PlayStation VR 2: the spec analysis of a shot in the arm for virtual reality

PlayStation VR 2: the spec analysis of a shot in the arm for virtual reality

PlayStation VR 2

We've known for some time now that the announcement was in the air. Initial press coverage and control images were quickly accompanied by spec leaks leading up to Jim Ryan's official announcement himself at CES 2022, complete with more details on the PlayStation Blog. PlayStation VR 2 is now official and it looks downright exciting. In fact, from our point of view, high-end gaming VR generally needed a breath of fresh air in a world where Oculus Quest 2 reigns supreme, and the success of PlayStation VR 2 is our best chance.

Specs reveal a headset that pushes the boundaries in several directions by building on the successes of the first PSVR, radically improving screen quality, enhancing immersion and freeing the platform from the complex set-up that had proved frustrating for so many owners. of PS4. Regarding this last point, PSVR2 should literally be plug and play: there are no external boxes, no external cameras, no mix of various USB and HDMI cables (all routed through USB-C) for a headset that should simply plug directly into the console and ready to play.

The absence of an external camera or any other kind of extra tracking equipment is due to a Sony borrowing a page from the Oculus book using inside-out tracking to ensure a more immediate and intuitive with four internal cameras used for this task. We still expect the player to have to set up a play area at an early calibration stage but beyond that it should all be smooth as oil. Perhaps the best news is that the VR controllers seem to closely follow the basic design of Oculus Touch, the best VR interface on the market. These controllers connect via Bluetooth and we expect to see them included with the headset. Such a choice could have cost implications but based on the specs it seems Sony is spared no expense.

Rich Leadbetter, John Linneman and Alex Battaglia of Digital Foundry have their say on the PlayStation VR 2 reveal.

Watch on YouTube. PlayStation VR 2 PlayStation VR PlayStation 5 System PlayStation 4 / PS4 Pro Display Type OLED / HDR - 90 / 120Hz OLED / SDR - 90 / 120Hz Resolution 2000x2040 Per Eye 960x1080 Per Eye Field of View 110 Degrees 100 Degrees Sensors Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Sensors Proximity Infrared Accelerometer, Gyroscope Four cameras for tracking the headset and controller - two infrared for tracking the eyes One (external) Feedback Motor Internal None USB-C interface USB / HDMI through external box This Sony will begin to glimpse already from the inner screen. After the original PSVR's 960x1080 per eye resolution, Sony has nearly quadrupled the resolution to 2000x2040 per eye in this headset. Not only that but Sony has decided to still use OLED displays while many headset manufacturers (including Oculus) have "downgraded" to LCDs. The OLED guarantees excellent contrast and also opens the door to HDR support, something we believe is very important in a headset designed for the general public. There is no indication as to how important HDR quality will be - for example no maximum brightness level has been revealed but it's still an exciting development.

It's also good that Sony has kept the same 90Hz and 120Hz support offered by the first PSVR, a choice that gives life to a certain range of options. Developers can aim for 90fps (a very good choice) or push hard for 120fps. In any case, the 120Hz option also opens up to 60 fps games that can then take advantage of the technique called "time warp" to make everything run more smoothly. Basically while the game runs at 60fps, the actual movement occurs at double that refresh rate based on the movement of your head.

Half-Life Alyx remains the gold standard for high-end VR gaming. quality and PlayStation VR 2 could guarantee a brilliant port of this unmissable experience.

Watch on YouTube. Sony has also included a single engine in the design of the PSVR2 to convey (hopefully) some sort of feedback to users. The PlayStation Blog talks about the feeling of having an object moving near the head or the pulsation of an accelerated heartbeat. On top of all this, haptic technology is also built into the new controllers in combination with the adaptive voltage of the triggers. The last point is an element of DualSense that I'm not particularly supportive of (basically I don't think pulling the trigger to shoot has to have friction and I don't think it's particularly fun) but this aspect certainly makes more sense in virtual reality, where to manipulate. objects should convey much more "real" sensations. From a haptic feedback point of view, Sony's work with 3D audio built on the techniques proven on the first PSVR should be perfectly transposed to the new headset.

There are other aspects of the specs that have also drawn. my attention. First of all, the all-important field of view is enlarged to 110 ° compared to about 100 ° on the first PSVR, a fact that places Sony's headset alongside all higher-end PC viewers. Another wonderful surprise is the eye tracking support with the two internal cameras that monitor the pupils to see exactly where we are looking. This aspect goes hand in hand with foveated rendering which is the process that involves rendering the area where the eye is concentrated at a higher resolution with the resolution that instead falls in the peripheral area. It remains to be seen how this will all be implemented, variable rate shading (VRS) should work very well here but second level support for this feature is not there within the PS5 GPU. Alternatively, software support (as seen within the IW8 Call of Duty Engine) could work well even if this technique is not an ideal option for several engines.

Ultimately for the one seen so far the specifications are excellent. Our hopes of much higher quality VR experiences are on the way. The truth is that the proliferation of the Oculus Quest 2 has essentially seen the bulk of developers focus on a mobile-class device at the expense of the capabilities of higher-end hardware. Looking back we were hoping that Half-Life Alyx would usher in a new era of cutting-edge VR experiences but it didn't actually happen. Perhaps the arrival of PSVR2 combined with a larger PS5 installed base could make all the difference in the world.

Here's the short teaser of Horizon Call of the Mountain running on PlayStation 5 and PSVR2.

Watch on YouTube. And honestly launching PSVR2 with a port of Valve's VR masterpiece would be a stroke of genius and would be in the interest of anyone who would like to use this game to send a signal of what an advanced VR system can do. Right now Sony has decided to bring a short teaser of Horizon Call of the Mountain to convey some idea of ​​what PSVR2 will be able to do. A collaboration between Guerrilla Games and Firesprite that leads us to wonder if there is an asset sharing between this VR game and Horizon Forbidden West. While Half Life Alyx's true "built from scratch" approach would be ideal, secondary modes for VR or smaller games that take advantage of the extreme quality of existing AAA game assets seem like a good approach to guaranteeing not too much quality titles. expensive to develop.

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Ultimately what has been revealed about PSVR2 for now is exciting and advanced enough to make us wonder how much Sony will pay for the full package considering how competitive it is to the best of PC hardware available on the market. A price of $ 399 seems optimistic while $ 499 would be on the edge. On the other hand, Oculus Quest 2 currently retails for $ 299 (€ 349 as an official price for us), has VR controllers included, and integrates a complete mini-computer, which PSVR2 doesn't need, so maybe there's the margin to offer high-quality hardware like Sony's at an affordable price.

The other most important question mark is backward compatibility with the current PSVR library. On the one hand it must be remembered that PlayStation 5 is already hardware compatible with the first PSVR so you will be able to continue playing those titles. However it would be great to be able to play those video games on the more modern headset. The required 90Hz / 120Hz support is there while on the other hand the total revamp in tracking, coupled with very, very different controllers suggest it might be slightly too much to expect old games to work on the new kit. This is a device built with the future of VR in mind and we really can't wait to see what Sony has in mind for us.

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