Virtual Reality is a fantastic experience for nearly anyone who gives it a shot, as it transports you to a different world, making you a part of the video games you know and love. Unfortunately, the prospect of playing VR with a computer is an expensive one, as you need to drop at least $600 on a headset and have a computer that can handle the load that VR puts out, which can easily eclipse another $1,000. This is where Sony’s PlayStation VR comes in. The PSVR headset uses the existing PS4 game console as its base, and the price of the headset starts at $399, making it the most affordable of any major VR headset available. How does it stack up to the competition?
In the Box
If you were to open the PSVR box, you could be forgiven for thinking that the device and packaging were developed by Apple. This is because the box itself is incredibly impressive, featuring a stylized hinge and boxes that separate all the major components. Of course, it’s what’s inside the box that counts, and Sony has certainly delivered here.
The box includes the PSVR headset, earbuds for 3D audio, a controller cable for volume, HDMI and USB cables, a power unit, and a breakout box that takes and processes the signal for the VR games, taking a bit of the load off of the aging PS4 hardware.
All headsets come with a demo disc that lets you preview a series of the launch games being offered, and those that plunk down $499 for the deluxe bundle will also get the game PlayStation VR Worlds, which has an assortment of mini-games as well as two PlayStation Move Controllers (which serve as almost digital hands) and a camera that tracks the headset’s movement.
When you consider that the PSVR headset is $200 less than it’s nearest competitor and $400 less than the top-tier model, you can expect some drop-off in terms of device specs. This is certainly true with the display set, as the PSVR has a resolution of 1920×1080 for the screen, or 960×1080 per eye. This contrasts with both the Rift and HTC Vive, which both have 2160×1200 screens that provide 1080×1200 resolution per eye.
With that being said, the PSVR performs quite well in terms of visuals. Due to the fact that the headset has an OLED screen with multiple pixel layers, the dreaded screen door effect is much less apparent with the PSVR than either the Rift or Vive. Furthermore, the PSVR has a higher maximum refresh rate, which is key in keeping players from getting ill while playing.
Another great perk of the Sony headset is that 3D audio is built-in, which furthers the immersion by letting you hear sounds to the front, back, and all-around you. This is matched by the Rift, but interestingly not by the Vive. If you strap on a wireless PlayStation Gold headset, you can expect an awesome experience in terms of sound that I haven’t seen from any other platform.
The PSVR is also the most comfortable of the three major headsets that I’ve tried, as weight is distributed around the crown of your head, despite the fact that the PSVR headset is the heaviest of the three.
A great headset would be nothing if the games provided for it are junk, but Sony and the assortment of third-party developers making VR games for the platform have stepped up to the plate and hit a solid triple, as there are truly some great games to play with the PSVR. I recommend all players check out EVE: Valkyrie, The Heist (part of PlayStation VR Worlds), and Batman Arkham VR for your first sets of games. Other classics are Thumper and Rez: Ultimate, which bring pulse and some crazy light sources to your eyes.
In my eyes, the PlayStation VR headset is without a doubt the best overall VR experience on the market today. Despite having inferior hardware compared to the other two headsets, the PSVR performs admirably and makes VR feasible to the masses. Make sure to check out the different games for the platform if you buy-in, as most games have demos available on the store. You can buy the PSVR headset starting at $399, with the deluxe bundle going for $499 at retailers near you.