The PSVR still delivers a brilliant virtual-reality experience on a budget
- Much cheaper than Vive or Oculus
- Works with all PS4 consoles
- 120Hz refresh rate for smooth visuals
- Resident Evil 7 on PS VR is a game changer
- Resolution is disappointing
- PlayStation Camera isn't included in the box
- Move controllers aren't included
There are now three VR headsets available to consumers, but in reality the PS VR is the one you’re most likely to buy. It’s a rare case of a product actually living up to the hype, and, although it doesn’t yet have the huge game library it needs, new titles such as Resident Evil 7 are able to bring a really immersive experience to your living room. It delivers a comprehensive VR experience, and if you’ve got a PS4 or a PS4 Pro, it’s certainly worth a look.
PlayStation VR review: What you need to know
If you own a PS4 and a DualShock 4 controller you’re already halfway there. The PSVR simply plugs into the back of the console via the bundled control box, with the only other requirement being a PlayStation Camera. This doesn’t come with the headset, but several retailers are selling it as part of a PSVR bundle pack, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble tracking one down.
The PS Camera you’ll most likely see being sold is the new second-generation version, which now has a cylindrical design and hinge-stand making it easier to align with the headset. The hardware inside it is exactly the same as the previous model, though, so don’t make the mistake of upgrading if you already own one.
With those three things in place, you’re good to go. There’s no PC involved, no hassle of having to upgrade any of your rig’s components, and you don’t need to clear out a significant portion of your living room to use it. Sony still recommends you sit around five feet away from the camera, but given that PSVR is primarily a seated VR experience, at least you won’t have to move the furniture around every time you want to start playing.
PlayStation Move controllers
It’s also worth noting that PSVR supports Sony’s Move controllers as well. These motion-control wands were originally launched for the PS3 after the runaway success of the Wii, but since then they haven’t had much love, as there simply haven’t been that many games released that actually support them. However, if you happen to have a couple gathering dust in the back of an old cupboard, now is exactly the right time to bring them out of hibernation, as several PSVR games are using them to great effect.
They’re not essential controllers – there are very few games which only support Move controllers – but I’d recommend trying to track some down if you want to get the very best VR experience possible. Most games that do support them, for instance, use them to act as a disembodied pair of hands, allowing you to interact with your environment far more naturally than you would with a DualShock 4 controller.
PlayStation VR review: Setting it up
Just like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, PlayStation VR is a tethered headset. That means there’s a long cable that trails from the back of the headset into the main control box, which in turn plugs into the back of the PS4. You’ll be sitting down most of the time, so it’s unlikely you’ll find your legs getting tangled up in them, but it’s something to be aware of if your console lives in a busy living room with kids or pets rushing in and out. You can stand and move about a little bit if you’re playing a game that supports Sony’s optional motion-sensing PlayStation Move controllers, but these are still largely stationary experiences that don’t require you to walk around.
You’ll find two joined-up cables trailing out the back of the headset: one HDMI cable and one proprietary connection that can either plug into the bundled extension lead, taking the total cable length to 4.4m, or straight into the main control box. Dubbed the “Processing Unit”, this device mirrors the design of the original PS4, with a split running down one-third of the box and an LED light strip across the front. The smaller section neatly slides backwards to reveal two ports, which Sony has marked with its classic Square, Circle, X and Triangle symbols. Then you slide the housing back to keep everything looking neat and tidy.
At the back of the Processing Unit is a power socket, a micro-USB port and two HDMI outputs – one for plugging into your TV and one for plugging into your PS4. All the cables are included in the box. You only get one HDMI lead, but this won’t be a problem, since you should already have an HDMI cable connecting your PS4 to your TV.
The micro-USB port is to be connected to one of your PS4’s USB ports. Annoyingly, these are on the front of the console, so you’ll have to put up with at least one wire trailing out in front. That’s a shame considering the lengths to which Sony has gone to make the Processing Unit box so discreet.
Finally, there’s the PlayStation Camera. Rather than connecting to the Processing Unit, all you need to do is plug it into the PS4’s rear aux port and place it in front of where you’re likely to sit. This is vital, as it’s this device that’s responsible for tracking your head movements via the blue lights on the front of the headset. All in all, it’s pretty painless compared to how long it took to set up the Vive; I was up and running in less than 15 minutes.