The Sony PlayStation VR Falls Short Of Thrills Provided By HTC Vive And Oculus Rift

Photo by Daryl Deino

I was able to try out the Sony PlayStation VR at Best Buy in Burbank, California this past weekend. After spending nearly $2000 on the HTC Vive with a VR-ready desktop, I was hoping the market would offer something just as thrilling, but cheaper. You don't need a big computer for the PlayStation VR; all you need is a PS4. But after using it for almost ten minutes, I felt like it needed something bigger to offer a truly immersive experience.

I admit to only being able to try a couple of experiences, including VR Worlds, which will come with the device bundle. My movements were very smooth since the PlayStation VR runs on a 120Hz refresh rate. However, what appeared in front of me looked very pixelated. Each lens on the PS VR has a 960 x 1080 pixel resolution - the same as the Oculus Rift DK2 from 2014. The 1200 x 1080 pixel resolution per lens on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift is low enough, but at least it allows for an acceptable experience. We won't get truly immersive until we have 4K headsets, but it would take a monster of a computer and graphics card to support that.

I loved the way the PS VR headset snapped on; it was a lot easier than putting on the headsets for the Vive and Rift. It also felt more natural. The very nice lady who demonstrated the Sony headset to me tried to help me adjust it, but she didn't have to. The PlayStation VR headset just feels so intuitive. I just wished what was displayed on the headset was as good.

I was (supposedly) immersed into VR Worlds, one of the most talked about experiences for the PlayStation VR. The "Into The Deep" experience, which puts you in the deep sea, would have been exciting a couple years ago, but underwater ocean experiences on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and even the Gear VR outdo this. When a big shark tried to eat me, it wasn't scary; it was comically funny and I'm not sure that Sony was hoping for that reaction. With a tracking camera, you can move a little bit by moving forward and a little bit to the side, but if you try and move too much, you'll receive an "out of camera range" warning.

EVE: Valkyrie was more enjoyable. However, it didn't produce the same "Wow!" it does on the Oculus Rift version. This isn't so much because of the game play, which is almost identical, as it is the graphics. The low 980 X 1080 pixel resolution for each eye is more noticeable here than it is on other experiences. Still, for someone who has never tried VR before and likes space games, they will be quite impressed with this experience.

Actually, I stayed around and did watch people who have never used a virtual reality headset use the PlayStation VR, and they were very impressed. While I laughed at the shark that was about to eat me, a 15-year old girl shrieked. A younger boy who tried it couldn't stop yelling, "Cool!" and begged his mom to buy him the device, not knowing it doesn't come out until October 13. Perhaps I'm just too hard to please. However, I also think that others who have experienced the immersiveness of the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, or have experienced the clearness (relative to other virtual reality experiences) of the Gear VR will be disappointed in the PlayStation VR as well.