Sony’s new PlayStation VR2 is about to launch into a VR landscape that’s very different to when the original PSVR headset launched in 2016. Back then, Facebook was only getting into the VR market with its acquisition of Oculus and HTC had just released their own Vive headset into the wild. Sony’s entry into VR was an interesting one, the PS4 was on the market about 3 years at this stage and selling like hotcakes so the launch of the PS VR was watched closely by gamers and industry folks alike.
With a respectably strong launch title line up but questionable use of dated controllers for input (cough… PlayStation Move) and cumbersome set up, The PS VR never really exploded in popularity like many VR fans would have hoped. As of 2020 (the most up to date figures available) Sony says they’ve sold 5 million PS VR units, not horrendous but, when the PS4 has an install base of over 117 million units, it doesn’t look great.
Fast forward to 2023 and Sony thinks now is the time to re-enter the VR gaming space and, this time, it looks like they mean business. It’s got some competition though from the likes of Meta’s more competitively priced, and hugely successful, Quest 2 headset, whose successor is also expected to launch later this year.
There’s also ByteDance, owners of TikTok – with their Pico headsets, who are trying to get a piece of the pie by entering into the wider global market with the launch of their PICO 4 wireless VR headset and HTC are still hanging in there with their new Vive XR Elite headset. Things are definitely more diverse and Sony will need to impress fans and sceptics alike to stand a chance of success.
With over 32 million PS5 consoles sold in just over two years, and hype at an all time high for this new headset, it’s make or break time on whether this really is the next level of VR. Here is our review of the PlayStation VR2.
Setting the PlayStation VR2 up is pretty straightforward and painless. Gone are the multiple connection cables, processor units and additional HDMI connection boxes you had to navigate when setting up the original PS VR with the PS VR2 working off just one single USB Type-C cable that connects directly into the front of the PS5.
Once you don the headset, you’ll get a step by step process of how to adjust the fit to your liking and test out the eye tracking. (which, as a side note, was one of those magical gaming moments I won’t forget. Being able to control an on screen cursor with your eyes was amazing and worked extremely well; We can’t wait to see how games implement this particular feature over the next few months and years.)
You’ll then be able to scan your surroundings using the built in black and white passthrough cameras, which accurately generate a 3D map of your room so as to help you avoid any unwanted collisions, similar to the Quest 2’s own set up process. You can even use your Sense controller to finetune the actually playable space to ensure you get maximum floor space. The below video shows you the process in action:
After all of this is completed, you’re basically ready to jump into your first PS VR2 title!
Design & Build Quality
When it comes to overall design and the device’s build quality, Sony obviously took major design ques from their latest home console. The PlayStation VR2’s black and white colour combo is also reminiscent of the original PS VR but now has a sleeker, slightly more futuristic look to it. That said, it’s still on the bulkier side, given its use of the older, fresnel-style lens over the newer, thinner ‘pancake’ style in the likes of the PICO 4 and Meta Quest Pro. Here are the key specs for the headset so you’ve an idea what Sony has incorporated into the design:
- Display: OLED (one per eye)
- Panel resolution: 2000 x 2040 per eye
- Panel refresh rate: 90Hz, 120Hz
- Lens separation: Adjustable
- Field of View: Approx. 110 degrees
- Sensors: Motion sensor: Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer) Attachment sensor: IR proximity sensor
- Cameras: 4 embedded cameras for headset and controller tracking. IR camera for eye tracking per eye
- Feedback: Vibration on headset
- Communication with PS5: USB Type-C
- Audio: Input: Built-in microphone. Output: Stereo headphone jack
The integrated new vent system definitely helps to keep things from getting too hot and steamy inside the headset itself, (which comes in handy when firing endless arrows at a Thunderjaw in Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain.) The headset also features a built-in microphone, a power button, and a function button that can switch to ‘See Through View’ or mute/unmute the microphone.
The soft rubber sections on the main upper support section (which rests on your forehead when in use) and wraparound band are soft and comfortable and the incorporated earbud-holders are a nice touch, although, we mainly used over-ear headphones during our time reviewing the device.
If you’re not looking to use over-ear headphones, the PS VR2 does come with its own pair of wired earbuds which connect via the 3.5mm headphone jack beside the power cable connection point and have a mounting strip set up that lets them sit permanently on the device for easy access.
Overall, the PlayStation VR2 feels well built and definitely impressive from a technical standpoint alone. It’s obviously early days in terms of the long-term durability of the device but we’re quietly optimistic that Sony has developed something that can stand the test of time and many hundreds of hours or VR gaming sessions.
Display & Sound
As mentioned above, the PlayStation VR2 uses two OLED panels capable of 4K HDR and 120hz which is one of the most impressive displays available on any VR headset today. The implementation of HDR alone adds a whole new level of immersion with vivid colours and impressive peak brightness for various gaming and media viewing scenarios.
In terms of the ‘screen door’ effect, which is when you can see individual pixels on a panel, usually when it’s not high resolution enough, it was basically imperceptible on the PS VR2 during my testing with only one or two times it became apparent, when looking at the likes of smoke or shadowed areas in titles such as Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain. There also doesn’t appear to be any visible mura effect so colours and brightness appear consistent on the OLED panel.
Unfortunately, as impressive the display and lenses are, one aspect I expected to be better was the field of view or FOV. I wasn’t expecting it to be revolutionary in terms of a larger, more immersive FOV, I just expected it to be more noticeable when coming from the 100 degrees found on the Quest 2. That said, at 110 degrees, it’s still one of the largest FOV available on a VR headset today so I quickly forgot about it when getting stuck into a VR title.
For audio, the PS VR2 supports the PS5’s Tempest 3D audio tech which is perfect for VR gaming and, for the titles we’ve tested so far, including Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain, it’s extremely effective and adds to the overall immersion of the device. Environmental sounds move around you in 3D space and pulling your crossbow from over your shoulder, either left or right, is noticeable in the corresponding ear. It’s all very well implemented.
Unlike the Quest 2, the PS VR2 doesn’t include any sort of built in speakers so you’ll either be relying on the audio to be played through your current speaker set up (when gaming in VR) or connecting wired earbuds or headphones to the headset itself. As mentioned earlier, I’m using Sennheiser Momentum 4 over-ear headphones connected via a 3.5mm cable to the headset to really get the best audio experience but the included earbuds are impressive for their size and will be more than enough for most users.
PS VR2 Sense Controllers
Coming from the cumbersome and somewhat limited capabilities of the PS Move controllers used for the original PS VR, PlayStation VR2’s Sense Controllers are a significant leap in the right direction in terms of functionality and overall comfort.
Even though they’re quite similar to other current VR controllers such as those used for the Meta Quest 2, they still take some time to get used to, especially for larger hands, During gameplay with certain titles, I would find that my thumbs would sit higher up on the face of each controller, meaning I would need to readjust them now and again to have better access to the lower buttons.
Like the PS5’s DualSense controller, Sony has incorporated their adaptive triggers and haptic feedback tech into these new controllers, both of which are perfect additions when gaming in VR. The adaptive triggers in particular become even more lifelike now that they’re being used in VR with scenarios like the archery-focused battles and rock climbing sequences in Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain really showcasing just how immersive this tech can be.
Unfortunately, with all this functionality and ‘immersion-increasing’ tech, the battery life on the controllers isn’t as impressive as after three or four hours of playtime, they would be showing just one bar of battery left. That said, they’ve never actually completed died on me but I always make sure to charge them after each major gaming session.
Right now, Sony warns users that they shouldn’t use the controllers whilst they’re charging but you might be able to connect them to wireless battery packs, if you really need to play for 4+ hours, but this needs to be properly tested to see if it even works.
Having used the PlayStation VR2 for multiple gaming sessions over the last 6-7 days, we can definitely say that overall comfort is right up there with the original PS VR but, now that Sony has managed to shave of 60g in weight, it really is one of the most comfortable headsets available right now.
The tightening wheel at the back and adjusting button for the main headset section work well to allow you get a perfect fit and the accordion-style rubber edging does a great job at blocking out peripheral light leaking into the headset. There’s also an adjustment dial on the left hand side of the pain display unit that lets you adjust the interpupillary distance or IPD on the lenses, so as to help better line them up with your own eyes to help achieve the best visual clarity.
One thing I wish Sony did with the design, and this is probably wishful thinking but, I would have liked to have seem them incorporate the ability to flick the main headset unit up 90 degrees so you can see around you more, like the older Oculus Rifts or HTC Vives, without having to readjust the headset every time you slide it off to check your phone.
With its new inside out tracking system, thanks to the 4 externally mounted cameras on each corner of the front of the main section of the headset, The PlayStation VR2 is much better at tracking itself, the controllers and your overall positioning in a space.
It’s still important to have your play area well lit to help with this tracking though as I’ve found, the darker my living room during certain playthroughs, the more difficulty the headset had with tracking. That said, I mainly played in the seated position as my play space was unfortunately too small for the full 2m x 2m ‘room scale’ play style.
One of PlayStation VR2’s most unique features though is its headset haptic feedback which, on paper, might sound off-putting but, in gameplay, I found it added another level of immersion and isn’t weak and shallow like I feared it would be, but an impressively strong and noticeable rumble which I definitely appreciated.
Thankfully, you’ll be glad to hear that the PlayStation VR2’s overall ease of use is much greater than its predecessor, thanks mainly to its single cable system which makes things infinitely easier and quicker to set up when you want to just jump into a VR title. The single 4.5m connection cable is also nice and flexible so it doesn’t gather up on itself too much, which is also handy for when you’re tidying it away.
Even though most of you will be using this headset for gaming, like its predecessor, you’ll be able to use the PS VR2 in ‘Cinematic Mode’. In this particular mode, you can view the PS5 system and UI and all non-VR game and media content, such as Netflix and Disney+, on a virtual cinema screen.
Content in this particular mode will be displayed in 1920×1080 HDR (HDR content in particular from the likes of Netflix or Disney+ looks particularly impressive when using this 2D mode) and you can adjust the virtual screen size to your liking as well. One thing to note though, when using this mode, the audio and image will be only displayed on the VR headset and there is no output on the TV.
PlayStation VR2 Launch Title Line Up
With over 30 titles planned for launch, the PlayStation VR2 looks like it should be off to a good start. Sony has also gone on the record to say that there are currently more than 100 titles currently in development for the device so this should help reassure early adopters that there’ll be a continued stream of games to play after the initial launch buzz has died down.
We’re currently in the middle of reviewing a number of the launch titles including Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition, Kayak VR: Mirage, Moss & Moss: Book II, Resident Evil Village VR and a few others and, even though some of these games are already available on other VR headsets, the PlayStation VR2 definitely enhances and improves the overall experience and gets us excited for what else can be done with this powerful new combo of the PlayStation 5 and PS VR2.
Finally, as of writing, there are also rumours flying around that even more titles will be announced ahead of launch day on February 22nd with a few being significant enough to generate even more hype for the headset. Personally, we’d love to see Astro Bot make his way to the PlayStation VR2 as he hasn’t missed a PlayStation Hardware launch since the PS4 in 2013. We’ll have to wait and see if any of this is to be believed though.
Before we wrap things up, one thing that’s worth noting is that PlayStation VR2 is not backward compatible with the original PS VR. This unfortunately means all of your original PS VR games for the PS4 won’t work with the PlayStation VR2 headset (this is despite the PS5 being backward compatible with PS4 games.)
The PlayStation VR2 is completely differently than its predecessor, so it makes sense they aren’t compatible with one another. Still, it’s not ideal all those original PS VR games will be left behind as we enter a new era of VR on PlayStation consoles.
Thankfully, some older PS VR games such as No Man’s Sky, After the Fall, and Hello Neighbor: Search and Rescue are offering free upgrades to a PS VR2 version with other titles such as Thumper offering small upgrade costs for the PS VR2 versions of their games.
Having used the PlayStation VR2 for just over a week now and tested out a wide number of launch titles, this really is the next level of VR from an immersion and enjoyment point of view.
Sony’s efforts to make this consumer-focused VR headset stand out from the crowd with the inclusion of tech like eye-tracking and headset haptic feedback makes this the perfect device for next-gen immersive gaming. Unfortunately, even with this high praise, the PlayStation VR2’s high price point is more than likely going to limit just how many people get to experience it, which is a shame, as once you experience the PS VR2 in action, it’s hard to imagine gaming any other way.
Be sure to keep and eye on our site for all our upcoming launch title reviews for PS VR2 including the aforementioned Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain along with Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge – Enhanced Edition, Kayak VR: Mirage, Moss & Moss: Book II, Resident Evil Village VR and many others.
REVIEW: PlayStation VR2 - The Next Level of VR
- Design & Build Quality
- Display & Sound
- PSVR 2 Sense Controllers
- Comfort & Usability
Sony’s efforts to make this consumer-focused VR headset stand out from the crowd with the inclusion of tech like eye-tracking and haptic feedback in the headset itself makes this the perfect device for next-gen immersive gaming.