Another holiday season is up us! Here's a look at the biggest games of the season as we make our way to the end of 2016. You can find our other previews here.
After years of hype, the PlayStation VR is finally arriving on October 13. It figures to be one of this holiday's big ticket items... assuming it ends up catching on with the mainstream public like Sony hopes it will.
Oddly enough, Sony hasn't pushed the PSVR particularly hard since E3, electing instead to host an entire event devoted to the PlayStation 4 Pro that did not include so much as a shoutout to the PSVR. So should we be excited? Let's take a look at the specs, price point, and launch lineup.
What is it?
The PlayStation VR is Sony's answer to the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift: A VR helmet that Sony hopes will jumpstart the virtual reality revolution while giving the PlayStation 4 a mid-generation boost. It has drawn comparisons to the PlayStation Move - another mid-generation novelty - but the PSVR is more akin to a new console than a mere peripheral. Here are the specs:
- Display: 5.7-inch OLED
- Resolution per eye: 960 x 1080
- Field of view: 100 degrees
- Refresh rate: 120 Hz
- Latency: 18 ms
- Suggested room size: 6.2 feet by 9.8 feet
- System requirements: PS4 with PlayStation Camera (not included)
- Bundled accessories: Earbuds
- DriveClub VR
- EVE: Valkyrie
- Harmonix Music VR
- Here They Lie
- Job Simulator
- PlayStation VR Worlds
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazard - Kitchen teaser
- Rez Infinite
- RIGS Mechanized Combat League
- Tumble VR
- Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
- Wayward Sky
- 100 ft. Robot Golf (October 10)
- Carnival Games VR (October 28)
- Batman: Arkham VR (October 13)
- Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live (October 14)
- Driveclub VR (October 13)
- Eagle Flight (November 8)
- Star Trek: Bridge Crew (November 29)
- Werewolves Within (December 6)
- Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin (TBC 2016)
- Hustle Kings (October 13)
- Superhypercube (October 13)
- Super Stardust Ultra VR (October 13)
At $399, the PlayStation 4 will be cheaper than the Vive and Rift, but also less powerful. Its biggest advantage over its competition is the fact that it's based on the PS4, giving it a large install base and removing the need for a powerful gaming rig. Sony is banking on these factors, as well as the sheer novelty of VR, selling a lot of PSVRs.
They may have a tall task ahead of them, though. For all the hype around VR, Rift and Vive sales have been slow. The PSVR will be a good test of whether the world is indeed ready for VR.
What games will be available at launch?
Every PlayStation VR sold will include a demo disc containing demos of the following games:
Full versions of most of these games will be available via the PlayStation Store (except for Resident Evil 7, which launches next year). Beyond the games listed above, the PSVR's launch lineup will also include:
Several of this year's triple-A releases will also include VR functionality. Rise of the Tomb Raiders PS4, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Final Fantasy XV, and Star Wars Battlefront will all have VR compatible missions, though they will be more of an novelty than anything. Still, you will be able to get a little added spice with these games if you own a PSVR.
Are we excited?
The PlayStation VR is like a console launch in more ways than one. Its lineup is very much what one would expect to see during the launch of a console, littered as it is with middle-of-the-road games and experimental novelties. Carnival Games is typical of some of the PSVR's more lightweight fare.
At least in the beginning, the PSVR's most intriguing launch game figures to be Rez Infinite - a reimagining of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's PS2 and Dreamcast rhythm game. It certainly makes for an impressive proof of concept, the PSVR's sensory deprivation serving to totally immerse you in Mizuguchi's music. Beloved as Rez is, though, it's not as mainstream as some would suppose. As such, the jury is definitely out on whether it can be a legitimate system seller.
Looking across the rest of the PSVR's launch lineup, the games that standout are EVE Valkyrie, Driveclub VR, Battlezone, and Harmonix Music Zone VR. EVE Valkyrie has plenty of appeal to space combat nerds; but like Rez, they aren't necessarily enough to carry a platform at launch. Sony will just have to hope that a handful of good games, plus Super Stardust Ultra and Hustle Kings, will be enough until more intriguing games come along.
Of course, that assumes that VR is capable of meeting its full potential. VR advocates are playing down issues with nausea, but motion sickness is almost certainly what's keeping Call of Duty and Battlefield 1 off of PSVR. Much as we complain about the outsized influence of military shooters, they are apt to be the games that sell more causal audiences - the types who buy Madden, Call of Duty, and little else - on a PlayStation VR. Without them, it's hard to envision how the PSVR will break out of its hardcore early adopter niche.
Right now, its best case scenario is that early hype gets curious PS4 owners to buy in, thus giving developers standing to continue making games for it. Funnily enough, Carnival Games VR - which I goofed on earlier - might be the system's "killer app" in that it's an easily understandable proof of concept for the device.
As for myself, I'm intrigued by Rez Infinite and EVE Valkyrie, but not so much that I'm willing to spend $400 or more on a PSVR. Ultimately, the broader public's willingness to take a chance and make that leap will determine whether the PlayStation VR ends up sizzling or fizzling when it launches next month.
You can check out our previous coverage of the game through the following links:
The PlayStation 4 Pro vs. PlayStation VR
Why Sony's VR headset shouldn't fear being cannibalized by its new console update.
PlayStation VR at $399 is the Best Hope for Mainstream VR Gaming
PlayStation VR's price point and platform are its biggest strengths.
Alright, PlayStation VR is Pretty Cool
And comfortable too!
Is Your Room Big Enough for a PlayStation VR?
The PlayStation VR is asking for a pretty sizable room.