Racing and PS VR are no strangers. Driveclub and Gran Turismo Sport have shown us the immersive power of sitting in a vehicle’s cockpit, looking over the dashboard at the track before you, feeling the road as the race surrounds you. But compared to these more grounded affairs, Wipeout can be a wild, unwieldy ride. Anti-gravity vehicles fly along snaking, roller-coaster paths as neon lights and high-tech weaponry decorate the track. On paper, this reads like a formula for VR nausea, but in practice, Wipeout and PS VR are a match made in heaven.
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, VR experiences where the player’s seated position matches their in-game avatar are easy to wrap your brain around, minimizing the cognitive dissonance that can cause VR sickness. Wipeout VR is no different. In first-person, your perspective is that of the racer in the cockpit. This rooted position makes the piloting feel perfectly natural, even when things go off the rails. And this being Wipeout, make no mistake: you will fly off the rails. In my 20-minute demo with Wipeout Omega Collection (which will receive this VR update in early 2018), I collided with walls and other racers, flew off the track and fell through open air, and experienced multiple plummeting drops. Despite the lurching action, this is one of the most comfortable VR games I’ve played.
Strangely, I also found Wipeout VR to be easier than the base game. At the very least, it was slightly more intuitive. The physical cockpit before me, and the track whizzing by out front, combined to establish a wonderful feeling of presence. Just like with Driveclub VR, I found this presence allowed me to tap into real-world steering skills and establish a rhythm in and out of turns. It was not unlike downhill skiing–leaning into turns, letting the banks guide my steering thumb, “feeling” the turn moreso than manipulating controls to keep myself on the track.
The only meaningful trade-off is limited spatial awareness. Especially given Wipeout’s tight corners and sudden drops, it can be difficult to read a track on your first couple laps and properly see what’s coming. Once you’ve adjusted, there’s nothing to impede your racing. Wipeout is gorgeous in VR–a high framerate and resolution offer a crisp, smooth view of the action. From the cockpit, these techno environments take on new significance. Racing uphill feels like ascending into the sky and billboards of the future tower over you. Meanwhile, important info like hull integrity, current weapon, and position are displayed on the cockpit’s dashboard, leaving your view wide open. For me, the precise placement of these indicators was perfect. In the heat of the race, I often forgot they were even there. A fleeting glance down was all I needed to check the info.
As PS VR enters its second full year, we’re looking for meaty experiences with hours of immersive action. Wipeout Omega Collection absolutely fits the bill. A free update will bring polished VR to all the content of Wipeout HD, HD Fury, and Wipeout 2048, changing the game for seasoned vets and doubling the value proposition for newcomers. Wipeout VR is frantic fun, comfortable, and surprisingly intuitive. Every PS VR owner should check it out when it launches early next year.