The PSVR2 sets a new benchmark for quality, immersion, and ease of use—at an unbeatable price.
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Sony PlayStation VR2
The PlayStation VR2 is a generational leap for VR headsets, offering an easy setup, inside-out tracking, improved controllers, advanced haptics, and a high-quality OLED display with eye-tracking capabilities. Its comfortable design and remarkable visual quality make it an excellent choice for PlayStation 5 owners. However, it has some drawbacks, including a limited onboarding experience, no built-in audio, and a lack of non-gaming software. Despite these shortcomings, the PSVR2 sets a high bar for quality and value.
- Eye-tracking for foveated rendering and UI interaction
- Brand: Sony
- Resolution (per eye): 2000 x 2040
- Display Type: OLED
- Connectivity: USB-C
- Tracking Technology: Four cameras on front of headset (no external trackers required)
- Audio: 3.5mm out (earbuds included)
- Weight: 560g
- Advanced controllers with good ergonomics and superb haptics
- Simplified setup with a single USB-C cable
- High-quality OLED display with deep black levels
- Comfortable design, suitable for various facial shapes and glasses-wearers
- Great value for money in combination with a PS5
- Limited onboarding experience
- Some (larger) users may find the controller ring uncomfortable
- No built-in audio
- System is locked down, with no support for PC connectivity or unapproved apps
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Sony PlayStation VR2
The PlayStation VR2 is not only the obvious choice for PlayStation 5 owners—it’s also a huge leap forward for the VR industry, setting a new benchmark. It pushes the boundaries of immersive display technology and comfort, and has me excited again for VR the way I haven’t been since the first time I entered the Tuscany villa on the Oculus Development Kit 1.
About the Reviewer
I’ve been using VR since the original Oculus Dev Kit a decade ago, from an MTBS3D forum goer by the name of Palmer Luckey. He went on to form Oculus and arguably kickstarted the entire consumer VR industry. I’ve owned and tried more headsets than I can count on both hands, and until now, I’ve settled on the Oculus Quest 2 for ease of use and accessibility, as well as a Valve Index for tethered high-quality PCVR gaming.
I picked up the PlayStation VR2 for both access to exclusive games and to see how the hardware was improved over current offerings. I’ll be coming at this review primarily from that angle, rather than someone completely new to VR, so don’t be surprised to see me ignore all comfort settings and breeze past the issue of motion sickness that typically plagues those first few weeks with a headset. It also means my gaming experience on the PlayStation VR2 is limited to a few standout titles, as I don’t plan on buying again the many VR classics that are padding out the launch lineup. I don’t need yet another copy of Beat Saber, or Pistol Whip. They’re great games, but I have them elsewhere.
In terms of connection and setup, it’s an extremely simple package. Gone are the multiple cables, external boxes, adapters, and the horrendous Eye Toy tracking camera of the original PSVR. Instead, the PSVR2 features inside-out tracking via four cameras on the headset (an identical method to the Quest 2), and a wired connection to your PS5 is achieved with a single USB-C cable. That’s it—there’s not even an external power brick.
After pairing the controllers, you can create either a very restrictive seated boundary or a full room-scale boundary. Regardless of whether you plan to play seated or standing, I would suggest doing the room-scale boundary anyway. After all, you can sit happily in a larger play area. Opting to create a seated boundary results in constant boundary warnings with even subtle arm movements.
Note, the pattern you see projected around the screen view is a tracking assist feature. If you have plain walls, it helps to give a static texture that the tracking can lock on to. It’s entirely optional.
While the setup was incredibly simple, I feel like they missed a beat when it came to onboarding. By which I mean, there isn’t any. After creating a boundary, you’re plopped back into the standard menu system and told to go download some games. This was a little disappointing because it’s a real opportunity to show off all the capabilities and really blow the mind of new users. Something as simple as a VR Astro Playroom would be great, demoing the haptics and immersive features.
PlayStation VR2 Controllers
The controllers are now actual VR controllers and not repurposed motion toys, and this time they resemble something most akin to Quest 2. They feature a pronounced ring that encloses your knuckles, and this is where the infrared tracking LEDs are located, which the cameras in the headset can see. The ring is set further back than you might expect, and some users with particularly large hands have found it butts up against their knuckles uncomfortably. If you think that might apply to you, it’s worth demoing somewhere first.
Ignoring the dramatic improvements to the internal haptics, ergonomically, these are obviously a huge step up from the abomination that was the PSMove wands. The real question is, are they better than Quest 2 or Valve Index controllers? Indeed, these feel like the best of both worlds—and then some.
As someone who really doesn’t like the Valve Index controllers and their realistic grip mechanism, the presence of grip buttons here is appreciated. These feel perfectly balanced, in terms of weight distribution and sizing. Unlike most people, I loved the old HTC Vive wands precisely because they were so chunky—it felt like holding a sword or gun. Meanwhile, the Index controllers feel positively stick-like. It’s not quite the same here, but it’s a good compromise.
Advanced haptics and dynamic triggers are perhaps one of the most notable improvements that Sony has already brought to the controller world through its Dualsense gamepad, and the same haptics and trigger tech can be found here. While remarkable in their own right, given that most people purchasing the PSVR2 will have already experienced it from the PlayStation 5, it’s perhaps easy to gloss over.
For those of you coming directly from a different VR system, the triggers, which can have a variable resistance and activation point depending on the game implementation, are incredible. In Pavlov, a first-person shooter ported from PC, each gun feels unique and codes a different behavior to the trigger. You can immediately feel if your bolt-action is ready to fire simply by the resistance of the trigger. It’s these small immersive features that add up to a magical package.
The headset features a 2000 x 2040 OLED panel per eye capable of running at up to 120Hz, though games usually manage 60 to 90Hz and get reprojected to 120. The OLED panels result in intensely deep black levels compared to the usual gray you find on other LCD headsets, though some have noted some more prevalent ghosting. I haven’t noticed this, but it was seemingly most prevalent in GT7, which I didn’t get around to playing until after a patch was released addressing the ghosting.
The headset also features eye or gaze tracking, which is incredible for two reasons. Firstly, it enables foveated rendering, which means only the area you’re looking at needs to be rendered in high resolution; the rest of the display can be a bit blurry in your peripheral vision, leading to improved performance. The second thing gaze tracking enables is quicker UI interactions. Normally, you’d have a fixed pointer emitted from your headset direction or use your controller to point at menu options. With gaze tracking, you can literally just look at the menu items to select them. Of course, not all games will support either feature. Some horror games take it even further, with gameplay affected by when you blink!
Design and Comfort
The PSVR2 features the same basic halo-style headband as the original, but with some upgrades. The screen enclosure can be moved forward and backward, which means you can accommodate glasses easily as well as adapt to different facial shapes. While other headsets require you to use a solid glasses spacer, or rely on third-party facial interfaces to fill in the gap, the PlayStation VR2 opts for a deep, thin, and flexible silicone strip all around the edge. This both works wonders for keeping out light, and means there’s nothing squishing up against your cheeks, nose, or forehead.
The headband stretches easily to fit on your head, and you tighten the ratchet from the rear once positioned correctly. At only 560g, it’s significantly lighter than the Valve Index, and only slightly heavier than the Quest 2; yet it feels lighter than the latter because of the other design features.
One major departure from the original PSVR is that the screen no longer flips up. It doesn’t matter though, because the inside-out tracking cameras allow you to tap a button under the headset to enable passthrough mode. You can immediately see your surroundings in high resolution (albeit, black and white only).
The rigid headband style is much more comfortable than other headsets I’ve tried. It can feel a little unsteady as it rests on your head like a crown, but when you tighten it, it’s secure enough that you can bounce around. That said, I don’t think there’s a correct way to wear it; if it works for you with the halo band lower on the back of your skull, that’s fine too. As long as you’ve found your sweet spot, and it’s comfortable, then that’s fine. It’s a lot more forgiving than I had expected.
The headset also includes some minor haptics, but again, these are game dependent and so subtle that it’s hard to pinpoint their use. In the opening scene of Horizon, a big machine gets close and you feel a rumble on your head. In Pavlov, you’ll feel a little tingle as bullets whizz past your head. It’s probably a good thing that these are subtle and not overused, and I suspect it contributes to the overall magic of immersion without being too obvious or annoying.
In the box is a pair of earbuds that clip into the back of the halo band via a single rubber stud and the 3.5mm stereo jack. They’re decent enough quality, but I have an irrational hatred of all earbuds, so the lack of a built-in set of off-ear headphones like the Valve Index has is disappointing.
You can, of course, plug in your own earbuds or headphones. But for headphones, it may be hard finding some that suit the solid headband style. It’s also a bit more faff before you can enjoy VR, which is otherwise something the PSVR2 excels at: getting you into the action quickly.
As for the inside-out tracking, it’s very similar to the Quest 2, and suffers from the same issues. Any bright sunlight will cause glitches, though you need a good level of light for the optical camera tracking to work. It can’t be used outside because the IR from the sun overwhelms the IR LEDs in the tracking rings of the controllers; though as a cabled headset, it’s much less likely you’d try playing outside. And because it’s an optical system with forward-facing cameras, if you move your controllers behind you or out of sight of the cameras, they stop tracking.
If you’ve used a Quest 2, you’ll be familiar with these drawbacks, and it is what it is. The PSVR2 hasn’t improved upon the tried and tested inside-out optical tracking system.
For testing, I spent most of my time in Horizon: Call of the Mountain. While this is a PSVR2 review, not a Call of the Mountain game review, the criticism of it being a 70% climbing game is very much fair, and at times the climbing aspects do feel like they’re being overused to pad out content.
I wouldn’t go far as it to call it a tech demo, as it’s a visual feast that fans of the Horizon series will spend every moment gawking at. The combat is superb, with you strafing around targets and firing your bow as you dodge attacks. Bow firing and VR are nearly always a winning combo, after all. But I’m not sure it’s worth the $60 asking price.
It’s not an open-world game, and it can be quite restrictive when it comes to navigating the world. I found myself constantly wanting to explore further than the minor bush obstacle would allow; or just wishing I could jump off the cliff (you’d be surprised how many people do this in VR). But it’s easy to understand that as many people’s first VR experience, they wanted to keep things simple and mostly on rails. Accidentally falling off a cliff can be rather traumatic, after all.
Which is all a roundabout way to say that looking out upon those mountain views is absolutely magical, and it’s here where we see the breathtaking quality of those OLED screens.
The use of OLED, HDR-capable screens results in incredible contrast. Blacks are truly black, not a murky mid-grey, and bright scenes can be almost blinding, with the full gamut of vibrant HDR colors in-between.
I’ve read a lot of first-time users complaining of a type of blur across everything, and it’s possible they’re referring to what’s known as mura, a common visual artifact in most headsets that manifests as a sort of very faint pixel noise. If you go looking for it, you’re going to notice it, especially in dark loading screens or menus.
Still, if you’re coming from another headset as I am and know what to expect, you’re not going to care, it’s certainly no more pronounced here than on any other headset. It’s easily ignored once an actual scene loads in and the truly stunning visuals take over. It might be worse in very dark scenes, but I don’t tend to play horror games. As a Brit, I get enough darkness and horror on a daily basis, thank you very much.
Another complaint common on VR headsets is the feeling that you’re viewing the world from behind a mesh—the so-called “screen door effect”. I’m pleased to say that’s just not an issue here. There’s no mesh at all.
I also grabbed Gran Turismo 7, somewhat blindly, as it’s my first foray into the series. I’ve tried many PC racing games, and outside of Dirt Rally, they’ve never really appealed (even with a steering wheel). The arcadey feel of GT7 combined with its almost documentary-esque car collection and historical aspects is surprisingly compelling.
You’ll see in the video review that I’m using a GT923 racing wheel and a YawVR2 motion simulator. The motion rig sits on the network, listening to commands from Sim Racing Studio, running on my PC. Sim Racing Studio extracts the telemetry from over the local network. This sounds like a lot of effort to get set up and running, but it’s actually not. I just power on the YawVR2, power on the PC, which auto-launches SRS, then power on the PlayStation with the wheel as the main controller. Annoyingly, it’s even simpler than running racing games from the PC itself.
Aside, if you’re wondering why I haven’t reviewed the YawVR2 yet, it’s because I was an early Kickstarter backer and lucky enough to have it delivered before things went south. It’s an innovative design and an incredible bit of hardware. But the Kickstarter money has since run out, thanks to rising material costs, and production rates were slow anyway. The company is now attempting to outsource production while opening retail sales to fund unfulfilled Kickstarter orders. It’s not in a state I’d feel comfortable recommending at the moment, but I’ll revisit it if and when commercial production is viable.
Field of View
The field of view is around 110 degrees, depending on how close you can bring the lenses to your eyes. It’s good enough: better than the Quest 2’s field of view of around 90 degrees, but slightly less than the Valve Index’s roughly 120 to 130 degrees. But this isn’t an exact science, and if you need to move the screen away because you wear glasses, you’ll restrict the FOV. We’re still not at or near the level of total 180-degree full-dive immersion, and it still feels like you’re wearing a ski mask. Again though, if you’re used to VR, this won’t be news to you, and it’s still as good as we can hope for at this point in time.
Sony Has Set the Bar High
While there are always improvements to be made at this stage in the development of VR headsets, the PlayStation VR2 is—for this VR enthusiast, at least—an incredible device. It combines the ease of use of inside-out tracking and plug-n-play console ethos, with the power and screen quality of a high-end headset. Also, I don’t want to understate how good the comfort is. The halo band and flexible silicone interface means no more pushing against your cheek and eyes.
It’s packed full of advanced tech with haptics and gaze tracking, and the fact it all works over a single USB-C cable with onboard tracking for sheer ease of setup is incredible.
We have come such a long way since the days of needing to plug in four or five USB cables for external tracking cameras. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted with frustrating Steam VR, Windows, and Oculus issues.
From a hardware perspective, I highly recommend the PlayStation VR2.
The only concern for me is whether Sony supports it as fully as it should, and whether it garners the sales to justify that support. SteamVR and Quest 2 ports are good to fill out the library, but it’s the exclusives that will ultimately grab market share and pull in enthusiasts like me.
On top of that, the system is pretty locked down right now. Even if physically possible, it’s unlikely to get full PC connectivity support. If it did I would sell my Valve Index in a heartbeat. But you can’t even get a web browser or VR video player for the PS5 at the moment, which means no VR movies of any kind.
The PlayStation VR2 as a complete package, is a generational leap for VR headsets and sets an incredibly high bar for quality at a fantastic price point. If you only have $1000 and want the latest in VR tech, a PS5 and PSVR2 combo simply cannot be beaten for value.