While the PlayStation 5 has already made its mark in the console space as the latest and likely greatest video game machine this side of the console wars, Sony has been pushing things on the virtual reality front as well. The upcoming PlayStation VR2 (PS VR2) will soon be in the hands of eager players when it launches on 22 February, but to make sure we understand what exactly is awaiting gamers, PlayStation was kind enough to invite us for an early preview of the new headset and launch title, Horizon Call of the Mountain.
PlayStation VR2 Hardware
At an eye-opening price of S$869, this is a premium piece of gaming hardware but based on everything we have experienced thus far, it seems well worth the investment for those who like to really get into their games. Before we talk about the game itself, let’s look at the hardware.
There is no doubt that the PlayStation VR2 brings improvements in every aspect, compared to the original PlayStation VR, from the sleek look, the lighter weight, and the fact that you require just one USB-C cable to get it running with the PS5. Sure, wireless would have been the best option, but we make do with whatever we can get. The new Sense controllers are also a new but familiar sight, with their spherical shape and ergonomic design, with haptics thrown in for good measure, to make sure players feel at home in the virtual world.
All those are just physical traits, and the biggest trump card of the PlayStation VR 2 is the internal camera sensors, which removes the need for those cumbersome cables from its predecessor while enabling some excellent eye-tracking and an almost seamless setup process. The guided journey to making sure everything fits right and looks right is a far cry from the constant adjustments from before, and that is already enough to have us on board.
Enjoying PlayStation VR2 With Horizon Call of the Mountain
But does it work, and how well? The first moment we stepped into the world of Horizon Call of the Mountain, the drastic improvement in visual fidelity became jaw-droppingly apparent. Whether it be the characters in front of you or the lush, vibrant environments that can be marvelled at in 360 degrees, this feels exactly like what a AAA title should be in virtual reality.
With its improved 2000 x 2040 OLED HDR display, the world inside the headset definitely feels closer, more detailed and more realistic than before. And the moment things start moving quickly, it becomes the time for the Sense controllers to shine.
Climbing with the PlayStation VR2 Sense controllers feels natural, while dodging and running is enhanced as well, with every action coming with some sort of haptic feedback to hammer home the point that this is an immersive experience. Getting up high and looking down from the mountaintops elicited a sense of unease and excitement, and seeing how the Sense controller could track the players’ grip as the climbing got tougher simply didn’t get old.
Traversal is just one part of the demo, and combat was where we could really put the PlayStation VR 2 through its paces. As we swung our arms and tilted our heads to dodge attacks from an intimidating Thunderjaw, and drew our bows to fire back, it was an exhilarating time made better in the sense that we were completely in the game world.
It helped that there are options to further configure the game, such as the type of controls you want to play with. Gesture controls may take some getting used to, so it’s also nice to have traditional analog controls just to give players more flexibility. Aiming is generally accurate as well, but there will always be a need for players to bed in if this is their first time with the PS VR 2.
A New Reality
All of the power and potential of the PlayStation VR2 have been made clear, but its barrier of entry remains high. Beyond the cost of getting the headset, you also have to own the PS5, which will bring overall costs up even further. While Horizon Call of the Mountain is the flagship launch title alongside 30-odd games, not every title is going to deliver this standard, quality or new experiences, so that’s another point to consider.
At the end of the day, we walked (climbed?) away feeling optimistic about what PS VR 2 can bring to the table for PlayStation players. With better performance and improved design, it is an exciting time to welcome new ways to play, and hopefully, this will mark another watershed moment for the company, and the games that will come along with it.