Hey Harvey!

Posted on Oct 19th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (slackur)
Posted under PSVR 2017, VR


Pic from PlayStation Universe

Virtual Reality gaming in 2017 is in a bit of a strange place.  After the Oculus Rift re-ignited VR interest a few years ago, all of a sudden it felt (as least to me) that a once-promised futuristic technology was suddenly right around the corner.  It was as if Toyota announced a flying car that could be purchased next year.  Fast-forward a bit and even your phone can get a goofy attachment and transport you into a limited VR experience.  Along comes Sony whose VR specs notably lagged behind the big PC names, yet it offered a comparative product for a home console millions already owned.   





And here we are, a year after the PSVR release.  In a sales development that seems to have surprised even Sony, their PSVR has sold about twice as many units as their nearest competitors (Rift and Vive) combined, easily making them the market leader.  The PSVR in 2017 occupies a weird status; obviously Sony doesn't consider it a failure in the league of their abandoned Vita, or Wonderbook, or 3D Blu-Rays and games, etc.  Yet VR hasn't caught the mass-market sales or attention of must-have tech like cell phones, HDTV, or a Wii.  Neither a Kinect nor an iPod, VR is bigger than a niche, but hardly mainstream.  Most tech analysts at this point consider current-gen VR to simply be a needed stepping-stone for the next generation or two of VR where wireless, cheap headsets with tons of content and easy device integration will push it into the same public adoption range as 4K HD and Hybrid cars.

That's all fine and good, but what about now?  Christmas is coming, Black Friday speculation is building, and many a gamer wants to know if it would be worth having a big box under the tree containing a helmet from Daft Punk.


Pic nabbed from consequenceofsound

My thoughts?  Well, we picked up PSVR on launch day in part because consumer-level VR sounded neat but mostly because we were excited to jump on a particular idea.  I had read about people bringing in PC VR kits into hospitals and setting them up to let kids and adults with serious illness (i.e. trapped in bed for weeks or months) have a little escape.  It was a concept right up my interests, and my Beloved and I had hoped to put together a similar kit with the PSVR and see about bringing it to hospitals in our area.

So far that hasn't panned out for a myriad of reasons.  Some legal, some technical, and some practical.  One of our first and greatest problems immediately emerged as I tried out DriveClub VR; trying not to throw up.  I knew I would be a great test case for "VR Sickness," the nausea and disorientation VR is known to generate for many folks.  I have to play FPS games in "southpaw" or I literally get sick.  I never finished Sonic Adventure because the game occasionally made me queasy.  I can't even ride the spinning Tea Cup at Disney without Dramamine.  If anyone could test how far VR has developed in overcoming lunch-losing, that would be me.


In the "Spirit" of the season... Pic from TechRadar.

And a number of PSVR games are unplayable for me, including the aforementioned DriveClub VR, as well as Dirt Rally and Robinson: The Journey.  Some were playable after short bursts to "build up my VR legs," such as BattleZone and Eve: Valkyrie.  Happily, many that I suspected to be problematic were just fine, including the Star Wars: Battlefront VR mission, Thumper, and Polybius.  Yet in the end, this process has proven a sad point.  if I, a reasonably healthy adult can easily get motion sick, what are the chances for some poor soul in a hospital?  (Keeping in mind a common side-effect for many medications is nausea, vertigo, and increased motion sickness!)

At the same time, I've kept up with other groups who have had a few successes and many failures in trying to bring VR and goodwill to those who can't get around.  Unfortunately the legal issues and grey areas concerning rights, content, parental and guardian consent as well as medical consent, and even just the setup space have all worked to discourage our project.  We haven't given up, but sadly for now our own personal attempt is on indefinite hold. 

So what about us?  Have we and our constantly rotating motley crew of guests enjoyed this expensive toy at home?  Simply put, yes!  PSVR has been a ton of fun!  While there is arguably no killer app, at this point there are so many fun games and experiences for it that I have no regrets with ours.  Even with a very social home, we've enjoyed the asymmetrical multiplayer games or just swapping the headset around with guests.

While most of the games for the system are designed to be shorter experiences, they tend to be priced accordingly.  Short-burst gaming has been my lifestyle for years, so it fits me pretty well.  While there are an inordinate amount of shooting gallery titles (think FPS proliferation in modern gaming) there are also puzzle games (Darknet in particular is great), award-winning narrative experiences, lots of racing titles, rhythm games, mech simulators, a cat simulator, third person adventure games, RTS and strategy games, more pong variants than any generation since the 2600, sports and carnival games, pinball, online quiz shows, roller coaster sims, a VR version of Paperboy, a hilarious Star Trek finger-pointing simulator, Tekken for some reason, old-school dungeon crawlers, flight and space sims, multiplayer arena games, god-sims, many horror/jump-scare games, and even a neat and interesting modern take on the classic board game Clue (The Invisible Hours).  Personally I'd have bought it just for Rez Infinite, which did not disappoint and felt like a truly realized vision of the original game. 

There are also YouTube-like services for free videos that feature lots of content, from concerts to cliff-jumping.  Also free are dozens of mini-movies and short-stories.  I can finally watch our 3D Blu-rays and though the resolution is lower than our HDTVs, the theater mode (for non-VR content) has been a nifty feature.  The overall amount of available content is pleasantly surprising and new stuff comes out every week. 

I don't play it alone very often but when I do I'm still amazed at the immersion of the technology, and how different gaming is while using it.  Personally I think the current library of software is substantial enough to justify owning one. As of now there are also over 60 games slated for release within a year and a slight hardware revision for the holidays.  In short, PSVR will still be kicking for at least a little while longer and we are glad to have it as part of our entertainment rotation.

In the end, most will see PSVR as a prohibitively expensive novelty with limited appeal and, like most gaming peripherals, a limited shelf-life.  Well, of course it is!  And I'm admittedly biased, considering I still play our Sega CD, Super Scope, Game Boy Player, Motion Plus, VMUs, Move, and on and on.  I'm generally always the oddball apologist.  Yet I'd suggest not overlooking PSVR especially if you already have a PS4 and catch it on a good sale (make sure to grab the camera too!)  It is rare that such an add-on gets this level of support and the novelty has this many layers of depth.  The key to deciding if PSVR is worth owning really comes down to looking at it not so much as a peripheral, but a new system altogether.  Like any video game, with the right audience it is a ton of fun, but some folks just won't get into it.  That being said, so far everyone who has come over and tried it has had a great time!

Smiley

PS:

The PSVR is a really interesting footnote for collectors.  A buddy and I have built up quite a collection between us and have found that several PSVR games may be digitally available to most regions, but physical copies on disc are often only in particular regions or retailer exclusive.  That isn't news for the modern system game collector, but PSVR physical disc availability seems even more eclectic.




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Comments
 
PSVR to me is like the Powerglove It's something I want to try and like the idea of but every time I save enough money to purchase it I spend it on something else...

I will eventually buy one. Thanks for the article!
 
I have one and got it at a fantastic price.  I would say pay $250 for the base model.  That's the sweet spot.  The technology is great and works well.  I haven't had any issue with motion sickness...yet.  A few things to consider, though.  I'm not a digital guy and most of the content is digital, not may physical releases sadly.  Also, I find that a lot of the digital content is overpriced.  A lot of it costs $10-$15 for about an hour of gameplay/experience with no replayability.  You mentioned dungeon crawlers, the only one I know of is Crystal Rift.  What other ones are there?
 
@shaggy: Sorry for the delayed response!  I thought DWVR was a dungeon crawler, but I was mistaken; more of an action/arena shooter.  So yeah, sadly Crystal Rift is the only one I know of for PSVR.
 
@slackur: Have you played it?  The one review I read wasn't too favorable, saying good premise bad execution.  If it hits $5 I will probably get it.
 
I bought the VR on launch and haven't regretted it.  Seeing people play Batman: Arkham VR for the first time is always great, as is throwing unsuspecting players into the Kitchen demo.
 
I really want one if only so I can use it as a giant TV screen but it's just too expensive for what it is and the main game I play, War Thunder, doesn't look like it will ever be compatible.

Saying that if one ever comes up really cheap I'll get it.
 
You mention that there is a YouTube like video service, but can you use it on actual 360 degree YouTube video? How about other web content? I can imagine Google Earth could be a neat distraction with something like this.
 
@shaggy:Haven't tried it yet, read the same.

@Duke.Togo:Yep, 360 YouTube works on PSVR, as well as Littlstar, Within, and Hulu.  Video quality varies, of course.

Just imported Syndrome, excited to try it out. Smiley

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