PlayStation VR: Everything we know so far

In a 2014 interview with Edge magazine, Sony engineer Anton Mikhailov claimed that PlayStation Move — the motion-control platform designed in conjunction with the PlayStation 3 — was really a “VR wand disguised as a motion controller.” Virtual reality was little more than a gleam in gamers’ eyes back then, however, as a futuristic vision of a digital path not yet been paved. Sony had an eye on the horizon, though, and it announced Project Morpheus in 2014, which would later be rebranded as Playstation VR.

Despite the technology’s relative youth, pre-orders for PlayStation VR have been fast and furious, with retailers selling out in mere minutes. Consumers apparently want to be the first ones to get their hands on revolutionary new technologies, and PSVR certainly seems to fit the bill. Here’s what we know about Sony’s forthcoming gadget.

Specs and performance

Just like every other VR headset, Sony claims it’s meant to “feel like it’s not even there.” Also just like every other VR headset, it’s very clearly there. Though PSVR is far from ugly — it’s a pretty cool looking device, in fact — it’s still a big, clunky VR headset that would look absolutely ridiculous anywhere other than your living room. The 5.7-inch OLED display features a 1,920 x RBG x 1,080-pixel resolution (960 x RGB x 1080 for each eye) with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz.

The LED lights on the headset aren’t just pieces of flair, however. The PlayStation Camera — which is required for use, but sold separately — uses these LEDs in conjunction with the LED lights on the DualShock 4 and PlayStation Move controllers for spatial recognition, allowing you to move freely as long as you’re in front of the camera. The headset also comes equipped with a six-axis motion sensing system, one made of a three-axis gyroscope and a three-axis accelerometer. According to a buyer’s guide released on the PlayStation Asia support site in July, 2016, PlayStation VR will require players to clear a 60-foot rectangular area — approximately three meters long and 1.9 meters wide — in front of the PlayStation Camera to keep the camera’s field of view clear.

A small, black “processing unit” provides the headset with a little extra juice to power some of the features available through PSVR. At about the same size as an Apple TV, the box sits alongside the PlayStation and processes 3D audio signals that allow the player to sense which direction an audio cue is coming from.

The unit also enables the PlayStation 4 to display a “social screen” while PlayStation VR games or apps are running. As we’ve seen in public demonstrations, the social screen can be used to mirror the image displayed in the headset so that other people in the room can see what’s happening. Developers can also use the social screen to create local asynchronous multiplayer modes, where one player uses PlayStation VR and other players use the television. Conversely, players can also use the headset’s “cinematic mode” to watch movies and play non-VR PlayStation 4 games on a giant virtual screen.

According to the buyers’ guide, Sony recommends that children under 12 should not use PlayStation VR or any virtual reality headset.

Release date, launch games, and pricing

Sony has announced several launch titles that are set to release alongside the VR headset, which is expected to hit shelves on October 13. PlayStation VR Worlds looks to be akin to The Lab, a Valve game released for the HTC Vive. Worlds includes several small-scale VR experiences that should give gamers a taste of everything that PSVR is capable of. A cartoonish luge simulator, a 3D Pong-type game, and a game where you delve into the ocean’s depths within the confines of a diving cage are just some of the experiences that Worlds has to offer.

One of our favorite confirmed games for PlayStation VR is 100Ft Robot Golf, which somehow combines Hot Shots Golf with Rampage to create a ridiculous, action-packed golfing experience. We’re not sure exactly how the VR headset is meant to factor into the game, but we’re excited nonetheless. Other confirmed launch titles also include EVE ValkyrieRez InfiniteEagle Flight, and Superhypercube; all told, there are over 50 games on deck for the PSVR, and you can view a full list here.

Eight games, including Eve Valkyrie and PlayStation VR Worlds, will also be available via the PlayStation VR demo disc, which is included with every console. Other demos include Rigs Mechanized Combat League and DRIVECLUB VR.

Sony recently announced that PSVR will launch at a price point of $400, though you’ll need a PlayStation Camera to interface with it. These don’t come cheap — the camera is currently over $50 on Amazon.

Fortunately, Sony has announced a bundle to be available at release for $500, including PlayStation VR Worlds along with the headset, camera, and Move controllers. This is still the cheapest way to get into virtual reality (other than the Samsung Gear VR, which works only with Galaxy smartphones), given that you’ll need a high-end PC to even think about using a Vive or an Oculus Rift.

Though the comfortable fit of the headset has been widely lauded, concerns have been raised about the viability and long-term comfort of the Move controllers. Despite receiving acclaim upon the release their release in 2009, some feel that the “magic wands” don’t track movement nearly as well as the controllers that come bundled with the Vive, for example.

If you’re a console gamer, however, you don’t have much choice if you’re looking to dive into the world of virtual reality. Though Microsoft hasn’t been shy about its intentions to release Project Scorpio as a VR-compatible platform, it’s still unclear when the console will come out. Either way, Sony is looking to bring VR to the masses with a headset that’s designed to take you to new worlds without dipping too far into your wallet. New information about the peripheral — and how it will function with the more powerful “Neo” console — is expected at the September 7 PlayStation Meeting press event. Look here to learn where you can watch the announcements.

Updated on 07-12-2016 by Mike Epstein: Added new details based on PlayStation Asia’s PSVR buyer’s guide.

Updated on 09-6-2016 by Gabe Gurwin: Added new details on where to watch the September 7 PlayStation Meeting.

Updated on 09-7-2016 by Gabe Gurwin: Added new details on included demo disc.

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