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Gaming Gutcheck: Playstation VR/ by /

14 Oct

It struck me that the romanticization of VR is largely a generational thing. GenX’ers like me who knew the pre-computer world and saw the rapid transformation that personal computing brought, tend to be a little more starry-eyed about it than the results-driven approach of Millennials. Many of the current gen have never even heard of Neuromancer, whereas the previous gen had their lives changed by it.

This disparity is clear in how different people react to the present state of VR hardware. For a geezer like me, it’s hard not to get swept up in hyperbole just by seeing what VR could *be*, rather than what it really is.

I have intentionally never experienced VR before, simply because I knew it wasn’t quite “there” yet, and it’s such a special thing to me that I didn’t want my first experience to be bad. Saving myself for the wedding night, as it were.

No unboxing video, we promise

No unboxing video, we promise

Yesterday I spent several hours in Playstation VR and my non-hype conclusion: It’s really neat. By no means is it perfect, but if you can accept it’s shortcomings, it’s worthwhile.

To get the negatives addressed first:

– Biggest disappointment is the resolution. Splitting a single 1080 panel in two just can’t create a sharp image. This also relates to the IPD focal point, where the sweet spot is very small. As a result, things either look blurry or low res, almost all of the time.

– Tracking of both the headset and controllers can easily bug out or drift. This is addressable in a number of ways but expect to be doing a lot of tweaking.

Accepting those limitations, the overall experience itself is pretty astonishing.

Anyone who has done some reading on the current state of VR knows that cockpit-based games work best, and I have found this to be true. The second I loaded up Eve Valkyrie and actually felt like I was sitting in the cockpit of a crazy scifi starfighter, it gave me exactly that moment we’ve all dreamed about since being a kid and sitting in a cardboard box pretending to be Luke Skywalker flying down the Death Star trench.

Much like saving one’s self for the wedding night, once the big moment arrives, neither party is quite ready. There is an adjustment period. Things to learn. Adaptations to be made. But there is also a lot of joy possible, with care and devotion.

The “explosion” of mainstream VR that we were speculating for 2016 simply isn’t happening. The hardware just isn’t quite there yet, and the entry price is far too high for the average consumer. Much like the first VR wave in the 90’s, it’s entirely possible that it may again descend to the underground. But I think there is just too much promise of something truly special and transformative here, for it to ever go away completely. If VR is something you’re interested in and have the resources to obtain, we are finally at the point where I can say: go for it. Jump in. This is only the beginning, and if you recognize that, the path forward looks promising indeed.

The first time someone strapped William Gibson into modern VR tech, all he said was “They did it”. Well kids, they did. Now let’s do it some more.

Full review and updates on the next PUGCast.

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