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We thought 2015 was the year of virtual reality, or VR, but it turns out that things are only just beginning. In 2016, a number of companies will be outing their virtual reality devices, and one of them is Sony.
The company’s PlayStation VR headset (previously Sony Project Morpheus) will likely be the first device to plug directly into a console, in this case, the PlayStation 4.
Sony already has a gaggle of titles lined up for the device’s launch, but what should you — the consumer — know about the next advancement in gaming?
We give you a crash course below.
Specifications considered, PlayStation VR is an impressive piece of kit
Featuring a 1920×1080 screen in a 5.7-inch form factor, it’s about as dense as the Huawei Mate 7 held about a centimeter in front of your face. Although that sounds awful, there’s a 100-degree field of vision thanks to the lenses. More interestingly, the screen refreshes at 120Hz — about double the norm of the average PC monitor. This means that images are smoother, even though the PlayStation 4 can’t exactly run titles at 120 frames per second.
Yes, the PlayStation 4 will drive the PlayStation VR
Although the PlayStation VR is being billed as a separate gaming system altogether, it will require the PlayStation 4 to run. Connection between the two is provided courtesy of a box, that also features an HDMI out port, so others can see what the wearer’s seeing on screen. And although the PlayStation 4 can’t run titles at high frame rates, the AMD processor at its heart does support 3D processing, making it ideal for VR.
It will likely retail for the price of a ‘new gaming system’
Here’s where it gets awkward for prospective buyers. According to Bloomberg, the PlayStation VR will be “priced as a new gaming platform,” according to Sony Entertainment CEO, Andrew House.
That’s bad news because you’ll need a PlayStation 4 and a PlayStation VR to run these games, and not regarding additional accessories. A new gaming system, at least if launch prices for the current-gen consoles are considered, will likely be around US$400, but that is still unconfirmed. Still, we can’t imagine that it will cost less than R4000 when it launches next year and if it ever makes it to South Africa, largely thanks to our Rand’s exchange rate and our import taxation laws.
You can compete with PlayStation VR wearers without a headset
Here’s an interesting idea. The device will allow users to compete with non-wearers in some game titles, thanks to the PlayStation VR’s unwarped output to an HDMI-enabled TV.We’re not totally sure how many PlayStation VR headsets can connect with a PlayStation 4, but it’s clear that Sony’s thinking about more than just the headset wearer, which is a positive step.
And if you’re wondering just how this might work, here’s an excerpt from Engadget’s interview with Shuhei Yoshida, Sony Computer Entertainment’s president about the possible social uses of VR:
Japan Studio has made a new demo called Monster Escape. So that’s a five-player game; one versus four. One being the person wearing Morpheus. And if you’re in Morpheus, you become the Monster. And the four people holding the DualShock and looking at the TV and playing the game like a regular game [are] against the monster. The only difference is that the Monster is played by you. So in your view, you look down and there are four small robots running around and trying to shoot and throw something at you. … So that’s the gameplay.
There are a number of games already in development
Sony has made sure to punt the PlayStation VR as hard as it can at the PlayStation Experience event in San Francisco this weekend, unveiling a number of titles exclusive to the device. These include Ubisoft’s Eagle Flight, Modern Zombie Taxi Co. from SCE’s Santa Monica studio, and Double Fine’s Psychonauts 2, just to name a few. Other current titles will also support VR, including Drive Club, Project CARS and Final Fantasy XIV.
Feature image: Marco Verch via Flickr