100-degree field of view and a 120Hz refresh rate.

Hands-on review: Updated: PlayStation VR

Latency is less than 18ms, which means that in theory it’s less nausea-inducing than the previous model that had a higher latency and a slower refresh rate. There’s also a jack for headphones and support for 3D audio, which will come into play later.

The PS VR’s secret to comfort is that it hangs all of its weight at the top of your dome, putting pressure on the bridge of the nose and the forehead.

Additionally, a single white matte strap stems from the top of the HMD and wraps around your head seamlessly, coming together in the back, and can be adjusted to your liking. For games that require you to turn around, Sony stuck two more blue lights on the back of the strip bringing the total number of trackable lights to nine.

The PS VR’s control scheme utilizes a combination of head movements made with the HMD, along with the PlayStation Move controllers and DualShock 4 controller that you may or may not be familiar with. The Move controllers had their first run when they were introduced alongside a few Wii-like titles on the PlayStation 3, and while they worked well there, it wasn’t until PS VR that we saw a true purpose for them.

Hands-on review: Updated: PlayStation VR

The wands felt a little half-baked on the PS3, or at least as if they existed solely to have a hand in motion-controlled gaming, but they feel right at home with PS VR. Other games with more complex control schemes – like a game called RIGS that we’ll discuss in a minute – will use the DualShock 4 wireless controller that comes shipped with the PS4.

If it hasn’t already been made explicitly clear up to now, I’ll break the most disheartening news to you now: the PS VR is not a wireless headset. While the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard can get everything they need from your mobile device, PlayStation VR will need to be tethered to your system at all times.


VR competitors like Oculus and HTC have set the bar quite high for how a good VR experience should look and feel – which, considering these two options require a seriously powerful gaming rig that costs two or three times as much as PS VR, makes sense.

So, does Sony’s PS VR even come close to the graphical prowess? In a word, yes. But the complete answer as to how the PS4 is able to achieve it isn’t totally known at this point.

The PlayStation VR’s secret sauce lies within the covert black box. We don’t know specifics at this point, but I can only conclude that it’s responsible for buffering frames and keeping the experience running at 120Hz.

Speculation aside, the experience I’ve had using the headset has improved each and every time I’ve had the chance to put it on.

Hands-on review: Updated: PlayStation VR

Many of these experiences have been demos or concept games that have been specifically and carefully crafted to show off one specific function of the headset, but thanks to the event at GDC 2016 I can now say that I’ve tried full-on games, too.

The experiences have varied in levity from casual, playroom escapades to hyper-intense combat and even a horror game for added measure. The system and its specs lend itself to more light-hearted fare rather than the fast-paced, high-intensity ones, honestly, and while the latter is passable it’s prone to making you feel more nauseated than impressed.

Here are a few of the experiences – both demos and games – I’ve tried over the past two years:

Eve Valkyrie: Hurtling through space, admiring the view of giant ships as you pass under them, dodging your way through asteroid fields – this is exactly the kind of stuff we all dreamed about when we were younger.

Hands-on review: Updated: PlayStation VR

The Deep: But as great as space was, it was exploring the ocean depths that really set the pulse racing. The game begins with you in a diving cage, floating near the surface of the ocean. I could look around me was holding a flare fun that would move with my real hands thanks to the motion-enabled Dualshock 4. As it turned out, the flare gun was about as effective as a bacon sandwich when the shark started ripping into the cage. But it was fantastic way to experience VR, especially with the lack of any form of HUD.

Street Luge: Where The Deep represented pure fantasy as only a faux-holodeck experience could provide, the Street Luge stood out for its ability to make me cringe, wince, yelp and ultimately feel like I was on a roller coaster without the intense wind and bodily sensations. It started slow, allowing me to get used to the controls – lean left to drift left, lean right to go right. Then came my first car. I dodged left and, in doing so, earned a small speed boost. There was a timer ticking in the corner of my screen that I hadn’t noticed before; this was one of virtual reality’s first time trials.

Hands-on review: Updated: PlayStation VR

Morpheus Castle: Morpheus Castle is a smack-’em-up title that served to demonstrate how Move can be used so brilliantly with PlayStation VR. By pressing the back triggers you’ll curl your fingers into a fist. Extend them rapidly and you’ll throw a punch. Your target? A hanging dummy. Complete the task and you’re rewarded with your first weapon, a sword. This was a smooth, seamless experience and gave me hope that the Star Wars game we’ve always dreamed of – the one where lightsaber duels are not only plausible, but an enjoyable part of the game – are within arm’s reach.

RIGS: Mechanized Combat League: The best way to describe RIGS: Mechanized Combat League is by labeling it as a Titanfall-esque shooter imbued with the adrenaline and setting of a professional football game. During a brief demo, two friends and I took our RIGs into the arena to test the mettle of opponents in a three-on-three battle royale that had us blasting each other to bits, picking up the pieces and then jumping through a hoop in the middle of the map to put points on the board. It was fast-paced and highly detailed – probably a bit more than the PlayStation VR could handle. A limited field of view made it hard to see everything happening in my peripherals, and the fast-paced nature just about ruined my lunch.

PlayStation VR Social: While RIGS knocked the PS VR down a few pegs in my book, PlayStation VR Social raised it back up. Essentially a social experiment that puts multiple PS VR users in one world and has them solve puzzles and play together, PlayStation VR Social is wonderful, colorful, wacky and flat out weird.

In terms of pure pixels and graphics, the PS VR isn’t a powerhouse. There are a few jagged pixels here and there and any object located far off in the distance is blurry beyond much recognition. A smaller field of view, even by 10 degrees, means that it’s less immersive and more nausea-inducing than either the Oculus Rift or Vive.

Early verdict

PlayStation VR is inspiring. As a whole it’s incredible, even if there are some hang ups here and there. After trying it for yourself you’ll want to experience something like BioShock Infinite or GTA V in VR, and the first few demos and games will give you a little sneak peek of what gaming could be like five years from now.

I say sneak peek because the PlayStation VR isn’t quite complete. Tracking still isn’t one-to-one and there’s still work to be done on the image quality – edges are rough and objects seemed a little less clear than their HD display – but Sony seems clearly determined to iron these out before it comes to market.

For now it’s an excellent, if not absolutely perfect, experience that will be fun to show off to friends or play with yourself for in half-hour increments. It might not be the best for long term use, but that’s a decision we can visit again when the PlayStation VR comes out in October.


50 thoughts on “PlayStation VR: Updates

  1. So what’s the overall cost including the necessary peripherals not included? I understand some folk may already own some of them (don’t know why they would), but a complete pack may have been a sensible option!

  2. Were is the 5th accessory box required on that top image? This thing looks like a Old Sega CD with 32X and other add ons lol

  3. Hi, great preliminary review. I always enjoy reading tech reviews from this site for their thoroughness. Just wanted to point out that there is a misspelling on the section called

  4. all of these VR headsets are in early phase, i dont expect breathtaking graphics. I think another 5 years down the line we should expect true VR. None the less i’m extremely excited about it, it’s sad to see Oculus Rift lack so much support there is zero ecosystem, once it was bought by facebook i knew it was ruined.

  5. I stick with the challenges of just phone/tablet apps. Slide Scheme is a great brain puzzler. This might be something to try, though…. we’ll have to see!

  6. Facebook spies on you! Hello NSA Snowden told everybody about you

  7. There will be, it’s already been announced from what I’ve heard.

  8. I don’t think its a negative that the other components (Move and Camera) aren’t included. In fact I’d say it’d be a big negative if they were because of all the people who already have one or both of those products. However, it would be handy to have a separate bundle that does include the components for the people who don’t.

  9. I think move is fine. It even works on the PS4.

  10. And also: Have you even seen the second page? It DEFINITELY USES THE PS MOVE CONTROLLER.

  11. think they need to bin ‘move’ and start to develop VR friendly gloves….

  12. sorry to let you down but.. it HAS the full version of windows, maybe it looks different but it’s just the format of the operating system’s code, but it uses the same code that’s on your PC. and make sure that the FULL Xbox is gonna be a part of Windows 10 (including the HoloLens) in the future.

  13. however, anime games such as SWORD ART ONLINE, are Sony’s Exclusives.. so even if something is better, it wont work if fans from anime world can’t play those games on Windows :) how many anime lovers do you think are in this world? :) there are lots of exclusives which is really good on PS than exclusives on Xbox.. List of games DOES MATTER..

  14. *cough* *cough* It has Windows 10 FOR itself, not

  15. PS VR and Hololens are completely different applications of technology. Can’t compare Augmented Reality to Virtual Reality. They serve two different purposes.

  16. If you think project morpheus is great, then the microsoft hololens is better, it runs a full version of windows 10 , so you can game on it as much as you want.

  17. Project morpheus is great. I think it will be the first step in achieving the same technology like in SAO (Sword Art Online) if you knew. But I hope this project will come to success very soon and many game developers would developed the games……

  18. Oculus works with xbox on controllers for the rift

  19. Sorry to necro an old thread, but something that consoles have is a lower barrier to entry in a different sense from what you think I’m alluding to. Just as a note, I prefer PC gaming myself and only own my Gameboys, SNES, PS2, 3 and first generation X-Box, so this isn’t me advocating the console, but merely pointing out that the consoles will always have a target audience and market. What I’m talking about is the advertising as you pointed out as well as the pricing that we see in pre-built computers. Now bear with me, I know that people in the know can easily build a

  20. 1. Most people don’t want to deal with HTPC setups. Sorry, it just isn’t a popular thing to do. 2. PC is an open platform, so by that nature alone of course it’s going to have more software. 3. Consoles never have to be upgraded. You can buy a new console, but the one you have is going to run whatever new software comes out for it for as long as it comes out. This last console generation lasted for 8 years, and even still the systems get new games. 4. PC gaming is dominant in many parts of Asia because consoles have been banned in many of those places. Hell, only recently China lifted their ban. 5. There is no question that PC gaming has a large, viable audience. However, I question the size being reported because of the sources reporting it which happen to be PC advocacy groups and PC organizations that make their livelihood from all things PC. Even when Forbes picked up that story about PC making more money, they never actually cited an independent study of their own, they simply regurgitated the information the PC advocacy groups had given them and used that as a source; that was sloppy journalism on Forbes’ part.

  21. *cough* Asia *cough* MMO’s *cough* PC Gaming is growing as we speak. Also, you say you can’t game with a PC on the couch? Ever heard of an HTPC? And maybe you need to upgrade once every 4 years instead of once every 6 years but with the money you save on games it’s very worth it. PC has a MUCH larger collection of games and it’s much more diverse. You say the world prefers console gaming? I say otherwise. Look at Asia. PC gaming is completely dominant there. The only thing keeping consoles alive are it’s exclusives and the massive amount of advertising done. You can easily buy a PC that matches next-gen consoles. What advantage do consoles have other than exclusive titles and advertising? Can you tell me that?

  22. With over 8 million concurrent users on Steam alone, it isn’t a small market. You clearly have some sort of agenda when it comes to PC as a gaming platform, but you’re out of your mind to think that Oculus – a product which started the movement with no intention of ever dumbing down hardware to accommodate console gaming – would fail because ‘people have tablets not gaming rigs’. Those interested in PC gaming will buy/ have a gaming rig. Those who want a tablet will have no intention of using it as a robust gaming platform. The poorer choice of the two is the Morpheus, simply due to it being boxed in. You don’t really know what you’re talking about when it comes to the PC side of things. Even your point about movies is moot, seeing as applications that simulate a cinema experience have been seen to be successful, enjoyable and innovative. The PC gaming market will eventually be the most popular market. People will wake up to the way that console gaming damages them. The prices are too high. ‘Oh but gaming PCs cost like $2000!’. Incorrect, and non-comparable. The games are a fraction of the price, which would make up any money you have spent on a gaming rig, there are no subscription fees, and it’s also your computer.

  23. PC gaming can be done in both low end and high end PCs. PC also has the highest number of games (f2p or p2p). you can use almost any kind peripheral too. consoles don’t even come close. as for the VR prices, they will both launch at around 300$. why are you even making this a war between oculus and morpheus? it’s retarded. they even announced that both companies worked together on some VR tech. those 2 products aren’t competitors. in fact if one of them fails then both will fail as developers will look at VR as they look at kinect now. you should want both to succeed

  24. I don 00b4t have any problem using my PS controller or headset with my PC, so your point is? More immersion? Because most PC users have gamers PC with heavy graphics cards right? In particular since most have tablets and laptops I don 00b4t see how the PC market is going to give them more immersion… Most PCs in the market are weak on the graphic side and cheap. That if we take into account that PC sales are dropping as users move to tablets. Oculus is far from ready, Sony will probably launch theirs first. Neither is actually ready, otherwise both would release them and I know Sony is working on their device before Oculus even existed in papers, I read about the Sony device years back, they are probably waiting until the technology gets cheaper to get to a consumer price. There is no point in this devices if they are going to cost 1000$. I only see this things for gaming or simulation, I don 00b4t see how someone would use this to watch movies or anything else, and said this game consoles are the ones that will benefit the most from this devices. I don 00b4t see how PC users would buy this to use their PCs. That is just awkward, and if we are talking about games, sadly PC gaming is a very specific market which require gaming hardware.

  25. What if I want to use it with pc? The ps4 is ok… but in terms of sheer graphics and immersion it doesn’t come close to what a decent PC can deliver. I also have suspicions this is why Sony are yet to release this device, they are figuring out a way so it only works with the ps4 and not the xbox or pc, perhaps through a Bluetooth link or something. From what I have seen its ready for release more than most products I’ve seen released.

  26. I hope that Sony would also release a driver for Windows.

  27. Lol how many PC gamers can currently run games like Witcher 3 at 4k/60fps? 4k/120fps? How many people can run Witcher 3 at 1080/60 with hairworks on? Very few people are gaming in 4k particularly at high framerates with demanding games. Playing demanding Oculus VR games in 4k on your $600 computer will be highly unlikely. Games like London Heist, Rigs, & The Deep look plenty good to me on PlayStation VR. No Man’s Sky and Rapture should be fun on PlayStation VR as well.

  28. That’s wrong. It’s absolutely a donation. Nothing more. They are launching in the summer apparently. I smell console kiddies drunk on sour grapes.

  29. And I think you missed the point a little. I asked YOU why you think it’s a scam. I didn’t say

  30. This is why i always said crowd funding should never be used to fund start ups. Instead crowd equity should be used. Its fine to fund small projects or charity projects, etc But when you are funding a breakthrough technology worth billions, those who funded should be eligible to some form of profit.

  31. Your right James it was a donation. But they could once the money comes through, to give something to the first people who supported them. It would be good PR and worth the small investment.

  32. I didn’t say you were making it up – what I am saying is that they have no right to feel deceived. There was no deception.

  33. I think you can Google it, why their bakers feel deceived. I did not made that up, its common public information.

  34. A bit of relevant background: Oculus used Kickstarter, the largest rewards-based crowdfunding site, to fund the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset for video games. Oculus raised $2,437,429 from 9,522 backers. Each of these backers knew that they were not buying stock in Oculus when they donated, and each received something of value in return for their donation. For example, more than 5,000 people donated $300 each to get a developer kit that could be used to create software for the headset. Some of these backers saw future profit potential from having early access to the developer kit, and others likely just wanted to be the first to enjoy the new technology. Even if Oculus had wanted to sell stock at the time rather than giving away tangible rewards, they were not legally allowed to do so, because equity crowdfunding under the JOBS Act is not yet legal. Eighteen months later, Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion and the Twittersphere exploded with people upset that they donated $35 to Oculus for a t-shirt that did not magically turn into a financial windfall they never expected in the first place. When I go to McDonald’s, I don 2019t look at the bottom of the bag beneath the spilled french fries hoping to find a stock certificate for MCD preferred shares I can trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Yet, some people were outraged that Oculus did not convert their $15 Kickstarter pledge for a cool poster into Facebook shares or cash. Can you answer my original question then: How is this a scam?

  35. It seems you are the one that does not know what kickstarter projects are all about. Kickstarter is not a donation website, donations exists as far as the Internet exists and baking projects is not exactly donating or giving money away for nothing. You are completely wrong. People support a project they would like to become reality, in order to get an end product, example, game developing and bakers usually get a piece of the cake (special game edition). So no, its not a donation. Since bakers expect to get the end product thanks to the contribution. And this is more closed to investment than donating, this is why new laws are created in order to allow mass investing from users on the Internet on projects and companies, while this people are not stockholders they get or expect something in return. Its NOT a donation. Users that post projects on Kickstarter do not have the regular ways to get investors so this is why they ask the Internet community for money. If Oculus had money there was absolutely no reason to ask for money or donations like you said it on Kickstarter. That is ridiculous, so you are saying they had the money but they where requesting others people money instead? Then I would call that double scam based on what you said.

  36. I think you need to learn how Kickstarter works, and also what Oculus were initially trying to achieve with Kickstarter. People donated to Oculus to take it from being concept to reality. That was what happened. They aren’t ‘investors’ with a stake or say in what happens next. If you don’t understand how it works don’t comment on it. Also, what are you implying when you say it’s a scam? Is it: A.) They already had the money, and yet they appealed to people to donate (yes, donate, not invest) anyway? Or B.) They knew back then that they were going to guarantee funding from some other source i.e. Facebook? So what do you mean by scam? Sounds like you are another one of these butthurt e-warriors who doesn’t get how these things work.

  37. Who cares. Most people at least the last 3 years of sold systems per Amazon can 00b4t run 4K either. At least Sony did not lied and cheated anyone like Oculus which was a community financed project and then they sold out to Facebook giving the bakers the middle finger. This is what I call human waste, no morals at all. So good luck buying a piece of crap system by liars and cheaters. Don 00b4t be surprised if they send you an empty box as between the Oculus founder and Facebook there is not much trash you can count together. I yet have to see their devices sold to consumers, they are with that story

  38. There is no way in hell the PS4 will be able to run OculusVR in 4K or even run it with decent graphics.

  39. i don’t think you can do that since the technology it uses is very different.

  40. Depends on the mod, if they do what they did with DS4 where they made a software to disguise the controller as an xbox controller for major compatibility, they can do something similar by disguising the PSVR as an Oculus VR.

  41. well, nothing is impossible. but it does require some really good drivers/software for it to work properly. it’s a lot of work that needs to be done, from the camera to the controllers and finally the headset.

  42. And who told you that the PS VR wont bet PC compatible in the future? Just like the DS4 you can bet your ass modders will make drivers to make PS VR PC compatible.

  43. In terms of usability the the PC platform offers an extreme amount of possibilities, not just games. you’ll need a more expensive PC (around 1000-1300$ oculus+PC), but to use morpheus you’ll still need to pay quite a bit (console, vr kit, ps eye, etc). you just hate the fact hat facebook bought oculus even though they didn’t change anything except the fact that they now have access to much better hardware and hardware deals. they even hired important people to help them in developing oculus. if you stop and look at what happened to companies that facebook bought you’ll notice that they still have amazing products and facebook didn’t make them worse.

  44. And this is why the Oculus is meant to fail, why do you want a headset if you cannot use it with anything? When Sony launches this, you will be able to use it with the PS4 and have plenty of games to play with it. Facebook just made their worse investment ever as the Oculus is already doomed without an ecosystem unless they sell it to MS for the Xbox I can 00b4t see them selling their device to consumers. Not to mention since its from Facebook they will probably puts ads on it or record your play and send it to FB servers. Thanks but I pass on and prefer the one that will be designed exclusively for the PS4.

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