Hardware Impressions: PlayStation VR


The PlayStation VR headset has finally arrived and it's an impressive piece of hardware. I've been around the virtual reality block. I bought the Oculus Rift DK2 when it released so I already experienced the initial giddiness of VR. With the PlayStation VR, I needed it to impress me even further and I can say that as of day one it has done just that.

The Struggle Is Real

Wire management. Let's talk about the real struggle of owning one of these things. When you open the box, there's mini-boxes inside casing the several wires you'll need to run this thing. There's a small box that's the processor unit. It requires power and is going to be the central host for streaming to the VR headset. You'll have to plug in an HDMI cable to it from your TV or receiver and then plug in the PlayStation 4 to the unit using another HDMI cable. You also need to plug a micro-USB cable from the back of the processor unit to the front of your PS4 to use one of the two slots available.

Then you have your headset which has two HDMI cables coming from it that plug into the front of the processor unit. And let me tell you this: it's a giant mess at first. But I have everything neatly tucked away and after the initial setup, it's not a huge deal. Unplugged the PSVR and tucking it away cleans up the wires quickly, but expect a ton of wires up front.

Screen Clarity, Resolution and Comfort

I'm more impressed with the level of clarity than anything else. One of the biggest issues with headsets is something known as screen door effect. There's nothing noticeable as far as screen door effect. What it does have at times is mura correction. This isn't visual all the time but it looks a bit like screen door, just not as jarring or noticeable. Overall the effects are minimum.

Big screen modes always look a bit fuzzy to me on other headsets due to the screen door and with it missing, I could clearly see everything in menus and on the PlayStation 4 dashboard.

Resolution is something to be desired. The PlayStation VR has the lowest resolution of the screens out there. It's not always noticeable but in a couple of games I played, it's lacking. It's not a deal breaker though. But if you're coming from a Vive, this will be one of the things that sticks out like a soar thumb. At least there's a lack of screen door effect on PSVR.

The headset is comfortable even after long play sessions. You can adjust the tightness which is a key to reducing headaches. My wife was playing and after about 30 minutes had a slight headache due to the strap pressing against her head too tight. After making a few adjustments, it was fine again. I don't wear glasses so this isn't personal experience, but I've heard that this headset is perfect for someone with glasses too.

The Games And Motion Sickness

I managed to try several games last night and I only experienced problems in Job Simulator due to tracking. I'm going to give it another shot as the game is hilarious and my style of VR so we'll see how that works out during round 2.

Driveclub VR was the first game I test out. The immersion is fantastic even though the game isn't exactly visually stunning as it's predecessor. I tried a couple of races and did a cruise just to look around at night. I didn't experience much motion sickness, but I know someone that has. The only experience I had that made me feel "off" of any sort was when I was side-swiped by a racer. My brain processed the wreck but my body didn't feel any impact so there was a bit of weird feeling. If you're into cars and have a steering wheel—something I currently lack—then I recommend Driveclub VR.

RIGs I didn't buy on day one but it's not on the way after I tried the demo out. It's a lot of fun and visually impressive. They managed to make a FPS work in VR without a lot of throwing up due to jumping thanks to the cockpit you sit in. In a normal FPS, jumping gives me horrible motion sickness and I don't have problems with motion sickness in general. I watched Hardcore Henry without a single problem and I've played all sorts of shooters on various platforms. But jumping in VR does something to the stomach and makes you want to stop playing.

I did have a small issue with RIGs when I first jumped and fell. Your stomach falls like you're riding a roller coaster. But I'd say if you're worried about motion sickness, stick with something a little easier first. I could see this game causing issues for some. Luckily, there's a demo for this game so you can see if you can handle it or not. It's a comfortable experience overall and something I look forward to play with friends in the near future.

PlayStation VR Worlds has several tech demos to play ranging from a on-rails shooter (think Time Crisis or The House of the Dead) to interactive experiences or rides. It's a decent selection of tech demos with a decent enough shooter. But if you're not getting this bundled with your VR headset, skip it. It's just not worth the money in my opinion. As far as sickness goes, I didn't experience anything in any of the games. The shark diving demo should be a free demo on the store because it displays one of the most visually impressive rides on the PSVR. And a terrifying one if you're afraid of sharks. In my case, I'm terrified of them and managed to get through the entire thing without screaming.

Job Simulator was one of my must-haves on day one. And even though the price was $29.99, I bought it anyway. I can't exactly say the price is worth it as I felt I did everything within an hour. It's a very entertaining and humorous game that lacks depth. Once you get over the thrill of tossing stuff at your boss and customers in the 5 different simulations, that's it. But the real problem I had experienced was tracking issues. From standing to hand tracking problems. It was the only game I had experienced problems in like this. After an hour, I was slightly uncomfortable but not sick. This may have been a single experience however and I'll update accordingly.

Overall Thoughts

I'm having a blast and since everything works properly, I'm very satisfied with my purchase. I've seen a lot of "you get what you paid for" talk with this headset and they're right. You're getting a fully functional VR set that has a lower-res screen but beautiful display. Blacks and black, colors and great, and there's not a lot of artifacts clouding up the image quality. If I had a single complaint it's related to the Move controllers and their tracking issues. And they're not always having issues so it's not a huge complaint either.

If you have a PlayStation 4 and are interested in VR (not the Gear VR or mobile VR stuff that isn't near as impressive), then this is a perfect entry point into the first phase of virtual reality. To add bang to your buck, this unit also works (in big screen mode) on Xbox One and the Wii U. I suspect this will be a fully functional VR headset on PC in no time too.

I have several other games to try out including Rez Infinite, Batman Arkham VR, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood and more. This is a living article so if I experience anything or have something to add, I'll update it above.

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