From promising leaks to the hopes of Sony's R&D head, Sony's PSVR 2 is starting to take shape
As the PS5 launch day draws ever nearer, PSVR 2 seems increasingly likely. Sony isn’t being quite as loose-lipped on the topic of the new VR headset as they are with the new console, much to our frustration; that said, there are a few particularly juicy leaks and one lengthy wishlist straight from the head of Sony’s R&D department.
Below, you’ll find everything you’ll ever need to know about PlayStation VR 2.
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PSVR 2: Everything we know so far
PSVR 2 design: What will it look like?
Stop the press: we now have a fresh Sony patent to obsess over. Originally filed in February 2019, the patent has since become available to the general public, and it serves to whet our appetite for PSVR 2 something fierce.
Here it is (image credit goes to letsGoDigital):
As you can see, the patent depicts a headset that doesn’t look all that different from its predecessor – if anything, the motion controllers have had a more drastic overhaul. We’ll discuss the implications of this patent in more depth below.
PSVR 2 features and specs: What will it do differently?
Senior Vice President of R&D at Sony, Dominic Mallinson, spoke on the subject of PSVR 2 at Collision 2019. While he made no specific promises, his insights have helped produce a remarkably firm image of what will distinguish the next-generation headset from its predecessor.
In addition, a leak on Pastebin posted by an anonymous user has suddenly drawn a bit of attention, thanks to the fact that the information it shared about the PS5 proved to be right on the money.
The Sony patent above could give us an insight into Sony’s effort to do away with the need for a PlayStation Eye camera. Far from being the most intrusive of VR peripherals, the Eye camera is still an unfortunate necessity, and the patent strongly suggests that Sony is hoping to bin it.
More specifically, the patent shows a headset with three cameras – one on the rear and two on the front. In addition, the patent depicts a motion controller with another camera embedded in what looks like a finger-tracking ring (like the HTC or Oculus remotes). We can only assume that these cameras will track the controllers and your movement.
The only slight flaw in this theory is that the patent reportedly mentions HMD-mounted LED lights exactly like those found on the current PSVR headset. They’re used by the PlayStation Eye camera to track the headset, and they might be here to stay. Perhaps the camera is too.
The ability to “see through” your VR headset to view your real-world surroundings is a recent innovation in the VR industry. The Sony patent makes reference to a “transparent mode”, which we hope is the same thing.
Using a VR headset with a poor resolution is a lot like staring at the world through a mosquito net. The current PSVR model has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 – that’s 960 x 1,080 per eye – which is commonly known as Full HD. Mallinson said he wants Sony to do better when the next headset launches.
He hopes to double the resolution of PSVR’s display, essentially packing a 6in 4K screen into the headset’s eyepiece. By comparison, HTC’s £800 Vive Pro headset has a resolution of 2,880 x 1,600.
If the Pastebin leak is anything to go by, however, we’re probably looking at something closer to 2,560 x 1,440, which is the same as recently launched VR headsets like the Oculus Rift S.
Wider field of view
PSVR has a field of view (FOV) of 100 degrees, which is a little less than the ideal amount for an immersive 3D viewing experience. Mallinson said he hopes that Sony’s next-gen VR headsets will go some way to bridging the gap, although he was keen to point out that there were “diminishing returns” for doing so – most of our field of view is peripheral and therefore unfocused.
120 degrees is the ideal number for hitting the sweet spot without overdoing it on the FOV front. This makes it all the more baffling that the Pastebin leak reports that PSVR 2 will have a field of view of 220 degrees; there’s nothing wrong with a higher number – it just means that less of your peripheral vision will be blurry – but it does seem like overkill.
High Dynamic Range
Next on Mallinson’s PSVR 2 wishlist is HDR support. So far, no existing virtual reality headsets offer the colour-boosting technology, and Mallinson feels that the industry has missed a trick. Unfortunately, the Pastebin leak makes no mention of HDR, so don’t get your hopes up.
No more wires
Possibly the most ambitious concept on this list, wireless VR is an imperfect idea that is currently best championed by the Oculus Quest. Mallinson explains that an all-in-one wireless headset like the Quest “cannot possibly compete with a wired headset today” due to the hardware requirements for high-end VR.
His theoretical solution is to leverage recent advancements in 60GHz wireless transmission technology in order to stream content from console to headset. It’s certainly a bold vision, and probably one you should take with a pinch of salt.
Or should you? According to the anonymous Pastebin user, PSVR 2 will be wireless. I’d be telling you to take this one with a pinch of salt too, but for the fact that there’s also this Sony patent image which was published by the Japan Patent Office:
Now it’s true, patents don’t always end up manifesting as reality. But these amount to several suggestions that PSVR 2 could use 60GHz technology to stream games straight to the headset. For what it’s worth, we’re cautiously optimistic – this would be a huge breakthrough for the VR industry generally.
Addendum: Battery life
If PSVR 2 does end up being a wireless headset, it will require a powerful battery. The anonymous Pastebin user claims that the rumoured headset will last roughly four to five hours on a single charge, outdoing the Oculus Quest by a good couple of hours.
The recently announced HTC Vive Pro Eye features technology known as gaze tracking, whereby the wearer’s eye movements are tracked by internal sensors. Dominic Mallinson would like to implement the same technology into PSVR 2.
As you might expect, the benefits are huge. Being able to accurately track where a player is looking will allow for advanced rendering processes that materialise and dematerialise in-game environments in a much more efficient way. In other words, stuff appears where you’re looking, and disappears where you aren’t.
The Pastebin leak suggests that PSVR 2 will use eye-tracking technology – we’re not taking this as canon just yet, but it’s another must-have feature for VR headsets of the future, so who knows.
PSVR 2 release date: When will it launch?
Sadly, this is one thing we don’t know. PSVR launched on 13 October 2016, just before the beefed-up PS4 Pro and PS4 Slim. When the PS5 launches later this year it will support the current version of PSVR.
That much has been confirmed by Sony. What hasn’t been confirmed, however, is whether the next generation of consoles will usher in a new age of virtual reality. As we’ve already discussed, Sony has a few neat ideas up its sleeve, but there’s no real likelihood that a new headset will make an appearance before the end of next year.
PSVR 2 price: How much will it cost?
If the above features make the jump from concept to reality, you can expect PSVR 2 to cost a fair bit more than the PlayStation 5 itself. Fortunately, Dominic Mallinson has a plan.
Just like the many generations of PlayStation consoles, Mallinson hopes to see PSVR become an umbrella term for a family of devices, rather than just a single headset. Referencing the idea of a wireless VR headset, Mallinson proposed that Sony have “an introductory model and a high-end model” that ditches the wires.
The current PSVR headset launched at £350, making it the same price as the PS4 Pro console that launched one month later. We might expect to see Sony adopt the same strategy for PSVR 2 and, if we do, we’re anticipating that it will be the introductory model that costs as much as this, with the souped-up variant costing much more.
According to the anonymous Pastebin user, PSVR 2 will set you back around USD$250. Directly converted, that’s roughly £200, which is ludicrously cheap for a VR headset. There’s a chance Mr Pastebin has given us the price of that introductory model mentioned by Dominic Mallinson; alternatively, it could just be a load of rubbish. Either way, don’t expect to pay £200 for Sony’s PSVR 2 headset.
We regularly update this article with new information on PSVR 2 as we find it, so check back soon.