Sony have come a long way when it comes to their headset devices. If anyone is aware, Sony released the HMZ-T1 (3D personal viewer) in 2011; which is something I jumped at purchasing, even though it left a huge dent in wallet. The HMZ-T1 cost me £799 and offered a perfect 3D personal home cinema experience, but without the virtual reality features. It was a device I loved, but there was one major flaw… It just wasn’t comfortable for long periods of time.
Over the years, Sony had released a further two models which of course had improvements on new release with its design and features and I honestly believe them developing these 3D viewer headsets have helped shaped the PSVR how it is today, improving most if not all flaws the previous models suffered from, the main issue being comfortability which I find to be completely solved on the PSVR.
One main argument against the PSVR I have kept seeing leading up to its launch are along the lines of: “Why would I buy something that costs the same/more than the console itself?” or “The price is a rip off!”. People need to realise that this isn’t a headset device where you simply slot your smartphone into; it’s a much sophisticated VR headset system that has it’s own screen inside a long with other tech to go with it, such as proper tracking etc…
On the market for this type of VR headset, this is one of the CHEAPEST going around and the best of all; it works with your PS4 system that may have cost you £350 tops; unlike one of the best VR headsets on the market called the ‘HTC Vive’, which will set you back around £800 alone, never mind the expensive PC build that is also required to run it.
Other arguments against VR in general is that it’s a fad and that after a short time it’s going to die off. Unfortunately, seeing is believing when it comes to VR as it really is something you need to experience personally to realise just how good it is. And to be honest, after seeing how well VR has been selling and the increasing amount of content coming out to support this platform, never mind the experience is genuinely amazing; I can’t see it dying down, but more improvement etc… Whilst it’s not something I will use all the time when gaming, VR is something I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up to play on for a decent amount of hours every week in combination to other non-VR games.
For me VR is here to stay and for now, PSVR is my choice and I’m very pleased with it indeed!
Health & Safety + Extra Information
∙ The minimum age recommendation from Sony for the PSVR is 12 and up for health & safety reasons.
∙ Sony recommend taking a 15 minute break every hour.
∙ H&S reasons aside, this headset does of course have a minimum size. The headset only just about fit a family member of mine who is aged 12 after I had tightened the rear of the headband. Keep this in mind when buying the PSVR for younger age groups, there is a chance it may not fit them.
∙ Be wary of your surroundings and ensure no obstacles are within arms length.
∙ Something I would personally recommend: Do not purposely jog or try to make jump the person who is wearing the PSVR headset; as tempting as it is, you don’t know how that person is going to react and the last thing you want is a controller to be flung across the room.
Required & Optional Extras
Just purchasing the PlayStation VR headset alone will not allow you to jump straight into the action as it does require an additional purchase of the PS4 camera; without this, there is nothing that is able to track the movements of the headset, so if you don’t have one already, this is a REQUIRED additional purchase. If you already have the first PS4 camera model, you do not need to purchase the latest model as it does the exact same job, it’s just the latest is more stylish and updated mounting feature.
Most games are made in mind that not everyone will have the move controllers (these controllers came out originally for the PS3), so the move controllers aren’t a necessary purchase for the most part, though you will come across games that do require them, such as ‘Job Simulator’. I personally find the move controllers add an extra element of fun when playing games, so would recommend to grab a pair on that basis, however the other main reason is to future proof yourself so you don’t run into any disappointment when starting a game to realise you can’t play as you don’t have them at hand.
– Required additional purchases (If you do not have already):
∙ Sony PlayStation 4 Camera (PS4/PSVR).
– Optional but recommended additional purchases:
∙ Sony PlayStation Move Motion Controller – Twin Pack (PS4/PSVR) (Some games may require these).
∙ Turtle Beach 350VR VR Gaming Headset (PS4/PSVR) (If you want a decent over-eared headset, I would highly recommend these).
∙ Playroom VR | FREE on the PlayStation store | Multiplayer | Rated 3+ (ALL AGES) FAMILY FRIENDLY:
Playing requires more than one person and some games can be up to 5 players! (1 VR headset, 4 controllers). The person wearing the VR headset will see in a completely different view to what others are seeing on the TV. It’s a fun packed game with many mini games; one features the VR wearing being a monsters knocking buildings where the other players have to avoid falling debris; another where the VR wearer is a cat trying to catch out other players who are mice stealing cheese; and another where people have to help the VR wearer locate ghosts to catch; plus more!
∙ Job Simulator | Single Player | PS Move Controllers Required | Rated 3+ (ALL AGES) FAMILY FRIENDLY:
It’s year 2050 where robots do all human jobs; this simulator shows you what it is like “To job” and adds a fun twist to what could be seen as “mundane jobs”.
∙ Until Dawn: Rush of Blood | Single Player | Horror Shooter | Rated 18+ (ADULTS):
Anyone been to the Haunted Mansion in Disney? Imagine being on that ride, but a lot scarier and wielding guns to shoot at targets, including ones that jump out at you. This game will make you scream, sweat and shouting “I’m a Celebrity, GET ME OUT OF HERE!”. An incredibly fun game that really creeps you out, would highly recommend! Though probably not for those who have a phobia of clowns and spiders.
∙ Tumble VR | Single Player | Puzzle | Rated 3+ (ALL AGES).
If you’re into puzzle games, then this will be right up your street. Puzzles range from balancing various blocks that range is size, weight and material; reorganising blocks to redirect a laser to an end point, placing mines on a structure to get the best explore and more.
These are some games I have played however there are many more available on the market.
Set-Up (Console & TV)
The set-up process does require dealing with a fair amount of cables, but don’t let that put you off as not only have Sony provided very clear instructions, they’ve also labelled the cables with numbered tags for extra clarity.
Here are the steps to get you through the set-up process:
1) With your PS4 already set-up, unplug the HDMI cable from the PS4 end and insert it into the “HDMI TV” slot on the VR’s processing unit. The other end of the cable should still be in the TV.
2) If you haven’t already, connect the PlayStation 4 camera into the back of your PS4 and place it in a suitable location such as on top of your TV.
3) Insert the included HDMI cable labelled “1” into your PS4 and the other into the processor units “HDMI PS4” slot.
4) The USB cable marked “2” to be inserted into the PS4’s USB port and on the processor unit.
5) Plug the AC power cord marked “3” into a power outlet and the other end into the processor unit.
6) Slide the right side of the processor unit back and plug in the VR headset connection cable marked “4” (there are two parts that need connecting and they are colour coded).
7) Insert the fixed cable from the VR headset into the connection cable and if you have a headset, plug it into the inline remote.
Once all that’s done, turn on your TV, following by PS4 and then the VR headset (VR power button is located on the inline remote). The PS4 may need to update itself for VR features before use.
When the VR is in use, you can still view the PS4 output on the TV simultaneously.
Set-Up (Wearing the headset)
Sony have made the set-up of this headset when mounting on your head extremely easy and to configure it is just as simple.
If you’re a glasses wearer such as myself, I would recommend adjusting your glasses as close to your eyes as comfortably possible.
Other tips include sitting on a chair/gaming chair or sofa and that the camera is getting you in view.
1) Stretch the headband over your head and down at an angle which makes the goggles inline with your eyesight.
2) Hold the goggle adjustment button down (located on the right-hand side underneath the goggles) and slide it towards you until the centre part at least is in focus; you can then move the goggles up/down, left/right until everything in front is in focus; hold that position with one hand and with the other hand twist the cog located at the ear of the headband clockwise to tighten and you’re pretty much done.
When first setting up the headset, it flashed up with some quick tips. From thereafter you can hold the PS button down on the controller and access some VR adjustment settings.
Some people may find there is a gap underneath the goggles where light is getting through (I find this as a glasses wearer; if this bothers you, simply turn off the lights. When you get into the game you forget about it easily anyway.
The PSVR Experience
I don’t have any qualms about comfortability. I find wearing this headset for long periods of time highly comfortable, even as a glasses wearer. To me, the headset doesn’t feel like it’s dragging down your face and found it to have the right amount of balance and the support pads are well padded and soft.
Head tracking is extremely smooth with no noticeable latency; this is a must to avoid motion sickness and of course, gives you a better VR experience which makes you feel like you’re actually in the game.
If the screen alignment seems off, this can be easily and quickly reset in the settings. I found this to happen when switching from one person to another.
The PSVR does have certain limitations in controllers tracking as it relies on one front facing camera. Whilst the VR headset is peppered with lights all around it to allow a full 360° movement, the controllers do not have this feature, this means if the camera cannot see the light, it simply cannot track it.
Issues I’ve encountered are when your tilt the controller too far to the right/left so the camera cannot track the light bar; as for the move controllers which have much more manoeuvrability, your body may at times block the light from the balls which also causes tracking to fail.
Apart from the Dualshock 4 controller having more limitations, I do find the tracking to be more accurate than the move controllers; that said, do not let this stop you from buying the move controllers as they do offer more flexibility, manoeuvrability and fun!
For the best part of my experience, I do rarely have to re-calibrate the controllers, but do keep in mind it does happen from time to time. The games I’ve played so far, do have easy to access in-game options for quick re-calibration. I would also recommend positioning yourself at a reasonable angle to the camera. for example: If you have a large TV and the camera is mounted on top, you do not want to be sitting on the floor or on a low gaming chair as the camera will be need to be forced to look down at a sharp angle and this does not go well with tracking; so grab a normal sized chair or place the camera to a more suitable height.
Technically, the output is really good with the OLED screen that outputs 1920×1080 resolution and up to 120Hz refresh rate, but when playing VR games, don’t expect it to look graphically amazing and super detailed like other non-VR games are, otherwise you may be disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, VR still looks really good! Just if compared with the graphics you typically get nowadays with normal games, there is a big difference. So try to absorb everything else that makes VR truly outstanding:
1) The 3D is insanely good!
2) It’s fully immersive, especially as your view moves with your head movements.
3) It’s adds a whole new level of interactivity.
Sound varies depending on what you use as it doesn’t have it’s own in-built headphones which I’m glad they didn’t do as it allows you to use the headphones you want.
The included in-ear stereo headphones are a good starting point if you don’t have anything else to use. I was really pleased with the sound quality, but choose to use a different headset instead as I do prefer over-eared styled headphones.
If there’s one big negative I could mention about this VR unit, it would be the lack of 3D film support… Something the old HMZ-T1 can do which the PSVR can’t; this was of course a disappointment for me, but there must be a technical reason to why it can’t, I’ll just have to get over it and maybe in the future they’ll implement it in a newer model, who knows.
Negative aside, I do love how what the person experience see’s, others can see. This allows everyone to get involved rather than being bored watching one person at a time bobbing around; instead they can see why the person is gasping or screaming (it’s actually fun to watch).
The PSVR also steps it up even further by allowing certain games to make the VR wearer see differently to what is displayed on the TV, allowing interactivity with those not wearing the VR headset. The ‘Playroom VR’ is a great example of this feature.
Using the PSVR doesn’t just stop with VR games, in fact you can play non-VR games where it goes into it’s “cinematic mode”. It’s hard to describe properly, but imagine being in a HUGE cinema auditorium by yourself looking up at a massive screen and when you move your head, that screen stays the same position, just like it would in real life of course; the picture quality looks great too.
Sony’s PlayStation VR certainly isn’t perfect, nor is it the best on the market, but it is one if not the best priced for what it offers.
There are many experiences to be had with this VR be it for solo use only or with friends and family. VR has only just begun and I can see it going further even more.
It’s something that needs to be experienced and I guarantee almost everyone who does, will love it.
PSVR selling points:
✓ Available for a more than reasonable price.
✓ Easy to set-up and simple to use.
✓ Comfortable to wear.
✓ Immersive 3D experience.
✓ Good content available on launch and more to come.
✓ Will bring much enjoyment!
Improvements I would love to see:
∙ 3D Blu-Ray compatibility.
∙ Refined move controllers.