PSVR2 is here. After more than six years since Sony’s initial foray into the VR space, PSVR2 has at last made its debut for use with the PS5 and presents a truly high-end VR solution for the very first time in the console space. The time is upon us. This is our review of PSVR2. For further reading do check out our list of all the PSVR2 games that have been announced. Additionally, you might also want to check out our features which detail all the PSVR2 games launching in 2023, our PSVR2 complete guide and finally our feature which lists all the PSVR games that are getting a free PSVR2 upgrade.
PSVR2 Review – The Next Generation Of PlayStation VR
In this PSVR2 review:
- Form Factor & Design – Is PSVR 2 Comfortable To Wear & Use?
- The User Interface Experience
- Performance – Just How Powerful Is PSVR 2 And Is It A Difference Maker?
- Games – How Is The Software Line-Up For PSVR 2?
- How Does PSVR 2 Compare To PSVR?
- Is PSVR 2 A Good Value Proposition?
Sony will likely be the first to admit that when the original iteration of PlayStation VR launched for the PS4 back in 2016, the system as a whole was punching way, way, way above its weight. Bringing VR to console platforms for the first time, PSVR was ultimately something of a motley affair, combining the relatively underpowered PS4 hardware with a superbly designed headset that was bogged down by breakout boxes and cables, it felt like a bunch of seemingly random elements just thrown together in the hope that something decent would come from it all (though I still maintain that despite its bulk, the OG PSVR headset remains a well-designed piece of kit all the same).
And yet, despite everything that seemingly counted against it, the whole thing worked. PSVR delivered Virtual Reality to console games en-masse for the first time and showed the viability of the medium as a gaming platform in and of itself.
With PSVR2 Sony looks to double down on its approach to VR. No longer shackled by underpowered console hardware or hand-me-down controllers from entirely different devices, PSVR2 feels like the first real, cohesive attempt at crafting a high-end VR solution for gaming.
How does it fare in real world terms and, perhaps more importantly, is it worth the money for both VR enthusiasts and folks that are entirely new to VR? Well, that’s what this somewhat hefty bunch of words will look to illuminate you on, dear reader.
Form Factor & Design – Is PSVR 2 Comfortable To Wear & Use?
Immediately the first thing that strikes you as soon as you unpack the PSVR2 from its surprisingly small box is just how streamlined it is. With just the headset, two controllers, a pair of earphones and a pair of USB charging cables (one for the controllers and another extra-long one for the headset itself), the PSVR2 package is blissfully clutter-free.
This streamlining also mirrors itself neatly when the PSVR2 is set up as well. With just a single USB-C cable connecting the PSVR2 headset to the PS5, there is no need for breakout boxes, cameras or additional snaking cables that make your room look like a snake pit. Thankfully that USB-C cable which tethers the PSVR2 headset to the PS5 console is super, super long too, allowing players ample distance to move around the play area without the fear of the PS5 taking tumble because they’ve strayed too far in one direction.
Further Reading – New PS5, PS4 Games Release Dates In 2023 And Beyond – All Upcoming PS5, PS4, PSVR2 Games
Speaking of cables, it’s also worth noting that because you only get one other USB-C cable with the PSVR2 package for charging up the controllers, you’ll want to have another USB-C cable handy so that you can charge both at once. Of course, you could always just fork over the necessary stacks for the PSVR2 Sense controller charging station, but again, it’s extra cost and it’s understandable given the price of the PSVR2 as it currently stands that you might not want to do that.
Ultimately, the lack of cables and other associated clutter also means that the PSVR2 can easily be moved around and shifted from one PS5 to another in a fashion that the original PSVR just wasn’t able to easily accommodate. Just disconnect the PSVR2 headset from one PS5, plug it into another and away you go. Simple.
The PSVR2 Headset
The PSVR2 headset is objectively a much sleeker chunk of silicon than the original PSVR effort that preceded it. Not only has the chunky bulkiness of the original PSVR been trimmed right back in favour of a lighter, more curved design that looks every bit like the truly high-end, premium VR headset that it is.
When it comes to comfort, the PSVR2 headset is easily the most comfortable VR headset I have ever worn. Like the previous PSVR headset before it, the PSVR2 headset allows the player to extend out the front of the headset to a generous degree. This allows folks with a variety of different noggin shapes to wear the headset comfortably while the tightening dial also makes a comeback here, serving to lock the PSVR2 headset neatly into place without causing any discomfort.
Meanwhile located atop the visor itself are dials that can be used to adjust the lens that are embedded within the PSVR2 headset itself, enabling players to exhaustively tweak the focus on per-eye basis within the headset to achieve the optimum sharpness of picture. Quite simply, everything that you might need to tweak in regards to the PSVR2 headset is within easy reach which, you know, is a Good Thing.
In addition to being a much more aesthetically pleasing headset than its comparatively bulky predecessor, the PSVR2 headset also has a whole host of other improvements just lurking beneath the veneer of its attractive premium exterior. The first of these that you’ll likely notice pretty quickly is that the PSVR2 headset includes an embedded motor which produces a subtle degree of vibration feedback depending on the action that happens to be unfurling during that moment. It’s beautifully palpable too – so whether you’ve just dodged an incoming laser barrage from a stalker in Horizon: Call of the Mountain, or the feeling of inertia as you accelerate out of a corner in Gran Turismo 7, the PSVR2 headset neatly complements the overall concept of ‘feeling the game’ that the DualSense controller has prescribed since the launch of the PS5. A concept that has now been embedded within the PSVR2 hardware itself.
Oh and it’s worth noting too that the headset gives a neat little shudder akin to someone stretching out their limbs as they wake up when you turn the thing on. So that’s nice.
Further Reading – DualSense Edge PS5 Pro Controller Review – This Is For The Pros, The Most Premium, High-End Controller On The Market Today
Another neat, though less impactful, design trick that the PSVR2 headset possesses is that the jack for the included earphones is now present on the underside of the back end of the headset. Anchored by a durable plastic clip on the opposite side, this now means that you can have the included earphones attached to the PSVR2 headset at all times, making putting them into your earholes super easy while also enjoying the nice fringe benefit of not losing the blasted things.
A much bigger deal, at least from a conceptual standpoint however, is the application of eye-tracking technology within the PSVR2 headset itself. Essentially, this allows the lens within the PSVR2 headset to track the movement of your eyes in real-time and while its applications in games has yet to be properly realised, the potential is certainly there to craft some emotional experiences going forward.
When using the PSVR2 proper, you still get a little of the ‘screen door’ effect that blighted the previous PSVR and caused the visuals to be overly grainy, though its presence here is greatly muted. Furthermore, the use of OLED screens for the lens is a game-changer; allowing PSVR2 to show a much clearer, vibrant and colour rich image than the previous PSVR could ever hope of achieving, while the new 110º field of view allows players to soak in more of their virtual world than ever before.
Again, this is just one more feature in a high-end, premium VR headset that is absolutely crammed with cutting edge technology and rams home the point that PSVR2 is a tremendous piece of kit to say the least from a technical perspective.
The PSVR2 Sense Controllers
Out of all the flaws that plagued Sony’s previous attempt at bringing VR to a console platform, the controllers were clearly at the nadir of the whole affair. The very definition of a stick-it-together-with-bubble-gum solution, the absence of bespoke controllers being designed for PSVR meant that Sony had to get resourceful, resulting in the platform holder essentially repurposing its PlayStation Move controllers as inputs for its then new VR headset.
The end result was that the PlayStation Move controller felt good as a ‘pointer’ of sorts, but as a freewheeling VR controller that should have been able to articulate a full range of movement, it was sorely, sorely lacking. Never did the gap between PSVR and high-end (or even mid-range) PCVR headsets seem so vast.
PSVR 2 now closes that gap. Definitively.
Much like how the PSVR2 headset boasts a nuanced form of feedback, so too do the PSVR2 Sense controllers embrace that same tenet of connecting with players on the same physical level that the DualSense controllers have been prescribing for the last few years.
Further Reading – Upcoming PS5 Games – The Most Anticipated PS5 Games Coming Soon In 2023
As soon as the sleek grips of the PSVR2 Sense controllers found the palms of my hand, I Immediately came to realise that the PSVR2 Sense controllers are a joy to hold. Anchored by a strap that keeps each controller comfortably moored to your hand, I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a VR controller feel quite this good.
Extremely easy to hold for long periods of time, the orb design that PSVR2 Sense controllers boast feels completely natural and unlike the PlayStation Move controllers allow a full articulation of hand, wrist and finger movement that just wasn’t there before. Certainly, when you’re Kayaking towards a lighthouse on stormy Norwegian seas in Kayak VR: Mirage, the newfound ability to arc and turn the oars as you would do in real-life feels like something that just wouldn’t have been satisfying to pull off on the PlayStation Move controllers of old.
The face buttons, analogue stick and triggers all feel appropriately premium also, feeling every bit as top-notch as the DualSense controller itself, the PSVR2 Sense controllers also include all of the technology that has arguably made Sony’s PS5 controller one of the best pads in the world.
Haptic feedback figures greatly into the PSVR2 Sense controllers as every shot fired in Pistol Whip feels utterly palpable, doing a superb job of mimicking the physicality of a firearm chamber as it discharges its payload out into the world and then feeding that sensation back into the hands of the player. Adaptive Triggers meanwhile earn their keep by conveying a real feeling tensile resistance and whether you’re trying to unjam a laser rifle in Star Wars: Tales From The Galaxy’s Edge Enhanced Edition, or pulling all the way back on a deadly shaft in Horizon: Call of the Mountain, the sensation that the controllers give you only serve to immerse you further in the VR spectacle.
Further afield, these triggers also feature finger touch detection too, allowing the PSVR2 to acknowledge when your fingers are touching the triggers, but not depressing them. Now, outside of replicating that on screen physically, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent and worthwhile use for this just yet, though hopefully it’ll only be a matter of time before games take proper advantage of this in earnest.
And this is the thing – for so long VR has been solely focused on audiovisual immersion, rather than engaging the ability of the human body to feel. With PSVR2 however the paradigm has shifted, as the implementation of haptic feedback in the controllers and headset, not to mention the use of adaptive triggers all add up to create a VR gaming experience that you don’t just see and hear, but one which you can feel too.
If the future trajectory of VR as an immersive medium is tasked with engaging the remaining three senses of the human body, I would strongly argue that PSVR2 takes a bold step towards that future more than any other VR headset out there and shows just how forward thinking Sony is and has been about VR in general.
My worry though is that outside of PlayStation Studios, few third-party developers will take proper advantage of the absolute bounty of technical innovation that the PSVR2 bleeds from every pore and will instead go down the path of least resistance with PCVR/Meta Quest ports that don’t use Sony’s latest chunk of gaming tech to its fullest. Hopefully, I’ll be proven wrong in both the near and long term.
The only slight issue I have with the PSVR2 Sense controllers (and it is very minor one), is that when you’re new to using the PSVR2 Sense controllers, it can be difficult to immediately pick up the controllers in the right way in a pinch thanks to the orb design. Again though, this really isn’t an issue in the medium or long-term since your hands become naturally acclimated to the design of the controllers and before you know it you’ll be scooping up the controllers effortlessly without even realising it.
The User Interface Experience
From the moment that you hook up the PSVR2 headset to the PS5 via the supplied USB-C cable (and turn the thing on), an on-screen UI comes alive and kicks off the calibration and tutorial process for PSVR2.
An entirely hassle-free process, the new UI elements effortlessly guide first time users how to adjust the headset strap, the eye lens, handle the PSVR2 Sense controllers, set up the eye-tracking and define the play area and more. The whole thing takes less than three minutes to complete and before you know it you’re already blasting fools in Pistol Whip and scaling the peaks of Horizon: Call of the Mountain.
Also, thanks to the use of some fancy inside-out tracking technology, PSVR2 completely erases the need to have an external camera like the previous iteration of PSVR used to require – removing yet another obstacle to getting things up and running.
Further Reading – Best PS5 Games Ranked – 32 Of The Best PlayStation 5 Games In 2023
A quick word though about the setting up of the play area. If you’ve ever used a Meta Quest VR headset you’ll be familiar with how it defines physical play space using the concept of a ‘guardian’ which uses inside-out tracking to define the play area available depending upon the physical space that you happen to be in. The PSVR2 sets up the play area in a very similar way, allowing users to not just set up their play space but make small adjustments to it depending on their real-world circumstances. An example of this would be defining the play area for the first time, then closing a door afterwards and then redefining the play area to include the extra room afforded by having that door closed. It’s a neat feature which proves that as much as Sony has innovated with PSVR2, it doesn’t shy away from adopting commonly accepted user interface standards as well.
As was the case with the PlayStation Move controllers, you can use the PSVR2 Sense controllers to navigate the PS5 UI should you so choose. Though it seems like an obvious thing, for long-time gamers that are newcomers to VR the fact that you have such a continuity of control will prove to be a relief all the same.
Performance – Just How Powerful Is PSVR 2 And Is It A Difference Maker?
With the lower spec, wireless headsets such as the Meta Quest 2 and PICO 4 hogging the limelight in recent times thanks to their relatively low price points and broader target demographic, it can be easy to forget just what high-end VR looks like. Well, Sony has kindly dropped in to remind us with PSVR2.
Though the PSVR was a well-designed headset, it was tethered in many ways to the capabilities of the humble PS4 and so it soon became clear that the platform was desperately underpowered for the job at hand. Don’t get me wrong, there were some stunning titles on the previous iteration of PSVR. From the likes of Astro Bot Rescue Mission and DOOM VFR through to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, it’s clear that the PSVR was certainly capable of kicking out some impressive looking affairs, but sadly those examples were the exception rather than the rule itself.
Indeed, many games on the previous generation of PSVR appeared more like PS3 games that were running at a high frame rate, rather than titles that seemed to be equivalent to what the PS4 could do with non-VR offerings. Thanks to 4K HDR support and architecture that directly taps into the PS5’s own capabilities, with PSVR2 Sony has performed an incredible feat by closing that gulf between VR and non-VR games.
Further Reading – Best PS5 Indie Games Ranked In 2023 – 34 Of The Best PS5 Indie Games
Simply playing Horizon: Call of the Mountain and looking at the pin-sharp engraved detail on the wood of the boat that you find yourself travelling in during the game’s opening, to the granular detail of the various rock faces and crevices you find yourself climbing on, there’s a level of visual clarity and detail that just was never there with PSVR and it all happens without a knock on performance to boot.
Naturally, another PSVR2 innovation sits at the heart of this. Foveated Rendering is an efficient rendering technique whereby only the visuals that are directly in front of the player’s eyes are displayed at a high level of detail while everything else outside of the player’s focus is rendered at a lower level of detail. Given the need to display super high detail visuals at a consistently high frame rate (and that frame rate *does* need to be both consistent and high, otherwise it’s a lovely trip to Chunder Town), employing such a technique makes a lot of sense as it provides the PS5 with the necessary performance headroom to output visuals that are easily in the same ballpark as non-VR PS5 efforts.
Quite unlike the previous iteration of PSVR, there are no shortage of examples that showcase the impressive grunt of PSVR2 either. From the highly detailed, lapping waters of Kayak VR: Mirage and the horrendously detailed peaks of Horizon: Call of the Mountain, through to retina-scorching detail of Gran Turismo 7 and Resident Evil Village, it’s abundantly clear that PSVR2 has set an extremely high standard for VR visuals going forward and I’m absolutely here for it.
Another neat side effect of the much increased resolution and HDR support that PSVR2 provides is that the Cinematic Mode, which engages when you play non-VR content through PSVR2, is much sharper and easier on the eyes than ever before. Indeed, it’s a world away from the often blurry mess that the previous PSVR used to kick out and is so sharp that using Cinematic Mode is actually something you’ll want to do.
Games – How Is The Software Line-up For PSVR 2?
While it’s tempting to scan down the list of the 30 something launch line-up for PSVR2 and decry the meagre number of truly exclusive games for Sony’s second bite at the VR apple, it’s also worth just taking a step back and looking at things from a slightly different perspective.
Specifically, though the absence of a PSVR2 Astro Bot title chafes somewhat (I still have hope it’ll happen eventually), there’s still an absolute bounty of quality to be had in the PSVR2 launch line-up of games that offers an astounding amount of variety. From chilled out experiences like Kayak VR: Mirage to great indie games like Moss, Moss: Book II, Tentacular and full blown VR adaptations of current titles such as Gran Turismo 7 and Resident Evil Village – there’s truly something for everyone.
PSVR2 also provides easily missed games that were released at the end of the PSVR’s life cycle and second bite at the apple as well, allowing excellent titles like Song in the Smoke another well deserved chance to shine.
Even though there’s no getting around the fact that Horizon: Call of the Mountain has something of an odious distinction being the only uniquely developed PlayStation Studios offering that accompanies PSVR2 at its launch, there remains such a kaleidoscope of different games, genres and experiences available for PSVR2 on day one that it feels churlish to suggest that the launch line-up is in anyway subpar.
PSVR2 Launch Games Reviews
You can check out the first wave of PSVR2 game reviews from the launch line-up below:
- Horizon Call of the Mountain PSVR2 Review
- Star Wars: Tales From The Galaxy’s End Enhanced Edition PSVR2 Review
- Pistol Whip PSVR2 Review
- Moss PSVR2 Review
- Kayak VR: Mirage PSVR2 Review
- Jurassic World Aftermath Collection PSVR2 Review
- Demeo PSVR2 Review
- Resident Evil Village PSVR2 Review
- After The Fall: Complete Edition PSVR2 Review
- Runner PSVR2 Review
- Unplugged: Air Guitar PSVR2 Review
- Zenith: The Last City PSVR2 Review
- Startenders: Intergalactic Bartending PSVR2 Review
- Tentacular PSVR2 Review
- Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate – Episode 1 PSVR2 Review
- Zombieland Headshot Fever Reloaded PSVR2 Review
- No Man’s Sky PSVR2 Review
- What The Bat? PSVR2 Review
- Cities VR Enhanced Edition PSVR2 Review
- Garden Of The Sea PSVR2 Review
- Song in the Smoke: Rekindled PSVR2 Review
- Cave Digger 2: Dig Harder PSVR2 Review
- Ragnarock PSVR2 Review
- Gran Turismo 7 PSVR2 Review
- Tetris Effect: Connected PSVR2 Review
- Rez Infinite PSVR2 Review
- The Last Clockwinder PSVR2 Review
- Puzzling Places PSVR2 Review
- Before Your Eyes PSVR2 Review
- Drums Rock PSVR2 Review
- Townsmen VR PSVR2 Review
How Does PSVR 2 Compare To PSVR?
Let me be completely clear. By absolutely every measurable metric and objective criteria PSVR2 is absolute *galaxies* beyond what Sony gave us with the original PSVR back in October 2016.
Of course, the only drawback of completely leaving behind your old PSVR unit and headset is that the games which you own for the OG PSVR simply won’t run on PSVR 2. Though disappointing (and perhaps unavoidable thanks to the entirely different control schemes that PSVR and PSVR2 employ), the situation is being alleviated somewhat by many developers and publishers offering free upgrades to the shinier PSVR2 versions of their original PSVR titles.
Further Reading – Best PSVR 1 Games – 27 Amazing PlayStation VR Games To Play In 2023
As to everything else, the PSVR2 simply blows its previous iteration out of the water. It’s much more comfortable to wear, there’s far less clutter owing to no breakout box or camera, it has actual VR controllers with DualSense functionality built in, it supports true room scale VR and the 4K HDR visuals that the PSVR2 can kick out are so rich in fidelity that they utterly shame the blurry and faded output of the previous PSVR.
In short, the PSVR2 is a true generational upgrade over PSVR and if you bought PSVR, played it and thought ‘this is brilliant, but I just wish the visuals and controls were better’, then PSVR2 has your back and then some.
Is PSVR2 A Good Value Proposition?
Though the current global economic hardships make the $549.99/£529.99 price point of the PSVR2 hard to swallow (indeed that would still be a chunk of change in earlier, more prosperous eras regardless), it’s important to remember precisely who the PSVR2 is intended for.
With its cutting edge design and feature set, PSVR2 is intended for the long-time gamer that either has already enjoyed PSVR and wants to take it to the next level, or has never played VR before but wants to jump in on the top floor. Make no mistake, PSVR2 has not been designed and neither has it been marketed with casual adoption in mind by folks who might pick up a DualSense controller once or twice a year.
Further Reading – PSVR 2 Specs Vs. Valve Index, Quest 2 In 2023 – How Does Sony’s Next-Gen VR Headset Stack Up Against Its Competitors?
As someone who has only experienced VR via PSVR and the Meta Quest 2, PSVR2 is nothing short of a revelation. It brings a delectable form factor and a stunning suite of hugely innovative features that enable it to bring super high-end VR gaming to consoles for the first time. Though its value will ultimately be borne out by the strength of its software offering going forward, a decent launch line-up coupled with some incredible hardware means that PSVR2 is right up there as an essential purchase for dedicated PS5 gamers that want to immerse themselves in VR waters again, or for the first time.
Though the original PSVR arguably punched well above its belt, its myriad of flaws were clear to all and it was clear from the beginning that the sorts of games that VR would aspire to play would demand a technical profile far beyond what the hardware could ably accommodate.
Ensuring that PlayStation gamers no longer look at the HTC Vives of the world with envious eyes, Sony has delivered nothing less than a stellar VR solution for console gamers with PSVR2.
While the broader marketing for the PSVR2 could certainly do with some work (there should be kiosks for this thing basically everywhere where folks can use it and sing its praises to their mates), Sony’s messaging about exactly who PSVR2 is intended for has been obvious and straightforward.
To be clear, PSVR2 is not being marketed as a casual VR platform in the same way that the Meta Quest and PICO VR headsets are. PSVR2 is being positioned as a high-end, premium gaming VR platform and absolutely every aspect of its design strives towards that intended purpose with aplomb. More than anything, PSVR2 shows precisely how high-end VR works in the gaming space and sets a compelling precedent for others to follow. Make no mistake, this is truly a VR headset for the players and nobody else.
A beguiling marriage of raw power, innovative design and a solidly varied, though not quite spectacular launch line-up, PSVR2 manages to set a ridiculously high bar for others to follow and is easily the most compelling piece of tech I’ve got in my living room right now. By a long, long way.
Review unit kindly provided by Sony.
PSVR2 releases on February 22, 2023 and can be pre-ordered from PlayStation Direct UK or PlayStation Direct US.