This past Friday marked the one year anniversary of the release of the PlayStation VR headset. As a headset owner, I thought I’d offer my own thoughts on the unit’s first year in terms of the range of available games, as well as my thoughts on the upcoming release schedule. So, if you’re thinking of investing in PSVR this article will hopefully act as a guide to the highs and lows of the past year and give you a good indication of what’s to come.
I was all prepped to early adopt on day one of PSVR’s release, buying the PS4 camera (and stand) and move controllers prior to the headset’s October launch date. I’d watched trailers, gameplay demos and read numerous articles on the launch titles; unfortunately, due to a financial hiccup, I had to rethink my plans and eventually picked up my headset a few days before Christmas. I also picked up PlayStation VR Worlds, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood and Batman: Arkham VR – the three games that had been on my wishlist since launch day.
My first few experiences of playing in VR were mixed. Whilst the visual experience was absolutely breath-taking, I was left with an intense feeling of nausea for hours afterwards, especially with games that required a lot of in-game movement. I found that the more I played, the more my sense became acclimatised to the sensation and a year on I find that I can play for extended periods without feeling like I’ve stepped off of a dinghy caught in stormy waters.
In terms of software, Sony announced that first party developers were lined up around the block developing for the new medium; though in its first year PSVR has had very little in the way of true triple-A releases. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, whilst completely playable in VR, can also be experienced without spunking close to £400 on a headset, though the scares are magnified without the safety net of playing on a TV screen. The only true triple A game I’ve picked up following PSVR’s launch was Farpoint which I thoroughly enjoyed, more so as I picked up the PS Aim controller to further immerse myself in the experience (and despite only having used the controller with one other game still consider it money well spent).
Despite the lack of blockbuster titles, there are some hidden indy gems with developers trying something other than horror and FPSs. Two of the most enjoyable games I’ve played this past year were Double Fine’s action puzzler Pyschonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin and Forge Reply’s third-person action game Theseus. Be forewarned that aside from these diamonds in rough, the VR section of the PlayStation Store is littered with “experiences” and short games rather than multiple sitting epics for headset owners to get stuck into.
With the lack of triple-A releases, handful of truly enjoyable indy games and raft of mediocre experience I can honestly say there have been times over the first half of this year when I’d suffered pangs of buyer’s remorse; so when this year’s E3 rolled around I was happy to see that Sony was keeping to their word, albeit it a little later than advertised.
I’m incredibly excited for Supermassive’s The Inpatient and Bravo Team. I’m also looking forward to Doom VFR (despite having not played any of the franchise since the original title on my family PC way back in the early nineties) and Ubisoft’s mysterious psychological thriller Transference. As ever there are titles that I have no interest in, such as Bethesda’s perpetually milked cash cow Skyrim and the bizarre “fish ‘em up” Monsters of the Deep: Final Fantasy FFXV, although this is due to my lack of interest in their parent franchises than the games themselves.
On Friday, SIE President and CEO Shawn Layden took to the US PlayStation Blog to trumpet the headset’s success and remind owners (and potential owners) that there’s a lot of VR goodness in the pipeline. I was shocked to see Golem, a game that was first glimpsed on 2016’s E3 VR sizzle reel, and one that I’d assumed was in development hell, will finally see its release next year. The blog lists over sixty titles due for release in 2017/18, though looking a little deeper some of the titles hint at experiences rather than bonafide games; admittedly they only account for a small proportion of what’s to come.
So, the question remains: is it worth investing in a PSVR headset? Six months ago I would’ve honestly said no, but since June I’m more confident that I made the right decision to buy my headset. In terms of time spent playing games regular games versus VR, I’d say it’s roughly an 80:20 split; although this is due to a combination of the lack of games currently on the market and having to be in the mood to connect the numerous leads to my console. Without meaning to sound like sponsored content, the future of VR is looking brighter.