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After years of anticipation, Sony’s PlayStation VR 2 headset is just weeks away from landing in the hands of PS5 owners. I got a chance to try it out at CES 2023 ahead of its February 15 launch, and can say that the future of console virtual reality is looking bright.
The PlayStation VR 2’s improved controls, tracking and visual fidelity make a strong impression right out of the gate, and Horizon Call of the Mountain is shaping up to be a fun and immersive launch title. But with a high asking price and no backwards compatibility, will Sony’s long-anticipated headset be worth it? Here’s what I think so far after a quick 20-minute demo.
• Product: Sony PlayStation VR 2
• Price: From $550
• Launch date: February 22 (available for pre-order via Sony)
• Why it’s worth your attention: The PlayStation VR 2 is looking like a vast improvement over one of our best VR headset picks in the PlayStation VR, offering much better performance and a more streamlined setup process.
Built exclusively for the PS5, the PlayStation VR 2 is a top-to-bottom improvement over the PS4-based PlayStation VR. The PSVR 2 has a much slicker look that mimics the design of the PlayStation 5 itself, with new, spherical Sense controllers that feel more ergonomic than the older Move controllers — while also offering the same advanced, detailed haptics that we love on the standard PS5 DualSense controller.
But perhaps the biggest upgrade is the PSVR 2’s internal camera sensors, which should solve many of the setup headaches we had with the original model. Whereas the previous PlayStation required you to have a PlayStation Camera attached to track your controller movements (not to mention a clunky processor box that powered the whole thing), the new headset promises a seamless plug-and-play experience with a single cable.
The PlayStation VR 2 felt comfortable and lightweight as soon as I got it on my head, and I never got the urge to adjust it throughout my roughly 20-minute demo. As I did some quick calibration to get ready for my demo, I was impressed by how quickly and accurately the headset tracked my eye movements — something that made it easy to navigate menus without having to move the joystick around. After a few minutes of setup, it was time to venture into the wilds of Horizon Call of The Mountain, a first-person action game set in the same post-apocalyptic sci-fi universe as Sony’s popular Horizon games on PS4 and PS5.
As soon as I began my journey as a disgraced soldier being taken to his destination by boat, I was immediately struck by the improved visual fidelity of the PlayStation VR. My crewmates looked as lifelike and detailed as they would on a PS5 game, and I couldn’t help but swing my head around as I marveled at the lush greenery all around us — and the towering robotic beasts looming from above. This immersive experience is all made possible thanks to the PSVR 2’s improved 2000 x 2040 OLED HDR display, which is a notable step up from the 960 x 1080 resolution on the original model.
Once things went awry and it was time to go into survival mode, the headset’s new Sense controllers proved impressive. Everything from the bump of my boat to the tug of my bow and arrow was met with its own distinct level of feedback, which made it easier to get enveloped in the action. Climbing up mountains felt especially tense and thrilling, to the point where my real-life hands started to sweat as I worried about falling off a steep cliff. Fortunately, the game and controller’s hand tracking was accurate enough that I only made a few slips (and thankfully didn’t fall down in real life).
Call of the Mountain is shaping up to be a solid launch title for the new headset, offering an intuitive mix of traversal and combat — and no doubt plenty of narrative easter eggs for serious Horizon fans. I walked the game’s treacherous trails by holding down two buttons and moving my actual arms (something that definitely felt like a small workout), though you’ll also have the option to walk around via standard controller inputs if you don’t feel like breaking a sweat. I also liked how interactive everything in the environment was, as I could pick up, play with and toss every wooden box, piece of fruit and random tambourine laying around the wasteland.
My only real nitpick was the combat — while drawing my bow and slinging arrows felt intuitive, it took a while for me to accurately land shots. This was especially true during a big boss battle that required me to dodge and shoot on the fly, though I imagine it’s the kind of thing I’ll get used to after more game time.
The PlayStation VR 2 makes a strong first impression, pumping out immersive 4K gameplay within a design that improves on its predecessor in just about every way. Horizon Call of the Mountain is shaping up to be a nice showpiece for the headset, and I’m eager to see how other titles like Resident Evil Village and Among Us VR run on it.
However, all of that power doesn’t come cheap. The PSVR 2 starts at $550 (there’s also a $600 bundle that includes Call of the Mountain), and requires you to own a $400 to $500 PS5 — a console that’s still not exactly easy to come by. The headset isn’t backwards compatible with PSVR 1 games, though some titles will offer free upgrades to the PSVR 2 version. And while the launch lineup looks somewhat promising (we can’t wait to play Resident Evil Village and Gran Turismo 7 in VR), it also consists of lots of games that have been available on other headsets for quite a while, such as Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge and Beat Saber.
Still, the PlayStation VR 2’s promising performance and improved design alone have me excited to spend more time with it. We’ll be putting it through its full paces closer to launch next month, so stay tuned for our in-depth review.