PlayStation VR starts this decade as a wholly underrated virtual reality system with a litany of quality games in its catalogue at an approachable price point. Easily the most cost-efficient way to get into VR, Sony’s brazen first steps into the ecosystem have us excited for PSVR 2, which will no doubt arrive soon if a series of patents are anything to go by.
With details surfacing for the long-awaited PS5, could we see a new headset iteration launch in tandem, and if so, what would we like to see from it? Read on as we run through the five major features that we think would make PSVR 2 a day-one purchase.
An obvious next step for the platform, many HMD makers are pushing to remove the wires that are all too easy to tangle yourself in when you’re playing in virtual reality. Whether you’re peeking corners in Firewall or moving between cover in Blood and Truth, there’s nothing worse than feeling that constraint and realizing you can’t go any further into the action. PSVR would benefit from this upgrade considerably, especially given its cheap price point and promising accessibility for those who already own a console in the PlayStation ecosystem.
Like EyeToy, and other popular family-friendly tools that came before it, virtual reality will only succeed when the barrier to entry is lowered even further. VR is still seen as an expensive, exclusive club with a low player-base - by making the setup easier and introducing a wireless HMD, PSVR 2 could be passed around in a family setting and open up further possibilities for local gameplay that involves more users.
Oculus has already proven that it can be a success with its wireless Quest headset, which offers top-quality virtual reality gameplay on the move, proving itself a hit with a casual audience. With the backing of Sony’s first-party development studios, and a tandem launch with a major console, PSVR 2 could capitalize on this market and push VR further into the mainstream by adding it to the PS5 package.
Potential patents unearthed by LetsGoDigital suggest a transparency system and built-in cameras for PSVR 2, necessary steps towards a wireless setup for the next iteration. Here’s hoping!
A room-scale tracking solution
One of the major issues with PSVR is the tracking system, which involves a lone camera to capture your controllers and head movements. Even prior to PSVR, this issue was solved by the more high-end players in the field like Oculus and Vive - though the privilege of a room-scale tracking system came at a high price.
Now that the iterative virtual reality space has been shifting and warping for the most part of a decade, we can expect that Sony may bundle in a room-scale tracking system if it hopes to elevate the more tired teleported movement and ‘shooting gallery’ gameplay that we’ve seen working with the PSVR so far. Being able to commit to full 360-degree motion, and explore environments without being locked into a rigid space with your upper body, is clearly the future of the platform - just take a look at Half-Life: Alyx’s ducking and weaving gameplay.
This would certainly be an enticing prospect for Sony’s developers, who will only want to take a risk on creating a VR game when they know the hardware has the capacity to truly realize their vision. Again, the aforementioned patent unearthed by LetsGoDigital shows potential front and rear cameras on the head-mounted device, as well as cameras on the new controllers to ensure you never hit that fuzzy black ‘disconnected’ screen when you’re trying to get lost in the moment.
Updates to ancient peripherals
Whilst the PSVR has had many successful exclusives, some of the most compelling games debuted on the platform were built to work best with a gamepad. Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is the best example of this, a platformer that used a lot of the hidden features of the Dualshock 4 to delightful platforming effect. However, there’s a reason for this emphasis gamepad compatibility: we’re a bit sick of the PS Move controllers.
The PS Move controllers’ accuracy was impressive in 2010, but breaking them out now always feels like a compromise. Sony’s plasticky orb wands are a decade old and it’s very easy to see the downsides when you’ve used the system for some time. Despite the upgrade to a Micro USB connection in 2017, the batteries inside are still woeful, the button design is clunky and there are no analog sticks. With pitiful haptics and drift issues abound, it’s a miracle that the PS Move controllers still work with modern hardware. It’s starting to become clear that they’re dragging down the vision of the exclusive games that have come to PSVR, especially near the end of its life cycle.
With the next iteration of PSVR, we’re begging for a set of modern controllers designed in tandem with the headset. We’ve seen how much a revolution in the controller space can enhance gameplay with Valve’s knuckle kit that allows for full finger-tracking in VR. Sony needs a similarly imaginative input method to change how we approach virtual reality games in the next generation. We can’t keep relying on ancient hand-me-down tech as the means to engage with the future of virtual reality. The Move controllers that drop out when you pivot in Beat Saber have to go, and the 1200 x 800 camera could be removed entirely and replaced with base stations or a built-in wireless approach, as it is also starting to show its age.
A meaningful display upgrade
Out of all the popular virtual reality headsets on the market, the PSVR’s display resolution is by far the worst, using a single 1920x1080 screen (960x1080 per eye) to deliver its games to the user. The grain and blur will be the first thing you notice when you strap on the HMD, which is why PSVR 2 must improve the display if it wants to succeed in an increasingly volatile and graphics-intensive market.
Windows Mixed Reality headsets now offer a better display at a tremendously low price point (1440p per eye), which proves that higher definition VR is possible at a low cost. This display bump would be an eye-catching promise to those who pick up a PS5 as a potential virtual reality machine instead of a gaming PC. With the 8K UHD and ray-tracing power of Sony’s next-generation console backing it, PSVR 2 could bring the headset display in line with the resolution we can see on the screen outside of the device, which would be a big step in legitimising the PSVR and dragging more casual players into the fold.
More excellent exclusives
The best part about owning a PSVR headset is the exclusive games available on the platform. Sony has been very particular about curating high-quality titles for its virtual reality system, which has led to exciting experiences like Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, Blood and Truth, Arkham VR, Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin and Tetris Effect (the latter three being available on PCVR now.)
The variety of experiences in this first generation has proven that Sony’s talent pool can do a lot with a little as far as the hardware and peripherals are concerned, with exclusive VR games on other platforms paling in comparison to PSVR’s current lineup. With SIE London Studio and SIE Japan Studio’s ASOBI Team both in between games right now, PSVR 2 could deliver the exciting launch titles that its first iteration sorely lacked, building on the success of games that arrived late in its life cycle like Astro Bot and Blood and Truth. With a number of popular Sony franchises waiting in the wings, who’s to say that the next Ape Escape, Sly Cooper or Gravity Rush game couldn’t be a PSVR 2 exclusive?
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