The PlayStation VR2 is the virtual reality upgrade console gamers have been waiting for — but is it really worth $550? That depends on how much you need high-quality VR.
Virtual Reality, PlayStation
The virtual reality landscape looks completely different today than it did in 2016. The original PlayStation VR arrived amid the peak of the VR hype. which kicked off with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. While they weren’t perfect, wearing any of those devices was like shoving your eyeballs right into the next major leap for computing. And if VR took off, it was only a matter of time until we were all wearing augmented reality glasses. Clearly, that hasn’t happened.
Now that much of the initial excitement around VR has fizzled out. The PlayStation VR2 is more of a curiosity than a must-have gadget. It has all of the specs you’d want from a next-generation headset. but it also costs more than the PlayStation 5 itself. Sony says more than 30 games will be available during the PS VR2’s launch window. but who knows how well it’ll be supported over the next few years.
And really, what’s the point of a pricey tethered headset? when the Meta Quest 2 gets you completely wireless VR (albeit of much lower quality) for $399? No matter how you look at it, the PS VR2 is a tough sell. And yet, I can’t help but be impressed by it. The PS VR2 packs in the best of high-end PC VR, including innovative features like eye tracking. as well as something we’ve never seen before: Haptics for your head!
Before we get to that though, let’s take a look at the PS VR2 itself. At first glance, it seems like an evolved form of the original, with a design that’s more reminiscent of the PS5. Instead of a bulbous Fisher Price-esque toy. the PS VR2 actually looks like something built with artistic ambition. (Get ready to roll your eyes when it’s highlighted at MOMA.) Sure, it’s still made of plastic, but at least it’s good plastic. the same stuff used for the PS5’s exterior shell and the DualSense controllers.
I also didn’t mind the plastic much since the PS VR2’s internal hardware is such a massive upgrade. It features dual 2K OLED screens, which effectively deliver a 4K image. The field of view has also been bumped up to 110 degrees, putting it on par with most other high-end VR headsets. While the displays still offer 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rates. in my experience, everything just looks smoother thanks to the PS5’s additional horsepower.
Up front, you’ll find four sensors that track the headset and its new Sense controllers. Thanks to these “inside out” sensors, which are also found on the Meta Quest and many other headsets. The PS VR2 doesn’t require a PlayStation camera to track its movement like before. Along the top, there’s a button to extend the front half of the headset. as well as a dial to adjust the pupillary distance. It does so by physically moving the lenses to match the distance between your eyes. something that was sorely missing from Sony’s first headset.
At the bottom of the PS VR2, there’s a small microphone, power button, and selection button. To get audio, you’ll have to plug in the bundled earbuds along the back of the headset. There’s nothing stopping you from using your own headphones or earbuds, but the cable situation would likely be a mess.
As for securing the PS VR2 to your head, I was happy to find that Sony didn’t really change much from the incredibly comfortable first model. The PS VR2 features plush cushioning for your forehead, as well as a thicker cushion that sits behind your skull. Clicking the dial on the rear extends the arms of the headset, and like before, you secure it by twisting the dial. Together with its impeccably balanced design and lightweight, the PS VR2 is a dream to wear. I only wish the headset flipped up like those forgotten Windows Mixed Reality devices – that would have made it far easier to slip on and off.
Still, I’m happy that Sony listened to the many criticisms of the Move wand controllers on the original PS VR. The new Sense controllers are actually purpose-built for virtual reality – they’re practically a carbon copy of Meta’s Quest controllers, with a large tracking ring, analog sticks, two face buttons, triggers, and grip buttons. Both remotes have haptic feedback and PlayStation buttons, and they also split the sharing and option buttons found on the DualSense. Overall they’re a huge step up, though it would be nice if they were easier to put on when you’re stuck in VR. It’s hard to tell which controller is which, and their elaborate design makes it tough to get your fingers in the right places.