I spent 30 minutes with a PlayStation VR2 on my head and I got dizzy

At CES in Las Vegas, Numerama was able to preview Sony’s PS VR2, playing the first 30 minutes of the game Horizon Call of the Mountain. A stunning demonstration, even if the helmet has several regrettable flaws for a product at 600 euros.

Accustomed to launching new televisions at the CES in Las VegasSony has decided to change its strategy in 2023. To differentiate itself from Samsung and other tech giants, the Japanese manufacturer has decided to focus on its other activities. The TV series The Last of Usthe film Gran Turismoa metaverse dedicated to football and his electric car designed with Honda were in the spotlight of his press conference on January 4, as well as virtual reality. It’s not really surprising, the PlayStation VR2 arrived February 22.

Present in Las Vegas to cover the CES for Numerama, I was quite lucky. By arriving late to the press conference and finding myself at the back of the room, I had the opportunity to take second place in the long queue reserved for the media (few journalists were able to try the headset January 4). For 30 minutes, I had the opportunity to play Horizon Call of the Mountain on PS VR2. What is the future companion of the PS5 ? Here are the first answers.

Very attractive OLED screens and eye tracking

Before talking about the gaming experience, we must address the headset itself. Like the helmets of Meta, the PS VR2 has a “mixed reality” system that allows you to see through the helmet thanks to hidden cameras all around the device. When you put the helmet on your head for the first time, this interface appears. It allows you to find your controllers easily and to position yourself in a pleasant place, without risking hitting a wall (you can also model a room). Then, we can activate virtual reality. The idea is quite good, but we strongly regret Sony’s choice to limit its product to black and white cameras, whereas Meta and HTC have already switched to color. It is a pity to launch a helmet already outdated in this aspect, even more at 600 euros.

Then the PS VR2 asked me to make two settings:

  • The first concerns the spacing of the eyes. Thanks to a very well designed application, the PlayStation interface told me that my eyes were not positioned in front of the holes. Thanks to a wheel located at the top left, I was able to correct the distance between the lenses to put them in front of my gaze. I immediately perceived the visual difference, everything became very clear.
  • The PS VR2 also supports gaze tracking. Another app asked me to look at bright spots with my eyes, to teach the headset to recognize where I’m looking. This is an important element, since this is how you navigate through the menus afterwards. You select an option by looking at it, without touching the joystick.
The PS VR2 headset is quite chunky but adapts perfectly to the view of its user. // Source: Numerama

Since this configuration takes place in an application with a black background, it also shows how much the OLED changes everything for a virtual reality headset. The contrast ratio of the PS VR2 has nothing to do with that of the Meta headsets, which makes using it much more pleasant. The immersion is really successful, even if you have to see the PS VR2 as a headset dedicated only to video games, while Meta and HTC go further.

Regarding the holding of the helmet on the head, it did not bother me at all despite its size. Everything is well balanced, which is most important in VR. There is only one thing that spoils the experience…

Cable is frustrating

Indeed, like its predecessor, the PS VR2 is a wired headset. Connected to a PlayStation 5 using a long wire, Sony’s headset can’t do anything on its own. Result, we can not really move as we wish. I often got frustrated when I wanted to turn my head, since every movement of my legs brought me into contact with the cable… and I risked falling. The demonstrator told me to use the joystick to turn rather than my legs, which completely kills the immersion. I already see it as the number 1 flaw of the PS VR2, hoping to change my mind during the full test.

The PS VR2 booths at CES in Las Vegas. // Source: Numerama
The PS VR2 booths at CES in Las Vegas. // Source: Numerama

We loved playing with the PS VR2

what about Horizon Call of the Mountain the star game launched by Sony at the same time as the PS VR2? (The brand also announced an update to Gran Turismo 7). Once the headset was configured, I was able to try the title for 30 minutes, starting the adventure at the very beginning. The opportunity to familiarize myself with the helmet and its controllers, in order to measure their realism.

Graphically speaking, the PS5 is a formidable machine for VR. The first minutes of the game Horizon propelled me onto a boat where I had nothing to do but contemplate the landscape. It’s clever, since it pushes the player to admire the finesse of the graphics of the PS5, as good in VR as on a flat screen. The helmet’s field of vision is good, its fluidity too (120 Hz), as well as its quality (almost 4K on each eye)… The first impression is very positive, until the boat suddenly overturns. Proof that immersion works well: I jumped up and tried to protect myself with my arms.

At the beginning of the game, we just watch. You can always objects with your hands to get haptic feedback. // Source: Numerama
At the beginning of the game, we just watch. You can also always objects with your hands to get haptic feedback. // Source: Numerama

Then the game begins. Quick tutorials show how to use controllers that use the same adaptive triggers as the PS5’s DualSense. We use the middle finger to make a fist and climb, we move forward by holding the Cross and Square keys and making movements with our arms, and we turn around with the joysticks (since you have to limit your movements to avoid getting caught in the cable). Everything is pretty intuitive, although I was a little disappointed with the controllers. The haptic feedback is less fine than on the DualSense, for example I did not have the impression of touching water by plunging my hand into a lake. Truth be told, all of the vibes felt like the same to me. They are nice, but not spectacular or better than on the Meta Quest Pro. On the other hand, the haptic feedback on the forehead is a good idea.

Sometimes you feel slight vibrations on the bottom. For example when you take a hit. // Source: Numerama
Sometimes you feel slight vibrations on the bottom. For example when you take a hit. // Source: Numerama

During my trip, I climbed (many) cliffs. Proof that the experience is realistic, I was afraid of heights when looking down, so much so that my legs were shaking. By missing a stone at the start of the game, I even made a mini-fall several meters which scared me quite a bit. Sony has managed to reproduce a very realistic experience, without display bugs during these first 30 minutes.

The best part of the game comes when I discovered the bow, which I grabbed in my left hand. By running my right hand behind my back, I could grab arrows and slide them into the bow, then shoot at targets or objects. At the end of the session, I was even able to face a first opponent… while dodging his attacks. If I had to use the cross button to perform dodges, I couldn’t help but move my body. The fight was really cool… but the session stopped afterwards.

Archery in virtual reality is too good. // Source: Numerama
Archery in virtual reality is too good. // Source: Numerama

Despite the 30 minutes with the helmet and the feeling of acrophobia during the climbing sessions, I did not experience post-VR nausea. On the contrary, I even wanted to continue. The PS VR2 may be less comprehensive than the Meta Quest Pro, but it has a better spec sheet for gaming (and the PS5 is obviously more powerful than a mobile chip).

I am now looking forward to receiving the product on February 22, hoping that it will convince me as much after several hours of play.

Numerama is in Las Vegas for the CES 2023



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I spent 30 minutes with a PlayStation VR2 on my head and I got dizzy


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