One of the worst experiences I’ve had in virtual reality was the rolling credits of Half-Life: Alyx. Not playing games – mind you – that’s great. No, I hate rolling credits in games because I know this extraordinary AAA VR experience is over, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to do this level of VR adventure again.
Anyone who has worn a VR headset can tell you that the technology is promising. Anyone with a VR headset can tell you how slow the industry has been in delivering on that promise. I love creative products like Beat Saber, Superhot VR and Pistol Whip. These fun diversions make me happy to have headphones, but they only provide an experience. I still crave richer, story-based VR adventures. Like Half-Life: Alyx and…and…and not many others.
Some of my favorite games from last year were Deathloop, Metroid Dread and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. Sadly, there aren’t many games like in VR. But there should be! Thankfully, Sony’s recent release of the PlayStation VR2 has revived my hopes that we might be getting more big-budget VR games soon.
At CES 2022, PlayStation President Jim Ryan presented PlayStation VR2 Details. Its specifications are reliable. The PSVR2 will feature an OLED screen with a resolution of 2000×2040 per eye, running at 90hz or 120hz, with a higher fidelity than the Quest 2 or Valve’s Index. Sony’s new system also takes advantage of foveated rendering, which means it uses eye tracking to give your immediate field of view the maximum graphical detail. After all, nothing around you needs to be clear. In theory, this should provide higher visual fidelity without sacrificing performance. What’s more, Sony says its set will use high dynamic range technology, which will make games look better and brighter.
If that wasn’t enough, Sony’s bundle also includes onboard haptic feedback, so your headset can jiggle in response to every virtual explosion or sword swipe in your head. I’m a little skeptical about this technology. In theory, it could make players more immersed in their virtual world. However, it’s hard for me to imagine that these vibrations wouldn’t aggravate some players’ motion sickness. Still, if Sony thinks it doesn’t work in some way, it probably won’t spend the money to make the technology.
I might complain that the system still needs to be plugged into your PS5 via a cable (don’t trip over it), or that the field of view could still be wider (even though 110 degrees is more important than most commercial sets), but I wouldn’t complain. Not yet. I want to be positive because Sony is investing a lot in virtual reality and that’s what I’d like to see from more developers. In addition to all this hardware, Sony also announced that it’s working on some big-budget games using some of Sony’s big brands, such as the new Horizon game from Guerrilla Games and Firesprite.That is if only Project PSVR2 has been announced so far, but I hope we’ll see more big announcements in the coming months.
After all, many of Sony’s assets are suitable for VR implementation. I’d love to play a new Uncharted game that makes you feel like you’re nailed to the edge of a cliff. Or imagine playing a God of War game and actually throwing Kratos’ axe and watching it come back into your hands. Or what if you could play Insomniac’s version of Spider-Man through a concrete jungle. Finally, imagine dropping some fat beats in the new PaRappa the Rapper VR experience. Well, the last one might not be the right fit, but I’ll get a new PaRappa, but I can get it.
We still don’t have a price or release date for the PlayStation VR2, but the technology sounds promising and should allow more developers to make fantastic VR experiences, which is exactly what I want. Maybe by this time next year, I’ll have more big-budget VR experiences to throw in my teeth. Until then, I think I’ll go back and replay Half-Life: Alyx.
PS Hey Sony, Half-Life: Alyx will make a great killer app for your new headphones!