Ahead of Sony’s arrival at this weekend’s Tokyo Games Show 2022, the company’s PlayStation division has been streaming a bunch of fan news online over the past 24 hours. Arguably the biggest news came from the hands-on and visual impressions of its PlayStation VR2 add-on for the PS5 console.
The new VR system, slated for an “early 2023” commercial launch, is now being talked about outside of Sony’s attentive PR, and its early testers have offered impressions of both the hardware and some of its apparent launch software.
PSVR2: what we already knew
Thanks to Sony’s announcements earlier this year, we know that the PSVR2’s OLED display packs a 4000×2040 pixel resolution, which can run VR software in either 90Hz or 120Hz modes. new foveal rendering system, which aims to emphasize full pixel resolution where your eyes are focused and blur the parts where your eyes aren’t, and that, unsurprisingly, is coupled with new sensors internal eye tracking.
We also know that PSVR 2 will come with two completely new gamepads, one for each hand, which follow the Meta Quest archetype of VR controllers (with buttons, triggers and joysticks), but with the technology upgrades additional features found in recent Sony DualSense gamepads. – namely, more refined rumbles and tension-filled “impulse” triggers.
A new “inside-out” tracking system resembles that found in Meta Quest and various Windows Mixed Reality headsets, and this uses built-in cameras to analyze players’ real surroundings and track VR positioning, no cameras external or tracking box required. However, unlike the default wireless Meta Quest 2, the PSVR2 requires a wired connection for power and data transfer to a PlayStation 5 console.
PSVR2 Hardware: What We Learned This Week
Speaking of that cable connection: we’ve now seen it in action. The new single-cable connection, via the PS5’s single USB Type-C slot, is a revelation compared to the cable-everywhere external “processor unit” required for Sony’s first VR system. This 4.5 meter cable was reportedly designed to weigh as little as possible, but a cable that can wrap around your legs may still be a deal breaker for some.
Sony has also confirmed that the PSVR will lack built-in audio. Just like the last model, PSVR2 owners will need to connect headphones using a 3.5mm jack. The original PSVR came with budget headphones, which could happen again for the PSVR2 – and to Sony’s credit, the new headset includes nifty, built-in “headphone jacks” that you can smash your headphones into existing to store them properly. But that’s a bummer compared to the built-in audio found in Valve Index and all Meta Quest models. This week’s demo videos show Sony’s biggest PS-branded headphones limiting VR users, reducing airflow and leaving people sweating. Interested users should therefore look to lightweight, high-quality wired headphones before PSVR2 launches in 2023. (My 3.5mm recommendation is the affordable and capable Koss KSC32-i.)
Better news, Sony’s lens mechanism includes a precise interpupillary distance (IPD) slider, accessible with a handy dial when the system is attached to the face. (This is a huge differentiator from Quest 2, which skipped such a slider as a cost-cutting measure.) New users can access a convenient calibration menu at any time to ensure the setting IPD is aligned to their unique face, and this additionally requires users to glance at a moving dot chart to calibrate the PSVR2’s eye tracking sensors. So far, the “hovering” fit of the PSVR2, with a foam back strap and a nifty dial to tighten the fit, looks the same as the one we loved in the original PSVR. The around-the-eye fit would be roomy enough for eyeglass wearers, although we’re still waiting to hear the weight and distribution of the new system compared to the original, at least beyond suggestions that the current helmet is quite light.
PSVR2’s new room tracking system, which relies on four built-in cameras, appears to automatically account for objects in your play space. covers objects (furniture, entertainment centers) in a trippy pattern of 3D triangles when PSVR2 cameras scan them, instead of having users aim to scan and “paint” a play space. If PSVR2 gets it wrong, users can still use system controllers to fine-tune their VR “limit” before starting to play. The headset includes a button at the bottom that can activate PSVR2’s passthrough camera mode at any time so users can see their surroundings without removing the headset.
We previously learned that the PSVR2 includes a range of built-in rumble engines – a first in consumer VR – and now we know how they work in action. The severity of the rumble can vary between a subtle sensation, such as when flies buzz across your face during a sequence in Resident Evil: Village VRor a more intense full-head blast, such as when a monster flies overhead and sends a gust of wind towards you in Horizon VR: The Call of the Mountain. So far, reports suggest that this sensation is more immersive than obnoxious.
Sony has yet to confirm the maximum brightness of its OLED display, merely suggesting that it’s rated for “HDR”, but Sony clearly takes screen quality and light leakage seriously. OLED panels generally handle an “infinite” contrast ratio better, putting the deepest blacks and brightest lights side by side, and the PSVR2 apparently includes a superior arrangement of light-blocking foam and nose liners.
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