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PlayStation VR2 Review
Review By @ 03:42pm 10/03/23

Product: PlayStation VR2
Type: Virtual Reality (VR) Headset for PlayStation 5
Price: $879.95 AUD
Availability: Out Now
Link: playstation.com/en-au/ps-vr2/

The original PlayStation VR, or PS VR, debuted in October 2016, and it brought VR gaming to consoles in a big way, just as names like Oculus and HTC were making big waves in the land of PC VR. In terms of the hardware and the PlayStation 4 console it was connected to, it was capable and impressive, if not entirely cutting-edge. Unfortunately, it had the air of a prototype thanks to multiple wires and interface options, and motion controllers from the PS3 era. A bit of premature virtual realisation ahead of the soon-to-arrive meal proper.

That satisfying meal is PlayStation VR2, designed exclusively for Sony’s powerful PlayStation 5 console. It’s more than a simple step up from the original born from high-end 4K console hardware; it’s a revelation. The inside-out tracking, DualSense-inspired touch controllers, impressive eye-tracking, vibrant OLED panel, and simple-to-set-up-and-play design. All brilliant.

PS VR2 is so far ahead of the original PS VR in terms of hardware and execution that it makes that first VR attempt look like the unreleased Sega VR headset for the Sega Mega Drive we never got back in the 16-bit days of the early 1990s. We’re glad the original PS VR exists because there’s so much about PlayStation VR2 that feels like design born from experience and learning.

Even the seemingly high asking price (it costs more than the PS5 console it connects to) makes sense once you factor in that its hardware competes with more expensive options available to PC gamers. It’s not perfect, and VR still has this niche quality that makes the whole endeavour feel more like a spectacle and thrill ride versus the meatier experiences provided by titles like Sony’s own The Last of Us and God of War.

The inside-out tracking, DualSense-inspired touch controllers, impressive eye-tracking, vibrant OLED panel, and simple-to-set-up-and-play design. All brilliant.

That said, the launch title Horizon Call of the Mountain sits alongside Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx as one of the most cinematic and visually impressive single-player VR experiences ever created. And even though PS VR2 already has a great library of VR games, including the genuinely brilliant Gran Turismo 7 and smaller indie fare like What the Bat and the Viking rhythm game Ragnarock, there’s still that feeling the VR killer app is still out there - somewhere.

Inside Gaming… Virtually

If you’ve paid close attention to VR headsets in the past, then the PS VR2 specs are what VR gamers would call “virtual drool-worthy.” A stunning and vibrant OLED HDR display with a pixel density of 2000×2040 per eye, a 110-degree field of view, and refresh-rate support of either 90 or 120 Hz. The headset features inside-out tracking, full motion controls with haptic feedback for its controllers, and all the existing PlayStation buttons mapped out intuitively. There’s no need to set up a camera or sensors; inside the VR headset, there’s dynamic eye-tracking.

This feature alone is fantastic to witness. In Horizon Call of the Mountain, you can use eye tracking to navigate menus and context-sensitive prompts. And eye tracking is one of the main reasons the game looks as good as it does, like a first-person Horizon Forbidden West. The quality and detail of in-game assets improve based purely on where you’re looking - and the effect is seamless and unnoticeable.

PlayStation VR2 Specifications

  • Display Method: OLED
  • Panel Resolution​: 2000 x 2040 per eye
  • Panel Refresh Rate: 90Hz, 120Hz
  • Lens Separation​: Adjustable
  • Field of View​: Approx. 110 degrees
  • Sensors:​ Motion Sensor: Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer)​, Attachment Sensor: IR Proximity sensor
  • Cameras: 4 cameras for headset and controller tracking​IR camera for eye tracking per eye
  • Feedback: Vibration on headset
  • Communication​ with PS5: USB Type-C
  • Audio: Input: Built-in microphone​Output: Stereo headphone jack

PlayStation VR2 Sense Controllers Specifications

  • Buttons​: [Right]​ PS button, Options button, Action buttons (Circle / Cross), R1 button, R2 button, Right Stick / R3 button, [Left]​ PS button, Create button, Action buttons (Triangle / Square), L1 button, L2 button, Left Stick / L3 button
  • Sensing/Tracking: Motion Sensor: Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope + three-axis accelerometer), Capacitive Sensor: Finger Touch DetectionIR LED: Position Tracking
  • Feedback: Trigger Effect (on R2/L2 button), Haptic Feedback (by single actuator per unit)
  • Port: USB Type-C Port
  • Communication: Bluetooth Ver5.1​
  • Battery: Type: Built-in Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery​

With a single USB-C interface and a lightweight and comfortable build that does a great job blocking out exterior light sources, setting up PlayStation VR2 is a breeze. Plugging in the headphones, strapping on the controllers, syncing things, and doing the firmware update dance. Thanks to connecting to a closed system like the PlayStation 5, setup takes minutes, including the headset, controllers, audio, and room space.

If you’ve paid close attention to VR headsets in the past, then the PS VR2 specs are what VR gamers would call “virtual drool-worthy.”

That last bit is cool because the headset and in-built cameras send a pulse to map out your room and obstacles to create an accurate play space. You can make adjustments using the PlayStation VR2 Sense Controllers, similar to the Meta Quest, but you probably won’t need to.

During my installation, I did run into some crashing issues, which after troubleshooting, turned out that there was an issue with my PS5’s database, and it required a rebuild using the console’s safe mode. So yeah, PlayStation 5 consoles really don’t like being unplugged without shutting down properly.

Navigating the PlayStation menus and system is like looking at a giant OLED display in a darkened room - which translates well for non-VR gaming and watching media. There are some noticeable visual inconsistencies, but for the most part, the deep blacks of OLED help sell VR in ways LCD panels fail. PS VR 2 does a great job blocking out external light, which adds to the immersion.

If there’s one gripe to be had with the whole installation process, it’s that the commendable eco-friendly packaging makes packing up the PS VR 2 or setting aside a chore. Also, with the controllers only storing around four hours of charge, you need to use up all PS5 USB ports just to charge peripherals. A nice box or case and a stand with a charging dock would have been the virtual cherry on top.

PSVR 2 Gaming

A cutting-edge lightweight VR headset, impressive touch controllers, inside-out tracking with room-scale accuracy, and spatial audio support - the only thing missing is games. As impressive as the PlayStation VR2 launch line-up is, it still feels a little lacking. Perhaps it’s because a lot of the titles are already known quantities in the PC VR space, like No Man’s Sky in VR, the fun Job Simulator, the excellent Rez Infinite, and Tetris Effect: Connected combo. Ragnarock, as mentioned above.

Navigating the PlayStation menus and system is like being in a darkened room looking at a giant OLED display - which translates well for non-VR gaming and watching media.

Most PS VR2 titles appear or have appeared on other platforms, but the good news is that they’ve been updated and enhanced to take advantage of the new hardware - and look exceptional on the PS VR2’s OLED panel. Games like Thumper and Rez Infinite, which feature a lot of black and bright colours, are intensely immersive here - delivering an experience that simply isn’t possible on a standard not-attached-to-your-head display.

Weirdly, as intuitive as the installation process is, outside of a few demos, Sony hasn’t created a bespoke VR experience ala the charming Astro’s Playroom that debuted with the PS5. Horizon Call of the Mountain is a meaty experience, but it’s also a premium title that commands a premium (see: full) price.

In fact, many games, even enhanced VR titles like Tetris Effect, are sold at prices far above what you’d find elsewhere. It makes sense from a new product perspective, but a pack-in title or two from Sony would have gone a long way. The installation process could have used an Astro touch, too, as it’s purely clinical and matter-of-fact.

Horizon Call of the Mountain, a spin-off of Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West with a new protagonist, presents a full-featured and engaging experience. If it clicks with you, it could be the killer app you’re looking for. In VR, the robot dinosaurs of Horizon’s vibrant post-apocalyptic world take on new life - and the archery-based combat works exceptionally well. Playing in the standing position is one of those VR experiences that can quickly tire you out but provide a thrilling experience every virtual step of the way.

Gran Turismo 7 in VR is relaxing and brilliant. There’s just something about sitting in the car and seeing other vehicles and the environment clearly that’s transcendent. If you’re a sim racing fan, like for real, there’s a case to be made for buying PS VR 2 just for this one game.

First-person Resident Evil Village is another tense and immersive experience, with a style like Half-Life: Alyx but without the non-stop interactivity (due to the game’s more traditional roots) that Valve delivered.

Gran Turismo 7 in VR is relaxing and brilliant. There’s just something about sitting in the car and seeing other vehicles and the environment clearly that’s transcendent. If you’re a sim racing fan, like for real, there’s a case to be made for buying PS VR 2 just for this one game.

Great stuff, to be sure, and more games are coming, but one has to wonder if Sony will deliver more Horizon-like spins on its established franchises. VR games in the God of War and Ghost of Tsushima universes would be wonderful.

In the end, when you compare the cost of a high-end gaming PC and PC VR headset to that of a PlayStation 5 and PS VR2 - the latter is substantially more affordable. Still nowhere near cheap, but this is a roundabout way of saying that the best VR experience you can have in 2023 is on a console with PS VR2.

Here’s hoping that software and new games arrive at a steady clip because the tech here is sound, the hardware more than capable, and immersion is next-level.
What we liked
Brilliant 4K OLED display
DualSense-inspired touch controllers
Simple setup procedure
Eye tracking is impressive and useful
A massive step up over the original PSVR
Launch titles like Horizon Call of the Mountain and Gran Turismo 7 really sell VR
What we didn't like
No pack-in games or VR experiences
Controller batteries only last four hours
No charging dock or sturdy case for headset storage
Most games are titles already released elsewhere and are being sold for higher prices
We gave it:
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