PlayStation VR review

PlayStation VR is the promised land for virtual reality on consoles

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PlayStation VR is inspiring. As a whole it's incredible, even if there are some hang ups here and there. After trying it for yourself you'll want to experience something like BioShock Infinite or GTA V in VR, and the first few demos and games will give you a little sneak peek of what every game could be like five years from now.

PlayStation VR is an affordable introduction to quality VR – "quality" being the operative word there. Many of the experiences aren't as crisp or as immersive as the ones found on Oculus and Vive but, for a system that uses a PS4 instead of an expensive gaming rig, I'm not complaining.

PlayStation Move and Controllers

With the potential for prior ownership of some necessary components, Sony is probably making the right move by reducing the cost for those who already own the Move and Camera peripherals, but for those who show up expecting to pay $400 / €399 / £349 / AUD$549 might not appreciate the fine print of potential extra expenses outside of the bundles.

The other irksome aspect is the hole near the bridge of the unit that lets light into the screen. You might not have ever gotten completely lost in the virtual world even if it had been an airtight seal, but there's no quicker way to feel less immersed than looking down and seeing your living room floor.

But these are minor faux pas and aren't worth getting too upset about. PlayStation VR is so far a surprisingly good product, easily in the top three headsets made thus far and probably squeezes its way in the top two when you factor in price.

Whether you decide on the PlayStation VR over Oculus or HTC should likely come down to the following – your budget, your platform of preference and the amount of real-world living space you're willing to sacrifice to play semi-realistic video games in virtual reality.

PlayStation VR

If you already own a PS4, PSVR is the most logical and affordable option. It offers hand tracking through the Move motion controllers, a decent library of games right out of the gate and an unbeatable price tag.

That being said, if you have a lot of extra room and are looking for an even more immersive experience where money's no object, I recommend forgoing PSVR for an HTC Vive, if only because of the room-scale immersion and slightly higher-fidelity graphics on a high-end PC.

Lastly, if you've got the PC already but are limited on space and would have to buy both a PS4 and PlayStation VR in order to embark on this VR venture, I'd recommend choosing Oculus.

We liked

Despite their failings from time to time, I really appreciated that Sony found a use for the PlayStation Move motion controllers. They feel like a natural fit for VR.

The headset itself is also particularly sleek and comfortable. The white and black exterior looks like something out of Ready Player One or Star Trek, and can be worn for hours without the all-too-familiar neck pain that I've felt while using other VR hardware.

Finally, I think the games on PlayStation VR are surprisingly fun. Batman: Arkham VR is a fantastic visual showcase for the hardware, while Wayward Sky offered an emotional experience wrapped in the guise of an indie launch title.

We disliked

PlayStation VR is a tethered experience that encourages you to sit down rather than stand up. While the HTC Vive unlocks a massive maximum tracking area of 15 x 15 feet, Sony confines you to a 6-foot by 10-foot space.

That wouldn't be so terrible if the Sony Camera did a better job picking up where, exactly, the Move motion controllers are. However, as it stands, the camera seems to constantly lose sight of the glowing gamepads even when you're well within the playspace.

Between the spotty motion controller tracking and small gap along the bottom edge of the facemask that lets light in, it's hard to feel fully immersed in the dozen or so games Sony and other developers have spent years crafting, and for a VR headset that's a major problem.

Final verdict

For one minute, forget the finer details and focus on the bigger picture. In three short years, Sony took PlayStation VR from the ground floor of development to an industry-leading product. PlayStation VR is a wholly new platform that embodies so much of what made the original PlayStation so great – it's innovative, smart and easy-to-use. It's affordable and already has a growing catalogue of must-play titles. It's a far cry from a complete package – and in some ways fails to live up to the high bar set by the HTC Vive – but, for $200/£150 less than an Oculus Rift, I'm not complaining.