PlayStation VR2 Review Round-Up

Turns out the word on the street was one day off, but the embargo for PS VR2 has been lifted. Reviews have hit the web. I thought I’d share what I read and watched, along with some observations.

The Hardware

Video Games Chronicle’s review by Jordan Middler

While the MetaQuestPro can boast its wirelessness, the selling point for PSVR 2 is clear, you simply can’t get VR performance that’s this good on a PC, for this price.

This is the trade-off between said wirelessness and wired VR. When factoring in the $500 price of a disc-based PS5, PS VR2 still comes in cheaper than a primo gaming PC and comparable headset. That’s a trade-off I’m willing to make, but the convenience of wireless VR is undeniable.

Speaking of PCs, the PS VR2 is not compatible with those towers of power. It is possible that Sony will unlock this type of support, but never bank on non-promised features to come to market. I do believe Sony will add it someday, because of their recent push into that market. The headset is a leader in that space from a technical perspective, but who knows how long that lead will stay. Tom Warren from The Verge feels the same way:

I’m hopeful that someone might get it working eventually, in much the same way that PSVR has been modded to work on PC. It would be far better if Sony officially supported it, though, particularly with its recent PlayStation PC push. Official support just isn’t there yet, and there’s no sign Sony will ever do it.

The Verge’s review team (Sean Hollister, Adi Robertson, and the aforementioned Tom Warren) also had an issue maintaining the crystal clear sweet spot in VR, something I haven’t come across in other reviews.

…we keep finding ourselves adjusting our headsets to stay in the tiny sweet spot where the lenses are clear. It’s way smaller than the sweet spot than the original PSVR, smaller than the Oculus Quest 2, and unless we cinched down tight, the slight amount of sag at the front of the headset was enough to push our eyes into a blurrier region of the lens.

John Linneman of Digital Foundry (here’s DF’s written review) doesn’t mention this sweet spot issue at all, praising the visual clarity and comfort.

PS VR2 has a rated field of view of [110] degrees. It’s much wider than Oculus Quest and the original PSVR but not quite on par with the Valve Index or Vive Pro 2. However, in practice, it crosses that important line between looking through a porthole and having a full view of the action. You’ll notice the left and right edges of the screens, like most headsets, but vertical visibility is nearly perfect. It instantly feels more engaging and immersive.

John is talking about the display here and not potential headset sag, but I would think John would mention a consistent impact to the visuals.

The Verge makes eye-tracking sound as dope and transformative as I hoped.

Call of the Mountain makes a great case for eye tracking, though. The game supports foveated rendering, which makes everything in front of you look sharp while reducing computing load by lowering the resolution elsewhere. More obviously, you can select dialog choices with characters by simply looking at an option and hitting a face button instead of swiping around with an analog wheel. It’s so seamless that I almost forgot I was doing it sometimes — and I never want to go back.

There was one question on each critic’s minds. Heck, The Verge opens with it.

But we also agree there’s a big, familiar question mark hanging over the PSVR 2. Will it have the games?

The Games

My biggest takeaway from these reviews was the small slate of games provided for review. It looks like press had access to roughly six or so games: Horizon Call of the Mountain, Moss Book I & II, Rez Infinite, Tetris Effect: Connected, Song in the Smoke Rekindled, and Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition. The Verge seems to also have had access to Tentacular, What the Bat?, and Cosmonious High.

Those familiar with VR will recognize that all of those, except for Call of the Mountain, are ports. There’s nothing wrong with ports, especially for some of VR’s best, but I am surprised Sony did not include Gran Turismo 7 or work with Capcom to provide Resident Evil Village. Both are launch games that I believe will be fantastic. Sure, both are new VR modes for existing games, but they are exclusive to PS VR. The Verge picked up on this too.

But we’re not quite seeing it yet — partly because the overwhelming majority of Sony’s launch lineup are ports from other VR headsets and partly because Sony didn’t include some of its most intriguing launch games with our review units.

Middler calls out the repetition VR players are signing up for with PS VR2’s launch.

The software library at launch is deep, with many of the best VR titles ever released, such as Tetris Effect, Rez Infinite, No Man’s Sky, and other virtual staples joining the roster soon, but if you’re already a VR devotee, there’s a chance you’ve played these on another headset. For those new to the virtual reality ecosystem, however, it’s a very strong, if somewhat dated, start.

Linneman chose to focus on what this slate of back catalog titles shows off in the new headset.

Rez Infinite makes a return with an updated version for PSVR2. This is a fantastic showcase for the new HDR capabilities and controls possible with the new hardware. The contrast is perfect and colours highlights are far brighter than any VR headset I’ve used. The haptics are used to enhance the experience while the controllers can be used to aim using your hands. Or you can opt for eye or head tracking targeting making it very flexible.

Moss Book 1 and 2 have been updated for PSVR2 – this game has you sitting within various dioramas while controlling your character and serves as a great demonstration for the increased pixel count in the headset. If you try Moss on the original PSVR then switch to PSVR2, the leap in quality is genuinely surprising.

Games are vital for any new hardware to succeed. There are some promising games on the horizon: Firewall Ultra and whatever Resident Evil 4‘s VR1 support is come to mind. My biggest hope is that Sony keeps the exclusive train chugging. Give us more first-party experiences and woo developer partners to support PS VR2. I hope this summer offers a picture at PS VR2’s future after being on the market for 3-5 months.

At embargo, PlayStation VR2 sounds technologically impressive and immersive. The concern for the console’s library looms over the launch, but I remain as optimistic as ever. Perhaps I am too soft on Sony or maybe I am trying to justify my purchase, but I believe in VR and this particular hardware.r We’ll see if my belief pans out when I get my own headset next week.2

1. IGN seems to think this is the entire game in VR to rival that of the Oculus Quest 2 version of the original, but I couldn’t find a source from Capcom on this. — Looking back at the IGN feature, they don’t call out the entire game. Either it read that way to me or they updated the article after I read it yesterday. I vote for reader error.

2. There was a quote from VGC’s Call of the Mountain review that I just had to include.

Another element of Call of the Mountain that is very authentic to the main series is the main character’s point-blank refusal to let any moment of silence linger for more than a few seconds.