Hands-on with Sony's virtual reality headset
It wasn't that long ago that virtual reality seemed like a far-fetched concept that would take decades to enter the home. In the past five years technology has developed to the point where consumers can buy a VR headset of their own for less than €100. The possibilities for this technology are endless.
Sony's development of their own VR offering - Playstation VR - looks set to transform gaming, but is a remarkable thing to experience, even if you're not a gamer yourself. While it costs a good bit more than €99, it's not quite the thousands required for some of the other units.
First things first, PSVR is a big enough piece of kit. This isn't a neat little console that will sit on a shelf - there's many cables and pieces involved. That being said, however, it only takes around 10 minutes to set up.
The VR headpiece connects to the Playstation 4 via a chunky cable. Gamers are connected to the PS4 at all times, meaning you need to be close enough to the console for it to work. It's also important to note that a camera, which is not included in the price of the VR unit, needs to be placed on top of the TV. Gamers need to be a certain distance away from the TV for it to work. So, space is key here.
Once you've set it all up correctly, the fun begins.
Having tried Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Samsung's Gear VR, I was intrigued to see how PSVR would feel on. While being connected to the PS4 via a cable is not ideal, the unit itself is very comfortable on the head. It's not heavy or clunky. Headphones are connected into the same main cable, meaning users only have the one lead behind them. The headphones are an important part of the immersive experience.
One of the first things I tried was "Ocean Decent". In this feature, the gamer is in a cage, underwater and about to explore what the ocean has to offer. This is just remarkable. As with every VR experience, you can look left, right, up or down. The fish get so close and look so real that you will try to touch them.
The thing that impresses me the most with this experience is that it doesn't make me feel unwell. I have tried so many other VR experiences and always end up feeling ill after five minutes or so. I played with PSVR for around 20 minutes last night and didn't get a hint of nausea. This is impressive!
The most fun I had with the PSVR was when I became Batman.
This image doesn't show it off fantastically well, but here's my Batman hands. I was holding the PS Move controllers (not included in the VR unit), and they were displayed on screen as hands.
I was able to look down and see Batman's tool-belt. I could pick items up or throw things with gestures and by using the buttons on the Move controllers. It was pretty epic.
Without giving any gaming spoilers away, at one stage in the game a man falls from the ceiling, directly in front of the gamer. This made me jump. What's even more shocking is that the person looks so incredibly real. I was standing face-to-face with this virtual human, in a Batcave whilst actually in my apartment in Dublin.
The only time I felt disorientated was when I took the VR unit off and I noticed that the sun had set. It was bright out when I began playing.
This is, without question, the best virtual reality experience I have come across. It's immersive and fun and it didn't make me want to throw up.
If you're thinking of getting one, there's a few things to know:
If you're a gamer, you will love this. If you're not a gamer, but live with someone who is, you will end up playing with this and loving it. It's so much fun.