Sony's next-gen PSVR 2 headset for PlayStation 5 is coming this year, and the specs are impressive. At CES 2022, Sony shared more details of the PlayStation VR2 headset, exclusive to PS5, and it suggests this could change our view of VR gaming. And all this despite Sony not revealing the PSVR 2 headset itself.
The PSVR 2 is Sony's follow-up to the incredibly successful PSVR, which brought cheap and accessible VR to gaming. The PSVR 2 is expected to release in time for Christmas 2022, bundled with the exclusive game, Horizon Call of the Mountain and the impressive PlayStation VR2 Sense controller.
The VR gaming space is becoming a new and important tech battleground. Get up to speed by finding what we think are the best VR headsets currently available, and read up on how PSVR 2 has competition this year with the Oculus Quest 3 (Pro).
Posting on the PlayStation Blog, Senior vice president of platform experience Hideaki Nishino wrote: "PlayStation VR2 takes VR gaming to a whole new level, enabling a greater sense of presence and allowing players to escape into game worlds like never before."
Let's take a closer look at the specs, games, features and more that has Nishino-san so excited…
PSVR 2: What is it?
The PSVR 2 headset and controller is Sony's follow-up to PS4's groundbreaking PSVR. This is a virtual reality headset that makes use of the power of PlayStation 5, and is exclusive to Sony's next-gen console. It matters because PS5 is the most successful next-gen console, and if Sony gets this right VR will truly take off.
Sony has history here. The original PSVR sold more than five million copies, was low-cost, and came with a line-up of exclusive games. At a time when VR struggled on PC, Sony's cheap and accessible headset proved a success.
PSVR 2 should take a lead from PSVR, so expect it to be priced at the lower end, come with exclusive Sony games, and make use of next-gen tech to deliver an immersive VR experience.
Making use of the new headset's tech and the PlayStation VR2 Sense controller's haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, Sony promises PSVR 2 will offer a heightened range of sensations. It will offer a high resolution display for each eye, faster refresh rates, a wider field of view, and improved tracking and input. It sounds impressive.
PSVR 2: The specs
At CES 2022 Sony revealed the full specs of the headset, including its weight, screens, audio and more. Here are the key specs you need to know:
- Display method: OLED
- Panel resolution: 2000 x 2040 per eye
- Panel refresh rate: 90Hz, 120Hz
- Lens separation: Adjustable
- Field of view: Approx. 110 degrees
- Sensors: Motion Sensor: Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer)
- Cameras: 4 cameras for headset and controller tracking, IR camera for eye tracking per eye
- Feedback: Vibration on headset
- Connection to PS5: USB Type-C
- Audio input: Built-in microphone, Output: Stereo headphone jack
PSVR 2: Release date
There's not been an official release date yet from Sony, but in previous messaging, the PS5 maker has hinted at a holiday 2022 release, which would make a PS5/PSVR 2 bundle one of this December's hottest Christmas gifts. This would see PSVR 2 release two years into PS5's lifespan and marries with the release of PSVR on PS4. A recent report in Bloomberg revealed Apple screen manufacturer Japan Display Inc. pivoting to VR screen manufacture aligns with the end of 2022 date.
The fact Sony hasn't announced a solid release date is likely due to Covid and supply chain problems with PS5. If it can't get as many PlayStation 5's into consumers' hands then Sony may not want to risk disappointing fans by moving PSVR 2's release date into 2023. And yet, we'd still bank on PlayStation VR2 releasing this November/December, if only in limited numbers.
PSVR 2: What's the price?
Sony hasn't announced a price but we can look at the manufacturer's track record and the cost of similar VR headsets to gauge what it will cost.
You can pick up a current PSVR bundle for PS4 for £259 / $200, this is more than five years old and has been through many price offers. At launch the original PSVR cost was closer to £399 / $499, which was met Sony's positioning of the headset as a new gaming platform rather than a PS4 accessory.
Considering Oculus Quest 2 sells for £299 / $299 and high-end PC VR headsets such as the Valve Vive that match the PSVR 2 specs cost over a £800 / $1,000 it's not hard to see Sony pitching its next-gen headset at around £349 / $399.
The strategy worked for PSVR, and Sony has a two-pronged approach: to support PS5 and to bring VR to a wider audience. A £349 / $399 price backed by exclusive games and perhaps a PS Plus collection of enhanced PSVR games, looks right.
PSVR 2: The next-gen design
We've not seen the final design of the headset yet, but as it's a PS5 exclusive we'd expect PSVR 2 to riff on the same flowing design lines of the console. Indeed, we just need to look at the Pulse 3D headphones to gauge where Sony is taking the look of the PSVR 2 headset. Expect the same white and black dual-tone, smooth lines, rounded shapes, and elegant design. We'd also expect a smaller processor which will mean a slimmer headset with more balance than the original PSVR headset.
Aside from looks, it's how PSVR 2's headset will feel and perform that will set it apart from other PC VR headsets. A haptic feedback motor similar to that found in PS5's DualSense controller will be inside the PSVR 2 headset. This means developers can use the haptics to simulate the surroundings directly to the player; image sensing rain landing on your head or the wind blowing across you face.
As well as enhancing the VR experience the use of haptics can also finally do away with motion sickness. This sick feeling you can experience in VR comes from the dissociation of the head and the body. Sudden acceleration in a game can cause dizziness but if it's matched with expected senses – i.e. winding hitting your face or vibrations of tarmac – your senses will be duped into believing it's real.
A more practical new feature is the an easy to reach IPD adjustment wheel on the PS5 VR headset; this enables you to increase and decrease the distance between lenses to suit your head. On PSVR this is fiddly, on PSVR 2 it will be set on the side of the new headset.
PSVR 2: Controllers
The big difference between PS5 and Xbox Series X is the DualSense controller, this next-gen game pad is crammed with cutting edge tech that brings games to life. Sony is bringing the same level of tech and experience to its new, next-gen PlayStation VR2 Sense controller.
The ageing PS Move controllers (that launched in 2010 for PlayStation 3) are finally being shelved in favour of controllers that resemble Oculus 2's touch controllers to look at but feature similar tech to PS5's DualSense controller. The PSVR 2 controllers feature slim tube-like handles with a plastic orb around them, DualSense-like adaptive triggers allow for differing tensions when pulled, likewise haptic feedback will simulate materials and conditions against your digits.
The finger touch detection tech is where the PSVR2 Sense controller will show its VR muscle, it means a game can detect where your fingers are in relation to the buttons and enable finger and hand gestures to be used to perform actions.
All in, the PSVR 2's new Sense controller is an advanced piece of kit that will give developers new ways to enable us to experience VR – including simulating the sense of wind blowing over your hands and the headset.
PSVR 2: First details, the screens
PSVR 2 will feature two OLED screens, one for each eye. OLED displays far better colour representation and black levels than the LCD panels used in current VR headsets, such as the Oculus Quest 2. Boasting resolution of 2000 x 2040 pixels per eye for each OLED display, giving it a total resolution higher than 4K, the PSVR 2's screens will be unmatched at launch.
Just like the PS5, PSVR 2 will support HDR, which widens the colour palette ensuring games will look rich and vibrant (and match the performance of PS5). By supporting 90Hz and 120Hz modes we'd gauge Sony is giving developers a choice between performance and quality modes, just as you'd find in many PS5 games. It also suggests games for PSVR 2 will be varied in style, offering a mix of experiences and hardcore games, such as shooters running at 120Hz.
Taking into account the resolution and rough size of a VR headset's eye display we'd predict PSVR 2 will offer a pixel density of around or over 700 pixels per inch (PPI). This is around double the pixel-density of the original PSVR, which will offer a seamless visual experience guaranteeing you can't see the pixels on-screen.
Another new addition will ease motion sickness. PSVR 2's field of view (FoV) will be 110-degrees (PSVR's is 100-degrees), which means you'll see more of the VR world without moving your head. An easy solution to overcoming motion sickness is by 'coning' the field of view when moving, with a greater FoV to play with developers can show more of the world when this is being done.
PSVR 2: Will it be wireless?
Nope. But don't despair as PSVR 2 will connect to PS5 using a single USB Type-C cable plugged into the front of the console. This is a massive improvement over the original PSVR's mass of HDMI cables, separate processor box, and power unit. Just one cable sounds like a dream. It also suggests the processor will be built into the headset, possibly used as a counter balance to the front visor and haptic motors.
PSVR 2: Will tracking be improved?
Yes. PSVR 2 will have improved tracking, which is based on similar technology to that found on Oculus Quest 2. This is called inside-out tracking and uses four cameras set in the PSVR 2 headset that track your position in a room, and also aided by tracking in the PlayStation VR2 controllers.
The new PSVR 2 controllers feature a series of infra red LEDs that can be tracked by the cameras in the headset, and can feedback info to the SixAxis sensors inside the controllers and headset. Basically PSVR 2 is pinging data all around you and picking up info our where you are and what you're doing, ensuring gesture and motion in PSVR 2 games will become a staple of the hardware's gameplay design.
PSVR 2: Why eye-tracking matters
Games are known for focusing performance where it matters; for example there's not reason to waste band width rendering a section of a city you're not playing in. PSVR 2's eye-tracking tech takes this approach to incredible new levels. PSVR 2 will improve the graphics in the exact place your eyes are focused on. This is coupled with Foveated rendering in PSVR 2, which focuses detail on the cone of vision you are looking at whole down-scaling detail in the peripheral vision.
Using both eye-tracking and Foveated rendering is a huge advantage. It's tracking your eyes not your head movement, which means there will be no breakdown in image quality (as can be found in Oculus Quest, which only uses Foveated rendering). By upping the resolution of areas of a world you look at and reducing resolution in areas outside of your vision PSVR 2 could increase performance by over 60%.
It has a bigger impact, eye-tracking and Foveated rendering together can diminish, if not eradicate, motion sickness.
PSVR 2: Is this the start of Sony's metaverse?
This is speculation, but Sony has form for trying to build a metaverse. On PS3 it launched PlayStation Home, a virtual 3D hub-world where players could mingle, chat, play simple games, show off their avatars, and showcases achievements earned in games. You had an apartment that could be decorated with free, bought or earned items. Public spaces were made for display, entertainment, advertising, and networking. When it closed PlayStation Home had 41 million members.
A trademark application, submitted in July 2021, suggests Sony might be considering bringing back PlayStation Home. Sony often registers trademarks simply to keep ownership of an IP or idea, but we can't help but speculate…
Meta is working on its centralised metaverse using Oculus as a platform/headset, Apple is rumoured to be developing something similar for its VR/AR headset, so it's not too far to see Sony relaunch PlayStation Home for PSVR 2; a place we can virtually meet up and play with Astro Bots while watching Spider-Man: Far From Home. Now, of Sony gets into NFTs to support a PSVR 2 metaverse, that would be huge.
PSVR 2: What games can you play?
Exclusive games are built into Sony's games business model. PSVR 2 will have Horizon: Call of the Mountain, developed by its resent studio acquisition Firesprite (with Horizon developer Guerrilla Games). The team at Firesprite created The Resistance, one of the best games on PSVR and has a history with Sony – its founders developed the iconic PlayStation racer WipEout. There's little known about the game other that seconds of gameplay shown at CES 2022, but expect a full AAA game starring a new character to the Horizon universe.
"Created for PlayStation VR2, this unique experience has been designed to push hardware technology, innovation, and gameplay. The stunning visuals and brand-new PS VR2 Sense controllers give a new meaning to being fully immersed into the world of Horizon," said Guerrilla Games' studio director Jan-Bart van Beek.
Horizon: Call of the Mountain is the only confirmed game for PSVR 2 but more will come. Rumours suggest Sony is pushing for games that can be played across PS5 and PSVR 2 in a similar way to Resident Evil 7 and Hitman 3 could be experience on PSVR and PS4. This would make sense, it ensures there's a reason to tether PSVR 2 to PS5 and reduces the investment from gamers who will get a full AAA PS5 game and PSVR 2 game for one price.
PSVR 2: Will Sony still support the original PSVR?
Given PSVR has been a success for Sony, and indeed internally it beat expectations, we'd expect the original PSVR to still be supported in the same way PS4 and PS5 co-exist. PSVR is a PS4-exclusive headset, so it's only natural for Sony to continue releasing games on a platform as long as PS4 continues. But it does raise an interesting question over backwards compatibility…
PSVR 2: Is it backwards compatible?
There's been no denial or confirmation of backwards compatibility but we'd expect you to be able to play old PSVR games in your new PSVR 2 headset. Sony has made a some great games for PSVR in the past, including Blood & Truth, Iron Man VR and Astro Bot Rescue Mission, and the idea it will drop these for its new headset makes little sense. We'd expect some conditions attached, for example you can play PSVR games on a PS5 but you'd ideally use a DualShock 4 rather than a DualSense controller.
Sony also has a track record, with PS4 games boosted to run better on PS5. It would be expected that PSVR games made for PS4 will get enhanced when running on PS5's next-gen PSVR 2. Likewise, Sony had great success at the launch of PS5 by offering games the PS5 PS Plus collection, a free game collection for PS Plus subscribers of PS4 titles that were boosted for PS5. Can we expect a PS Plus PSVR 2 collection this December? We think so.