PSVR2: Everything You Should Know Before Buying
The PSVR2 is finally here! This author managed to get her hands on one on launch day and is here to give you the hands on scoop and some things to know before deciding to purchase a PSVR2 of your own. Some of the notes about quality will be more opinion based so take them with a grain of salt, or free feel to state your own opinion in the comments!
For reference, let's start off with some general specs listed for the PSVR2:
- OLED displays with 2000 x 2040 resolution per eye, with a 90Hz, 120Hz refresh rate.
- The lens can separate to allow for IPD adjustment (a slider on the top left of the headset), and the headset itself is adjustable via the front 'bulk' part and the back head strap.
- The PSVR2 has approx a 110 degree FOV, with 4 embedded cameras for headset and controller tracking, along with IR for eye tracking per eye.
- There are haptics inside the headset itself, and it includes a built in microphone and a stereo headphone jack.
Setting up the PSVR2 was extremely simple, the on console and in headset prompts make everything very easy to follow.
You simply plug the headset into the front of your console via the USB-C port, turn it on, then plug each controller (one at a time) into your PS5 so it detects them.
The tutorial then takes you to adjusting the headset and putting it on (the back strap can pull back and tighten, and the front part of the headset can come closer or further from your face). Eye tracking then gets calibrated by having you follow some dots on the screen, and the guardian is mapped out simply by you looking around your room. You can then add or remove sections of your play space by drawing inside or outside the space.
The PSVR2 is an incredibly light feeling headset, weighing at around 600g (not including the cable). For reference, the Quest 2 is 503g and the Valve Index is 1.78lbs, but it felt much lighter than both. The front especially felt very light on my face and 'floaty' in that it did not seem to press against my face like other headsets do. The included rubber light blockers blocks light perfectly from both the sides of the eyes and from underneath. With most headsets I'm able to peek under the nose, but this is absolutely not the case with the PSVR2.
Ponytail lovers rejoice! The fact that the strap is 'halo' styled and that it pulls back pretty far also meant that I could actually pull it below my ponytail without having to feed it through a small section at the top of the headset strap.
The single cable is also very light and thin, much less noticeable to me than the Valve Index cable.
Being able to access passthrough with the press of a button (located under the headset) made life a lot easier when it comes to finding my controllers, picking up drinks, and making sure my playspace was safe. The passthrough is black and white but better in quality when compared to the Quest 2 (much sharper and clearer).
And unlike the Quest 2, you can actually keep recording while in passthrough mode!
The PSVR2's Sense controllers features the same adaptive triggers as the PlayStation DualSense controllers, but also features finger touch sensors. The touch sensors detect when your fingers are hovering over x, square or circle buttons on the controller and enables you to make in game hand gestures.
The adaptive triggers also gives a lot of nice tension to various activities like shooting a gun or drawing back a bow.
Each controller also includes a wrist strap so that they don't accidentally go flying out of your hands in combat. A minor but nifty feature was the ability to tighten them without having to actually touch the cord, you simply put your hand in and then pull it away from the controller to tighten.
The rings around the outside of the controller did not get in the way when I tried a variety of different games from shooting to firing a bow and arrow. They can be charged via USB-C and last about 5 hours, and I found that they are pretty quick to charge in about one and a half hours from completely empty.
As of the time of this article, there have been some issues reported of controller buttons not working in certain games. A fix should be the way, but in the meantime a Reddit thread has popped up with 23 different potential fixes to this issue. To save space I won't list them all here, but you can find the thread here.
Tracking for the PSVR2 is inside out (meaning no base stations are needed), there are four sensors on the headset that tracks the position of the controllers from sensors on the rings. I personally have had no issues with tracking but I also play in a well lit room.
If your TV is within your guardian/play space there are some reports that it can cause tracking issues, Mike (VROasis) brought up this tip to help improve it.
— Mike VRO (@vr_oasis) February 23, 2023
PSVR 2 tip! If you have a TV in front of your VR play area, you can add a tracking border to the social screen output to help the headset tracking.
With the headset on go into;
Settings-> Accessories-> PlayStation VR2 -> Tracking Support pic.twitter.com/EEWn2F545q
The PSVR2 does not have a built in audio solution, however they do provide you with earbuds that attach to the headset via 3.5mm audio jack. I found the included earbuds to not be very comfortable, although they do include different tip sizes you can swap out and try. Personally I'd highly recommend pairing the PSVR2 with a wireless headset, ideally a one that supports 3D audio like the Playstation Pulse 3D wireless headset.
The microphone quality of the PSVR2 is surprisingly pretty good! Sadly it appears you cannot mix and match headsets and microphones, meaning that if you want to use the PSVR2 microphone but your headset headphones you cannot, for whatever reason.
Example of microphone quality:
This is what the #psvr2 built in microphone sounds like for those of you curious. pic.twitter.com/uStdUNaaHd— AtomBombBody (@AtomBombBody) February 23, 2023
Eye tracking is initially calibrated at setup by following some dots on a screen on a black then white background. It's easily one of my favorite features of the PSVR2. The release game Horizon: Call of the Mountain utilizes eye tracking heavily, and with it enabled in game I could hold my bow at a pretty off angle, but as long as my eyes were locked on to a target, my arrows would hit exactly where I was looking. The in game menus can also be highlighted via your eyes instead of using a joystick.
This technology is very fascinating and I can't wait to see what creative ways game developers will utilize this in the future.
Aside from the haptic triggers in the controllers, something that really brought certain moments to life in Horizon: Call of the Mountain specifically were the built in headset haptics. Anything explosive, bursting through walls or flamethrower-y really helped with the immersion or feeling like you are actually there. The headset haptics are something that you don't really realize you miss until you try another headset without them.
Foveated rendering is a feature of the PSVR2 that reduces the number of pixels rendered and combined with the eye tracking, only keeps clear what you are actually looking at. In turn, this reduces some workload of the headset.
While I couldn't really see the blurry edges as the eye tracking worked quite well, it was a little difficult for me to get to the "sweet spot", or the correct positioning of the headset on just the right spot of my eyes for the clearest image. This required quite a bit of fiddling with the headset positioning, that might be easier to get right with more use.
I also experienced a lot of re-projection or "ghosting" as characters moved around, and mura, or an inconsistency in pixel color that creates an almost Vaseline-like fog over some visuals, basically making them quite a bit blurry. Anything holding still however was nice and sharp.
On the flip side, the OLED lenses were another highlight of mine for the PSVR2. Blacks are truly black (if I closed my eyes during a black screen and opened them I could tell no difference) and colors are very bright and vibrant. As I mentioned earlier, the accordion styled light blocker that comes with the PSVR2 also does an exceptional job of blocking out light which compliments the OLEDs very well.
Another feature of the PSVR2 is the Cinematic mode, or the ability to play "flat" PlayStation games or movies in your headset. The game appears as a flat plane in your headset surrounded by blackness- think of a very dark movie theater experience.
Note that you'll need to use your regular PlayStation DualSense controllers in tandem with your headset vs using the Sense controllers.
The max output for this mode is 1920x1080 - unfortunately no 4k, but HDR (high dynamic range) is supported.
If buying that PSVR2 emptied your wallet and you find yourself unable to get a few of those 40+ launch titles not to worry, you can still try the following via free demos:
- Horizon Call of the Mountain
- Star Wars: Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge
- Resident Evil Village
- Song in the Smoke: Rekindled
- Cosmonious High
- Drums Rock
- NFL Pro Era
- Puzzling Places
You can find them all by going to the Playstation VR2 section of the store and selecting ‘explore PSVR2 demos’.
A couple of other notes on PSVR2 games:
- Keep in mind multiplayer games will require you to have a PlayStation Plus subscription.
- PSVR1 games will not work with the PSVR2.
I hope this helps you in your decision to purchase (or not) the PSVR2! Overall I don't regret my purchase, I think I need more time to get used to the hardware and I can appreciate the ease of use and comfort factors. I look forward to the exciting library that seems to be growing for the PSVR2 as well.
And if you're curious, YES VR Wave will be releasing lens inserts for the PSVR2. Pre-order now to enjoy a 10USD discount off for the lenses.
Expected delivery of the lenses will be in early April.