Sony’s ‘PS VR Aim’ controller looks more like something you’d find in a low rent mo-cap studio.
Or a deranged, psychotic sex toy.
It’s bizarre. It screams gimmick. As someone who’s lived through light guns, power gloves, dance mats and Donkey Kong Bongos, I can’t say I was enthusiastic about trying to use one of these things. Couldn’t see the benefit.
The game was Farpoint; a PlayStation VR exclusive. A game about shooting aliens on far off planets. So far so humdrum. It’s being developed by a small San Francisco based team called Impulse Gear. Last I heard this ‘PS VR Aim’ thingy was their idea, developed in tandem with this very video game.
What the hell is this thing?
It looks like a Superscope. It looks like something EB Games might have sold for $10 during the Wii craze.
‘This thing won’t work.’
‘This thing is silly.’
That’s what I thought before I played Farpoint.
That opinion was about to change dramatically.
I’m quickly learning that my instincts about VR -- about what works and doesn’t work – aren’t exactly reliable. I’m learning the same lesson over and over again: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
Farpoint is a case in point.
Farpoint is really fucking cool.
And the PS VR Aim is actually amazing.
It’s actually way, way better than I could have possibly predicted. My experience with PlayStation VR and its move controllers has been mixed. It’s a decent, smart solution but it is temperamental.
PS VR Aim surprised me, not just in terms of whether it works (it works) but in how it provides decent solutions to problems we thought we’d struggle to solve this decade.
I mean, first and foremost, player movement. That’s the real issue with virtual reality, right? How can we play a first-person shooter without shattering the immersion of existing in this digital space? There are solutions, like the Virtuix Omni, but let’s be realistic: not everyone is installing a ludicrously expensive multi-directional treadmill in their living room to play Battlefield. That’s just not going to happen in the near future.
PS VR Aim is a perfectly serviceable answer to the movement question. It really is.
You grip the device with two hands. On your left hand is an analogue stick that allows you to move forward and strafe. You head in the direction you point your gun and your head does whatever your head is gonna do.
It’s difficult to explain. It sounds counter intuitive. I can tell you it’s not. It’s very fuctional, it’s simple. It makes complete sense. I’ve played first-person shooters in VR. I’ve suffered motion sickness as a result. I didn’t have those issues with Farpoint.
I actually felt comfortable, at complete ease with the immersion of being in this space. It didn’t matter that I was using an analogue stick to move forward or backwards. I was able to easily compartmentalise that concept and accept the new ruleset of this universe.
I was completely surprised by that.
Could I see myself playing other first person shooters using the PS VR Aim? Games like Call of Duty or Battlefield? Absolutely. The aiming is clean. It’s simple. It absolutely works and it’s super rewarding to use.
It’s absolutely one of the coolest, most functional devices I’ve used in VR so far and, for right now? It’s a pragmatic solution to one of virtual reality’s biggest obstacles to success.