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CES 2023: What It’s Like Trying Out the PlayStation VR 2

CES 2023: What It’s Like Trying Out the PlayStation VR 2

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CNN Underscored brings you the best of CES 2023 all week. Be sure to check out our CES 2023 Coverage Hub for hands-on previews of this year’s biggest tech straight from the show floor.

After years of anticipation, Sony’s PlayStation VR 2 headset is just weeks away from ending up in the hands of PS5 owners. Having had a chance to try it out at CES 2023 ahead of its February 15 launch, I can say that the future of virtual reality for consoles looks bright.

The PlayStation VR 2’s enhanced controls, tracking and visual fidelity make a strong impression right from the start, and Horizon Call of the Mountain is shaping up to be a fun and compelling launch title. But will Sony’s long-awaited headset, with a hefty price tag and no backwards compatibility, be worth it? Here’s what I’m thinking so far after a short 20 minute demo.

• Product: Sony PlayStation VR 2
• Price: Starting at $550
• Start date: February 22 (Available for pre-order through Sony)
• Why it’s worth your attention: The PlayStation VR 2 appears to be a huge improvement over one of our best VR headsets in PlayStation VR, offering much better performance and a streamlined setup process.

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Mike Andronico/CNN underlined

Developed exclusively for the PS5, the PlayStation VR 2 is a top-to-bottom improvement over the PS4-based PlayStation VR. The PSVR 2 has a much slicker look that mimics the design of the PlayStation 5 itself, with new, spherical Sense controllers that feel more ergonomic than the older Move controllers – while still offering the same advanced, detailed feel that we offer the standard PS5 love DualSense controllers.

But perhaps the biggest upgrade is the PSVR 2’s internal camera sensors, which should solve many of the setup issues we had with the original model. Where the previous PlayStation required you to have a PlayStation Camera hooked up to track your controller movements (not to mention a clunky processor box powering the whole thing), the new headset promises seamless plug-and-play experience. Experience with a single cable.

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Mike Andronico/CNN underlined

The PlayStation VR 2 felt comfortable and light as soon as I put it on my head, and I never felt the urge to adjust it during my roughly 20-minute demo. Performing a quick calibration to prepare for my demo, I was impressed by how quickly and accurately the headset tracked my eye movements – something that made it easy to navigate menus without having to move the joystick. After a few minutes of setup, it was time to venture into the wilds of Horizon Call of The Mountain, a first-person action game set in the same post-apocalyptic sci-fi universe as Sony’s popular Horizon games PS4 and PS5.

As soon as I began my journey as a disgraced soldier being taken to his destination by boat, I was immediately struck by the enhanced visual fidelity of PlayStation VR. My crewmates looked as lifelike and detailed as they would in a PS5 game, and I couldn’t help but pan my head around as I marveled at the lush greenery all around us – and the towering robotic beasts looming overhead. This immersive experience is made possible by PSVR 2’s enhanced 2000 x 2040 OLED HDR display, which is a notable improvement over the original model’s 960 x 1080 resolution.

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Mike Andronico/CNN underlined

When things went wrong and it was time to switch to survival mode, the headset’s new Sense controllers proved impressive. Everything from my boat bumping to my bow and arrow tugging was met with a level of feedback all its own, making it easier to immerse yourself in the action. Climbing mountains in particular felt tense and exciting, to the point where my real hands started to sweat from worrying about falling off a sheer cliff. Luckily, the game’s and controller’s hand tracking was accurate enough that I only slipped a few times (and luckily didn’t fall in real life).

Call of the Mountain is shaping up to be a solid launch title for the new headset, offering an intuitive mix of traversal and combat – and no doubt plenty of narrative easter eggs for serious Horizon fans. I’ve walked the game’s treacherous paths by pressing two buttons and moving my actual arms (which definitely felt like a bit of a workout), although you also have the option to scoot around via standard controller inputs if you don’t feel like it have to break a sweat. I also liked how interactive everything in the environment was, as I could pick up, play with, and throw every wooden box, piece of fruit, and random tambourine that was lying around the wasteland.

My only real nitpick was combat – while drawing my bow and hurling arrows felt intuitive, it took a while for me to land shots accurately. This was especially true during a big boss fight where I had to dodge and shoot on the spur of the moment, although I imagine I’ll get used to that as I get more playtime.

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Mike Andronico/CNN underlined

The PlayStation VR 2 makes a strong first impression, delivering immersive 4K gameplay in a design that improves on its predecessor in almost every way. Horizon Call of the Mountain is shaping up to be a nice showcase for the headset, and I’m excited to see how other titles like Resident Evil Village and Among Us VR play on it.

All that performance doesn’t come cheap, however. The PSVR2 starts at $550 (there is also a $600 package that includes Call of the Mountain) and requires you to own a $400-$500 PS5 — a console that’s still not exactly easy to come by. The headset is not backward compatible with PSVR 1 games, although some titles offer free upgrades to the PSVR 2 version. And while the launch lineup looks pretty promising (we can’t wait to play Resident Evil Village and Gran Turismo 7 in VR), it’s also made up of many games that have been available on other headsets for quite some time, such as: B. Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge and Beat Sabre.

However, the PlayStation VR 2’s promising performance and improved design alone made me want to spend more time with it. We’ll be putting it through its paces closer to launch next month, so stay tuned for our in-depth review.

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