When the tech world started to fully embrace VR just a few short years ago I couldn’t bring myself to care. I have not been one for trends and have been let down by console peripherals on more than one occasion. I had no intentions on picking up Project Morpheus (now PlayStation VR) when it was first announced and I even deliberately skipped out on testing the headset at several industry events. I finally caved at E3 2015 and decided to see what the PS4’s VR add on could do. I sat down and tested out Rigs, a title I had not heard of at the time. Needless to say after playing it again several times, I preordered a launch bundle as soon as it was possible to do so. Now that the PlayStation VR is finally available and I have had a few days to put that preordered bundle to the test, here are my thoughts on the PSVR itself and some of the games I picked up at launch.
The PlayStation VR Launch Bundle
Right out the box my favorite feature of the PSVR is that once everything is hooked up, it does not actually require your t.v. to work. There are a few games where one player will use the VR other player view images on the t.v. but if you are not playing one of those you can play using the headset while someone else (my wife in my case) watches something on television. The PSVR may not be immediately comfortable depending on the type of head you were born with but it can be adjusted in a number of ways until it fits the way you want. In order for the unit to work you will need a PlayStation Camera. The core PSVR which retails for $399.99 does not include one while the launch bundle does. The launch bundle also includes two PlayStation Move controllers which are not required for most games but they do make controlling some games feel more natural. If you have everything set up just right the PSVR works perfectly. I initially had some issues with some games due to the placement of the PlayStation Camera and the space that I had in the room where I have it hooked up. After rearranging the furniture and opening up a good amount of space in front of the camera, everything now runs smoothly.
One concern a lot of people have when thinking about the jump to VR is motion sickness. I started off playing in small doses just to be sure it didn’t happen to me. I am now at a point where I can sit in a 3-4 hour Rigs multiplayer session with no problems whatsoever.
While everything is still relatively new I can say that the PSVR is everything Sony said it would be. The feeling of immersion that you get is amazing especially if PS4 is your first taste of VR. My only hope is that developers continue to create full, unique experiences and do not flood the market with nothing but mini-game collections like they did with the original Wii.
Final Score 9.75/10
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
I have to admit that after playing the original Until Dawn I thought that this game was a horrible idea when it was first announced. I thought that reducing the very well executed narrative and gameplay of the original release to a carnival style, on the rails shooter would simply not work. I was very, VERY wrong. While undergoing a procedure in a less than sanitary hospital, you (as a character from the original game) is exposed to a gas and begin to hallucinate. Within these hallucinations characters, locations and themes from Until Dawn make an appearance in the form of seven different amusement park roller coasters. Each coaster comes to life with disturbing imagery and enemies that can literally get right in your face thanks to the PSVR tech. The game has you duel-wielding pistols but you will find other weapons like shotguns and revolvers. The game can be finished in one sitting but for $20 you do get a lot for your money. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is fun and creepy and serves as a great showcase for what the PSVR can do.
Final Score 8.75/10
Rigs: Mechanized Combat League
The game that changed my mind about the whole VR deal. Rigs is different than your average FPS or mech shooter of yore. Rigs doesn’t take place during war or any sort of conflict. In this game you are in what can only be described as the sport of the future. Players join a team and then compete in events and tournaments throughout a season both online and solo. You start by choosing your mech or Rig as they are called. Each comes with two weapons, one mounted on each arm and a special ability. For example on class leave a bomb behind upon death that can damage or even take out nearby opponents. Another class allows you to heal allies by aiming at them.The choice of Rig you make will depend largely on how you play and on the type of event you are competing in. You can by a new Rig with cash earned in-game and then take it to a testing arena to get familiar with it.
Rigs has 3 modes in both online and offline play. Team Takedown is basically team deathmatch and the same basic rules apply. Endzone is capture the flag stylized to work like football. A large silver football spawns mid arena and each team is charged with getting the ball to the goal on the other side. Finally there’s Power Slam that works like a hybrid of team deathmatch and basketball. After scoring 3 kills or collecting power spheres around the arena, your Rig goes into Overdrive which allows you to score a point by jumping through the goal at the top of the arena.
Rigs is a fun example of just what the PSVR can do and is a game that no PSVR owner should miss out on.
Final Score: 9.25/10
To be continued…