The PlayStation VR is now out and available to the public. In our review we praised the comfort, affordability, and solid lineup of launch games, but the outdated tracking, camera, and Move controllers are the biggest things holding the device back. While it’s a great seated VR experience under the ideal conditions — low light, not too much movement, a clutter-free playspace, etc — it starts to show blemishes if you attempt to get up and active during a game.
Games like Batman: Arkham VR and Job Simulator are best played standing with the Move controllers, but turning all the way around in 360-degrees isn’t supported very well with the limited tracking range of a single front-facing PlayStation Camera. The HTC Vive uses its lighthouse boxes to track your entire room in real-time, whereas the Oculus Rift will soon support Touch controllers and multiple cameras to enable a ‘roomscale’ experience.
Since the PlayStation VR only uses a single camera and LED lights, 360 is somewhat limited. The front, sides, and back of the headset itself have tracking LEDs in place, so the Camera can see my head in 360 space at all times without problem, but if I turn my back to the Camera, it can no longer see my controllers. The single light on each controller and single camera blocks the line of sight when my body cuts off the view.
As it turns out, Phosphor Games, the team behind The Brookhaven Experiment, have designed a small, simple feature that allows players to experience a 360-degree game on PS VR without having “true” roomscale tracking. They just let you press a button to flip around 180-degrees inside the game world.
“We keep players on edge with a constant threat of enemies from every direction,” said David Bayzer, Lead Programmer on The Brookhaven Experiment for PS VR, during the developer diary video at the top of this article. “To cover every possible angle of attacks, we added a 180-degree flip button on the Move controller that lets players flip themselves in game space and use the PS VR’s range of tracking to cover 360-degrees. The 180-degree flip button is on the secondary knife-hand Move controller. We’re confident that the PS VR can provide the full Brookhaven experience.”
When Phosphor announced The Brookhaven Experiment was coming to PS VR, it was a bit of a surprise due to the perceived lack of tracking range. While this button-pressing solution does enable a slight work around, the fact remains that this mechanic is far less immersive than physically spinning in place. This player, also pictured above, was able to successfully play the game simply by twisting sideways, but I’d imagine that solution would run into some limitations on more intense levels.
The Brookhaven Experiment released for the HTC Vive back in July and it’s been one of our favorite VR games ever since. If the lack of “full” roomscale support isn’t a deal breaker for you, then this absolutely needs to be in your PS VR game library. It’s now available for download on the NA PSN store for $19.99. The game is expecting to release on the EU store later this month.