Playstation VR: The Day After
So I was lucky and got one of the first PlayStation VRs… I bought it from Best Buy instead of Amazon so it would be easy to return if I was disappointed. Long story short, that’s not gonna happen. I was exceedingly blown away and I’ve barely scratched the surface.
The day I ordered online (10/13/16), I also went on the Playstation store and got all the free VR titles I could, as well as Gunjack and Batman VR. The next day when it arrived, Batman was still downloading, so I figured I’d start off with something light to just test it out… Hatsune Miku Future Live Demo. WOW. I was immediately blown away… the demo puts you in a ginormous stadium to watch a concert, and it honest to god feels like you’re in a ginormous stadium! You can look all around (up, down, all around including behind you), change seating positions — including an aerial seat that shows a railing around you… you can lean over the railing and feel like you’re going to fall from a height. It’s just amazing. Throw in cool visual concert effects and it’s really something you won’t believe until you see it for yourself. I even spent the $20 for the DLC which includes a full concert just because I want more of that incredible experience.
The next game I tried was EVE: Gunjack. You basically get put in a spaceship and have to defend against attackers and asteroids. Let me put it this way… I spent about five minutes just on the title screen looking around! The interior area of the ship you’re launched from is enormous, and once you’re in space… wow. Another one you just gotta try to believe it. Gunjack was only about $13 on the Playstation Store.
Next I tried Vrideo (free) which is basically like YouTube for 360 VR films. Very cool, excellent interface… I just found the videos really slow and stuttery, no doubt because Batman: VR and a couple other things were downloading in the background. So I selected a couple of videos to download, but haven’t gotten back to them yet.
Switching to Playroom VR… I only tried one of the six modules in the Playroom, mainly because I spent so much time in the one that I did try. So I go into the game, am playing around, and at some point look to my left, only to catch something in my peripheral vision… turning all the way around, I find about a dozen cute little Playstation robots are standing behind me! The whole space was captivating.
Next I put in the Playstation VR demo disk… only to be prompted to wait for a 1 GB update download.
Moving on from that, I tried Netflix in Cinema mode. Worked awesome. Unless you’ve got some super-fast net connection that Netflix regularly delivers super high quality over, then you’ll find watching Netflix on Playstation VR is just as good a quality as you usually get, except on a movie theatre sized screen (and you can lay down on your couch and look straight up at that screen!). I watched a couple episodes of Covert Affairs, and I’ve begun re-watching Sword Art Online. Watching SAO through a VR headset is kind of obligatory, I think. ;-)
That’s all I managed before going to bed (very late), so let me comment on a couple technical things. First… many reviewers go on and on about cables. Seriously, setup took five minutes, there aren’t that many cables, the cables go into the hidden tangle of cables that already exist behind your Playstation and TV, and the only cable that comes out across your floor is the cable that attaches to the headset itself. So cables are not a problem.
Now let’s talk audio… I tried using my Playstation Gold headphones (attached via a 3.5mm jack cable to take advantage of 3D sound), but honestly that’s not a very comfortable setup. I’d say that any headphones that go over the head aren’t ideal for Playstation VR. They work, and your mileage may vary, but I recommend investing in a good quality pair of earbuds. PSVR comes with earbuds which work fine, but I’ll probably replace them with better ones just to optimize the awesomeness of the VR experience.
Speaking of the VR experience… OMG OMG OMG. My only frame of reference that I was sitting on my couch was the cushion under my posterior. Beyond that I was completely ensconced in the VR environments. External lights are completely blocked out, your entire field of view if filled with the VR world (I wear glasses, BTW, and it was no problem), and you’re wearing headphones. Apart from smell, touch, and taste, you’re transported somewhere else. I must have looked like a complete idiot to anyone watching me, but inside VR I was turning around looking at things behind me (and surprisingly not running my head into the back of my couch) without any sense that I was anywhere but in the VR world.
In conclusion, this is the VR technology experience that as a sci-fi fan and geek I’ve been waiting for all my life. It’s completely blown me away, and I’m blown away even more by the realization that this is pretty much VR 1.0 (well, at least in terms of mass consumer VR). It’s already mind-blowingly awesome, and it’s only going to get better, both in the current generation as developers figure out how to squeeze the most out of PSVR, and as future generations of PSVR are released. At $550 Canadian (I already had the camera and motion controllers) it wasn’t cheap, but I was willing to splurge on the hopes that it would live up to my expectations. It did, and it’s worth every penny.