Last Thursday (August 6), PlayStation held its State Of Play presentation, a gameplay extravaganza that gave fans a better glimpse at some of the hotly anticipated games coming to the PS5, such as Bugsnax and Hood: Outlaws & Legends. Most interestingly, however, Sony focused on games that will launch on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR.
PSVR, in particular, is a platform with a somewhat uncertain future, at least in its current form. We know that this generation’s headset will be compatible with the PS5, but we don’t know in what capacity, or whether a new headset is lying in wait for the launch of the PS5 this holiday season.
Sony’s HMD is still the technical underdog in the industry, with lower resolution and specifications than most of the main offerings from Oculus, HTC and Valve. Yet this hasn’t stopped it from breaking boundaries. The games may not look as gorgeous as they would on a Valve Index, but PSVR’s long list of exclusives is truly something to behold, a library completely unmatched by other players in the field.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is one of the best platformers of the current console generation, Blood And Truth is a playable gangster movie marvel and Tetris Effect is the closest we’ve come in games to true synaesthesia.
Many of PSVR’s exclusives have now made their way to other VR platforms due to their initial success, but they all started on PSVR, and this proves Sony’s dedication towards the still-burgeoning platform of virtual reality. Even Iron Man VR , which launched earlier this year, is another groundbreaking exclusive that is well-worth playing.
The accessibility of PSVR is its killer feature: if you want to play the revolutionary Half-Life: Alyx, you need an expensive gaming computer capable of running it and a pricey headset on top of that.
It’s quite the luxury, but most people already have a console if they’re into games. And those who don’t have the money to dabble in the prestige kit can get some of the best games virtual reality has to offer on the PS4 through Sony’s cheaper platform.
Now that I’ve experienced both PCVR and PSVR, it’s really interesting to note how Sony’s platform, despite being the underdog, has produced some of the best games and used the technology to its full potential, even more so than the more graphically intense titles across the wider spectrum.
Yet, PlayStation VR’s biggest problem is by far its control scheme: the way games feel is inevitably held back by the fact that you’re often forced to use the PlayStation Move controllers from 2009, instead of custom controllers like Valve’s superb, immersion-bolstering Knuckles. Games that use the DualShock 4 feel leaps ahead of the competition just by the console controller’s features, such as the under-utilised touchpad and sound system.
One of the main things I’m excited about with the PlayStation 5 is the Dualsense. It looks like a true evolution from the DualShock 4, simulating rumble and haptics with hare triggers and providing the feeling of textures that you’re crunching through in-game via the palms of your hands.
What a boon that will be for PSVR, yet it’d still be great to see Sony come out with an answer to Valve’s Knuckle control system, which allows users to simulate each finger during gameplay. It’s a hell of a lot better than clutching a plasticky remote with a clumsy orb on top.
Combining these features with the individual raindrop-simulating PS5 sound system and the immersion of PSVR feels like a no-brainer! So it’s strange that we’ve not heard anything official about a new headset. Sony has even revealed a new HD Camera peripheral, which makes me think that PSVR 2 is surely on the way.
One thing that we can be certain about is that there will be more PSVR games in the near future. During State Of Play, we got confirmation that Star Wars: Vader Immortal will be coming to PSVR later this month on August 25. Vader Immortal was one of last year’s most successful VR games, previously exclusive to Oculus headsets.
As a kid who grew up playing the Star Wars arcade machines which offered first-person lightsaber duels with Darth Vader himself, I’m thrilled to see the first true virtual reality Star Wars game hit such an accessible platform as PSVR.
We’ve had space missions and X-Wing dogfights, but actually using the force and fighting with lightsabers in virtual reality is a completely different beast, and I hope that Vader Immortal can stick the landing. With such a big IP backing it, it could pull tons more users into the space.
The most exciting State Of Play announcement for me, however, was that Hitman 3 would feature playable PSVR missions. Launching in January 2021, the console and PC release will offer a conventional, full-blown third-person experience, but also give players the ability to disguise, infiltrate and assassinate your targets in virtual reality via PSVR. A genius pivot for IO Interactive’s franchise, and better yet, missions from all three of IO’s World of Assassination games will arrive in PSVR – a seriously impressive feat.
To my knowledge, Hitman 3 PSVR is one of the first confirmed next-gen virtual reality games, making it playable on the PS5 as well as the PS4. But what does this mean for the experience of PSVR on PS5?
When the PSVR was revised for the PS4 Pro in 2017, we got a new model that allowed for HDR video pass-through and other graphical upgrades. Taking that into account, what benefits could we see from plugging a PSVR into a PS5, with its far greater graphical capabilities? Even if it’s just a “what if” situation right now, it’s incredibly exciting to think about how much better PSVR games will look and feel on the PS5, most likely starting with Hitman 3.
Even if Sony doesn’t end up announcing a new PSVR headset to coincide with its next-gen launch, it’s clear that it’s doubling down on the support, and want to keep experimenting with VR well into the next-generation. With such a confident showing at the recent State Of Play, I’m extremely excited to see what Sony will be cooking up behind-the-scenes.