This is not my first experience with VR, but PSVR2 has certainly re-ignited my interest in this space.
From having tried the original Oculus Rift DK3 (do I remember that right?), through purchasing HTC Vive (I’ve never finished the FPS project I started working on at that time unfortunately, but you can check it out here), getting first Oculus Quest (before Meta’s rebrand and Meta Quest 2 release), and – which is most relevant on the topic of Playstation – also playing on PSVR1, I was really looking forward to experience the evolution and latest hardware developed by Sony.
And, I’ll share that from the start – I had so much fun playing Pavlov, I included a bit of additional content on that game here 😉
Alright, let’s see how all that played out!
Table of contents:
- Quick review of PSVR2
- Special moments in VR
- Tips and Tricks
- Pavlov videos (new ones coming soon!)
- Less known things about Pavlov
- Game recommendations
The full set I got consists of the PSVR2 headset with controllers, Pulse 3D wireless headphones, and the Sense Controller Charging Station:
I decided to go with those extra addons as the earbuds provided with PSVR2 don’t really play well to sharing the experience with others, and the audio quality isn’t all that great, which both get remedied by the headset.
And in the charging department – there’s 1 USB-C to USB-C cable provided in the box with PSVR2. The controller life generally comes to about 3 hours. Plenty for a single session (free time is always at a premium…), but it could be helpful to re-charge them between playing. And this is where the charging station shines – charging both controllers simultaneously, with no messing with wires, as there are 2 magnetic connectors provided in the set. Check out the details below.
And all those just fit nicely together, and look like a set, so that’s an added bonus. I specifically went with white headset (there’s also a black variant available) so that it looks well together 🙂
Closer look at the headset:
And the charging station:
the magic that improves the usability of the charging station lies in those 2 magnetic connectors:
And as for the PSVR2 itself, here’s what’s in the box:
Bonus – how does it all look after intensive session? 😉 Well, the headset needs a quick wipe to clean sweat, and cable needs to be untangled, as it seems I have a tendency to turn in one direction more than the other!
I’ll keep it short and sweet 😎 There’s plenty great, in-depth and detailed reviews available online, so I’ll just share my top-of-mind thoughts, and address some common points raised within the community.
- Simple setup, easy to pick up and enjoy, “plug and play” –
- The hardware and specs – including OLED screens, high resolution, eye tracking and and support for foveated rendering,
- Solid line-up of starting titles – games from different genres, from casual and easy to start VR adventure with titles, to ones providing maximum immersion and re-playability (Gran Turismo, Pavlov).
- Comfort and headset adjustability – it’s light, grabs the heads nicely, stays fairly well without constants need for adjustments (I learned to tighted in couple clicks more that I originally thought – still comfortable, but stays in position for longer). The adjustable distance to the face helps further with both comfort and sufficient room to play with glasses.
- More limited selection of games than on PCVR2 – lots of titles have been announced, but the current selection on PSVR2 is much more limited, and lacks some major titles (I’d like to see games like HL: Alyx, Onward, Beat Saber, Boneworks + Bonelabs, Into the Radius, …)
Few specific concerns have been making rounds on social media:
- mura issues – if you look for it, you’ll see it. But in my opinion it’s not really a problem – hardly even noticeable in dynamic environments. And you know what, I watched a move in cinema just yesterday (John Wick 4, it was great 😎) and I noticed mura even on the cinema screen in a very bright scenes with not a lot of motion. And yet no one complains. This aspect in PSVR2 seems to me to be criticized too much, for the sake of… generating controversial/click-bait content for YT videos.
- screen smearing in games that use reprojection – this one is a bit more noticeable (Gran Turismo, Kayak). But it’s not that related to hardware, as the design choice in those games. And it’s not all that immersion breaking, it doesn’t bother me all that much, but can be noticed especially for high-contrast elements (e.g. light pole or a tree with sky in the background).
- tracking issues – I experienced it at times, not really sure why, but luckily it’s fairly rare. Didn’t seem to be related to controller battery levels, but rotating my body (maybe to get out of the way of some confusing reflections in my space?) and keeping the cameras on headset clean always helps.
What would I like to see improved further?
- Controller battery life could get better, to minimize the risk of not charging between sessions leading to a disappointment when “low battery” notification shows as soon as we load into the game.
- Support for physical gun stocks – the one provided with PSVR1 was fun, especially considering the 1st party nature of that accessory, and native support in games like Firewall: Zero Hour. I made my own gun stock for HTC Vive in the past which also become somewhat popular (check it out here: 3D Printer Gun Stock for HTC Vive), and would love to see an official support for such accessories in the future.
- Wireless next generation headset (PSVR3 🤔), along with further improved resolution (I can’t really complain at this point, but there’s still room for growth, which is best demonstrated by how quickly text in VR stops being legible with increasing distance).
All things considered, I’m having an absolute blast with PSVR2. The fact that it’s so quick to just dive in, for when I get those brief bursts of free time, and the physical workout I can get from it while having so much fun, makes me want to return as often as I can 🙂
Special moments in VR
Here’s a selection of seemingly random, but “memorable” moments I experienced in just first couple of weeks of using PSVR2. They’re not specific to PSVR2 as such, but rather – have been a reminder for me of how immersive VR can be, after I had a couple of years break (from previously using HTC Vive and Oculus Quest).
- Pavlov VR
- Russian roulette
- Joined German server, first time playing TTT, one player showed me how to “flip off” other players (hand gesture)
- Voice comms, close by communication and team radio options,
- Folks raising hands up and gesturing to apologize for friendly fire
- Gran Turismo 7
- Music Rally stage #1 – I noticed the reflection of drivers head/helmet in the chrome badge on the steering wheel… The responsiveness to my head movements was… (sur)real
- Driving through tunnel, with the lights on the ceiling illuminating the interior of the car – felt so real!
- And I really like how you can feel the depth in the mirrors – your eyes really pick up the distance and adjust when you glance on them!
- Amazing feeling of spatial awareness – overtaking feels more natural, you can tell where the boundaries of your car are, and both the relative positions and speeds are so much easier to perceive for our brains
Tips and tricks
- For easy orienting/re-positioning in real world, consider:
- having a small rug under your feet – with a district edge you can feel, so you know where you are at all times, and have confidence to do sweeping motions when needed (depending on the game, it could be actions like reaching for a gun someone dropped, throwing a grenade, etc.),
- point a small fun at yourself from the “front” direction – not only can it help with the comfort, it’s also a very “subtle” way of helping you re-orient yourself,
- I recommend configuring the System settings:
- auto-turn-off for controllers – helps save battery in cases where you may need to abruptly pause the game session. Think: groceries just got delivered, and you exit the game but don’t want to turn the whole system off, so might as well preserve controller battery,
- And settings I highly recommend checking out in Pavlov VR:
- virtual stock -> enabled,
- auto-sprint -> enabled,
- kill feed on the arm -> enabled,
- start in: shooting range,
I’m having so much fun in Pavlov, and the recording option on Playstation is so convenient, I thought of making some quick video edits. They will be added here in upcoming weeks.
Let’s start with a run through Killhouse, with max score,although I’ll continue working on improving the time further 🔫:
EDIT: Here’s a new video – few rounds of Search and Destroy:
Less known things about Pavlov
- You can chamber some guns after reloading by slapping them on the side (works on M4 and some other guns),
- The avatar of last person you killed is briefly shown on your watch,
- Attachments carry penalty for money you get for kills ($150 for red dot or holographic sight, $200 for suppressor)
- You can load into shooting range while waiting in the lobby,
- If you’re playing One in a Chamber, learn how to throw the knife. It will give you a huge advantage, as otherwise often short distance knife encounters end in a draw,
- In Search and Destroy, try and pick up any weapons at the end of a round (if you’re still alive of course 😉). Whether you ended up at a wrong bomb site and didn’t manage to defuse in time, or you won that round, it can help your team’s economy. And added bonus – if you remember to pick up extra gun, you may find something you like, and then can upgrade and give your old one to a teammate.
- If you’re last one standing, and have a bomb, use the fact that opposing team can hear when you’re arming bomb to your advantage. You can confuse the enemy, make them run to the opposite bomb site, etc.
- Remember to “play with your whole body”. Duck when arming the bomb, or holding an angle. Lean to quickly check the corner. You can move around even before the round starts, by changing position in real world – this can be helpful to reach for a gun someone threw, etc.
Game recommendations (as of March 2023)
Here’s some of my favorites that I’d like to recommend. Tastes vary, so you may like them, but I can’t guarantee that 😉
My top 5:
- #1 – Pavlov VR – by far the title that I enjoy the most. Lots of game modes, decent (😇) community, lots of re-playability. Having played CS back in the days (from before Steam even existed…), it really does share a lot of not only the game mechanics, but… also charm,
- #2 – Gran Turismo – VR adds extra “depth” (well, literally) which accentuates the speed, ability to understand the vehicle positioning on the track, and can be a good mechanism for real driver development (be mindful of your vision, always have a plan for 2-3 things you want to work on, and the results will follow),
- #3 – Kayak VR – fun and relaxing experience, easy to pick up, and gets you to move your upper body a bit,
- #4 – Pistol Whip – it makes you feel like John Wick, and you can play it as a rhythm game, or just a a shooter with catchy beats,
- #5 – (TBD: I’ve been playing so much Pavlov!)
And my wish list for future:
- Half-Life: Alyx
- Ghosts of Tabor
- Beat Saber
- Into the Radius
- Boneworks + Bonelabs
- More maps and workshop support for Pavlov! Please!!! 🙂
Alright, time to get back for another round of Search and Destroy in Pavlov! 😎