PlayStation VR: Expectations Blown Away

PlayStation VR First Impressions

After what seems like an eternity of waiting, PlayStation VR is finally here. At $399, it’s quite the investment for console gamers, but that price pales in comparison to the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive which are $599 and $799 respectively. That’s not even taking into account the massive PC you would need to run them.

So, for all intents and purposes, PlayStation VR is the lowest entry point for virtual reality right now. How does it stack up? More importantly, does it provide the VR experience it promises? Both Travis Wall, and your’s truly, Bradley Ramsey, have put in some time with the new headset and we’ve got some thoughts for you today. Let’s get into it!

Travis Wall’s Thoughts on PlayStation VR

Virtual Reality is something we’ve talked about for years. It’s a fantasy that has become real and while it is in its baby steps stage, I have to say that this should be a difficult product for any gamer to simply overlook and write off.

It should be evident that Bradley and I, love video games. You would be hard pressed to find us complaining about much, unless it really deserved it (cough* Homefront cough*). But, loving video games can come at a cost. Purchasing a PSVR headset is risky, but when you love something, you often go all in.

The risk with purchasing VR out the gate, is the chance that it will be nothing you were hoping for. We have seen it in the past and we’ll see it in the future, but I am confident in saying, PlayStation VR is a true game changer. Thats a big statement, but this is really going to shape the future of gaming.

The moment I began using the VR headset, my mind was blown away. Looking around what is normally my office, suddenly turned into an entire new world. Reaching out to touch objects that weren’t actually there, is simply amazing. I’m not getting lost in the game world and forgetting I’m in VR, but my imagination is certainly let loose in ways I can’t even explain.

It's difficult for me to say “you should try before you buy” this product, because there is so much to it. If you’re skeptical, maybe you should hold off until you get the chance to try for more than 15 minutes, but if you’re really interested and enjoy video games as much as we do, I would confidently say splurge and buy it if you can.

This is only the beginning of VR and I know a lot of people like to think of us early adopters as the money wasters or the beta testers, but when you think about it, we play a very important role in molding the game industry. I have seen a lot of consoles and peripherals come and go over the years and I am telling you, VR is the future of gaming whether the industry is ready or not.

Remember to take it slow in the beginning, get used to your new surroundings and let your mind wander as you explore. Whatever you do, don’t barrel roll in a spaceship repeatedly, just to see if it will cause motion sickness… it will.

Bradley’s Thoughts on PlayStation VR: This is the Future

I’ve always loved the idea of virtual reality. When I was younger, I had the opportunity to go to Disney’s offshoot video game oriented theme park called Disney Quest. It was four floors of nothing but incredible gaming experiences.

Even back then, they had rudimentary forms of VR, and ever since I first experienced those bulky headsets with cheesy graphics, I was hooked. We’ve come a long way since then, and when I heard virtual reality was making a comeback, well, I was a little more than excited.

For better or worse, I pre-ordered PlayStation VR knowing full well that my poor PC (and my bank account) would never amount to enough for an Oculus Rift or a Vive. It was actually part of a birthday present for my significant other, Christina, so it all worked out.

We got it in the mail, and the packaging was nothing short of sexy. The way the inner box folds open and all the cables are numbered is just ingenious to say the least. Pulling the headset out for the first time, It had an undeniable allure.

The setup instructions are really well done, but that doesn’t stop the process from being a bit longer than I would have liked. Suffice to say, it’s not simply plug-and-play. I had to get behind my entertainment center to switch out cables, plug in new things, and welcome the Processor box to my family of electronics.

Once all that was done, we turned it on. Christina got first dibs of course (chivalry isn’t dead!), so I walked her through the calibration process, which wasn’t too bad.

As an extra layer of quality, I also did the IPD (Interpupillary Distance) measurement by going to the PS4 settings -> devices -> PlayStation VR -> Measure eye distance (or something along those lines). This takes you through a quick calibration that tweaks the VR’s video output so you get the best picture possible.

With all of that done, it was time for our first VR game. She already had her mind set on Batman Arkham VR, so I grabbed our Move controllers and sent into the world of VR.

I was only watching on the social screen at first, but if you have someone you love in your life or kids of your own, then you’ll know that amazing feeling you get when you know you’ve done something amazing for them.

Well, I had that feeling in spades. If I had a dollar for every time she said “This is so amazing!” or “This is awesome!” I would have paid off this headset by now. Suffice to say, she absolutely loved it. While the game lets you play standing or sitting, I highly recommending standing on this one for the best experience.

At one point she was in the morgue and asked me if I wanted to sample the headset. I was supposed to be working, but I took a quick break for the sake of science.

PlayStation VR First Impressions

My friends, it was nothing short of magical. Even without calibrating on my own profile, I was able to pull the headset on and start playing with little to no calibration needed. I felt a strange sensation across my whole body when I first looked into the world in front of me.

You’ve probably seen 3D movies before, but put that idea out of your head. The kind of 3D you get in VR is so much different. The amount of depth and scale is true-to-life. You feel like you’re there, and I know that’s a cliche’ statement, but it’s never been more true.

As I turned my head and looked behind me, my brain expected to see my living room. Instead, I looked into the sterile environment of an empty morgue.

Above me, a glass window looked out into the Gotham City sky. It was disorienting at first, frightening even, but as it set in, I felt incredibly immersed in the world.

Perhaps the most powerful moment for me in that brief experience, was when I was standing in a cage and I needed to throw a batarang through the bars. Simple in any other game, right? To be fair, the controls here are simple as well, but this is what blew my mind:

My brain was afraid that if I threw too hard, I would hit my hand on the bars. My hand flinched as I threw it. VR triggered a reflex in my brain that was afraid of hitting bars that weren’t there!

It was in that moment that I knew. That was the moment I fell head-over-heels for PlayStation VR and virtual reality in general. I don’t want to spoil any more of Arkham VR, so I’ll move on to a few other impressions.

My experience with Playroom VR was fun, but I quickly found myself moving on. That being said, the game where the VR player rampages through a city as a dinosaur and players in the living room run from the monster on the television is excellent.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood showed me that the Move controllers are more than capable of providing an accurate and responsive first-person shooter experience. The Job Simulator demo was dumb fun and very immersive as a virtual experience.

Then I decided it was time to play the infamous Kitchen demo on the VR demo disc. This was of course a tech demo for VR designed to showcase the new approach for Resident Evil VII. I had heard stories and even wrote an article on this demo in the past, so I didn’t know what to expect.

No doubt, it was terrifying. The experience was short, but extremely well done. The graphics, depth, and 3D audio were used for terrifying moments of uncertainty as a very unstable woman stalked both myself and my unfortunate friend.

As you can imagine, things didn’t go too well, but the demo showed me just how powerful horror is when you’re inside VR. It appeals to your senses (and your fear) in ways that traditional gaming never could. As a horror fan, that’s an exciting prospect for me.

Finally, I watched Christina play London Heist in the PlayStation VR Worlds collection. This was easily the best use of the Move I had seen for a shooter, bar none.

The aiming and shooting were perfectly responsive, and the ability to pick up and load clips with the other move controller looked incredibly fun and immersive from my experience.

Really, the only issue I had with that experience was the length. If they made a full London Heist game, I would buy it in a heartbeat. As a proof of concept, it made the strongest case for VR shooters yet.

I didn’t experience any VR sickness beyond some mild vertigo on a few occasions and a bit of a headache by the night’s end, but that could have been the week catching up with me. I’ve got an entire week of VR reviews planned, so if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to it.

Oh, you want my opinion? As if the last thousand words weren’t enough, PlayStation VR is a glimpse into a possible future of gaming.

In my opinion, it’s the future we should all pursue, but only time will tell. In the meantime, I’m going to leave traditional gaming on the back burner. It’s going to be hard to go back now.

Article by - Bradley Ramsey and Travis Wall
Insert Date - 10/14/16

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