It’s now been just about a month since I purchased a PlayStation VR, and while I certainly haven’t played every title, I have played enough to get a grasp of the peripheral. Keep in mind, the PlayStation VR is my first and only VR system, so if you have played others, this article may not be for you. But if you are on the fence, or thinking about purchasing one, I am here to share my experiences of owning my PlayStation VR for my first month and help inform your decision on if you should buy a PlayStation VR.
Usually, setting up a console is as simple as plugging everything in. The PlayStation VR mostly holds true to that same tradition, except there are a lot more wires along with the actual headset. Thankfully, the instructions provided are quite well in depth and do a great job explaining where exactly everything goes. Where the instructions seemed to have failed, is actually putting the headset on your head. Unbeknownst to me (or the instructions) was the placement of an adjustment button on the front of the headset that adjusts how close it is to your face. After frustratingly searching the entire headset for about 10 minutes, the button was finally found (thanks to my girlfriend), but not without being left with a feeling of aggravation.
One of my main concerns regarding the PlayStation VR was if it was going to fit over my glasses comfortably. I don’t have particularly large glasses, but they are a bit wider than your standard pair. Thankfully, they fit well enough with the PlayStation VR snugly placed over my head, but I could tell there was something a little off. Due to the design of the pieces of rubber that are used to block out light and how close the headset needs to be for it to look correct, I kept finding myself noticing a little light coming through in the corner of my eye. Now it’s important to note where my TV is located, which is directly behind a giant glass window, so I most likely have more light directly behind me than most. However, I also have a second pair of glasses that are smaller in regards to their width, and any issues I had previously almost entirely gone away, with the exception of a tiny area directly below my nose that was exposed. Thankfully, this area becomes instantly unnoticeable once the screen has you fully immersed in a game, putting me on the way to being lost in a virtual world.
Once I managed to get the PlayStation VR system set-up and finally placed on my head, it’s time to actually start playing some games. While I played a series of demos, there were three games that I have, on one level or another, played and are also full titles:
- Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality
- VR Worlds
In each game, the VR experiences were presented differently to elicit a different feeling or use of VR. In the case of Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, you must perform a variety of tasks while using the Move controllers. Some of these tasks might include, picking up a ball, pulling some levers, combining different items to form new ones, and solving basic puzzles. While reading this, you might be asking, “How does that sound fun?” and in a typical gaming environment you would be right, it’s not fun. However, when placed in a VR environment, these seemingly dull tasks take on a new light just by being in this unique world.
That’s really the key to games that use move controllers effectively. On some level, it feels a little bit like real life, but on the same level, it’s obviously not. When you are playing as a Morty clone in Rick and Morty, it feels just enough like a new environment that you quickly forget real life and get tossed into this new setting that makes everything that was dull, feel new again. It’s important to repeat, that these tasks are largely ones that you perform in your own life: picking things up, pushing buttons, and doing laundry. But it’s the fact that these seemingly plain tasks are happening not in your life, but in another one.
The only downside was when needing to reach for something low on the ground. Due to how the Move controllers work, they need to be in the line of sight of the camera. If you happen to have the camera not adjusted low enough, or something like an ottoman near your couch, the camera won’t pick up the position and react correctly. Even when adjusting for this issue, there were still times where you simply couldn’t reach low enough to pick up whatever it is you needed when playing. For games that don’t require Move controllers, this issue still persisted but was greatly reduced.
Games that use the PlayStation 4 controller typically take on one of two different styles. The first is where you are simply acting as the camera with the VR headset and the controller works the same way it normally does. For a lot of games, while it is slightly clunky, it does work quite well, even for FPS games; giving a similar feel to how gyro-controls worked in Wii titles or Splatoon. It won’t feel as smooth as using move controllers or as enjoyable, but it works well enough if you don’t have the option. The second use of the PlayStation 4 controller for VR is for it to become the focal point of the entire experience. In the case of Statik, your controller becomes transformed into a puzzle box that you must solve. Each button performs a different function and through moving and manipulating the controller with the VR headset can you only find the answer. It’s this type of use that sees the best of PlayStation VR and feels the most natural, as I never reached a point where I felt like I was fighting the controls. Instead, for the most part, everything simply worked, bearing the occasional need to reset the game’s focus on the controller.
Each of these experiences and games each made me feel like I was a part of the world in a new way. So much so, that I would quickly lose track of time if I didn’t happen to set a timer to end my gameplay during my first time playing. But upon playing it a second or third time, the interest would begin to die down. This wasn’t because of the system itself, but rather, the types of games designed for VR. The technology for these titles simply isn’t there, and it results in experiences rather than games, and once those experiences dry up in terms of interest, that’s it. There is no desire to go back or continue them, and thus, the most successful and enjoyable titles are the ones who can present all their ideas in a short and compact package.
So, am I glad that I bought a PlayStation VR? 100%. Yes, the games might be lacking and the technology might be a little rough, but it’s a new type of experience. Being able to throw things in a virtual world, to aim, and look around with my head are all unique experiences I haven’t been able to enjoy in a game before. There are more games out there, continuing to improve the technology, making it better and better as they advance and continue to create for the platform that I can’t wait for to improve. VR exists as a compliment to traditional games and offers a unique perspective that I believe everyone should explore. It’s new, exciting, and takes you to places you would only dream of in a form we all wish for. It may not be worth it to dive into VR through PlayStation VR, but if you are looking for a new way to play games, it’s certainly the best entry point and experience everyone should try once.