Oculus has got some competition.
Sony brought PlayStation VR to the 2015 Armageddon Expo in Auckland, and I was lucky enough to have a go with it. The demo was short – just five minutes or so – but it was certainly five minutes well spent.
The Sony representative who helped me was unsure whether what I played was just a tech demo or if it will be a full game in time, but I’m hoping for the latter. It was a space sim shooter, and I was given my choice of two ships. Ship A let me use the controller to aim and fire while I used the headsest to look around, while Ship B let me use the headset to aim while I used the controller to fire and change direction. I went with Ship B.
There was no tutorial telling me how to control anything, but there didn’t need to be. Everything was very intuitive. Tilt my head up to aim up, look to my left to see left, fire my guns with the right trigger, use the left analog stick to orient myself. Too easy.
After flying around for a moment I found some red arrows, indicating enemy ships, so I flew over to them and began firing. The headset was surprisingly lightweight and extremely comfortable, which made aiming really easy. Of course I was always moving (as were the enemies), so I had to constantly alter my course and look around to keep my firepower heavy on them. This was no problem thanks to the responsiveness of the headset.
When the whole point of VR is to get you looking around at your in-game or in-app surroundings, the headset needs to be comfortable; no ifs, ands, or buts about it. PlayStation VR has definitely succeeded in this regard, as it was a delight to whip my head around in order to keep focus on the incoming ships.
The graphics were solid as well. They weren’t cutting edge or top-of-the-line, but neither did they look sloppy or jagged, as they might appear when presented through VR. There were no glitches or hiccups, no system crashes or resets needed. It’s not like this was a lengthy demo, but it’s still worth noting that everything went according to plan. Additionally, while the fast pace and flashy lights of galaxy warfare were mildly dizzying, it was never overwhelmingly so. I never felt motion sick, and as soon as the action died down a bit I was able to regain my bearings quickly and continue on.
While I only had five minutes with PlayStation VR, it made a really good impression and left me wanting a lot more time with it. Sony is making it quite clear that Oculus Rift is not alone in the virtual reality market.