Available at launch for PSVR 2, Unplugged is one of the more curious titles to arrive on Sony’s new VR headset.
We’re big fans of Unplugged, which launched in October 2021 on Quest as a hand tracking-exclusive game that built the technology into the very core of the experience. It brought the fantasy of air guitar to life, merging Guitar Hero gameplay principles with cutting edge technology that allows you to shred to your heart’s content in virtual reality with no controllers, just your hands.
It was a truly fantastic concept and the implementation has only got better since launch on Quest. Thanks to updates from Meta improving hand tracking in the years since release, Anotherway have not only been able to improve the experience and reliability of Unplugged on Quest, but actually overhaul the maps with increased complexity as well.
It’s one of the most innovative VR experiences on Quest, which at first glance would make a PSVR 2 release good news, right? Well, it’s not so black and white. There’s one key disclaimer – PSVR 2 doesn’t currently support any form of hand tracking.
Booting up Unplugged on PSVR 2, your only option is to use the PSVR 2 Sense controllers instead. This implements a workaround controller-based solution that’s also used on the PC VR release and has since been added as an option for Quest as well. The end result is something that remains engaging but feels a little less innovative and a little more ‘Guitar Hero but in VR’.
On Easy and Normal difficulties, you’ll only see two colors coming down towards the fret – one small blue note, mapped to the trigger, and a larger cyan note mapped to the grip button. The maps still work the same way, just with less note combinations – you’ll still perform slides and have to correctly hit single and double notes in the right succession to build combos.
On Hard difficulty, the complexity goes up. You’re able to twist your wrist up and down to change between two sets of notes – your standard ‘neutral’ wrist position is for the blue-cyan combination, but twisting your wrist down towards the floor (or, for guitar players, towards the higher strings) will switch to a yellow and pink combination of notes, also mapped to the trigger and grip buttons.
Unlike Unplugged with hand tracking, which has four notes at all times and therefore many combinations, this system only really lets you play two notes at once, with the added difficulty of switching between colors. You’ll have to quickly adjust your wrist between notes to ensure you’ve activated the right combination of colors before strumming. Taken on its own merit, it’s a decent system that’s certainly playable and still quite engaging to use. Mechanically, it makes the game feel closer to Guitar Hero – in that you’re using a peripheral with buttons instead of fulfilling that air guitar dream – but it does work.
All the other boons of Unplugged remain in tact too. There’s still the absolutely banger selection of classic rock hits, which significantly helps sell the game in the absence of hand tracking. Plus, visually it looks fantastic and while the visual upgrade isn’t life-changing, you can tell that the added power of PSVR 2 gives the game a nice boost – everything looks really crisp. In terms of performance on PSVR 2, the songs I tried were all rock solid, as you would expect.
Of course, some of the magic of the original concept gets lost in translation. At the end of a level, for example, your controller hands automatically display the horns for your to hype up the audience with. Again, it works, but lacks some of that immersion that came from physically making the horns with your real hands. Likewise, strumming with controllers is functional but a bit conceptually odd without real hands. You’re told to pick up and hold the guitar pick, but in reality you just press the trigger on it to begin the song and then strum with your virtual controller hands, no buttons needed. It doesn’t feel quite the same as pinching your thumb and index together and precisely aiming for the strings, but it gets the job done.
For a game that started as a hand tracking-focused release, it’s somewhat surprising that it still feels engaging to play on PSVR 2. No, it’s not quite the same and it feels a little less unique when played with controllers, but for people wanting a Guitar Hero-like experience on PSVR 2, it’s a good option with an absolutely amazing selection of rock songs.
Unplugged is available now on PSVR 2 for $24.99. You can read our full Unplugged review for Quest here.