Hands-on with the inbound PlayStation VR revolution.
After almost exactly two years of waiting, the artist formerly known as Morpheus finally graced us, not only with its price, but also with its next tour date, and I have my pre-order set for a day one purchase.
If you missed the memo: PlayStation VR hits consumers in October 2016 for £350.
AND HOLY MOTHER OF GOD I AM EXCITED.
Why? I am – and I take no pleasure* in telling you this – one of the luckier few in the world that has had the extreme good fortune of having played on PSVR not once, not twice, but three times now, and I loved it every single time.
*this is a lie.
The first time I donned said helm was at the 2015 Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin aka IFA. I was there as a guest of another global tech company and, between press releases and being shown the same set of gadgets for the fifth time on the trot, I (along with a couple of other of ne’er do wells) managed to sneak off to the yet-to-be-officially-opened-but-seemingly-secretly-open-to-special-people-who-walk-in-like-they-own-the-place Sony Hall. The Japanese giant was there to announce its new mobile phone, the Z5. But rumours were afoot that PSVR would be there, and, it was.
London Heist was the demo available. It goes like this:
You’ve probably seen it before but still, let me explain what happened. The queue to play was three people deep and the people in front were men and women from the stands around the hall, Sony PR reps excited and intrigued by this new game system thing. I will refer to these people for this article as ‘non-gamers’ or ‘NGs’.
The NGs lined up patiently and had their go and, thanks to the (somewhat contentious) splitter box, we were able to watch those participating via a nearby TV screen. I was watching, and learning, and, when it came to my go…
We teleported to the desk part of the game and I opened each of the drawers and emptied the available ammo onto the desk. As I did so, I heard the guy running the stand laugh behind me ‘Brilliant’ – he muttered. I don’t know if any non-NGs had played so far, they weren’t officially open yet.
Anyway, I lined up the ammo, ducked behind the desk, and waited… and then one by one took out the oncoming security forces (with as many headshots as luck would allow – I’m not messin’ about, son) until the ‘boss’ arrived with a machine gun.
I ducked behind the desk once more and was so filled with grin-induced exhilaration; I leant against the desk to catch my breath.
And fell onto the floor.
Roaring with laughter, I got to my feet and finished the level.
Amazing. I wore a smile like a child getting off their first rollercoaster, for the rest of the day.
I knew then: ‘Day one purchase’. Later in 2015, I was at EGX. I had pre-booked place on the PSVR demo unit there but, as luck would have it, a friend knew the press team running the other demo unit behind the stage.
The game this time was London Heist: Getaway; the same game as before but a different level. This time, it was the driving part:
Once more, I watched on while two people played ahead of me (one NG one non-NG). By the second person’s go I knew what to look out for and what to expect and, at some point during their demo, I remember thinking ‘Why aren’t you helping him? Dude!’ – and knew that when it came to my go, I would help.
If you’ve watched the video above you’ll know there’s a moment about 40 seconds in where your car is so shot to smithereens that the driver needs to punch the windscreen out just so you can see where you’re going. The two chaps in front of me watched on while big bald dude struggled with it. Me? I clenched my move controller in my hand, leant forward, and punched the windscreen clean out of the car.
Again, I heard the [different] guy running it gasp, followed with the words ‘Wow! I did not know you could do that’.
And once more I ended the session beaming ear to ear and wondering when I might one day have this fantastic piece of hardware all to myself.
About half an hour later, my third PSVR demo appeared. I mixed it up this time and plumped for Battlezone (I was initially offered ‘kitchen’ but I don’t get on with horror games so passed).
I thought Battlezone was alright. Perhaps here is a good time to point out that hitherto my jaunt into 3D tank blasty world, the main controller system I’d been using with the PS VR was via the use of two PS Move controllers. This worked supremely naturally and I’m intrigued as to how other games in the future will use them.
For Battlezone however, I was given the standard PS4 controller to use as the main interface and, while it was fun to use, I didn’t find it as immersive as using the move controllers to place your arms and hands in the virtual space around you.
It was fun, and I definitely enjoyed it. But for me, the Move controller games made it. And that’s what I’ll be mainly looking forward to come October time when the PS VR launches; full interactivity via move controller and, if not, KILLER games that incorporate the VR properly and correctly, allowing full immersion and total suspension of disbelief.
For what it’s worth Sony US is reporting that you’ll be able to buy move controller bundles when the PSVR launches. And that’s great, but I’ve already bought mine off ebay, my camera has been equipped since the day I got my PS4 and my body is ready to enter the world of PlayStation VR.
The games look amazing.
PSVR looks amazing.
The future looks amazing.
I. Am. In.