Sony PlayStation VR2
PlayStation VR2 Review: A Near-Generational VR Advance. The PlayStationVR2 represents a technological leap forward in VR headsets, with an effortless setup, inside-out tracking, improved controllers, advanced haptics, and a high-quality OLED show with eye-tracking capabilities. Its comfortable form and exceptional graphic quality make it a fantastic alternative for PlayStation 5 users. However, it has significant limitations, such as a limited on boarding knowledge, no built-in audio, and a lack of non-gaming software. Despite these flaws, the PSVR2 sets a high quality and value standard.
- Eye tracking for foveated rendering and interaction with the user interface
- Brand: Sony
- Resolution (per eye): 2000 x 2040
- Display Type: OLED
- Connectivity: USB-C
- Tracking Technology: Four cameras on front of headset (no external trackers required)
- Audio: 3.5mm out (earbuds included)
- Weight: 560g
- Advanced controllers with excellent haptics and good ergonomics
- A single USB-C cable simplifies setup.
- The OLED display of high quality with deep black levels
- Design that is both comfortable and suited for people who wear glasses.
- Excellent value when combined with a PS5.
- Inadequate onboarding experience
- Some (bigger) users may find the controller ring to be uncomfortable.
- There is no built-in audio.
- The system has been restricted, with no support for PC connectivity or unauthorized software.
The PlayStation VR2 is not just the logical choice for PlayStation 5 users; it is also a significant step forward for the VR industry, creating a new standard. It pushes the limits of immersive display technology and comfort, and I am thrilled with VR in a way I haven’t been since the first time I entered the Tuscany home on the Oculus Development Kit 1.
About the Reviewer
I’ve been using VR since the initial Oculus Dev Kit was released by an MTBS3D forum member named Palmer Luckey a decade ago. He found Oculus, which arguably launched the whole consumer VR market. I’ve owned and tried more headsets than I can rely on both hands, but for ease of use and accessibility, I’ve settled on the Oculus Quest 2 with a Valve Index for tethered high-quality PCVR gaming.
I purchased the PlayStation VR2 to access exclusive games and explore how the hardware had improved over current offers. Don’t be surprised if I ignore all comfort settings and sail through the issue of motion sickness that often accompanies those first few weeks with a headset because I’ll be coming at this review from that perspective rather than someone who is brand new to VR. It also means that my PlayStation VR2 gaming experience is limited to a few notable titles, as I don’t plan on purchasing the many VR classics that are filling up the launch roster. I don’t need another copy of Pistol Whip or Beat Saber. They’re fantastic games, but I already have them.
It’s an elementary package in terms of connection and setup. The original PSVR’s many wires, external boxes, adapters, and the hideous Eye Toy tracking camera are no longer present. Instead, the PSVR2 supports inside-out tracking via four cameras on the headset (similar to the Search 2), and a wired connection to your PS5 is accomplished via a single USB-C cable. There isn’t even an external power brick.
Once the controllers are paired, you can create either a highly tight sitting border or a full room-scale barrier. I recommend establishing the room-scale limit regardless of whether you plan to play sat or stand. After all, you could sit comfortably in a larger play area. When you create a seated boundary, you will receive regular boundary warnings with even subtle arm movements.
The pattern that appears around the screen view is a tracking help feature. Provide a static texture that the tracking may latch onto if you have simple walls. It is completely optional.
While the setup was extremely simple, they needed to catch up regarding on boarding. That is to say; there isn’t any. Instead, after establishing a boundary, you’re sent back into the usual menu system and told to download some games. This was disappointing because there was a tremendous potential to show off all the possibilities and truly blow new users’ minds. A small VR Astro Playroom would be ideal for demonstrating the haptics and immersive characteristics.
PlayStation VR2 Controllers
The controllers are now true VR controllers rather than repurposed motion toys, and they look more like Quest 2 this time. The infrared tracking LEDs, which the cameras in the headset can see, are situated in a prominent ring that encircles your knuckles. The ring is set to further back than you might think, and some users with very large hands have found that it bumps up against their knuckles uncomfortably. If you believe that applies to you, you should try it out somewhere first.
Leaving aside the substantial improvements in internal haptics, ergonomically, these are clearly a huge step up from the atrocity that was the PSMove wands. The main debate is whether they are superior to Quest 2 or Valve Index controllers. These truly feel like the finest of both worlds—and then some.
As someone dislikes the Valve Index controllers’ realistic grip mechanism, grip buttons here are welcome. In terms of weight distribution and sizing, these feel wonderfully balanced. Unlike most people, I preferred the earlier HTC Vive wands because they were so large—it seemed like I was wielding a sword or a rifle. Meanwhile, the Index controllers have a very stick-like feel about them. It’s not quite the same, but it’s a good substitute.
Advanced haptics and dynamic triggers are among the most noticeable changes Sony has made to the controller world with its Dualsense gamepad, and the same haptics and catalyst tech can be found here. However, while impressive in its own right, given that most people buying the PSVR2 will have previously experienced it on the PlayStation 5, it’s easy to overlook.
The triggers for those coming from another VR system are incredible, with changeable resistance and activation points based on the game implementation. For example, in Pavlov, a PC-ported first-person shooter, each gun feels distinct and codes a different behavior to the trigger. Simply by feeling the resistance of the trigger, you can tell if your bolt-action is ready to fire. These modest immersive details add up to create a stunning package.
Although games often handle 60 to 90Hz and are reprojected to 120Hz, the headset incorporates a 2000 x 2040 OLED panel per eye qualified of running up to 120Hz. Although some users have reported more prominent ghosting, the OLED panels produce very deep black levels as opposed to the typical gray you find on traditional LCD headsets. I didn’t see it, but it was most common in GT7, which I didn’t get around to playing until after a patch was published to solve the ghosting.
The headset’s eye or gaze tracking feature is incredible for two reasons. For starters, it supports foveated rendering, which means that the area you’re looking at must be shown in high resolution; the remainder of the display can be blurry in your peripheral vision, resulting in improved efficiency. The second benefit of gaze tracking is faster UI interactions. Normally, a fixed pointer emanating from your headset direction or your controller would be used to point to menu selections. With gaze tracking, you can choose menu items by looking at them. Naturally, not all games will support both features. Some horror games go even further, with game play influenced by blinking!
Design and Comfort
The PSVR2 features the same basic halo-style headgear as the original but with several improvements. The screen casing can be adjusted forward and back, so you can easily accommodate glasses and adapt to varied facial shapes. While other headsets require a stable glasses spacer or rely on third-party facial interfaces to fill the gap, the PlayStation VR2 uses a deep, thin, and flexible silicone strip around the edge. This means that nothing is squishing up against your cheekbones, nose, or forehead, and it works well for keeping out light.
The headband extends effortlessly to fit your head, and once properly positioned, you tighten the ratchet from the back. It’s substantially lighter than the Valve Index at only 560g and slightly heavier than the Quest 2; nevertheless, it feels lighter than the latter due to the other design characteristics.
The screen no longer folds up, a huge departure from the original PSVR. It doesn’t matter because the inside-out tracking cameras enable pass through mode by tapping a button under the headset. So you can observe your surroundings in high quality right away. (albeit black and white only).
The stiff headband design is far more comfortable than the other headsets I’ve tried. It may feel shaky at first because it relaxes on your head like a crown, but once tightened, it’s solid enough to allow you to move around. That being said, there is no right or wrong way to wear it; if it performs for you with the halo band lower on the back of your head, that’s also fine. That’s fine as long as you’ve found your sweet spot and it’s comfortable. It’s a lot more lenient than I imagined.
The headset also has some tiny haptics, although these are game hanging and so subtle that it’s difficult to define their application. For example, you feel a rumble in your head in the opening scene of Horizon as a large machine comes close. Likewise, you’ll feel tingling as bullets rush over your head in Pavlov. It’s good that these are subtle and not overused since they add to the overall magic of immersion without being too evident or unpleasant.
A couple of earbuds that clip into the back of the halo band via a single rubber stud and the 3.5mm stereo connection is included in the box. They’re of adequate quality, but I’m not too fond of all earbuds, so the lack of a built-in set of off-ear headphones, as seen on the Valve Index, is disappointing.
Of course, you may plug in your earbuds or headphones. However, finding headphones that fit the solid headband type may be difficult. It’s also a little more work to get into VR, which the PSVR2 shines at: getting you into the action quickly.
Inside-out tracking is extremely similar to Quest 2 and has the same drawbacks. Any bright sunshine will cause errors. However, optical camera tracking requires a good level of light to function. It can’t be used outside since the IR from the sun dominates the IR LEDs in the controllers’ tracking rings; nevertheless, as a cabled headset, you’re far less likely to try playing outside. Because it is an visual design with forward-facing cameras, if you move your controllers after you or out of view of the cameras, they will stop following.
If you’ve employed a Quest 2, you’ll be aware with these unavoidable shortcomings. The tried-and-true inside-out optical tracking mechanism still needs to be improved in the PSVR2.
I spent most of my testing time in Horizon: Call of the Mountain. While this is a PSVR2 review, the critique of it being a 70% climb game is fair, not a Call of the Mountain game review, and at times the climbing aspects feel like they’re being overused to stretch out content.
I wouldn’t call it a tech demo, because it’s a visual feast that Horizon aficionados will spend every moment staring at. The game play is fantastic, with you strafing around targets and firing your bow while avoiding attacks. After all, bow firing and VR are almost always a winning combination. But it’s not worth the asking price of $60.
It is not an open-world game and can be fairly limiting regarding world navigation. I wanted to explore further than the little brush impediment would allow, or simply wish I could jump over the cliff (you’d be surprised how many people do this in VR). However, given that this is many people’s first VR experience, it’s easy to understand why they wanted to keep things basic and mostly on rails. After all, slipping from a cliff by accident might be rather unpleasant.
Looking out at those mountain views is truly magical, and it’s here that we witness the stunning quality of those OLED screens.
The usage of OLED, HDR-capable screens produces incredible contrast. Blacks are black, not a muddy mid-grey, and bright scenes can be almost blindingly bright, with the full spectrum of rich HDR hues in between.
I’ve read a lot of first-time users talking about a form of blur across everything, which could be mura, a typical visual artifact in most headsets that shows as a sort of extremely faint pixel noise. If you look for it, you’ll see it, especially in gloomy loading screens or menus.
Still, if you’re reaching from another headset, as I am, and know what to anticipate, you won’t mind; it’s no more pronounced here than on any other. Once a scene plays and the truly gorgeous images take over, it’s easy to ignore. It could be worse in extremely dark areas, but I don’t usually play horror games. As a Brit, I get plenty of darkness and horror daily; thank you.
Another popular issue with VR headsets is that you see the world through a mesh—the so-called “screen door effect.” I’m delighted to report that this is not an issue here. There is no mesh present.
I also bought Gran Turismo 7, my first dive into the series. I’ve played many PC racing games, and aside from Dirt Rally, they’ve never really appealed to me. (even with a steering wheel). However, GT7’s arcade feel is unexpectedly intriguing, paired with its almost documentary-style car collection and historical elements.
The video review shows that I’m using a GT923 racing wheel and a YawVR2 motion simulator. The move rig is connected to the network and is listening for commands from Sim Racing Studio, which is running on my PC. Sim Racing Studio gathers telemetry from the local network. This is a lot of work to get set up and running but isn’t. So instead, I power on the YawVR2, the PC, which launches SRS automatically, and then the PlayStation with the wheel as the primary controller. It’s even easier than running racing games directly from the PC.
Aside from that, why I haven’t reviewed the YawVR2 is that I was an early Kickstarter backer and was fortunate enough to receive one before everything went south. It’s an incredible piece of hardware with an unusual design. However, the Kickstarter funds have already run out due to growing material costs and slow manufacturing rates. The company is attempting to outsource production while beginning retail sales to fund unfulfilled Kickstarter orders. As a result, it’s not in a state where I’d feel comfortable promoting it now, but I’ll review it if and when commercial production becomes possible.
Field of View
Depending on how close you can put the lenses to your eyes, the field of view is roughly 110 degrees. It’s good enough: greater than the Quest 2’s 90-degree field of view but less than the Valve Index’s 120-130-degree field of view. However, this is an approximate science, and if you have to move the screen away because you wear glasses, the FOV will be reduced. So we’re still not at or near full 180-degree immersion, and it still feels like you’re wearing a ski mask. But, again, if you’re familiar with VR, this will come as no surprise, and it’s still as good as we can expect.
Sony Has Set the Bar High
While there are always gains to be made in the development of VR headsets at this time, the PlayStation VR2 is an incredible device—at least for this VR enthusiast. It combines the ease of use and plug-and-play console mentality of inside-out tracking with a high-end headset’s power and screen quality. Also, I don’t want to understate how right the convenience is. The halo band and flexible silicone interface mean no more pressing against your cheeks and eyes.
It’s jam-packed with modern technology like haptics and gaze tracking, and it all works over a single USB-C cable with integrated tracking for ease of setup.
We’ve gone a long way since the days of plugging in four or five USB cables to connect exterior tracking cameras. I can’t inform you how many hours I’ve tired dealing with annoying Steam VR, Windows, and Oculus bugs.
In terms of hardware, I strongly recommend the PlayStation VR2.
My only question is whether Sony would fully support it and whether it will generate enough sales to justify that support. SteamVR and Quest 2 ports are good for filling out the library, but the exclusives will ultimately capture market share and attract fans like myself.
Furthermore, the system is currently very secure. Even if it were physically viable, complete PC connectivity support could be improved. If it did, I would immediately sell my Valve Index. However, you can’t even acquire a web browser or VR video player on the PS5, which means no VR movies.
The PlayStation VR2 is a generational bound for VR headsets, setting an extraordinarily high bar for quality at an incredible price point. If you only have $1000 and want the latest in VR technology, a PS5 and PSVR2 combo is unbeatable in terms of value.