Thanks to Plantronics and QV Software, Stevivor was invited to Zen Gaming Lounge in Melbourne last week to check out some of their latest headsets. Most notable on show was their Rig 4VR, specifically designed and licensed to work with PlayStation VR.
In the coming weeks, we’ll have comprehensive reviews of all that Plantronics has to offer in the way of headsets to help you get started on your Christmas lists — but for now, let’s focus on the PSVR Demo.
We’ve covered PSVR in the past, having used the device with London Heist at PAX AUS last year. On this occasion, only weeks away from the launch of PSVR itself, we were presented with a true test of the level of immersion possible with this fancy gizmo. The software on show was Resident Evil 7’s “Lantern” demo, straight from the floor of this year’s Tokyo Game Show.
I was expecting the PSVR headset to be a heavy lump of plastic that felt unbalanced, resulting in a constant sense of my head being weighed down. Once it was dropped on my noggin, I was pleasantly surprised to find the exact opposite. While certainly heavier than a pair of headphones, and possibly not suitable for use hours on end, it was still significantly lighter than it looked and was comfortable to wear.
Calibrating the headset was as easy as finding a comfortable seated position and holding the Options button on the DualShock 4. The screen instantly centred in front of me and I was ready to go, exploring a seemingly abandoned — and very creepy — house.
As I strolled through the dilapidated rooms of this run-down house, I instantly felt uneasy. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was scared, but I certainly felt a little creeped out, especially whilst opening doors and confronting the horrible unknown. What would be waiting on the other side of each entrance? In the distance I could hear a woman rambling; possibly to herself, possibly not. As I approached a door in a hallway it opened and an old kerosene lantern being held by a yellowish hand poked through. I turned around quickly and hid behind a clearly strategically placed box that I had walked past just moments before. Behind this box I waited for the woman to pass me by. In the crouched position the sense of scale provided by PSVR came to light. This woman was menacing. I felt her presence in that hallway like nothing I’ve ever experienced before while playing a game on a TV. I was in that hallway, she was in there with me, and I didn’t like it.
I’m not telling you if I ever shrieked out load during the demo.
In another section of the demo I found myself edging my way through a long and narrow wall cavity. As a horror game aficionado I knew this was a classic location for a jump scare. But no matter how much I prepared myself for it, PSVR rendering that cramped space in 3D did just too good a job of making me feel claustrophobic and vulnerable. Thankfully there was no jump scare and I was spared the embarrassment of painting my jocks brown in front of the Plantronics reps talking me through the demo.
At the end of the demo I found myself sitting at a dinner table surrounded by a family that reminded me of the nut jobs portrayed in Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses. It’s the same scene at the end of the trailer below. As you’ll see, there are a few instances where the developers are blatantly screaming, “Hey look! This is in 3D!” which is a little disappointing. Still, I’ll allow it because that type of move is to be expected in a promotional demo. During this scene I didn’t feel the need to actually dodge objects being thrown at me, but I’ll admit there was a small hint of instinct telling me to get out of the way.
The only negative thing I can say about PSVR was the screen-door effect that’s present in all of the VR units I’ve used since the first iteration of the Oculus Rift dev kit. That being said, once I was fully immersed in the creepy world of Resident Evil 7, I had almost completely forgotten about it.
After my brief experience with PlayStation VR, one burning question sat in my head for a number of days: would I buy one at the launch price? At $549.00 AUD for the headgear, plus the annoying additional cost of the PlayStation Camera $89.95 AUD and $129.95 AUD for a Rig 4VR, the answer is a resounding no. While it’s an excellent system — and I’ll most certainly buy one eventually — the smarter decision would be to allow a year or more for prices to drop and content to become abundant. That said, it won’t necessarily stop me from dropping Christmas gift ideas for my wife — a Rig 4VR included.