CES 2023: What it’s like to try out PlayStation VR 2

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After years of anticipation, Sony’s PlayStation VR 2 headset is just a few weeks away from hitting the hands of PS5 owners. I had a chance to try it out at CES 2023 ahead of its February 15 launch, and I can say the future of console VR looks bright.

The improved controls, tracking, and visual fidelity of the PlayStation VR 2 impressed, and Horizon Call of the Mountain is shaping up to be a fun and immersive launch game. But with a high asking price and no backwards compatibility, is Sony’s long-awaited headset worth the money? After a quick 20 minute demo, here are my thoughts so far.

product: Sony PlayStation VR 2
price: from $550
Launch date: February 22 (available for pre-order through Sony)
Why it’s worth your attention: The PlayStation VR 2 looks like a huge improvement over one of the best VR headsets we’ve had in PlayStation VR, offering better performance and a more streamlined setup process.

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Mike Andronico/CNN highlights

Made exclusively for PS5, PlayStation VR 2 is an overhaul of the PS4-based PlayStation VR. The PSVR 2 has a sleeker look that mimics the design of the PlayStation 5 itself, and the new spherical Sense controllers feel more ergonomic than the older Move controllers — while still offering the same advanced, detailed controls we love on the standard PS5. Haptic Dual Sense Controller.

But perhaps the biggest upgrade is the PSVR 2’s internal camera sensor, which should solve many of the setup challenges we had with the original model. Where previous PlayStations required you to hook up a PlayStation Camera to track your controller movements (not to mention the bulky processor box that powers the entire rig), the new headset promises a seamless plug-and-play experience via a single cable.

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Mike Andronico/CNN highlights

Once I put the PlayStation VR 2 on, it felt comfortable and light, and during my roughly 20-minute demo, I never felt the urge to adjust it. When I did some quick calibrations in preparation for a demo, I was impressed with how quickly and accurately the headset tracked my eye movements — allowing me to navigate menus with ease without moving the joystick. After a few minutes of setup, it’s time to venture into the wilds of Horizon Call of The Mountain, a first-person action game set in the same vein as Sony’s popular Horizon games on PS4 and PS5. In the same post-apocalyptic sci-fi world.

When I started my journey as a disgraced soldier being taken by boat to his destination, I was immediately struck by the PlayStation VR’s improved visual fidelity. My crew looked lifelike and detailed, just like they did in the PS5 game, and I couldn’t help but turn my head as I marveled at the lush greenery and towering robotic beasts all around us. This immersive experience is made possible thanks to the PSVR 2’s improved 2000 x 2040 OLED HDR display, which is a significant jump over the original model’s 960 x 1080 resolution.

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Mike Andronico/CNN highlights

Once things go wrong, it’s time to go into survival mode, and the headset’s new Sense controllers are impressive. Everything from the pitching of my boat to the tug of my bow received varying degrees of feedback, which made it easier to immerse myself in the action. The climb felt so intense and exciting that my real-life hands started sweating and I worried about falling off the steep cliff. Fortunately, the game and the controller’s hand tracking were accurate enough that I only had a few slips (thankfully no falls in real life).

Call of the Mountain is shaping up to be a solid launch title for new headsets, offering an intuitive mix of traversal and combat – and no doubt plenty of narrative easter eggs for serious Horizon fans too. I walked the game’s treacherous paths by holding down two buttons and moving my actual arm (it definitely felt like a little exercise), but you also have the option to walk around via standard controller input if you don’t want to break a sweat. I also like that everything in the environment is interactive, as I can pick up, play with, and drop every wooden crate, fruit, and random tambourine around the wasteland.

The only thing I’d really nitpick about was the combat–while drawing the bow and shooting arrows felt intuitive, it took me a while to get my shots right. This was especially true during a big boss fight that required me to dodge and shoot on the fly, though I imagine it’s something I’ll get used to after more playtime.

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Mike Andronico/CNN highlights

The PlayStation VR 2 made a solid first impression, delivering an immersive 4K gaming experience in a design that improved in almost every way over its predecessor. Horizon Call of the Mountain is becoming a great showcase for the headset, and I’m interested to see how other games like Resident Evil Village and Among Us VR run on it.

All that power doesn’t come cheap, however. PSVR 2 starts at $550 (there’s also a $600 bundle that includes Call of the Mountain), and requires you to own a $400 to $500 PS5 — a console that’s still not too easy to come by. The headset is not backwards compatible with PSVR 1 games, although some games will offer free upgrades to the PSVR 2 version. While the starting lineup looks promising (we can’t wait to play Resident Evil Village and Gran Turismo 7 in VR), it also includes a number of games that have been running on other headsets for a long time Time, like Star Wars: A Tale from the Galaxy’s Edge and lightsabers.

Still, the PlayStation VR 2’s encouraging performance and improved design have me excited to spend more time with it. Stay tuned for our in-depth review as we move forward with it fully ahead of its launch next month.

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