For Australians, PlayStation VR Is The Best Answer We've Got

My relationship with VR has been just that: a relationship. A fucked up love story of sorts.

Looking back now it’s difficult to explain the euphoria I felt when using the Oculus Rift for the first time.

DK1 was clumsy. It was low res. I wanted to barf the second my head and my mouse began moving in a contrary fashion, but it was dizzying. My friends and family, everyone who touched the headset – we were buzzing. This was the future. I was certain of that fact and became a believer instantaneously.

The pure shock of it. I had low expectations for any sort of VR but to see it, to experience it and have it work. Wow. It felt electric. It felt like science fiction.

Fast forward to the final release. I got my hands on a consumer unit and was once again blown away by virtual reality and how far it had come in such a short space. To extend the metaphor, VR and I had moved in together. We were excited with the possibilities. The future seemed like something to run towards.

Honeymoon period.

Now it’s October 2016. I’m unpacking PlayStation VR. It’s a different vibe. The love is still there, but it hovers beneath the slick veneer of routine. We are in love and that will never change. But it’s a Wednesday night, I’m surrounded by cables. The universe is cold and empty and it’s VR’s turn to do the dishes.


Never underestimate our human capacity to take things for granted.

I’m currently using PlayStation VR. When I first used the Oculus Rift I made actual pleasure noises now I’m saying things like, “yeah, this is pretty comfortable.” “You can notice the lower res.”

Once upon a time my family huddled around a VR headset like witches at a cauldron. But right now my brother-in-law is scrolling through memes on Facebook. My wife – I promise you this is fact – is watching Survivor on her mobile phone.

Virtual reality is now just ‘another thing that happens in my house’.

100% my experience is fairly unique, I am happy to admit this. Most houses don’t have a VR headset. For most people – particularly Australians – PlayStation VR will be their first headset. Almost certainly there will be thousands of people who will be blown away by PlayStation VR. That is a beautiful thing, but mark my words: one day you will sit where I now sit. It’s inevitable. It happens with every single piece of technology I’ve ever used and it will happen to everyone who buys a PlayStation VR headset.

You will take take this magical device for granted.


Let’s pivot back to traditional ‘hands-on’ territory.

I like PlayStation VR. It doesn’t provide the objective ‘best’ VR experience available, but it’s absolutely close enough. For Australians the two largest obstacles to VR are access and price. Your best bet at this point is PlayStation VR, particularly if you already own a PlayStation 4. It’s cheap, it’s better than functional. Upon its release you will almost certainly be able to walk into an electronics store and buy it. That strikes me as important.

The PlayStation VR has a lot of cables. A lot. A comical amount of cables. Strangely, this didn’t stop it from being – by a sizeable margin – the most seamless experience I’ve ever had in terms of VR set-up.

That’s another key differentiator: PlayStation VR is unabashedly an attempt at bring VR to the mainstream. It might succeed, it might not, but at least it’s trying to be palatable for an audience outside a single core niche. At a push my parent would be able to set this up. That’s not the case with the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive.

The PlayStation VR headset is comfortable. I wish I was wearing one right now. It’s the easiest to adjust on the fly, it looks fucking cool. You might not think that’s important. It’s important.

The PlayStation Move controllers are okay. Merely okay. They frequently register awkwardly, they judder. They don’t exactly do what you want them to do, but it’s better than nothing – which is where the Oculus Rift is at until the Touch controllers are released.

If you play the wrong thing, or ‘do’ the wrong thing, PlayStation VR might make you feel nauseous. This is also worth mentioning. My ‘barf’ moment came whilst playing RIGS. Too much going on. Aim with your head, but also use the right analogue stick to adjust position. Too much for my puny brain (and my punier stomach).

You’ll notice the low resolution. You might not care, particularly if you haven’t used the Oculus or the Vive, but you will notice. You’ll notice, then you’ll forget and live life like a normal person.

The PlayStation Camera works well. It’s a better solution than the PlayStation Move controllers, particularly for those who already own one. Which is apparently a lot of you.

Again: I like PlayStation VR. It’s cost effective, it’s available and it absolutely works. It works extremely well. If you live in Australia and you want a VR headset, this is the one to buy.


2016. The year of VR. That’s what they said. Hasn’t really played out like we expected has it? ‘False start’ is the phrase that comes to mind. Expensive, inaccessible, unsupported: those are the words that spring to mind. PlayStation VR is a step in the right direction, but Christ I don’t know…

I fell in love. Now we’re living together. We’re arguing about household chores and I’m starting to wonder – is there a future in this? Where are we headed? What are we doing here?

I’ve always believed that PlayStation VR represented virtual reality’s best shot at mainstream success, but now I’m questioning if that success is even possible given the restrictions of VR as a medium.

I honestly don’t have an answer to that question.

Maybe right now, in October 2016, PlayStation VR is the best answer we’ve got.


Comments

    I was hyped for VR when the headsets first started coming out, then I saw the price, saw what PC specs they required and it fell into more of a "meh" category.

    Even PS4, being the most accessible we have is still too expensive for me as I'd need to buy a PS4 first....Then set it up, keep it away from where little children will destroy it etc.

    Meanwhile I need a new gaming PC and that is more important to me than VR that I may or may not like. To me VR feels the was way the Wii did at launch. Exciting at first but quickly becoming a novelty. I never bought a Wii and odds are I'll never buy a VR headset....unless maybe the fad is actually long lasting and significant improvements are made.

    When in video-games has the innovation ever been the gold standard, though? It's always been someone else's iteration that became the golden goose.

    As with movies, it's usually the sequels that go down in quality - but with games and games hardware, the sequels are the same ideas, usually, but better.

    I don't expect it to travel the same route as the PC apologist that tells me I need to buy every year's new parts if I want to be seeing the greatest gains, that's the whole point of waiting until somebody takes this strange alchemy and distils it.

    I suppose what I'm saying is I'm waiting for the Viagra of VR, instead of using a bloody needle every time to get started.

    This year was never going to be the year of VR, it was going to be the year in which VR would start exploring the roles it could fill to pave the way for a VR enabled future a few years down the track. So far it has been frustratingly under-utilised and the continued focus on games is entirely wrong. It's a device that allows you to create a virtual reality. Not only can you create a space in which you can let your imagination run loose, you now have a space that allows you to simulate real life without needing to worry about the physical and practical limitations of the real world. The thing that excites me most about PSVR is not that it's a $550 gaming peripheral, my excitement is because it's a $550 226 inch TV screen I don't need to have space for.

    I can't help but feel you're taking the classic phrase "examining our relationship with technology" a little too literally... :P

    As someone with an HTC Vive, VR still has a long way to come. It's still simply arcade games and a lot of shitty indie games. Most are overpriced for what you get compared to normal games.

    There are fun games, but few polished games. You will be surprised at how crappy and basic a lot of the most popular games are.

    It's still clearly in the figuring out how to make games for VR. So any new VR is good, but it's still a while off until we start getting truly good stuff.

    Things VR really needs to sort out is perfecting or inventing a good locomotion system. There is either none and you stand still, where the game may move around you or not. Or you point, click and teleport. More advanced ones, with more control tend to be nausiating.

    Cables are a pain. I have ripped the plugs out a bunch of times. They get tangled, your feet can get caught on them.

    The screens are not great. Don't be fooled, the resolution on these devices is still too low. Immersion is great, and when things are up close they look cool, but you see the pixels and if anything is far away in the game the resolution is too low.

    Does anyone know if the PSVR is going to be released as a bundle in Australia with the Camera and Move Controllers, seems silly to have to buy them separately? Cheers in advance ;)

      From what I could work out not at launch. It's out next week and nothing announced at EB or JB. You can buy a new move 2 pack, but it is 120 bucks. I bought 2 from the second hand shop for 20 bucks, and picked up a camera on sale.

      In my experience it has been difficult to get any information about PSVR at all. The official website isn't handy in that regard. All I saw was pre-orders at JB HiFi and BigW, my two local JB's were sold out until Jan 2017 so I've preordered at Big W, where the clerk didn't understand what it was, I was only given one option, and had no word on any release titles or accessories.
      I do know that Sony is making the release package as bare as it can to keep the cost down. I wouldn't expect a bundle until Christmas or 2017 (pending sales). If you want one now, ebay some motion controllers and camera as it'll be cheaper than any package JB or BigW will do.
      www.tested.com has a good review on it

      After watching the US Playstation event where they mentioned nothing about PSVR I've been completely disheartened by the complete lack of knowledge about the unit. My best guess is that Sony don't know if it'll be a success or just another virtual boy.
      I have fingers crossed that this brings VR into everyman's home as Vive and Occulus may have better specs, but for me it all comes down to games and experiences. The Tokyo Game show conference showed allot more PSVR and I think the Japanese are taking to it more than the USA. I just remind myself of the Wii, everyone including myself bagged it all the up until it became the runaway success. Like beta max, laser-video, game gear, and zune better specs isn't always the winner :-)

    The realisation of VR hit me when I got the Samsung Gear VR. Paying $15 for 5 minutes of gameplay that's mildly interesting. That's all I really get from it.

    I'm looking forward to VR but I think it'll take at least a year before we see anything good, and it relies on how the public will accept this first wave of VR games. Samsung Gear VR has been out nearly a year and there's nothing really that interesting. Some semi-fun rails shooters and "experiences" that cost a lot of money and have no replay-ability. If it cost nearly as much as a PS VR and had even half the development costs it would have completely failed by now.

    VR is integral for Sony. They have based a lot of development money on the device and if they want the device to survive then they need publishers to make decent games.

    It's a lot like touch screen mobile phone gaming. It started with everyone trying to emulate PC and console games until people realised that they needed to change the way they think. Things need to be specifically designed to run well on a touch screen. VR may need the same thing. It may need people to come up with a new way to play and people to accept this new way of playing.

    If they can hold the interest of the publishers and keep the sales up then VR could one day become brilliant. If not, then it'll go the way of VR 1.0.

    Thank god Kotaku is civilised, just spent a long downward descent into the vortex which is the ign comment section, when will fanboys learn "sigh"

    The Oculus CV1 I bought is collecting dust, I cannot bare the fresnel lenses and the way they distort light. I've had a better time with DK2. I'm hoping PSVR will deliver.

    Alas, won't be able to try mine yet, overseas on holiday. Have fun, everyone!

    just so we're clear, the reason 'Australians' are called out in this article is primarily due to the large shipping costs for the HTC/Vive? So PC gamers have largely avoided those platforms? Or is it a case of other socio economic factors etc? Just curious. Couldn't see the clear reason you think why Australians would flock to PSVR compared to other countries.

      I think it is most likely the accessibility, but who knows

      I think a) PS4's already well-established user base here, b) USD>AUD pinch, c) shipping, and d) cost to build a powerful PC for the vive/oculus is more than other countries...

      ... I think

    Dirt rally is great currently, as are a few games....

    give me a 4k HMD and I will buy for sure...
    till then meh it will take a few years for the pixel blur to go away... then it will be almost perfect

    Is your marriage going OK, Serrels? Do you wanna talk about it? :P

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