The next big launch in the world of virtual reality is coming next month, as PlayStation VR goes on sale in the UK.
The system stands out not just because it is the first VR headset to come from a video games console maker, but also because it will be the first high-end system that doesn’t require a powerful gaming PC to run.
PlayStation VR instead runs by being plugged into a PS4 console – something 40 million people already have, according to Sony’s most recent figures. That’s a lot of potential users on day one.
PlayStation VR is shaping up to be one of the best virtual reality systems around, based on what we’ve seen. Here’s a rundown of reasons to be excited.
For many this has been a sticking point for VR so far. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift offer stunning and immersive experiences, but both come with a hefty price tag. Vive is around £790, while the Rift will cost you about £550. On top of that, you’ll also need a high-spec gaming laptop to run the system on, and that will set you back another £1,500.
PlayStation VR, however, is set to cost £350 and won’t require a gaming laptop at all – instead plugging directly into your PS4. Even if you don’t have one, it will cost you significantly less than a laptop – around £260.
Though endless conversion of PS4 triple A titles is unlikely, several big name games have already confirmed they’re working on experiences and new games based on their franchises. These include Star Wars Battlefront, the Batman Arkham series and Resident Evil. The latter are actually building a full game in VR.
But beyond that there’s some cool experiences too. Ocean Descent brings you close to a great white shark, while the London Heist is a VR homage to classic PS2 title The Getaway.
One of the most interesting things we’ve learned about PlayStation VR is there’s a set of games coming that will encourage more social and group gaming. VR is currently a fairly solitary experience, with the person in the headset having all the fun. However, PlayStation has said some VR titles will come with a split-screen setting that will show those watching on the TV something different to what the user in the headset is seeing.
The result is a series of murder mystery and puzzle-style games, where those watching the TV have to guide the headset wearer to a target or destination. It’s a new concept for VR, and one that could introduce even more people to the format.
The PlayStation VR hardware has been well thought out. Rather than a large set of powerful goggles with straps, PSVR extends round the back of your head, with the casing becoming more balanced and less front-heavy as a result.
The screen is perhaps not quite as sharp as that on the HTC Vive, but PlayStation VR still fully engages you – you’re dropped into the middle of gaming worlds you’ve always wanted to enter and that is beyond cool.
As well as being able to enter the world of Star Wars and Batman, PSVR supports the ability to do others things on an entertainment front. Users will be able to use a “cinema mode” to watch films, TV, Netflix and YouTube as though they’re in a cinema and watching on a giant screen.
You’ll even be able to play non-VR games in this set-up, too.