PSVR 2 is on the way, but what do we know about the next generation PS5 VR headset?
Ever since the announcement of the PlayStation 5 in 2019, gamers have been wondering what that means for the future of their virtual reality games. PlayStation VR is currently the only VR headset available from the three major console makers. Considering it was released back in 2016, we have been eager for an update to the now antiquated hardware.
As you can see from our PSVR review, the original console-based virtual reality system still has a lot to offer to immersive gamers, plus a whole host of stand-out titles from the cute 3D platformer Astrobot: Rescue Mission to the mind-bending take on an old favorite Tetris Effect. Despite some of the best VR exclusive experiences currently released, the hardware and graphical specs of the original PSVR are no longer cutting edge. They cannot compare to the best VR headsets currently on the market.
Luckily for fans of console-based VR, Sony announced the next generation of headsets back in February of this year with admittedly sparse details. Hideaki Nishino, Senior Vice President of Platform Experience, confirmed that Sony’s next-generation virtual reality console, compatible with the PlayStation 5, was in development. If you have been finding it hard to separate facts from fantasy, do not lose heart. We have dug deep into all the official announcements and sifted through the rumors and recent patents to bring you everything we know about PlayStation’s next foray into the VR space.
What is the PSVR 2 / PlayStation 5 VR?
While players were delighted by the announcement of a virtual reality headset compatible with the current generation of PlayStation consoles, they were also shocked by how few details came with that announcement. Without even an official name to attribute to PlayStation's upcoming headset, opting instead to refer to it as the "next-generation VR system," Nishino mostly gave vague details with no concrete facts and figures. Aside from the obvious fact that the new headset is designed for use with the PlayStation 5, Nishino also promised improved performance and interactivity and enhanced resolution, field of view, tracking, and input, without details on what any of that actually means.
He did, however, concede three new pieces of official information for the improved system. The first is that the new Sony VR will have wholly redesigned controllers which incorporate the unique features from PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller. This was a welcome announcement as the current PSVR still uses the PlayStation Move controllers, which came out during the PlayStation 3’s lifespan. The second announcement is that the new system will connect to the PlayStation 5 via a single wire. This is a greatly appreciated offering by conscious cable consumers who require five to set up the original headset.
The last piece of solid knowledge is that Sony’s next-generation VR will not come out in 2021. This was expected as Sony focuses its production on the sought-after PlayStation 5 console, which many consumers are still desperate to obtain. Sony confirmed there would be no new information in the September showcase, but rumors surrounding the system suggest we will hear a lot more in early 2022.
How much will the PSVR 2 cost?
It will probably be a while before Sony announces the official pricing for their next-generation headset. Still, with what we know so far, it is possible to make a reasonable estimate. The original PlayStation VR released at $399/£349. This was the price for the version without the PlayStation Camera necessary to use PSVR which retailed separately at $60/£50.
Most hardware makes a loss upon launch, turning a profit later with additional hardware, software, and subscription sales making up the costs. The PlayStation 5 is no exception. While the disc version is finally running at a profit, the next-generation VR system will likely run at a loss when initially launched. Even with increased screen resolution, haptic feedback, and increased processing, Sony would probably hesitate to set the price point drastically higher than the original.
The PlayStation 5 costs $100/£100 more than the PlayStation 4 did at launch, so we know this is a price increase consumers are comfortable paying. Also, according to TechRadar the new VR will come bundled with a set of controllers. This seems plausible since Sony has been focusing its marketing around them. Despite the original VR system not including controllers, Sony will be reluctant to surpass the PlayStation 5’s launch price for a VR set. Therefore, we think you can expect the PlayStation 5 VR to retail around $499/£449.
When is the PSVR 2 release date?
With the only official release date confirmed as "not 2021," it looks like Sony is still deep in development with the new hardware. Though nothing is definite, there are quite a few rumors and estimations based on other available evidence that seem to hold some weight. The most credible claim to date appears to be from Bloomberg, who wrote an in-depth article about the current state of screen manufacturers and where the industry is heading.
In the report, Japan Display Inc., one of the leading LCD screen producers, stated that they have a relationship with almost every VR developer in the market. As the VR market is pivoting to LCD screens, Sony is reportedly continuing to use the higher quality and more expensive OLED products they used in the original version of the PlayStation Vita and, most notably, the PlayStation VR headset.
What do screens have to do with release dates? Bloomberg claims that "people with knowledge of the matter" have confirmed that Sony is working with Samsung to develop the OLED screens with a view of a late 2022 release date. As new hardware, specifically highly anticipated pieces, is often released around the holiday period to boost sales, this assertion seems likely. This release period would also give Sony time to produce and sell more PlayStation 5 units, which are essential for use with the next-generation VR headsets.
What new features will the PSVR 2 headset have?
Sony has confirmed an increased field of view with sites claiming anywhere from 10-20° of added length. This would bring the new PlayStation VR screen up to 110° at a minimum, the current industry standard. The new resolution is also reported to be near 4k, offering each eye 2000x2040 resolution. As officially announced, the new headset will feature enhanced tracking, most likely a reference to eye-tracking, which is becoming increasingly common in the VR space. This would help with VR’s motion sickness problem as players would not have to rotate their whole head to see.
Sony filed a “motion-sickness reduction” patent that includes the DualSense’s haptic feedback in the headset to help reduce disorientation for players. It also points toward improvements with comfort for glasses wearers. The patent, which outlines their method for eye-tracking, specifically takes account of this section of gamers. Both of these features have not been confirmed but seem probable as they help deal with problems common with many players.
Patents also show that there could be a screen on the outside of the headset to show the user's expressions to an onlooking audience. This would have implications for streaming and gaming socially. Back in February, Sony patented the ability to use everyday objects, such as a banana, as a controller, which could demonstrate how Sony intends to blend VR with AR technology. This fits with Sony's push for more social gaming. While a patent does not guarantee invention, we could see aspects of this in the coming headset.
What are the new PSVR 2 controllers?
The one aspect of the new PlayStation VR that we are confident of is the new controllers. Sony has focused a lot of their release information on this new design. The unique orb shape allows a far more natural grip than the old Move controllers aiding immersion. The shape also moves the trigger under the controller, which feels more natural to hold. The layout is most interesting because the four action buttons are divided over the two handsets, making it likely that the controllers will need to be used as a pair.
As expected, the new controllers will include many features also integrated into the PlayStation 5 DualSense controllers. With adaptive triggers with varying resistances and haptic feedback that uses targeted rumbling, these new controllers may be the most immersive in VR gaming to date.
They also integrate better tracking than their predecessors. The next-generation headset will now have the ability to track these controllers, and the controllers themselves will track where your fingers are positioned on them. This will allow all new methods of control in PlayStation VR and should be able to interpret your movements far more accurately than the current system, which solely relies on tracking from the camera and has a tendency to desync.
Does the original PlayStation VR work with the PlayStation 5?
This is an interesting question, and it has a somewhat complicated answer. The short answer is yes. However, you will need to order an adaptor from Sony to link your PlayStation 4 camera to your PlayStation 5 since the current generation camera is not compatible with the original VR headset. It gets more complicated again when you begin considering software compatibility. With the PlayStation 5’s improved processing speeds, original PlayStation VR games run smoother when played through the current generation console.
Many VR games come in a PlayStation 5 or PlayStation 4 version, and the PlayStation 5 updated versions do not work with the original PlayStation VR. In these cases, as with popular games like No Man’s Sky or Resident Evil VII, you will need the PlayStation 4 version running on your console to play them in VR.
There are also several PlayStation 5 VR games in development as dev kits for the new system went out at the start of 2021. At a developers conference held in August, Sony tried to woo developers into creating games for the new hardware. When released, these titles will not be compatible with the old VR systems. Sony is also reportedly encouraging developers to integrate VR compatibility into their big main console releases. Big titles like Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo appear as if they were developed with VR in mind.