PSVR Review Round-Up: A Comfortable Headset Plagued With Stuttering Issues
The embargo has lifted and reviews are starting to roll in for PlayStation VR, the first mainstream VR headset that attaches to a console, the PS4, rather than a PC. The hope for Sony is that the PSVR will make virtual reality go mainstream, expanding beyond its niche enthusiast audience. So how is it?
Pretty good? Sort of?
The reviews coming in aren’t exactly glowing, but many do have praise to dole out. None of this is too much of a surprise given that people have been testing PSVR for ages now. I do not have a review unit myself, and I’m still contemplating whether or not I think it’s worthwhile to get one, so I am reading reviews like everyone else today. It seems like a hard sell for me, someone who already owns and rarely uses an Oculus Rift, and not too much about these reviews are inspiring a purchase.
The good news is that most people seem to agree that in terms of the headset alone, PSVR is the most comfortable experience on the market, just in terms of how the thing feels attached to your face.
“Looks aside, PlayStation VR is ridiculously comfortable. Your average virtual reality headset is strapped on like a ski mask, which ensures a snug fit but can also squeeze your face unpleasantly,” says The Verge’s review.
The PSVR’s other selling points are pretty obvious. It’s far cheaper than all other non-mobile-phone-based mainstream headsets at $400, and you are much more likely to have a PS4 in your home than a VR-ready gaming PC. Also, there’s just the general fact that if this is the first time you’re experiencing virtual reality, that alone is often unmistakably cool. Given that the other headsets are expensive and require also-expensive PCs, this will be many people’s first experience with consumer VR.
But then we get into the problems, namely that when compared to the Rift and Vive, PSVR has some issues with interface stuttering, and even in some cases, nausea, even among VR veterans. We saw a bit of this at E3 as the press reported feeling sick during a Resident Evil demo on PSVR, but today, some are reporting similar feelings when using the headset, and Sony itself recommends breaks every 30 minutes at the least when playing.
The stuttering issues are pretty serious and widely reported across a number of different games, the problem being blamed on the PS Move and PS Camera, very old pieces of tech that have been conscripted for use with the headset.
This was best demonstrated in Kotaku’s review, which showed a player trying to read text on a clipboard in Arkham, and having the words jutter around despite the fact that the controller was being held perfectly still. That GIF can be seen here.
“There’s also the issue of what I think of as “persistent controller shudder,” says Kirk Hamilton. “In most PSVR games, you can look down and see either your DualShock controller or, if you’re playing a Move game, some sort of in-game representation of the Move controllers. In every game I’ve played, my in-game controllers are constantly moving even if I’m holding them perfectly still. It’s as though my character has the shakes.”
Hamilton goes on to make the point about how people might be saying that with Sony’s support, VR can go mainstream, but when using PSVR, you are literally using examples of tech (the Move controllers and the camera) that proves that Sony often does not support new tech when it isn’t successful out of the gate, so that notion may not be rooted in fact.
Above all else, there seems to be a lot of confusion about who exactly PlayStation VR is for. VR enthusiasts will likely prefer their technically superior Vive or Rift over PSVR. Console players are not going to be used to very, very short games that require breaks every 30 minutes, played on a piece of hardware that costs as much as their console itself (not to mention the attractive PS4 Pro is being released at $400 a month from now). It’s kind of a hard sell on both of those fronts.
Granted, Sony has such a large install base that they will likely sell a few million PSVRs this year regardless, but it’s hard to know if this can actually be “the moment” for VR when the Rift and Vive have already come and have not produced such a spark. PSVR is more accessible, but not without its problems, and seems to feel representative of tech that still isn’t quite ready for prime time yet.
I’m still debating this purchase, but from everything I’ve seen today, I’m not convinced this is a must-have piece of hardware. Will you be picking one up?