- Lightweight and easy to use
- Good library of exclusive games
- Doesn’t require too much space
- Works with PS4 and PS5
- Great entry into VR gaming
- Pricey bundles
- Issues with tracking
Released in 2016, PlayStation VR was Sony’s foray into the exciting world of virtual reality. As the name implies, this headset works only with PlayStation consoles, PS4 and PS5. But can it compete with the high-end VR headsets for PC? That’s what we’re going to find out. In our PlayStation VR review, we’ll look at the hardware, features, app library, and anything that makes PSVR stand out from the crowd.
PlayStation VR Design
The whole PlayStation VR bundle looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. Unlike the simplistic black box that is the PlayStation 4, Sony’s VR headset is all about curves. The front and back of the headband have rubberized padding for improved comfort, and the front part of the unit (the visor) can be slid to accommodate different head shapes, as well as leave space in case you’re wearing glasses.
Once turned on, the headset’s various panels turn blue. Not only does that make it look even more futuristic, but the lights help with tracking the movement.
Sony is also working on the PSVR2, the next-generation virtual reality headset. This device will have a few design updates that enhance the overall experience. For example, all controls for audio are placed on the bottom side of the headset, while the headphone jack is located on the back of the headband. That means that the new Sony PlayStation VR headset will use a single cable to connect to the console.
Sony hasn’t revealed the weight of the new headset, but its predecessor comes in at just over 1.3 lbs. Thanks to the design of the headband, it isn’t front-heavy like some of its popular counterparts. With the PSVR, you won’t feel like the headset is pulling you in any direction. In fact, you’ll forget that you’re even wearing a VR set after some time.
Taking the PSVR on and off is a quick process. You just press the button on the back, pull the headband, and put the headset on. There are no straps or any other nuisances to worry about. This is by far one of the most comfortable pieces of VR tech we’ve had the pleasure of using.
How PlayStation VR Works
We need to remember that the PlayStation VR is considered a bit old within the VR ecosystem. There was a time when headsets used outside tracking and had a bunch of cables sticking out. For its part, the PSVR isn’t plagued by spaghetti cabling, especially after Sony revised it a couple of years ago, but it does require some time to set up.
Much of the work centers around the processing unit, a small breaker box that handles all the audio and video processing. This device needs to be connected to a power outlet and your console’s USB port. Then, you connect an HDMI from the console into the box, while another HDMI goes from the box to your TV. Finally, the headset connects via two plugs at the front of the processing unit.
But a headset isn’t enough to tell your console where you’re positioned in the playspace. For that, the PlayStation uses a camera. It needs to have a clear view of the player, preferably capturing the entire figure with the arms extended while holding the controllers. Luckily, there’s a setup app integrated into the console’s OS.
Since this is a light-based VR set, you need to have certain room conditions for the best experience. Avoid standing near any reflective surfaces and make sure no other light source is interfering with the headset and camera.
Ideally, you should be playing in a slightly darker room and have enough space around you to spin 360 degrees with your arms extended. The official PSVR reddit hosts a bunch of guides, and the community can help you further optimize your setup.
PlayStation VR Price and Bundles in Canada
Sony has been offering several different bundles over the years, some including games and other accessories. We’ll focus on the basic bundle and everything you need to purchase to get started.
In addition to the headset, the box already contains an attached cable, so you don’t have to worry about the assembly. The box also includes the processing unit, a small black box that acts as the “brains” of this system. There are some cables, too – an additional HDMI cable, a USB cable, and a power cord. Of course, you’ll get an illustrated manual that shows how to connect everything, and it’s neat that each piece is labeled with a number.
Another important part of the set is the PlayStation camera. It connects directly to your console and, ideally, should sit on your TV, facing the player. To use this camera on a PlayStation 5 console, you’ll need to order an adapter from Sony, which is free. Finally, you get a PlayStation-branded cloth for cleaning the headset lenses and some nice earbuds. The starting price for all these components is $299.
So, where are the PlayStation VR controllers? Unfortunately, Sony has decided to cut some costs and doesn’t include controllers in the default bundle. While you can use the DualShock 4 controller that came with your PS4 to play some games, most games require motion controllers, which you’ll need to purchase separately. The PSVR uses PlayStation Move Motion controllers, the same ones you may have used on a PS3 to play sports games.
You might still find bundles in stock that include the controllers. Your best bet is Marvel’s Iron Man VR bundle. This option brings your total to just under $450, which isn’t such a great deal. Remember, you still need a PlayStation console for all this to work.
PlayStation VR: Performance and Tests
With the basics out of the way, it’s time to see what Sony’s VR set is really capable of. For that, we’ll need to go through the device’s specifications, and then we’ll talk about tests with popular games.
PlayStation VR Specifications
The headset has a single 5.7-inch OLED screen. Its output resolution is a standard full HD resolution or 1920 x 1080 pixels. This means you’ll get 960 x 1080 pixels per eye. The screen refreshes the image at up to 120 Hz, and its field of view is 100 degrees.
There are also buttons to control the volume, an integrated microphone on the front, and the aforementioned 3.5 mm audio jack in the back of the headband. Unfortunately, the lenses are stationary, and you can’t change their distance to accommodate different head shapes.
Just like the headset, the Move controllers are equipped with movement trackers and lights, so the camera can detect their position. There are two identical controllers, with easily accessible trigger and face buttons, Start and Share buttons, and a big Move button that sits right beneath the thumb. The controllers have internal batteries, and in our PlayStation VR test, they lasted between eight to 10 hours on a single charge.
On the audio side, PSVR supports 3D positional audio, while the included earbuds provide decent sound. Of course, you can swap them for any other wired headphones or connect one of the official wireless PlayStation headsets for even better immersion. You also have the option of cranking up the volume on your television and not using any headphones.
All this delivers an exceptional VR experience. Sony used some form of mesh over the screen to hide the so-called screen-door effect where you can see individual pixels. The downside is that this gray mesh is visible in dark sequences, but it’s not distracting when it counts the most – while playing games and watching movies.
PlayStation VR Benchmark
Thanks to the high refresh rate and low latency, this piece of tech, which has been around for more than five years, can still compete with other devices. While you might get a minor case of cybersickness if you’re still trying to get your VR legs and are prone to motion sickness, the image is smooth enough to not induce nausea.
Graphics-wise, don’t expect to be blown away. Virtual reality is still a very hardware-demanding thing since the console is rendering the game twice to deliver images for both eyes. Most games, therefore, either have stylized visuals or reduced visual fidelity that’s evident in textures or with the lack of certain shaders.
This is most evident in Resident Evil 7, which has an exclusive VR mode on PlayStation 4. While the flat screen experience is mind-blowingly realistic, it’s stripped of some details with VR. In text-heavy games, it might take some squinting to read the text, but that’s a rarity. Considering this is all running on a console from 2013, it’s really an impressive feat.
Moving onto the PS4 Pro or the recently released PlayStation 5 console, it’s easy to see how certain games benefit from the extra horsepower. Aside from a few rough edges, the visuals are clearer with more details.
One big issue with PlayStation VR hardware and a major downside compared to other VR sets is its tracking. As previously mentioned, it’s entirely based on lights that the headset and controllers produce, so if those lights get obstructed in any way, the console just won’t know where you are in the virtual space. That means no turning your back to the camera or overlapping the controllers.
The latter is especially annoying, as some action games, like After the Fall and The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, require precise motions where your hands get close to each other, leading to choppy and jittery results. Similar problems occurred with Synth Riders, a rhythm game where you catch objects to the beat.
Lastly, the PSVR can just lose track of the controllers from time to time, breaking the immersion. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be irritating.
PlayStation VR Games and Experiences
Over the years, PlayStation VR has gotten quite a library of amazing games. There are heavy hitters like Beat Saber, Superhot VR, Pistol Whip, and The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. These games deliver the ultimate VR experience. Some other popular games got their PSVR ports, too, like free to play sandbox RecRoom, the hectic gladiator fighting game Gorn, and even the comedy puzzle game Job Simulator.
But the true strength of the PlayStation VR lies in a vast selection of exclusive games. These are the titles that really show the power of this hardware and are must-haves for any PSVR owner. While we can’t mention every one of them in our PSVR review, we’ll recommend a few of the greats: Blood & Truth, Skyrim VR, Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Firewall: Zero Hour, and Dreams. A special mention goes to Resident Evil 7, as it comes with an exclusive VR mode on PlayStation. If you thought the flat screen experience was scary, playing this in virtual reality will make you jump out of your seat.
There’s also some free stuff worth mentioning and interesting apps you can have fun with. Before you buy any of the games, check out the demo section on the PlayStation Store. You can also get access to a free activity/game Playroom VR.
PlayStation VR can also be used as a home theater system, and it even supports 3D movies. Additionally, you can run any game that’s not native to VR in the virtual cinema, freeing up the TV screen for other members of the household.
Granted, not all games that have previously appeared on PC VR made their way onto PlayStation. Also, you can’t sideload apps and games, meaning no custom levels, mods, or other custom-made content. If Sony isn’t selling it in its store, there’s no way to get it to load on PSVR.
How PlayStation VR Compares to the Competition
We’re rounding up our review of PlayStation VR with a look at how this device stacks up against other popular VR sets. Sadly, we can’t compare PlayStation and Xbox, as Microsoft still hasn’t created any kind of virtual reality device for its console, making the PSVR the only console-based VR system. Instead, we will put Sony’s headset up against two of the bestsellers – one wireless and one PC VR set.
PlayStation VR vs. Valve Index
Valve might be best known for its digital storefront, Steam. But over the years, the company has dabbled in hardware manufacturing. Its latest and greatest piece of hardware is Valve Index, a headset that’s currently regarded as the best way to experience VR content on PCs. This is a state-of-the-art device with a resolution of 2880 x 1600 pixels, 144 Hz refresh rate, and controllers that track each individual finger. This is a notable upgrade from the PlayStation VR specs.
For tracking, Index uses a set of external IR sensors that you need to place in the corners of your room, but you can set the playspace yourself. This set is great for room-scale VR, but it is also very expensive. The cost is $1,000 and higher if you want to buy the complete bundle on top of a beefy PC you’ll need for the best experience. Yes, it does come with the groundbreaking Half-Life: Alyx video game, but that’s still significantly higher than the price of the PSVR.
PlayStation VR vs. Oculus Quest 2
On the more affordable side of the spectrum is the impressive Oculus Quest 2. Meta’s latest VR set is a fully standalone version of the Oculus Rift. Yes, that means this is a 100% wireless device, enabling users a full range of motion. The Quest 2 uses a combination of augmented and virtual reality experiences and even features finger tracking for that Minority Report-style gaming. The resolution and refresh rate are about the same as the PSVR, while the field of view is slightly smaller.
The Quest 2 is considered the best buy among VR enthusiasts. Priced at $399 for the 128 GB model, it’s also an affordable entry into the world of VR gaming. Its biggest downside is the battery, which runs out after just two hours of playtime. That’s why it’s recommended to purchase some accessories for this set, ultimately bumping the price up and nearing the combined cost of a PlayStation 4 console with the base PSVR set.
PlayStation VR: Bottom Line
With the PSVR reviewed and tested, we can safely say that the device offers a uniquely thrilling entry into the world of virtual reality. The fact that the tech is more than five years old won’t matter if you’re a console player on the hunt for some exclusive experiences.
Is PlayStation VR worth getting?
Yes, PlayStation VR is a great piece of tech, capable of delivering a thrilling VR experience on par with other popular devices. While it can’t offer the highest fidelity possible, it’s a great value product and even works with PlayStation 5 consoles.
Is PlayStation virtual reality any good?
VR on PlayStation is as good as it is on a PC, offering great immersion and some interesting features like the theater mode. PlayStation VR pricing makes it one of the most affordable avenues into the world of VR. A lot of popular games are available on this system, too, so you won’t be missing out on big hitters if you decide to purchase a PSVR headset.
Which is better: PSVR or Oculus?
Oculus now offers a fully untethered VR experience, so it has the upper hand over the PSVR. On the other hand, it still suffers from poor battery life and lacks PlayStation exclusives, so it’s best to choose depending on what you want to play and whether you need a standalone headset.
Is PSVR worth it on PS5?
As we’ve mentioned in our PlayStation VR review, the device works like a charm on PS5. In fact, hooking up your PSVR to Sony’s brand new console can improve the experience thanks to the additional horsepower.