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#1 qazimod

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Posted 13 October 2016 - 07:23 PM

Yes, I did it. Under normal circumstances I might be mad to shell out £350 for some fancy goggles, but as someone who set some funds aside (read: bought slightly fewer games) in 2015 and who only has one new-gen platform to buy games for (okay two if you count the Vita) I had already made preparations for the expense. Furthermore, I've long been a stranger to new VR (and old VR come to think of it; I never really tried the Virtual Boy type stuff of the past) and this seemed like a slightly more accessible option when compared to the Oculus Rift (requiring a new PC), Gear VR (requiring a new phone) or Vive (requiring an unused room.)

 

After unboxing, the first thing that struck me was how much stuff there was. After taking out the headset there are cables that go into boxes, boxes for the cables, and lengthy (but easy to follow) instructions on putting it all together. Assuming you've already got your PS Camera hooked up to the PS4, you then connect the TV and PS4 to the processor unit via HDMI leads, send a USB cable from the processor unit to the PS4, plug the AC brick into the processor unit and a spare socket, plug the VR headset into the processor unit and plug some headphones into the VR headset if you so desire. Basically that little unit can end up with spaghetti coming out and going in several directions, so it's just as well that you have a headset shielding your eyes from an ungodly mess of cables.

 

My constant twitter updates helpfully timestamped my progress, and it was about an hour of setup between the hardware arriving at the door and my first look at the dashboard through the headset, although I had cleared some floor space beforehand. The headset itself has a couple of features to make viewing more comfortable - the adjustable headband helps you find a good fit, and if you're looking forward but the VR view is "off" by a bit, you can hold the Options button on the controller to centre the view again.

 

I preloaded two games to get me started, although there's some other stuff on the bundled demo disc. Tumble VR is the first game I played; a simple physics game where you use motion control (the DS4 works fine) to pick up and stack blocks to make the highest tower possible. It's a game that doesn't necessarily need VR, but I figured it would work as a gentle introduction to the technology. The VR effect kind of feels like those old Fisher Price viewfinders but a billion times better, and using DS4 Move tech to pick up 3D objects and move them towards you really shows off the effectiveness of the VR space. I also got Rez Infinite which kind of feels like Rez HD but with a more flexible camera. Interestingly, you can move the view with your head but the onscreen cursor can still be moved with the controller as usual. It feels a bit unusual at first but it's not long before your head and hands are working together. And you get to be "in" Rez which is pretty much worth the £25 price tag.

 

One other thing to note is that before today I was a stranger to VR but I didn't really experience any "motion sickness" or "discomfort" when playing - there were a few iffy reports on the tracking and responsiveness but my setup was pretty much fine for the most part. PSVR is the kind of thing that's hard to "review" because so many people have varying amounts of success, but even with my limited space and cable spaghetti I found the experience enjoyable. Is it enjoyable enough to justify £350? That might depend on future support, but as one of the more accessible massmarket VR solutions it's a promising start.


Edited by qazimod, 16 October 2016 - 09:04 AM.


#2 uiruki

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Posted 13 October 2016 - 10:57 PM

Right, that's five hours or so done tonight. Only side effects a slightly stiff back from not sitting in a proper chair, a slightly sweaty forehead from the padding and the dreaded helmet hair.

 

It took me ten minutes or so to get prepared. The guide in the box is pretty simple (and the numbered cables help a lot) but I dread packing the whole thing up again. It's really got a lot of stuff hurled in there. On that note I'm curious as to what people are doing for storage. For now I've just removed the short part of the cable and put it back into its box.

 

Fitting took me most of the evening to get used to; you can pull it apart further than you think so for a good while I was kind of balancing it on the top of my head. I appreciate the automated IPD measurement and the ease of adjusting how far out the visor is; very useful for checking your phone! The box that comes with it is small but noisy. It's got a little fan in it and after a while it definitely picks up some speed. It didn't get too warm though, which is good news.

 

Headphones plug into the cable. It means you can turn off your TV and receiver if you aren't using the social screen, which is good news. The virtual surround you get is pretty damn good! I got better results with earphones than headphones simply because fitting headphones over the headset is a pain. I've got one more pair of over ear headphones to try out but I think the ear buds will end up winning out.

 

The display is nice enough, though I have no real point of reference. As it is OLED and the device does a decent job of shutting out light, you see a lot of mura (clouding) on the display during certain dark scenes, and you can see the pitch of the pixels if you look for them. The resolution isn't bad at all but a lot of the games I tried run at (often significantly) below native resolution which makes things blurry. Getting used to seeing that blur is a learning point, I think. Once you see through it there's no real problem, but I'm more interested in PS4 Pro now if they can get more pixels to the screen.

 

I only have the one Move controller so my games choice has been a bit limited, but in terms of what I've played enough to have an opinion about there is:

 

Tumble VR: Great stuff. It works exactly like you think it should. I had a few issues with the Move losing tracking but the game seems robust enough to take that no problem.

 

Rez Infinite: I'm not sure if this game was originally designed for VR 15 years ago but it sure feels like it. Crank the sound, aim with the headset (which combined with the pad aiming completely defeats any tracking errors which creep in) and just enjoy it. Perfectly smooth, clearly running at a higher resolution than pretty much anything else.

 

Super Stardust: There's a standard Super Stardust in there but they've added a tank mode where you shoot stuff on the surface. Targeting enemies with your head is fun but it's easy to get overwhelmed as the field of vision is still a lot for me to cover. I've heard of people getting bad motion sickness - not a jot for me.

 

Playroom VR: more cute robots. I played a platformer game which "just worked" really. Has a great solidity to the visuals.

 

Until Dawn (demo): A shooter. Handling on the controller isn't brilliant but man, they really nailed the sense of presence. Ducking around buzzsaws and flying hooks is totally convincing. I'd like to try it with two Moves before purchasing.

 

Headmaster: You head the ball into the goal. Done with a playfulness which makes the fact that I can barely kick a football, never mind head one, completely secondary to just enjoying it. Interesting attempt at making a game which doesn't require a controller - you look down at your feet to pause/go to the menu.

 

Thumper: The Japanese version of this has the subtitle "Rhythm Violence" and that is definitely accurate. You clang your way along a track to a brutalist percussion soundtrack while defeating geometric nightmare bosses. Highly recommended and like Rez, a good pair of headphones will suffice even if you don't have a fancy VR headset.

 

Driveclub (demo): No 'vomit coaster' effect for me but it's so damn blurry! Actually being able to turn towards the apex of a corner (unlike that insane automated thing they had in Need For Speed Shift) is as beneficial as the added 3D perspective. I'm really looking forward to some more racers in VR if this is the future of cockpit view.

 

Summer Lesson: a blurry but impressive demonstration of how to do interactions. You give your pupil work to do, there are short scenes where she talks to you. There's not much game here but the animation and voice acting are flawless.

 

Eve Valkyrie (demo): 3d movement taken to its logical conclusion - full 360 degree motion. Acquiring and attacking targets is fun (though frantic at first) but the demo's so damn short! It took longer to load the horribly heavy demo disc and the demo than it did to play it.

 

Gnog (demo): Fun little toybox/puzzler/thing. A bright, cheery graphics style and great tactile actions (even with the pad) put to mind a more family friendly version of The Room series (the iPad game, not the film).

 

Rigs (demo): Another game with a great sense of existing in an area. You're a bloke in a not-that-big robot in a sports stadium blowing up other robots. Looking across at your teammates before the match starts is one sports cliche I really like. Action ingame is confusing; I gather that the game itself has a lengthy tutorial to get you up to speed.

 

Battlezone (demo): I enjoyed this. Like the other cockpit shooters, acquiring targets is fun and natural and this has a nice arcing cannon to fire at stuff.

 

Whew! Lots of stuff so far. I really wanted to try Hustle Kings and Job Simulator too but they don't seem to work without a pair of Moves. As someone who was unimpressed with the 3D tech in the 3DS, this is an entirely different thing. It's really impressive how well it works but the PS4 is clearly straining to run everything smoothly. I do think I'm more likely to pick up a Pro now. And here's hoping someone manages to get it going on the PC, as I'm sure my 1070 can drive it...



#3 qazimod

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Posted 14 October 2016 - 02:28 PM

Annoyingly my demo disc had problems being read - the content can be downloaded from the store, but this will take a while.

 

I tried the Headmaster demo as I had read about it before and I liked the idea of a purely headset-driven game. It's good fun, and I was surprised at how much I recoiled when a ball was going towards my face :D I also cleared Rez Infinite's default mode last night, which included unlocking and completing the brand new Area X. I don't want to talk about it too much, but Area X is phenomenal - there's plenty of activity all around, loads of particles floating about the place and a slightly Child of Eden feel to it, as it's more "organic" than Rez's abstract shapes and wireframes. It does feel like it's over fairly quickly, but maybe that's an indication of how much I enjoyed it!

 

Also I invited my brother over to have a look at the hardware and he talked me into trying the Battlezone demo, which was pretty fun. Meanwhile I've shown Tumble to everyone interested as I feel like it's a good game to start with - since you're not "moving around" in a 3D space that much - and generally people really liked the effect of depth and presence.

 

I haven't thought about storage just yet. Since I have a lot of floor space cleared I just try and move the breakout box/PSU out of the way when I'm done so that they don't take up floor space, and I put the headset itself back in the box...

 

EDIT:

 

Another thing about Rez Infinite is that at first I played one or two areas then turned the thing off. Later that day I went back and tried to get through to the end and it was kind of intense. I was talking about it on another forum and I don't think of my experience as "motion sickness" but more like "sensory overload" - I had to postpone my Area 3 retries as it was kind of exhausting to take everything in! So whilst there have been no feelings of nausea, the exhilaration of VR play can get intense. :)


Edited by qazimod, 14 October 2016 - 02:37 PM.


#4 uiruki

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Posted 14 October 2016 - 03:28 PM

Did you download the American demo disc? It has more stuff on it.

#5 uiruki

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Posted 14 October 2016 - 05:43 PM

Interesting, I'm watching the Giant Bomb stream and the thing is asking them to hold up the helmet at different angles for calibration. I never got that - just the standard PS Camera "where are you?" one.



#6 qazimod

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Posted 14 October 2016 - 08:58 PM

Did you download the American demo disc? It has more stuff on it.

 

Nope, just the EU store download with my normal account. I may look into that later...



#7 uiruki

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Posted 21 December 2016 - 11:15 AM

Got hold of a second Move controller and tried Job Simulator. Man, the tracking was having such an awful time of it. It kept losing controllers and had a lot of that swaying effect; the game makes you turn to the side and behind you a lot. I don't think it works as a standing experience - sitting is still OK though.





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