PS VR2: Sony's next attempt to mainstream virtual reality gaming
Is virtual reality the future of gaming?
It's a question that industry insiders have been debating for quite some time, with passionate arguments on both sides.
There's nothing like a brand-new piece of equipment to reignite the debate.
With the release of PlayStation VR2, one of the industry's biggest players claims that virtual reality will play an important role in the industry for years to come.
Some speculated that Sony would abandon their virtual reality experiment after failing to invest in many blockbuster VR games, implying a lack of faith in their initial foray into this space.
The original PlayStation VR was uncomfortable, clunky, and a cable-tidier's worst nightmare
When Tetris Effect was released in 2016, it provided players with genuine moments of joy, eliciting wide smiles. Resident Evil 7 is hands-down the most terrifying and traumatising gaming experience I've ever had.
Those memorable moments, however, were few and far between. A lack of truly must-play games, particularly those exclusive to the device, was an issue that was never resolved. Despite this, it is estimated that five million units were sold worldwide.
The PS VR2 is unquestionably slicker, lighter, and more comfortable than its predecessor. It intends to position itself in the middle of an increasingly crowded VR market.
To use it, you must already have a PlayStation 5. If you have one, it provides a virtual reality gaming option that is less expensive than the high-end Valve Index (which requires a top-drawer PC to run). Despite this, it provides more impressive technical performance than less expensive options such as the Meta Quest 2 Advanced [All-In-One Virtual Reality Headset] 256GB would cost around ₹54,990.00 (Amazon.in)
So, does its release help to answer the question that has dogged gaming since the release of Nintendo's Virtual Boy in 1995? Is this how all gaming will be in the future?
Scotland's pre-eminent games critic, Jordan Middler of Videogames Chronicle (VGC) spent time with the device prior to its release.
He claims that he has always desired a more immersive VR experience than what is currently available. "From a hardware standpoint, it's incredible, a really impressive headset," he says to begin. "The price (£529) may put some people off because it is more than the PS5 console itself, but for the graphical power in that headset, it is more affordable than its PC equivalents."
Sony denied last month that it had significantly reduced sales projections for the headset due to a low number of pre-orders. It was claimed that the company expected to sell 1.5 million devices rather than two million by March 2024.
As impressed as he is with the headset, Middler is concerned that the same complaint that has dogged VR gaming since its inception will persist: what will people play? He claims that there aren't many unique experiences available for the device. "You can only get Horizon: Call of the Mountain as a true PS VR2 exclusive. "Where are all the other big Sony titles that make the PlayStation so popular? "Is there a Spiderman VR game or a Last of Us VR experience?"
A lack of so-called "system-sellers," titles so good that they entice people to buy new hardware just to play them, is a common criticism levelled at many virtual reality devices.
At the moment, games for the original PlayStation VR are incompatible with its new sibling. This means that players who have amassed a library of games for that device will have to start from scratch if they decide to upgrade to a PS VR2, or wait to see if a solution is offered.
It's one of the reasons Middler believes this is a headset that will appeal to "the hardest of the hard-core players" who believe virtual reality gaming is the way of the future.
He claims that given how the previous iteration was "abandoned" near the end of its life, players will need to have "a lot of faith in PlayStation" to invest time and money in making more games.
This device does not provide any definitive answers, so the role of VR in the future of gaming is likely to be a topic of conversation for those in the industry for some time to come.
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