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PlayStation VR2 hands-on: a major upgrade

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Sony’s PlayStation VR2 may not be out until next year, but after months of dripping news, the company finally let the press release their eyes and hands with the VR headset. Even after just a little time with the device, it looks like the new headset will be a major upgrade from the original PSVR in almost every way.

Let’s start with the hardware, which we already know a lot about. For starters, it has a much more modern look that closely matches the design language of the PS5, and you only need to connect it to your PS5 with a single USB-C cable. The headset itself has an OLED screen, offers a 110-degree field of view and 4K HDR, and supports frame rates of 90Hz and 120Hz for smoother gameplay. Unlike its predecessor, you don’t need to set up external cameras to track your movements; instead, the headset has four cameras built into the front of the display. The new spherical PSVR2 Sense controllers include adaptive triggers and haptic feedback (like the DualSense) and can also detect finger touches.

Here’s the headphones.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

But how does it feel to actually play games on the PSVR2, with all its new bells and whistles? The actual PSVR2 hardware was a joy to use. Like most modern VR headsets, you can adjust the headband to make sure everything rests comfortably on your noggin, and you can adjust the inter-pupillary distance (IPD) so that the actual lenses in the headset are the right distance for you. The screens looked great, although sometimes things felt a little blurry around the edges, which could also happen with the first PSVR.

Sony’s new Sense controllers were a definite improvement. The original PSVR relied on Sony’s Move controllers – which, as you may recall, looked like funky wands with glowing balls at the end – and they had a few issues. The original PSVR setup sometimes had trouble tracking the glowing balls, which could ruin the immersive experience of VR, and the first version of the Move controller used a Mini USB port for charging. Sony thankfully addressed that last complaint by switching to Micro USB (so maybe it wasn’t a huge upgrade).

The Sense controllers, on the other hand (pun intended), seem to be much better. The haptics were excellent, which is perhaps not too surprising if you’ve felt Sony’s excellent haptics in the DualSense. The touch detection was a very useful way to interact with VR worlds. Sure, you can pick up weapons, but it also allows you to bend your fingers and interact with objects in a more natural way. It wasn’t perfect, nor was it available in every game we tried, but when it worked it added an extra layer of immersion.

A close-up shot of the PSVR2's Sense controller in front of your left hand.

The Sense controller.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

A person holds the left and right PSVR2 sensor controllers in their hands.

And this is what it looks like to actually hold the Sense controllers.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The PSVR2’s single-cable setup was much appreciated. The original PSVR required an extra box and a whole bunch of cables to work, so connecting one cable directly to a PS5 is a much less complicated solution. (Although it’s not quite as nice as a fully self-contained wireless headset like the Meta Quest series.) And most of the time, VR games require you to take a break every now and then so you don’t get a throbbing migraine. But that wasn’t much of a problem with the PSVR 2. You can spend quite a bit of time without feeling the tension.

As for the games themselves, we have to try a few titles: Horizon Call of the Mountaina version of Resident Evil Village optimized for PSVR2, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Chapter 2and the newly announced Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge Enhanced Edition.

Horizon Call of the Mountain was the most technically advanced – probably because it was built from the ground up for the PSVR2. The sense of scale in the game is great, and watching a gigantic mechanical dino walk right over your head felt like visiting a post apocalyptic Jurassic Park. Rock climbing was great fun too, provided you could resist the urge to look down at the precipices below. The new Sense controllers vibrate when you touch objects, so it added an extra layer of physicality when you draw your bow and shoot an arrow. We were also very impressed with how much thought has gone into building an interactive world. Can you just… break plates and throw boxes off a cliff? yep! Can you pick up a hammer and hit a gong, even if there’s no plot reason to do so? Also yes!

A screenshot of a player holding a bow and arrow in the PSVR2 game Horizon Call of the Mountain.

A bow and arrow in Horizon Call of the Mountain.
Image: Sony

The other games were fun too. Resident Evil Village had a spooky atmosphere, and it’s justifiably terrifying when the undead all come in your face. (Poor Ethan Winters, he’s really going through it.) Meanwhile, you can get exactly creative how you knock walkers in The Walking Dead: Saint & Sinners Chapter 2. Sure, cutting through it with chainsaws is fun, but we highly recommend making zombie shish kebabs using a katana.

One thing we don’t know yet? Costs; Sony did not share that as part of the hands-on event. But with Meta’s new high-end Quest headset on the horizon (a prototype leaked this weekend) and Apple’s long-rumored “Reality” headset apparently close to launch, Sony will hopefully release the PSVR2 headset. competitive prices (perhaps around $400?) encourage PlayStation gamers to buy one.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

We can’t wait to re-experience Sony’s new take on VR. The “early 2023” release window makes it seem like we won’t have to wait too long until next year to finally play more — and we’re crossing our fingers that buying the hardware won’t break the bank.

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