The future already has a sequel… in higher definition than ever before! PETER HOSKIN reviews PlayStation VR2
PlayStation VR2 (For PlayStation 5, £529.99)
Verdict: A better reality
Turns out, the future already has a sequel. After the release of Sony PlayStation’s impressive-for-the-time virtual reality headset – dubbed the PSVR – in 2016, there is now a PSVR2. Owners of PlayStation 5 consoles can strap a white carbuncle to their faces and look silly bumping into things in their lounge… in higher definition than ever before!
The sad thing is that the PSVR2’s future-gazing is also a break with the past. It is not what they call ‘backward compatible’ with the original PSVR, meaning that any games you bought for the older headset won’t work with the newer one. And so Beat Saber – one of the purest-ever gaming experiences – is off the cards, on PlayStation at least, until it’s released again for PSVR2.
Unsurprisingly, Sony’s marketeers say that this lack of crossover between PSVRs 1 and 2 is because the new device is so much better and more powerful – and it’s true, there really is a difference between the two. It’s noticeable as soon as you pull the PSVR2 from its elegant packaging.
Instead of having to trail thick cables across the floor and balance sensors on the telly, there is now nothing more than just one thin lead between the headset and your console – which you soon forget about while gaming. The initial setup takes a couple of minutes, rather than a planetary epoch. Everything feels far more comfortable on your head and in your hands.
Horizon Call of the Mountain (pictured) is the flagship title for PlayStation VR2’s launch
Sony’s new virtual reality headset for the PS5 (pictured) feels far more comfortable on your head and in your hands
Though perhaps you’d expect all that from a device that costs almost £200 more than its forerunner did at launch.
Thankfully, at that price, the differences continue after you lower the PSVR2 over your eyes and switch it on. Its two internal screens are of a much, yes, higher definition than before and are, crucially, based on OLED technology, making its digital panoramas extra-colourful and super-crisp.
This much is clear from the first seconds of Horizon Call of the Mountain (****), the flagship title for PSVR2’s launch. A hood is pulled from the head of the dissentious character whom you inhabit, and there you are – in the world of the (non-VR) game Horizon Forbidden West. Mountains loom overhead. Winged insects flit through the reeds. And, of course, robo-dinosaurs prowl menacingly about. It’s simply stunning.
What follows ain’t bad, either. You’ll be tasked with climbing one of those mountains, which results in much waggling of your arms, but also, occasionally, bow-and-arrow combat against one of those metallic monsters. This shows off another of the PSVR2’s features, its eye-tracking – by which it knows where you’re looking.
I’ve also spent time with the endearingly zany What the Bat? (****) and the visually amazing, though ultimately limited, paddling game Kayak VR: Mirage (***). But what’s really got me excited is the thought of returning to the great Gran Turismo 7, but this time actually occupying the cars I’m driving. Despite the PSVR2 doing away with the old PSVR library, it’s already building its own selection of attractive games.
So, if you want me, you’ll find me in the lounge, treading on the real-life cat as I scramble away from a game-world beastie. The sequel to the future is here – and it makes me look just as clumsy as ever.