Lo and behold! 2022 is here and if you have been following the games industry, you probably have had an overdose of headlines, enough for a whole year. We’ve had one of the biggest publishers on the console space acquire one of the biggest players in the mobile industry. I’m talking about Take Two’s acquisition of Zynga which was the biggest acquisition in the industry at the time, only to soon be outdone by Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard for a mind boggling $68 Billion. While there is a lot to unpack in these stories and these deals will sure have their ripple effects across the industry, those are topics for another day. There was something of much more significance that was announced earlier in January which got lost in the chaos. The announcement of the PlayStation VR2. Sony threw in a surprise at CES this year by revealing more information on its shiny new headset. Let’s take a better look at what was announced and see how if fairs against what was discussed on our podcast almost a year ago.
Let’s go over what was revealed on stage and the subsequent blog post so we can get a better understanding of what the new headset is going to be like. Unsurprisingly, the now officially titled PlayStation VR2 is a significant upgrade to its predecessor, with some interesting features and a whole new way of communicating with its associated hardware and the player. Coming to the specs,
we now have up to 4k HDR visuals with foveated rendering, an expanded 110° field of view, a 90 or 120 Hz refresh rate based on the game, all while outputting at a 2000×2040 panel resolution per eye. So, the innards have had quite the upgrade. Completing the ensemble is the now officially titled “Sense Controllers”. How the name of these controllers associate itself to the functionality of it all was not discussed, as I believe that information has been reserved for the proper consumer focused reveal somewhere down the line this year. What we do know though is that the headset itself will have incorporated haptics using a single motor for vibrations. Sony stated that with the responsive feedback on the headset “Gamers can feel a character’s elevated pulse during tense moments, the rush of objects passing close to the character’s head, or the thrust of a vehicle as the character speeds forward.” Couple this with the Tempest 3D audio engine as seen in the PS5 and we can imagine the level of immersion the user can feel during a game.
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It is fair to say that the latest from Sony stands shoulder to shoulder with the best VR headsets out there, if not giving them a run for their money. Which in reality is much better than it sounds given Sony’s knack of making the most the hardware to deliver some spectacular results. I mean look at some of the recent releases on the PS4, like Ghost of Tsushima or the last of Us Part 2. To experience games of this fidelity on an 8-year-old machine is unfathomable, but that is what Sony does. So, it is safe to say that the PlayStation VR2 can play host to some jaw dropping experiences for a good number of years.
Speaking of which, the first PlayStation VR2 title set in the Horizon universe was announced on the same stage at CES. Not much is known about Horizon: Call of the mountains, aside from the fact that you will play a new character and not Aloy, and that this will be a standalone AAA quality experience, being developed by Firesprite in collaboration with Guerilla games.
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The rather short teaser did manage to establish one thing though. The visual fidelity. There was so much crammed into the scene on display, and it is certainly impressive that all of that can be rendered the way it is intended on a VR headset. And that prospect excites me. If this is a sneak peek from the new headset then games in the caliber of Halflife: Alyx can well be expected out of the Sony’s first party studios. And that is saying something.
It all looks good so far. But let’s address the elephant in the room. Backward compatibility with PSVR. While there has been no official announcement on whether or not the original PSVR games will be compatible on the new headset, my money is on “No”. This can be attributed to the way the PlayStation VR2 is fundamentally different in the way it functions compared to the PSVR. Games for PSVR were built around the tracking systems employed using an external camera and the move controllers. The tracking and player input system on the new headset is radically different, which would mean that the original PSVR games have to be rebuilt from a certain level to work on the VR2 as opposed to a simple port. This of course takes a whole lot of investment, something which I believe is not worth the time and effort from studios which could instead be working on new titles. On the flip side though, the existing PSVR user base is the one that will most likely be among the first to adopt the VR2. And the idea of their older games being obsolete is kind of a hard pill to swallow. So, Sony could well find itself in an interesting predicament here. We’ll have to wait and see how this is addressed.
How long do we have to wait then? Well, two announcements later and we have not seen the headset yet. But we did get a proper look at the controllers through Sony’s blogpost. Rumors suggest that a full-blown consumer focused reveal is likely expected around Gamescom this year. Which, if true, falls in line with other rumors suggesting a targeted holiday 2022 release. So, chances are that Sony is playing this close to their chest withholding just enough to keep the buzz on the headset going, while having enough to get customers excited during the actual reveal. It will be interesting to see how all of this pans out through 2022. If the first month of the year is any indication, we are in for one heck of a ride. Here’s hoping Sony gets the pricing right and keeps its fans excited leading to a successful launch. Afterall, its not very often that we get a promising new VR headset on the horizon.
So, how excited are you about PlayStation VR2? Do you currently own a PSVR? If so, what is your favorite game? And how important is backwards compatibility for you? Sound off in the comments and let’s have a conversation going. Let’s discuss these and more in future new stories.
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