The PlayStation VR is here, and it’s time to wait and see if it really takes off with people around the world.
The system already has a big advantage and that is just how accessible it is. I’ve had the chance to try the PS VR with people who aren’t familiar with consoles or even especially interested in games and they’ve been entranced.
More than that, they’ve been easily able to pick up a controller and get involved, precisely because these elements just make sense in VR. Several of the games embody the player and give them an onscreen representation of the DualShock 4 controlller, so it’s easy to know exactly what it does.
That concept goes further with the Motion Controllers, which are often translated perfectly inside the headset as your hands. Grasping and making a mess in the kitchen is instantly intuitive in Job Simulator and the first person action and shooting of The London Heist is a brilliant showcase for the technology.
In this way, the PlayStation VR has the potential to truly be a crossover system in the way the original Wii was back in 2006. That console benefitted from truly being a pickup and play system, with a suite of games thoughtfully created with simplicity and motion in mind.
There are shades of that in what I’ve seen so far with the PS VR, especially on the mechanical side with the Motion Controllers. The Playroom VR does a good job of building on those ideas and the initial demos are a mix of these kinds of experiences and those targeted at more experienced gamers.
Sony could still do more in this regard, for example navigating any menus with the Motion Controllers is still an unmitigated nightmare and there’s a lack of comprehensive material that’s truly inclusive.
Another barrier to entry right now (apart from the cost of the new system) is the headset itself. Booting up, strapping on and aligning your vision correctly is far from an instantaneous process and the many wires make it harder to dive straight into than something like the Wii.
It also has to be admitted that some folks just won’t be able to really get the most out of VR due to motion sickness. The restrictive nature of the headset can exacerbate these symptoms but it’s really something you have to get used to.
True virtual reality is still in its very early stages and it’s a brave move for PlayStation to dive right in with the PS VR. The system is already chock full of impressive experiences for gamers with plenty more on the way.
And non-gamers are being well served too, with plenty of multiplayer titles incoming which will allow for a social and competitive element. The real achievement right now is seeing someone step into these worlds for the first time and getting a glimpse at the potential of this technology in the entertainment world and beyond. And I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.