It’s October 13th. In addition to being recognized as the iconic day that Parks and Recreation encouraged us to all adopt a day of selfish pleasure known as “Treat Yo Self!” this is also the day in 2016 that the long-awaited PlayStation VR headset officially releases. Starting today, those that pre-ordered the device should be receiving shipments and picking up boxes, while others will be able to purchase them in person starting very soon. The age of mainstream VR has arrived.
Since this is such a big day for the VR community, we felt it appropriate to take the time and compile everything you need to know about the headset into one, single, post. We’ve reviewed over a dozen games, went in-depth with the headset, done interviews, created lists, written walkthroughs, and much more. All of that gets lost in the noise of other news and coverage, so this will serve as your one-stop hub of information for all things PS VR.
Everything You Need to Know About Virtual Reality in General
The PlayStation VR may very well be your first experience with virtual reality. That’s okay. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s actually a good thing if it is. This is the easier headset to use, has the most robust launch library, and feels like a natural extension of the established PlayStation ecosystem. It’s far above and beyond being just another peripheral device.
Generally speaking, the current state of the virtual reality market is a way for users to wear VR headsets (sometimes referred to as goggles) that sit on top of or in front of your eyes and/or face to provide an immersive entertainment experience. The lenses transmit visuals to each eye enabling a fully 3D effect, providing depth within the experience. The motion sensors and tracking functions allow the experience to know where you are and how you’re moving your head inside the world, letting you interact and look around as if you were really there.
There are a variety of options on the market. Google offers its Cardboard brand of experiences, which is the lowest tier of VR available. This is just a primitive lens and phone case for your smartphone. Above that exists the Samsung Gear VR headset and the upcoming Google Daydream, which are similar to the Cardboard, but more powerful and comfortable.
Then there’s the existing Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets, which each require powerful PCs to operate. The PlayStation VR sits just below these two, but far above the Cardboard, Gear, and Daydream variety, in terms of sheer power and performance.
Everything You Need to Know About the PS VR Headset
If you’re reading this right now, then chances are you fall into one of two categories: you have a headset and you’re super excited to jump into it, or you’re on the fence but interested in the idea. Either way, you’re in the right place.
First, here are some of the core specs you’ll want to know about:
- Size: 187×185×277 mm (width × height × length)
- Weight: Approximate 1.34 lbs without the cable
- Display: OLED
- Panel Size: 5.7 inches
- Screen Resolution: 1920×RGB×1080 (960×RGB×1080 per eye)
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz, 90Hz
- Field of View: Approximately 100 degrees
- Tracking: PlayStation Camera and LEDs on the Headset, DualShock 4 controller, and PlayStation Move controllers
Then, look at our unboxing photos and watch a video here to see everything that’s inside the box to make sure you’re good to go. Then you can watch these videos to receive detailed instructions on the setup process. Depending on your knowledge and experience, from the moment you open the box to being inside the headset playing games, could take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, not counting installing and downloading games.
You can read our in-depth review for a more detailed breakdown of the device. We also put the headset through its paces from the perspective of a strictly hardcore console gamer. But before getting started, read these tips for setup that may not be widely known, such as how to improve the tracking with a hidden setup menu and how to mitigate light interference.
Generally, our verdict is that this is the beginning of the future of gaming — but we don’t expect it to fully replace traditional console games. Most other people tend to agree with us.
Before we get much farther, it’s important to state that you will need a PlayStation Camera to use the headset, which is not included in the core device package. There is a launch bundle that includes it, but if you already have the PlayStation Camera that launched with the PS4 or have bought one since, you’re fine. Either version works the same. And it should be known that you do not need to place the Camera on or even near the TV. The Camera tracks your headset and controllers, at which point the TV is only useful for the other people in the room. It can be turned off or facing the other direction — all that matters is the Camera.
Additionally, some games utilize the Move controllers to enhance the experience, but the tracking performance leaves a bit to be desired. Most games will work just fine with a standard DualShock 4, but others may require or be improved by using the Move controllers. Games like Job Simulator, Batman, and The London Heist on PS VR Worlds come to mind immediately.
Regardless, if you do find yourself having issues with the tracking, you can try a few things. First, turn off the lights and close your window blinds/curtains. Second, sit approximately 5-feet away from the Camera. Then, if it’s still acting funny, try recalibrating everything.
And finally, it’s worth noting that you can use all of your PS4’s functionality inside the headset as well, even if it isn’t VR content. This is called Cinematic Mode and it creates a large floating rectangle theater experience. This way you can access the Home screen, play non-VR games, watch movies and videos, and a whole lot else all while still wearing the headset. It’s a great feature that also doubles as a second monitor. My wife can watch TV while I play PS4 inside the headset, for example.
Everything You Need to Know About the PS VR Launch Games
There are already lots of games available for the PS VR. Many of them are primarily available digitally, but there are plenty that can be purchased as physical copies as well. Some of the biggest titles available on day one include Rigs, an intensely competitive first-person shooter, Battlezone, which is a cooperative tank combat game, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, an on-rails shooter with a heavy dose of terrifying horror elements, Rez Infinite, which is a trippy, psychedelic resurrection of the classic franchise, the pulse-pounding rhythm game Thumper, and the fast, realistic racing game, Driveclub VR. All of those games mentioned, except Thumper, are exclusively available on PlayStation VR and cannot be played anywhere else.
But that’s not all. Here is a full list of a whopping 13 different launch games we’ve reviewed for you so far:
- PlayStation VR Worlds
- Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
- Batman: Arkham VR
- Driveclub VR
- Rez Infinite
- Wayward Sky
- Tumble VR
- Bound VR
- Here They Lie
This isn’t a game and it’s not a review, but the free animated short film, Allumette, also released today and is absolutely worth a watch. Just be prepared to cry.
Confused about why a certain game hasn’t been reviewed yet? Chances are we are working on it or it isn’t ready yet. EVE: Valkyrie is being reviewed, for example, we just got codes late and it takes some time. Robinson: The Journey is looking great, but it’s not out until next month. Resident Evil 7 isn’t until next year. Same with Farpoint. And so on, and so on.
However, you can see a rundown of 50 different titles — including our hands-on impressions in many cases — in our big ‘50 Days of PS VR’ countdown from the past two months. Over that timeframe, we spotlighted one game per day until the headset finally launched today. There are lots outlined in that series that you can’t play quite yet.
Anything Else You Want to Know?
That just about does it. If you can’t find what you need in one of the dozens of articles we linked above, then I’m baffled. However, feel free to check out Sony’s official Ultimate FAQ post for more details, and also scope out this list of Tips & Tricks from the PlayStation site as well.
You can also watch an hour-long livestream that we did yesterday afternoon playing a bunch of launch games and answering questions live from viewers. Check out the archived footage below:
How are you enjoying your PS VR so far? And if you don’t have one yet, which games or experiences have you the most excited?