The PlayStation VR 2 is Sony’s second attempt at a virtual reality headset. The PlayStation 4 had a PSVR headset, but it was marred by screen door, performance issues, a cacophony of cables and dildo-like move controllers with a convoluted tracking process. The PSVR 1 had some great titles but never felt like an adequately supported device.
My first foray into the PSVR 2 as someone experienced with virtual reality headsets was enjoyable. My point of reference is my HP Reverb G2 headset which is similar in specs to the PSVR 2 but is frustrating to use as I have encountered numerous problems with Steam VR and Windows Mixed Reality software. The PSVR 2 is comfortable, and getting lost for hours is easy.
What’s in the box?
Admittedly, not much comes in the box. In line with modern products, the packaging is pretty minimal. You get a headset, two VR 2 Sense controllers, and a USB-A to USB-C cable (the same as the one you already have to charge your PS5 controller). Some pieces of paper and everything has a protective covering over them.
The setup process is also exceptional. You are guided through the setup process that guides you through configuring eye tracking, tethering the controllers to your PS5 and setting up your room play area. It’s one of the nicest VR onboarding experiences I have had.
I won’t bore you with the technical specifics. Sony has an impressive FAQ here, which tells you everything about the PSVR 2, from its resolution to haptic features.
The flagship title for the PlayStation VR 2, Horizon: Call of The Mountain, is what most will play first, and I highly recommend getting it. If you didn’t get the bundle, then the game is a cool AUD 110, but it’s a flagship title that uses everything that PSVR 2 has to offer, and it’s as impressive as the trailers made it seem, I would say it looks better when you experience it for yourself.
This game is an excellent showcase of not only the graphical prowess of the 4K displays in the PSVR 2 but also highlights the capabilities of the VR 2 Sense controllers. You get haptic feedback depending on what you’re doing. In the opening scene, when you’re in the boat, you can look over the edge and scoop your hands in the water. You feel the haptic feedback, and it is incredibly immersive.
When you are climbing, you feel the resistance, and after a while, I found my fingers were getting sore like I had been climbing for real. The Legendary Climbs side-quest will make you feel like you’ve been out for a climb.
And Horizon: Call of The Mountain is where you learn how the VR 2 Sense controllers are an engineering feat and a step forward for VR. While the Sense controllers might look similar to other headsets, they’re some of the best I’ve tried. The controllers are very comfortable to wear, to the point where I was so immersed that I forgot I was holding controllers. The controllers on other headsets I’ve tried have always felt unnatural after extended use.
Another underrated feature of the PSVR 2 headset is eye tracking. Thanks to an embedded camera in the headset, it can track your eye movement. Other VR headsets with this feature are double the price (and more). So, for a consumer VR headset at this price point, to have eye tracking is impressive. And, trust me, eye tracking isn’t a gimmick. It works incredibly well, and you get used to using your eyes to navigate menus.
The headset is also impressively engineered, from the little details to the bigger things. On the face part of the headset, there is a rubber seal that is incredibly effective at blocking outside light; the included headset affixes to the headset band, and the length of the cables are just right, so they’re not too loose and dangly.
Wearing the headset is also very comfortable. Sony engineers put a lot of thought into the design, from the weight of the headset to the distribution of the weight. The adjustment mechanisms, from tightening the band to adjusting the face part, are easy to configure to your face and head. The PSVR 2 is the first VR headset I’ve tried where I felt I could play for hours without experiencing aches or pains.
I would also like to point out that I wear glasses, and the PSVR 2 headset is the first that feels like it took glass wearers into account. My glasses weren’t pressed into the bridge of my nose or face. The headset accommodated them, and no light leaks. Thank you, Sony.
I have concerns over the inability to detach the cable from the headset (a fixed cable) and how resilient it would be if it were pulled too much. While some will decry the need for a cable, it’s one long USB-C cable, and it’s a small price to pay for leveraging the power of the PS5 console. But, for now, I am not overly concerned.
Speaking of immersion, one thing I found wasn’t overly helpful was the haptic feedback of the headset itself. Maybe this can be tweaked in future updates to be more immersive, but I found the headset haptic feedback was more annoying than immersive, and I turned it off.
After playing Horizon: Call of The Mountain for a few hours, I concluded it was an excellent introductory title to PSVR 2 but not a title I would find myself revisiting a lot. I have found other titles to have more replay value, like Tetris Effect: Connected, and I’ve fallen back in love with No Man’s Sky again with the PSVR 2 headset.
The image quality on the headset is clear, and the foveated rendering in Gran Turismo is seamless. Comparatively, graphics quality-wise, I wouldn’t say the PSVR 2 is on the same level as my Reverb G2 headset, but it’s close, and you really have to nitpick to see perceivable differences in the field of view and the textures.
Overall, the PlayStation VR 2 headset is fantastic and promising for the price point. Many have raised the headset’s cost as a downside, but you’ll pay a lot more to get something with the same feature set as the PSVR 2. For this to succeed, Sony must commit to it and get big titles to support it, like Spiderman or Grand Theft Auto (which I would love to play in VR).