PSVR Initial impressions

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It has been a long time coming but the time has finally come, SONY has released the first shipment of their eagerly awaited PSVR headset. Since I was first able to get hands on with the hardware twelve months ago at PAX Australia I have been excited, finally I have one in my hot little hands. So is SONY’s latest device the next evolution in console gaming or is it the new gimmick, set to fall into the depths of gaming folklore as motion controls and Kinect?

PSVR comes packed in quite a large box. Within this box are many smaller boxes. These smaller boxes contain the many pieces of the VR headset. There is the headset itself, a pair of earbud earphones, the unit’s processer, six leads and a demo disk along with some advertising and a how to connect manual. Once I had all the items laid out I thought wow, this looks kind of confusing. Thankfully setting up is actually a breeze with simple instructions and well thought out lead labelling.

However, setting up your positioning and the PS4 camera is either gruelling or done with assistance of another person. Trying to adjust the camera located in front of your TV to where your sitting with wires dangling and little sense of where you actually are can be difficult. Once sorted though it is some simple calibration and game installs and you’re on your way to a new reality.

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The games I picked up on release were VR Worlds, EVE Valkyrie and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. Each disk had a day one patch, nothing new to any games released now days. I was quite chuffed to find that on the PSN store there were quite a few free games to download and install giving the purchase of the headset some merit for day one.

The Headset itself is extremely comfortable. Although it has some weight the distribution is well thought out, with the rear strap sitting low on your head. The strap itself is well padded and even when tight the unit feels quite comfy. The rear of the strap has a release button to extend the band to place the headset on, there is also a dial for tightening once placed. The unit part, or front has a button on the bottom which allows the unit to move out or in. As everyone’s head is a different shape there is more than enough movement to fit all. The unit also has a nice soft rubber that surrounds and coupled with the amount of adjustment people who wear glasses are catered for.

I loaded up VR worlds and was instantly transported into a new reality. The sense of being within a digitised world is very strong. It is an unusual feeling, knowing that you are in fact with your lounge room yet feeling as though you are somewhere else entirely. Although the screen is so close to your face the depth of view makes it feel so far away. It amazes me to think that your eyes and brain must be sitting in the middle of an argument as to where the things you are viewing actually are in reality.

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The image itself can be grainy. When you are focusing on closer object there is graining yet when you focus on something off in the distance the graining is barely noticeable. This is even more so when action is witting the screen and things are flying or rushing toward you. Overall the quality is great, with some games and demos certainly looking cleaner than others. Strangely the quality of image does not detract from the feeling you get from VR. PSVR is really impressive at immersing you within the games world. Many times I found myself leaning on things within the game world, only to find air in reality. That second you realise two things, 1; you are in a virtual world, 2; you’re an idiot. I found myself chuckling at the fact that objects I knew didn’t actually exist certainly felt like they did. So far motion blur has not been a factor, neither has motion sickness. I have never suffered motion sickness in the real world though, which may help my cause.

A massive disappointment I had with PSVR was the realisation that my Bluetooth headset was not compatible. I own three headsets, all of them I am fond of, all of them are Bluetooth. After gaming for so long with over ear headphones I was not wanting earbuds. Thankfully I have a pair of over ear headphones with a 3.5mm jack that did the trick, using the PS4 Camera for voip may be a disaster though.

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Overall I am pretty happy with what I have seen from the PSVR. I did feel slight eye strain after an hours play so lengthy sessions may be a problem. On load up though you are told to keep your initial sessions light until you adjust. In all honesty though hour long sessions with a decent break feels plenty, you have to get back to reality at some point. So is the PSVR a gimmick or the next evolution? Realistically only time will tell, but from what I have so far experienced there is plenty of potential to grow on what has already impressed me. I am not sure if it will be for everyone but so far I am glad I made the investment.

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