While we move away from discs to fully embrace the future of digital streaming, there’s another big revolution happening in the gaming industry, and that’s the emergence of (sort of) affordable virtual reality (VR) that actually plays well and looks fantastic.
With the sad demise of the Kinect still a fresh, sore wound in some gamers’ minds, and the somewhat lukewarm, “meh” reaction to PlayStation Move, there’s a big question mark looming in the dark skies for those gamers who aren’t quite ready to drop down the initial investment on VR yet — is PSVR actually worth the money at this point?
From expenses to the current selection of PSVR games and more, let’s take a look at the current state of PlayStation’s virtual reality headset.
[Note: If you’re just looking for the best games currently on PlayStation VR, click here now.]
What You Can Expect to Spend on PSVR
The cost of diving into VR is probably less than you think, but may be more than many are interested in spending all in one shot. The basic PSVR headset and camera bundle typically runs around $299, but I found one on sale for $259.99, including Gran Turismo Sport VR. If you want the updated v2 of the PlayStation virtual reality headset (featuring inline controls and audio) with the Skryim bundle, it’s currently going for $349.99.
That’s not the end of your investment, though. While the standard PS4 controller works fine for some of the VR party and racing games, you need two Move controllers for many other titles to really experience what PSVR has to offer — so there’s another $99.99 to spend.
We still aren’t done, though, because your main controller and two Move controllers all have to be charged, and with the virtual reality headset, you are now cluttering up some extra space on your entertainment center.
The PSVR charging display stand is basically a bare-bones requirement (and really should just come with the bundle) so you can charge all three controllers at once and keep clutter to a minimum. That will set you back between $29.99 and $59.99 depending on where you pick it up (weirdly, Walmart is currently more expensive than Gamestop in this instance).
When you’re done swiping your credit card, we’re talking about $390 to $460 beyond the cost of the base PS4 console — and that’s before buying any VR games to actually play! And honestly, the PSVR works best on a PS4 Pro, so …
When I plopped down the cash for the whole setup, I had to hang out with the free tech demo apps for a few weeks before getting paid again to actually afford a full game. That total price is still less than you can expect to spend on buying a high-end PC and getting a Rift or Vive, however. So if you look at it through that lens, you’re still getting quite a bit for the price of just an Oculus Rift, for example.
That moment when you realize you forgot to buy a game before setting your giant pile of money on fire
The Current PSVR Experience
For that $390 investment, what you get is something totally unlike your standard gaming experience. When loading up the Playroom VR, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I turned to see what was behind me and discovered a bunch of little robots looking up and waving at me.
There’s an odd disconnect between what your brain knows — that (hopefully) nobody is standing there in your living room with you — and what your eyes are telling you. It took awhile to get used to this, but that’s not a bad thing, as this disconnect can be used really effectively with certain genres, such as horror.
Horror isn’t really the focus of the VR realm as it currently stands (although there are some good experiences out there) and even that cutesy, free Playroom VR is a ton of fun on its own.
Sure, the experience of VR for the first time is great, and if you’ve already dabbled with an Oculus, Vive, or even Gear VR, that game might not be the first thing you notice — if at all. But(!), I was honestly surprised by how much you get from a free entry, as it feels like a more polished game that’s much more entertaining for a group to play than 1-2 Switch, which actually costs money. Consider other free experiences on the Rift aren’t very long or extensive, and PSVR’s initial bundled content is pretty great.
Where Playroom VR shines is in forcing cooperation between a group of people by changing viewpoints between the player in the headset and the players sitting on the couch looking at the screen. There’s a whole lot of untapped potential here for upcoming PSVR games to rival Rock Band, Mario Party, or Kinect Sports in terms of fun group gaming.
There’s an undeniable appeal to being Godzilla
Of course, flight is a frequent option for a first-person virtual reality experience, and that’s where Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare — Jackal Assault comes in. While very short at only a single level, getting into dogfights in space while seeing a planet beneath you is exhilarating and shows off what can be done with VR. If you own Battlefront, the free X-Wing VR mission there is also sadly short — but well worth checking out.
When you move into the realm of paid games, things get even better. A very different kind of “party game” experience is offered with Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, which takes advantage of the fact that the people in the room can’t see what the VR headset player sees, and vice versa.
Quirky games with cool concepts also abound. Super Hot has made it to PSVR, and there are hilarious social commentary games like The American Dream, which tasks you with having to perform absolutely every activity by using a gun, from making cotton candy to cleaning a car to (oh, my god) delivering a baby. Think of the absurd shenanigans of Octodad or Goat Simulator, but add in a drunk and armed American, and you’re there.
Whether paid or free, smooth and responsive movement is something that’s still being perfected by developers rushing into the PSVR universe.
Until Dawn‘s genre-switching sequel, Rush Of Blood, took care of that issue by going on-rails, but obviously, that’s only a limited fraction of what VR could offer. The franchise’s next VR entry, The Inpatient, allows a much wider range of motion while exploring an old asylum and offers a satisfying first-person horror experience, but the game is limited by a short playtime of around three hours.
Meanwhile, the Steam entry Mage’s Tale is coming to PSVR, which splits the difference between open world and on-rails, offering a full fantasy RPG but only allowing movement in predefined directions rather than seamlessly moving diagonally in any direction.
But what are the best PSVR games you can get right now if you have the pockets or if you’re looking for something new to add to your library?
Rush of Blood is a literal rollercoaster ride of terror
PSVR: Best Games
Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a limited number of PSVR games available at the moment, especially as virtual reality titles are typically split between the PSVR and PC options like the Rift and Vive, with the latter two getting a tad more attention simply because of their ages.
Within that smaller library, though, quality can vary wildly between indie games that rushed to get onto Steam and the PlayStation Store and actual AAA titles that are going to give you serious bang for the buck.
As a horror fanatic, of course, that’s where I was most interested at first, discovering a bunch of sub-par horror entries with limited controls that make a term like “walking simulator” seem like an overstatement.
What to Get Your Hands on First — And Why
- Resident Evil 7
- Blasters of the Universe
- The Inpatient
- Paranormal Activity
- Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
- Super Hot
- Rez Infinite
As the games above attest, it’s not all rushed, shoddy work there, though. The Inpatient and Paranormal Activity are the go-to horror games at the moment, but both have their limitations. Honestly, the best PSVR game right now has got to be Resident Evil 7, which is a whole different beast in virtual reality — and also happens to be one of the biggest and longest PSVR games currently available.
Unlike Doom VR, which was shortened and tweaked significantly on the gameplay front from its base version, Resident Evil 7 sticks very closely to the non-VR version — which makes it very, very good.
Yeah, this in VR is terrifying.
If shooters are more your thing, Farpoint with the PSVR Aim controller (yes, yet another extra peripheral you have the option to buy for $59.99) is an amazing way to spend an afternoon.
There’s a far cheaper shooter that doesn’t require the Aim controller and is an absurd amount of fun, though — Blasters of the Universe. This retro ’80s hilarity is everything that was promised to us in old-school VR movies like Tron. If you ever wondered what Adam Goldberg’s ultimate virtual reality experience would be like, you can now answer that question.
FPS entries are few and far between on PSVR right now, however, with more games going in a puzzle direction as developers still figure out how to properly utilize the hardware. Statik is a game that very smartly uses the limitations of the medium as a selling point, putting you in the role of a researcher whose hands are stuck inside different types of objects in each level. The goal is to free yourself using the controller to hit different patterns, and it’s a very clever gameplay implementation.
Oddly enough, the title that seems to best take advantage of the PSVR control scheme right now is Moss, a Redwall-esque mouse adventure game. The graphics and gameplay style fit the PSVR peripherals and viewpoint to a degree most other games haven’t managed to nail yet.
For the adrenaline junkies who want to see crazy flying colors, the reimagined VR version of Rez Infinite makes you feel like you are in some sort of Tron or Lawnmower Man virtual world that you could get hooked on forever.
There are currently 30 games slated for release in Spring of 2018 for PSVR, from the recently launched ARK Park to the upcoming Rick & Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-Ality, and even some new mystery games and horror titles, so you can expect those “best of” lists to see some big entries in the near future.
If this doesn’t get you excited for VR, then clearly you haven’t assaulted enough McDonald’s employees for your Szechuan sauce fix this week!
The Bottom Line on PSVR
While there are some amazingly fun games to try on PSVR already, a host of games are conspicuously absent that seem tailor-made for VR, like Slime Rancher. The insane Montana adventures of Far Cry 5 would also be an absolutely killer experience in VR.
Besides the small number of quality games, there are a few hardware issues that need to be worked out as well. Tracking on the PSVR is handled with a single, forward-facing camera that isn’t as perfect as some of the PC options like Rift and VIve, and that will need to be addressed at some point.
Some sort of universal controller that can just be slotted into different handheld designs to switch between standard, Move, and Aim modes would also be well appreciated instead of having to buy a new controller for every type of game.
The mainstream VR experience is still very much finding its footing at the moment. What we have now is really cool (and I’d highly recommend everyone give it a try), but the lack of major games that really take advantage of the technology leaves console VR options feeling like they aren’t being fully exploited to their limits.
That being said, I don’t even remotely regret the purchase price at all and have had a blast playing both single-player and party PSVR games.
What I’m really looking forward to, however, is the inevitable second generation of this technology, which is going to be mind-blowing — but only if people actually adopt the fledgling versions now and make it worthwhile for developers to keep supporting PSVR into the future.
So is PSVR worth it? The answer currently stands at maybe, with price still being the biggest barrier to entry. If you have a PS4 Pro and the money, then the answer is undeniably “Yes!”
Seriously, though, this is a ton of fun, and you should jump in and try it!