On October 13, Sony is set to break new ground in the console race by releasing PlayStation VR, a peripheral that works in conjunction with PS4 and PlayStation Camera to provide a true virtual reality experience. Along with the HTC Vive and Facebook’s Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR is helping usher in what some experts believe will be a $40 billion dollar industry by the end of 2020.
With PlayStation already dominating this generation’s console race (sorry, Microsoft, but you know it’s true), Sony has set their sights on the world of virtual reality. But will Sony’s new machine really be worth the investment at launch?
Let’s Talk About Some Games
If you’re in the market for a PSVR, forget about the technical aspects, because even Sony admits their tech lags behind the competition. Realistically, that amounts to the same loss of graphical fidelity you endure by playing games on consoles to begin with.
Sony’s biggest ace in the hole is its collection of launch titles, which is extensive and growing. There are even a few titles that look really promising, too.
While there’s no footage of the recently announced Batman Arkham VR, those lucky few who’ve looked at it directly have been positively gushy, and returning developer Rocksteady Studios has the best superhero track record in video games. Plus Mark Hamill is involved as The Joker, so there’s not much to worry about in general beyond the game’s pace, which is focused on the Arkham series’ detective mode.
What you might notice when you look through the launch list, in fact, is that the most appealing titles tend toward a more deliberate and contemplative (read: slow) gameplay style. With the exception of some arcade shooters and a PvP title, RIGS, opening day for PSVR is a lot of strategy and slow burn plots.
Admittedly, that’s largely the case for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, as well. It’s still early in the medium’s lifespan so, but for a few rare exceptions, developers are getting away with selling games on shock value alone. Of course, that shock value is nuclear explosion big.
However, if you’re a discerning gamer who’s going to require a deeper experience before you sink hundreds of dollars into a new toy, put a VR headset on your list for the 2017 holiday season, because it’ll be that long before something like Fallout 4 hits PSVR. On the other hand, if you own the Rift, you can jerry-rig your own Fallout VR experience right now.
Sony’s Big Advantage
When it comes to making your VR choice, Sony has two classic console advantages. The first is its price point. The Vive is $800 and the Rift is $600, and that’s over and above the pricey computer you’d need to power either one. Meanwhile, the PSVR is only $400 for gamers who already own a PS4, which starts Sony with a market base of around 36 million people. Even if those legions of owners have to shell out sixty bucks for a PS Camera in addition to the VR headset, Sony’s machine is still the cost-effective option for a lot of gamers.
The second advantage Sony has is the same advantage all consoles have over PCs: ease of use. When you get your PSVR and you take it out of the box, you’ll be able to plug it in and fire it up with no problem, and it’ll work every time you turn it on until your PS4 burns out, which will be about two days shy of the apocalypse if you don’t spill soda on it.
If you’re a budget-conscious gamer who already owns a PS4 and a PS Camera, then Sony’s VR headset could be the right choice for you, especially if you’re the kind of gamer who prefers to think your way through a title. Strategy games like Tethered will make PSVR’s launch day a very fun day for you. However, if you like the freedom of open worlds, or you like a little action with context that goes beyond “it’s moving, kill it!”, then you’re going to want to wait a few months.
If budget is absolutely not a consideration, or you already own a powerful PC, then the Rift or the Vive are where you want to spend your money. Their launch day game list is bigger (plus it’ll likely grow faster) and their tech is better.