Gamers all across the globe had been clamouring for news on what Sony has in store for this generation in the VR department, and after a long arduous wait of over a year, Sony has finally stepped out of the shadows at CES 2022 with its next generation of VR gaming tech. Officially confirmed as PSVR 2, the headset is offering several benefits over the original PSVR and with Sony’s top talent such as Guerrilla Games working on developing AAA experiences for the platform, the future is looking really bright. There are still no details on availability or pricing as of the time of writing, but we do know the full list of specifications for the device. Let’s do a rundown and see how big of a bump the PSVR2 really is, when compared to the original PSVR headset.
Easily one of the if the not most important aspect of a VR experience, it’s great to see Sony making real efforts where it matters the most. PSVR2 will be sporting a 4K HDR OLED display with a resolution of 2000×2040 per eye which is a massive improvement over the still-OLED but marginally lower resolution PSVR which has a resolution of 960×1080 per eye. On paper, it’s almost a straight bump of 4 times in the resolution department which is certainly appreciable given the fact that many players have had complaints of sub-par visual quality on the original PSVR.
Heck, it’s even better than other VR headsets for PC such as the likes of Oculus Quest 2 which has a resolution of 1832×1920 per eye, and the Valve Index which has a resolution of 1600×1440 per eye. Furthermore, this leap also reflects the target generational bump for resolutions on non-VR games, as Sony targeted a 1080p resolution for games on the PS4 and is likely targeting a full 4K for most games on the PS5. Whether they achieve that target is something that remains to be seen.
Much like the original PSVR, the PSVR2 still has a refresh rate of either 90 or 120 Hz. However, with the target hardware (the PS5) boasting a lot more power than its predecessor, fans can be optimistic about games targeting the upper limit of the available refresh rates more often. Helping this vision of providing the best performance for games is Foveated rendering, which reduces the quality of assets when they are in your peripheral vision – kind of like another fancy LOD swapping technique.
The original PSVR was a great attempt by Sony to capture a sizeable chunk of the VR pie when the technology was relatively nascent. However, cuts had to be made to keep the price as low as possible which is especially evident in the tracking technology. The PSVR used the PlayStation Camera to track the movements of the headset and the controllers, which works well enough most of the time but can fail at other times. Sony is fixing this issue with the PSVR2, which features a grand total of 4 inside-out cameras on the headset which will track the movements of the headset as well as the controllers. As such, fans should be able to move their heads and hands a lot more freely without the fear of being out of the line of sight of the camera. Sony has also confirmed that the PSVR2 will have support for eye-tracking, which should open a lot more avenues for game developers aiming to provide a much more realistic experience in the VR space. Finally, the PSVR2 also features a slight increase in the field of vision, approximately 110 degrees instead of the approximately 100 degrees on the PSVR.
Controllers And Feedback
The PSVR 2 comes with a set of new controllers, which Sony calls interestingly enough, the PSVR 2 Sense controllers. The headset cameras track the movements through a ring at the bottom of the controller, so it seems unlikely that fans would be able to use the DualSense controller instead of dedicated controllers. However, it needs to be clarified that Sony hasn’t confirmed anything on the matter just yet. Unlike the PS Move mic-shaped controllers, this is a new orb-shaped design that Sony claims should allow players to make movements a lot more freely than before and open up new gameplay experiences. Using Bluetooth version 5.1, the most interesting aspect of the controllers is the inclusion of DualSense technology such as haptic feedback and adaptive triggers through the use of refined rumble motors, which was absent in the original PS Move controllers.
There’s also a similar vibration motor present on the headset, which would work in tandem with those found in the controllers for an even more immersive experience. Of course, we have already seen how the DualSense feedback can elevate our playing experiences to another level, and this more refined feedback is a natural fit for VR. Combine that with PS5’s 3D audio Tempest engine and we are looking at a very robust feedback system that’s a huge step-up over the last generation. Another noteworthy improvement is the inclusion of finger touch detection, which would allow players to make hand gestures during gameplay, opening up even more options for sophisticated controls.
Setup, Backwards Compatibility, And Concluding Thoughts
The PSVR had a very cumbersome setup experience, wherein players would have to use a breakout box and fit more than a handful of cables every time they wanted to play a VR game. With the PSVR2, Sony is offering a much more streamlined setup experience with the headset only requiring a single USB-C cord. And on the topic of backward compatibility, Sony has clarified that it has nothing to announce at the moment although things might change further down the line. Sony already has an impressive library of PSVR experiences, so getting the headset to work with existing PSVR games would also be a big win for both Sony and gamers alike. But it’s better to keep expectations low in this regard.
All in all, Sony has a great VR headset in its hands and we cannot wait to see it in action. From the souped-up display configuration to the robust feedback system to a hassle-free setup experience, Sony is set to deliver a massive generational bump and once again make a mark on the VR market. Rumours suggest that the headset will enter mass production soon, with a target release window of 2022 itself.
However, the most pressing question right now is – what’s the price? The PSVR might have cut some corners, but it was able to cement itself as a successful product due to its attractive price point, selling over 5 million units as of January 2020. Sony is placing a lot of bets on AAA VR development right now, and it needs to catch the lightning in a bottle with its pricing once again if it wants to generate profitable revenue from the likes of Horizon: Call of the Mountain and the London Studio game that’s currently in development.
The Oculus Quest 2 retails at around $299, while the Valve Index (an arguably much more sophisticated VR headset) retails at around $900. Sony should try to keep the PSVR price point below $400 and as much in line with the Quest 2 as possible. Also, given the fact that PSVR2 isn’t as flexible of a system as PSVR which could also work with DualShock controllers or the PS Camera – fans should expect to pay up a single price for the full package.