PlayStation VR2 is making me fall in love with VR again

PlayStation VR2 is making me fall in love with VR again ...

Everyone had been claiming that once Oculus had gone wireless with its Quest headset in 2019, there was no going back. They all agreed that headsets would always be a pain to use in VR, and that they would eventually vanish one day, once the technology was refined. And here was Oculus, figuring it out ahead of schedule.

Sure, the games looked a generation or two out of date compared to those on Valve Index or Oculus Rift S, or even PlayStation VR, but that seemed to be a decent trade-off for something that didnt make you feel like you were on a leash. Almost immediately, I switched over and began using Quest more or less exclusively for VR.

I wasnt the only one. Quest exploded, becoming the most popular headset line and delivering extremely convenient, decent quality VR to millions of people.

Im reminded of what weve been missing after recently trying PlayStation VR2.

Last week, I saw Sony's new headset for the first time and was surprised by how stunning two of its most famous games, Horizon Call of the Mountain and Resident Evil Village, looked. They didnt depend on particles or stylized art direction; they appeared like AAA console games that just happened to be in VR. It was wonderful to see games moving forward visually once again without requiring a complicated setup.

Im still not that averse to returning to a tethered headset, but with Sony's support and games like this, it's instantly appealing.

The headset

At Sonys press conference, I got a chance to test out the PSVR2 hardware and experience four game demos. Overwhelmingly, the hardware feels like the original PSVR brought up to date. Sonys not clinging to their guns like others have been known to do; its continuing on the same path six years ago.

The headset itself is a bit different this time round, studded with cameras and cut with sharper edges to match the look of the PlayStation 5, but it still feels familiar, with the same sort of slider, padding, and weight distribution as the original PlayStation VR.

The main advantages come from the raw power and visual tricks, like foveated rendering (where the hardware only fully renders the areas youre looking at), that help the graphics look high-end. It's certainly impressive that it can recreate a game like Resident Evil Village with little downtime from the console version and a wide variety of quality-of-life changes.

For example, the headset now has a button underneath the front that you can press at any time to switch to a see-through view using the inside-out cameras built into it. This allows you to pause a game to chat to someone in the room, or pick up your controllers without having to take the headset off and adjust it once again.

It's also nice that Sony has reduced the amount of cables used in the setup. While you still have to remove the headphones, its still a bit of a jumble to put them on, and to figure out what to do with two controllers, it's progress. Due to the cameras in the headset, the setup is much easier.

The inclusion of two cameras in a fixed position meant that games would sometimes have to turn to the side or look behind them. This is new on other platforms.

Sony's PlayStation VR2 Sense controllers improve the interface, with handles disguised in plastic rings to aid with tracking and the ability to register with a touch of a button rather than a press.

Sony's controllers include haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, as well as built-in eye tracking, and the device offers a variety of ways to interrogate players, as well as a few strengths that set it apart from the competition.

The Sony conference focused on hardware, but the majority of it was on four game demos.

Horizon Call of the Mountain

Call of the Mountain, one of the most beautiful VR games I've ever seen, is a visual demonstration for Sony's new headset. Leaves, wind, fire, explosions, and gigantic robots fill the sky as you progress through a new Horizon story.

According to Sony, you play as Ryas, a disgraced former Carja soldier who is searching for redemption. For another, you play in first person as you climb, swim, use your bow and arrow, and otherwise interact with the world around you.

According to the developers, the game will run for six or seven hours, and combat will consist mostly of striking arrows rather than performing melee maneuvers as previously performed. However, the massive Thunderjaw battle I saw in the press event demo should give us many of the same endorphins.

Call of the Mountain appeared to be the most custom-built game for the new headset, with nice touches like headset vibration and eye tracking to control the game menus.

Resident Evil Village

Lady Dimitrescu, a 9 foot 6 inch big boss, is a sort of stunt-casting spectacle VR designers create whole games around, so it turned out to be very beneficial that Capcom had her queued up for the Resident Evil Villages VR mode, which will cover the entire game's primary campaign and is currently being developed exclusively for PSVR2.

Lady D was the clear standout in a brief demo on display at the event, talking to you while you dangle from the ceiling of a room with hooks through your fingers, giving you a close-up look at how massive and intimidating she is and how much more detailed she is compared to the character models in Resident Evil 7 on PSVR or Resident Evil 4 on Quest.

Reps for Capcom claim the VR mode will include minor balance adjustments and a few minor interface tweaks (like the ability to hold both hands up to block), but there will be no significant content changes from the original campaign.

Enhanced Edition of Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxys Edge

Combine Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxys Edge and its Last Call sequel into a single package, smooth out the design so the two feel like a single game, sprinkle in some new visuals, and you have the Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxys Edge Enhanced Edition, available now for PSVR2.

The game is light-hearted, as opposed to the ILMxLABs Vader Immortal series, which is perhaps appropriate given the title. The demo at Sonys press event consisted of discussion and minigames in a bar setting, followed by a short outdoor shootout, but this seems like a game that is designed for longer play sessions, so it was difficult to get a perfect sense of it in a brief sample.

Chapter 2 of The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners: Retribution

The last game on display may have been the most worrisome, which is a good thing considering there is a Resident Evil game on this list. But Walking Deads melee attacks take something out of you up close in VR, and whether you read it as praise or criticism may well determine whether or not you should play the game.

As a beginner, I found myself struggling to find weapons and ammo and reload as I was hounded by zombies, which im sure was by design to increase the fear of it all, but seemed a bit overwhelming, so heres hoping the whole game will improve things in a less slowed manner.

Falling back in

The software support will play a bigger role than the hardware itself will ever play on a new game. And thus far, Sony appears to be on the right track with a good assortment of genres and licenses, though its still early. While these four games are all tied to big names, Sony also announced yesterday that Quest favorite dungeon crawler Demeo will be coming to PSVR2.

The main concern at this point is what the future wave of software will be like. Will there be a fresh synesthesia light show from Enhance? Will there be a team Asobi movie from London Studio? As all cards fall into place, we can get a much better idea of what to expect from PSVR2. On a hardware level, it's difficult to ignore what Sonys has shown so far.