On Thursday, Sony’s long-in-the-works Project Morpheus officially comes to fruition with the launch of PlayStation VR, an AUD$549.95 virtual reality headset that attaches to the PlayStation 4.
The PlayStation VR is the most accessible, easy-to-use option in the nascent VR medium, and it’s going to win a lot of converts (like me!) just by being so darn easy to use.
I’ve spent the past few weeks with PlayStation VR — here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about buying one:
This is the most important part: While it might be impossible to look cool playing with a PlayStation VR, it's actually a really impressive bit of technology.
I'm not highly experienced with virtual reality, so I can't tell you true how it stacks up against the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. But it's totally immersive, to the point where I found myself reaching for things that aren't there.
The tether to the console gets to be kind of a drag (ba-dum-ching), but most games have you standing or sitting still and using your hands or a controller anyway.
I use it about five feet away from my TV, and never really have an issue. Some people have reported an issue with the system's ability to track your motion, though I never had a problem.
PlayStation is all about games, and the PlayStation VR brings them in spades.
At launch, there will be 31 games, including superhero simulator 'Batman: Arkham VR,' racing game 'Driveclub VR,' robot sports game 'RIGS: Mechanised Combat League,' and rhythm action game 'Thumper.'
Not all of them are great. Games like 'Harmonix Music VR' feel more like experiments. And while 'PlayStation VR Worlds' is a fun showcase for virtual reality technology, with six different virtual reality games to play through, none of them are especially deep.
It's hard to go wrong with games like 'Thumper,' 'RIGS,' or even 'Driveclub,' which are a lot of fun. But there's no one, incredible, must-play virtual reality game just yet. That said, Sony has relationships with the biggest and best developers in the business, so watch this space.
The PlayStation VR uses the regular PlayStation 4 menu as its interface, and can run any PS4 game or app. You can play regular, non-VR games and watch movies on a giant, simulated screen, provided you're down to keep the headset on for as long as you're enjoying.
Apps like Hulu are also available in versions specifically for PlayStation VR, too, letting you watch a selection of boring old 2D TV or 3D videos in a simulated VR living room.
The PlayStation VR headset itself is super comfortable, even when it goes over glasses. But if you're prone to motion sickness, maybe use the PlayStation VR in moderation.
I can usually play for about an hour at a time before the weight of the headset plus some mild vertigo finally gets to me, though it depends on the game: A motion-heavy game like 'Driveclub VR' will always make you sicker, faster.
A word to the wise: Take the time to make sure it's adjusted exactly how it should be. If the words and images on the screen aren't crisp, clear, and visible, you're in for a bad time.
After a few weeks shuttling it back and forth between home and work, I can set up and break down a PlayStation VR in 15 minutes flat. You should budget around 30 minutes for your first time. Everything connects to a little box that sits on top of your PlayStation 4.
But with five cables coming into and going out of that box, it also makes for an unsightly mess unless you're really good at cable management. If your entertainment center is already a rat's nest of cables, PlayStation VR won't help.
Your $399 purchase gets you the PlayStation VR headset, a demo disc, and nothing else. Which is fine, but you need some additional accessories.
At the absolute bare minimum, you'll need a PlayStation 4 Camera (MSRP $60), which tracks your head in virtual reality. You literally can't get started with PlayStation VR without one.
And for a full and complete setup, you'll also need a pair of PlayStation Move motion controllers for $50 each, which let you use your real actual hands in virtual reality. Not all games use them, but titles like 'Batman: Arkham VR' require them for stuff like throwing Batarangs.
All told, you're looking at about $560 for the total setup. Some retailers are selling a $499 PlayStation VR 'Launch Bundle,' but they have been going out of stock as quick as they have been getting stocked.