I played a lot of make-believe as a child. I’d take my dad’s spare gun holster and draw guns made of air from it, or steal my sister’s cape, emblazoned with an S for her first name, and fly around like Superman. But you reach a point where making pew pew noises becomes gauche. So as an adult, if you want to play make believe without getting committed, you’ll need something like Playstation VR’s Aim Controller.
The Aim Controller is a gun-like device intended for use with the PSVR headset. So far only a handful of titles have announced compatibility. Most prominently, the controller works with Farpoint, a first person shooter that sets you on a distant alien planet full of bugs. The game itself is... only pretty okay. The graphics are nice, and the VR is suitably immersive, but you have to move around the game by “walking” using the joystick on the Aim Controller, and the sensation of dashing across an alien landscape while your physical body is not in motion will make many people nauseous.
A joystick on the butt of the gun.
The only reason I managed to power through the game is because of the Aim Controller. This thing is a major step up from Duck Hunt (or that crappy Sega Genesis Terminator 2 game). It’s got enough weight to it that you never forget you’re holding it, and the trigger has a nice snap that makes it fun to squeeze, whether the gun in the game is an assault rifle, pistol, or even a shotgun.
The Aim Controller doesn’t really resemble a gun. Instead it’s a parallelogram, with a trigger on an inside corner and a big glowing bulb (so your Playstation Camera can track its movements) on the opposite outside corner. There’s a joystick, for movement, and all the other Playstation controller buttons, repositioned so you rarely have to adjust your grip while playing.
Controls on the inside of the gun.
It looks dorky, which is fine as you’ll be using it with a VR headset, and dorkiness and VR is more or less a given. As soon as you slip the headset on, the gun becomes a pistol you’re firing with one hand, or a rifle you’re holding in two. You can hold the gun up and peer down the sights before squeezing off a few rounds off into alien spiders.
The trigger feels great.
It is deeply, deeply satisfying. Up there next to shooting skeet in a field or pinging friends with paintballs. I kind of love the thing, but, you know, there’s one big problem with the PSVR Aim Controller. There’s only five games that currently work with it, including Farpoint, and all fiverequire the VR headset—as Sony has announced no plans for the Aim Controller to work with non-VR games. So to have some sweet, and safe, gunplay action in your living room you need to drop $300 on a Playstation 4, $500 on a VR kit, and then another $80 on the Farpoint bundle. That’s $880 just to shoot some spiders in VR!
It’s a lot of money, and you should not spend all that money just for Farpoint. But if you’ve already spent money on a PS4 and a PSVR system then the $80 for the Aim Controller bundle is a no brainer. This thing is one of the big reasons people say VR is great for gaming. It’s immersive, and more importantly, is really damn fun. So much of VR is about proof of concept virtual reality experiences. The Aim Controller is the first component in modern VR that has me wanting to do what VR is supposed to do best—play some video games.