Life with PlayStation VR – One Month In

It has been just over a month since the PlayStation VR headset launched. While the initial buzz of ‘living room VR’ has started to die down for many, both Tim and I are getting used to gaming life with Sony’s next generation gambit.

After just a few days with the device, we gave our initial impressions on the headset and its games. Now, with a month’s worth of play time, we thought we’d give you an update.


Hardware

psvr-kit

Diarmuid – My headset now has a permanent place on the side table next to our couch. It rests beside the micro-fibre cloth and ear buds it came with, ready for another bout of gaming whenever the impulse arises and for me, that is surprisingly regular.

Prior to launch, I expected the PlayStation VR headset to be used infrequently – mostly for when people came over and I got to show off the new toy. Basically, I thought it would become like my Rock Band peripherals. However, when the urge to game rises, and I forego Rocket League and Overwatch, the headset is donned and I jumped into Battlezone, or RIGS, or EVE Valkyrie.

This is a good thing for me as it makes excusing my purchase easier, at least in my own head! It is also surprising as I assumed the issues I raised with the hardware in our first article would become more of an issue. It is still true that I have to frequently clean the lenses as the non-breathable, rubber light covers cause me to sweat but I have found a more comfortable fit and orientation for the device that makes this a non-issue now. Also, while the blurring anywhere outside of the center of the view is still somewhat present, this is no longer a noticeable issue for me when using the PlayStation 4 Pro.

ps4pro-psvr

In fact, the Pro has turned into one of my favourite hardware purchases this year, due to the improvements I am getting from my other favourite, the PS VR headset. There is a noticeable jump in image quality and draw distance on a number of the games I’ve tried that take advantage of it. I recently reviewed Robinson: The Journey which, despite already being an impressive-looking game, looks even better with the Pro. Both DriveClub VR and RIGS have also seen a boost in visuals.

I’ll admit that prior to the Pro, my USB port situation was dire. I tried using one of those hubs that plugs into the PS4 and turns two ports into five but the headset wouldn’t work with it. Now that there is an additional port on the Pro, it allows me to have my usual wireless headset dongle and controller charging cable plugged in at the front.

In terms of the hardware, I haven’t noticed any further issues with the headset in the last month that I didn’t see in my first few hours with the thing. I’m getting more and more excited to take it home with me this holiday to show off to my family and friends in Ireland. Let’s see how it survives plane journeys…

Tim – Unlike Diarmuid, I am yet to invest in a PS4 Pro. I am getting even more tempted with the news that it does improve the VR visuals but concerned that it may make the PS VR more awkward to use with the breakout box not being compatible with a 4K signal. The extra USB port definitely appeals, as it stands I don’t have enough ports to charge more than one item – which is an issue with multiple controllers especially when you add two Move controllers to the mix. I may have to wait and see what Santa has in his sack this year.

Like Diarmuid, my issue with the fogging up of the lenses appears to have subsided. Not sure if this is due to wearing the headset a bit differently or just not breathing upwards as much. I have also developed a good technique for being able to clean the lenses without the need to remove the headset – which is another advantage of the style of headset design that allows you to slide the screen forward – which I have also found useful for seeking out other objects such as controllers and remote controls.

I do need to make a more permanent home for the headset when it is not being used. Presently it just sits on my amp when not in use, but I could do with either a case to pack it away in or one of the pedestal that also charges multiple devices.

More recently I have had a nasty cold and, until this point, did not really appreciate how much of an obstruction that would be to me playing VR – I really do not want to cough or sneeze violently while wearing the headset and so have not been playing at all for over a week, and I can’t wait to get back to it!


Software

ps-vr-software

Diarmuid – Since the launch weekend of the PlayStation VR headset, I’ve had more time to spend on not only the games I already covered in our impressions article, but some new titles too. These include games released on launch that I hadn’t picked up initially (Tumble VR, PlayStation VR Worlds, EVE Valkyrie) as well as titles released in the following weeks (Pixel Gear, Robinson: The Journey).  There have also been free or add-on experiences that I have been able to try out (Kitchen, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Jackal Assault VR Experience, Rise of the Tomb Raider)

After spending quite a bit on the headset itself, I wanted to get the most out of the games I already had but the thirst for new experiences was enormous. I started by dipping into some games that Tim strongly recommended, like EVE Valkyrie. It really is a superb game. The action is fast, frenetic and beautiful, with deep progression and customisation systems. Each time the cockpit loads before your ship is propelled into space Battlestar Galactica-style, I still find myself looking around at all of the read-outs and displays, knobs and switches, just looking for even more detail.

eve-valkyrie

While I’d like to say it was peer pressure that got me to buy PlayStation VR Worlds, I really just wanted to complete the London Heist story. For me, it was worth it and by the end of the admittedly short experience, I was eagerly hoping that Sony’s London Studio was hard at work on a longer, standalone sequel to the game. That isn’t to say the other modes, like Luge, Ocean Descent and 3D Pong, are not worth your time either.

I’ve been lucky enough to get review codes for Pixel Gear and Robinson: The Journey, and you can listen to my thoughts on the former here and read my review on the latter here. As for the free experiences, I have really enjoyed the Jackal Assault mission. Similar to EVE, it sits you in the pilot seat of one of Infinite Warfare’s Jackals. It looks stunning and plays really well so hopefully Activision decide to put some more money behind it and turn it into a game.

There are also some upcoming titles that look impressive. Eagle Flight has been getting stellar reviews elsewhere and Star Trek: Bridge Crew fulfils a childhood dream of mine so that is definitely on the to-buy list. Here’s hoping the flow of titles continues to be strong.

Tim – I have also tried a number of other titles since our initial impressions article but still have quite a few entire games or demos that I have yet to try from the initial launch lineup. Diarmuid and I have both been lucky enough to receive a number of review codes and have also purchased a few games each too and I still feel that there are games we have yet to fully cover. There have been a few new releases, seemingly every week, and the flow of new content seems to be steady and with a few new surprises. There were two new space game this week and two other interesting games that came out today – I have been keeping an eye out for upcoming VR releases and knew about none of these in advance. I was also very pleasantly surprised that Activision gave away the CoD Jackal mission free, and while very short, I hope this is a sign that more of their titles will have VR content in future.

Also worth noting that the list of games in the VR section of the PS Store does not list every game that is VR compatible (which seems like an oversight) Trackmania Turbo has had a VR update and the downloadable demo not only has four short tracks especially made for VR but all the existing tracks within the game work in VR too.  With all the loop-the-loops and driving up and down 90º angles this may be best left to the strong-stomached.

trackmania-turbo

I also played Weeping Doll, a “puzzle horror” game published by the same company as Ace Banana. I place puzzle horror in quotations as this is how the game describes itself but difficult to agree when the horror lacks any horror and the puzzle don’t make you puzzle. An interesting environment but I do not like the teleportation movement mechanic and elements like the poor standard of voice acting really hold this back.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood was a much better horror experience. It helps that I was a massive fan of the original game, as you will notice background appearances from the characters and some of the events, but you don’t need that to enjoy the game overall. I am really pleased to see the return of light-gun games and the combination of this and a roller-coaster experience works really well. Travelling down a steep slope in VR is very oddly noticeable feeling, both for what you do and don’t feel. This is the game that my non-gaming playing friends most enjoyed from everything that I showed them on PS VR. I have also recently been given a review code for The Brookhaven Experiment, which I have yet to try due to illness but horror games should work really well in VR generally.

My only downside is that I would like to see more demos. The original batch of releases had a large group of demos bundled together in the PS VR Demo app, but subsequent releases do not seem to be adding to this or having their own separate demo. With games that vary in quality and can also vary in people’s ability to play without feeling nauseous it seems all the more important to try before you buy.


Overall

Diarmuid – The headset itself still impresses me everytime I try out a new game or use a new app. It is comfortable, easy to use and works seamlessly. The addition of the PlayStation 4 Pro to the equation has delivered enough improvements to my existing library of VR games that it feels like a wise purchase now. Let’s hope Sony and other publishers continue to support both platforms well into the future.

Tim – Overall I am still really pleased with the PS VR headset and still enamoured with playing VR games. I literally can’t find enough time to fully satisfy everything I want to do with the headset. I still have yet to play any “normal” game for any length of time in the big screen mode and have yet to go through all of the video content – and a new VR video playing app was launched earlier this week with another set of video content.

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