Two years ago, Shane’s dad (who is also a gamer) got a VR headset for Christmas. It was pretty exciting; Shane had been watching a lot of Beat Saber videos at the time, and we couldn’t wait to go for a visit and try it out.
When we drove over, Shane and his dad immediately set about creating a game space. The headset came with two positioning cameras that needed to be placed across from each other, so it took a bit of finagling, but they did get it and started playing.
Then, it was my turn to try on the headset. I was super excited. I’d tried AR at a tradeshow when I was working as a journalist, and that had been cool enough; I could only imagine an entire world being generated around me!
After I was all loaded up with headset, headphones, and controllers, I lasted maybe 20 minutes into gameplay before I got horribly motion-sick.
Needless to say, my first experience with VR wasn’t the greatest.
Fast-forward a year.
Last December, Sony sent me a PlayStation VR as part of a partnership with my Instagram account. It’s been really cool to work with them; it wasn’t something I thought I’d ever get the chance to do, and they were really keen on me being as honest as I could be about what I thought of the VR.
Which isn’t something you see a whole lot in advertising, so I was really happy about it.
They actually didn’t contract me to do a blog post or anything—this is just because a lot of people have been asking me about it, and I wanted to share my honest thoughts on it!
So, when it arrived just a few days after my birthday, I was super excited. It had been probably eight months since I’d tried using a VR headset, and I was ready to try again.
Here’s what I thought of it!
So the first thing I noticed was how comparatively easy the PSVR was to set up. The headset basically uses the existing PlayStation camera to track the six lights around the goggle part, so there’s no real complicated setup.
There’s a little adapter that will take up one of the USB ports on the back of your console, and you’ll have to walk through a quick little wizard to set up the tracking lights, but that’s about it!
There’s actually a lot I really like about the PSVR’s design.
First of all, the headset itself has a little button that lets you adjust its distance from your face, which is super handy for setting up the VR by yourself and not needing someone to hand you things because you’re basically blindfolded.
It’s also really easy to adjust to your head size, with a little knob and a quick-release button to tighten and remove the headband.
It comes with earbuds built in. Which doesn’t seem like a big thing, but it’s a really appreciated one. After all, the less you have to fuss with when you’re blindfolded, the better. The earbuds also tuck into their own little storage cubbies on the sides of the headband so they don’t flop around when you aren’t wearing them.
Perhaps my favourite thing about the design, though, was the controllers. And not just because when they’re lit up, they look like moogle poms.
The spheres on the ends of the controllers are a soft rubbery material, which I think is a brilliant idea because one of the first things I accidentally did with them was hit them off the TV stand. And because they’re squishy, I’m not worried about either them or the thing I hit breaking.
For me, this is the most important part when it comes to a VR headset. See, the reason most people (myself included) struggle with VR is because the framerate is just different enough from real life that their eyes can’t reconcile the sensations.
Sony did an amazing job with the graphics on this headset; they’re super clear, and they must have gotten the framerate issue right—because I can play the same games for hours instead of half-hour increments, no problem.
The only issue I ran into was when I got into the really busy battle sequences in Skyrim, but I suspect that’s because the studio retrofitted the existing game graphics for VR instead of creating them for it.
So that’s what I think of the VR so far! Stay tuned over the next little while, I’m going to be reviewing the games that came with it—including:
- Skyrim VR
- Gran Turismo
Author’s note: They also sent me The Inpatient, which is a horror game. I’m a chicken, though, so you’ll have to make do with the fact that it scared the absolute crap out of me just on the TV when Shane was playing it!