PlayStation VR: Five Things You Need To Know

The PlayStation VR launches in Australia today for $549. Here are five things you need to know about the device, including the equipment you need, setup tips and where to buy it in Australia.

The PlayStation VR is a virtual-reality headset for the PlayStation 4 video game console. The headset is equipped with a 5.7-inch OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and a native resolution of 1920×1080 pixels (960×1080 per eye.) It essentially transports you into 3D worlds that you can freely move around in, with your head movements faithfully replicated in-game.

This is particularly effective in first-person games that let you look through the eyes of your character. But it also works for third-person games with your head taking on the role of a floating camera. We’ve tested a bunch of PlayStation VR titles ranging from thrilling bank heists and creepy haunted houses to swimming with sharks and starring as batman.

We can confidently say that the hype is justified — if you’ve never tried VR before we truly envy your first experience. You can see our first impressions here:

Here’s a look at the chief specs:

Display OLED
Screen size 5.7-inch
Resolution 1920 x RGB x 1080 (960 x RGB x 1080 per eye)
Refresh rate 120Hz, 90Hz
Sensors 360 degree tracking / 9 LEDs
Field of view 100 degrees (approx.)
Latency Less than 18ms
Controller Dual Shock + PlayStation Move

Now that you have an understanding of what the headset does, here are ten things you need to know about it.

#1 You need a camera and a pair of Move controllers

This bit is important: to use your fancy new headset, you need a PlayStation 4 Camera which is not included with the standalone PlayStation VR product. You’ll need to purchase this separately for around $89, although it’s possible to find cheap second-hand units online. If you’re planning to buy this for your kids for Christmas, do not forget the camera or it will essentially be useless.

To get the most out of the PlayStation VR, you’ll also need to buy a pair of Move controllers. These work like Nintendo Wii remotes and control your avatar’s limbs in virtual realty games. Without these controllers, you’re limited to games that use the PS4 DualShock controllers, which is not nearly as immersive.

Sony is asking the princely sum of $119.95 for two PS4 Move controllers, which brings the total to almost $670 (not including the PlayStation 4 console.) Fortunately, the headset will work fine with the original Move controllers for the PlayStation 3. You can currently snap these up on eBay for as little as $10. You should also try your local EB Games which might have some cheap pre-owned versions. (Note: Not all games require PlayStation Move controllers, so you can skip buying it until a later time if money is tight.)

#2 It’s pretty easy to set up and use

One of the chief stumbling blocks with virtual reality systems is their lack of simplicity. While they pose no problem to hardcore PC gamers and technology enthusiasts, the average consumer has faced a pretty steep learning curve — and that’s just the setting the thing up!

By contrast, the PlayStation VR takes a plug-and-play approach that befits a console peripheral. Compared to PC-based virtual reality equipment or even the Xbox Kinect, the setup and calibration process is smooth sailing. You’ll be gaming in virtual reality in no time.

#3 There are plenty of games coming (hurrah!)

Video game peripherals tend to suffer from a dearth of titles; especially during launch. This is not the case with the PlayStation VR. Sony is betting big on virtual reality and it shows in the lineup — there will be around 50 games available by the end of the year, including “AAA” titles like the adventure game Batman Arkham VR, space combat game Eve: Valkyrie and the self-explanatory Star Wars: Battlefront VR.

There’s no guarantee that all these games will be good, but at least you’ll be spoiled for choice. You can find a comprehensive overview of PlayStation VR launch games over at Kotaku.

#4 It’s pricey (but still cheap for VR)

At $549, the PlayStation VR is pretty expensive for a video game peripheral. Indeed, it costs more than the actual PlayStation 4 console that powers it. Then there’s the aforementioned PS4 Camera and Move controllers which blow out the cost further. Despite this, PlayStation VR remains one of the cheapest virtual reality solutions on the market.

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive carry price tags of $US699 and US$899, respectively — plus shipping. In addition, they also require beefy PCs that cost significantly more than a PlayStation 4. Smartphone-based VR is a lot cheaper (particularly if you already own a compatible phone) but the experience is severely hampered by cheap headset designs and limited processing power. For our money, the PlayStation VR strikes the best balance between ‘oomph’ and affordability — even after factoring in the camera, console and Move controllers.

The games cost anywhere between $25 and $80, with most hovering somewhere in-between. Thankfully, there’s a reasonable number of free demos and experiences to download via the PlayStation Network. We recommend VR Worlds, which contains the excellent cockney gangster game London Heist and shark-spotting Ocean Descent: they’re short but exhilarating.

#5 It might make you sick

Like every other virtual-reality platform, PlayStation VR can cause motion sickness, eye strain and other ailments in some users. Some of our own reporters have experienced issues with the device, so it’s not just “casual” gamers who are at risk.

Much like 3D cinema, it seems to be something that only affects certain people. Our advice is to try it for yourself at a retail store before plonking down your money. You can test the device at the following Westfields stores:

  • Westfield Southland (VIC): 10th, 11th September 2016
  • Westfield Knox (VIC): 17th, 18th September 2016
  • Westfield Belconnen (ACT): 24th, 25th September 2016
  • Westfield Parramatta (NSW): 8th, 9th October 2016
  • Westfield Bondi (NSW): 15th, 16th October 2016
  • Westfield Chatswood (NSW): 22nd, 23rd & 29th, 30th October 2016
  • Westfield Hornsby (NSW): 12th, 13th November 2016
  • Westfield Garden City (QLD): 19th, 20th & 26th, 27th November 2016

You can register for a free 30-minute trial here.

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