If you’ve been paying attention to E3 this year, you know that everyone is talking about virtual reality. I remember people making a big deal of VR back in the early 90s when I was growing up and it’s taken 20+ years for people to make another go of it. Over the last few months, both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift have launched to the public. Now, it’s Sony’s turn. Their former Project Morpheus headset will launch as PlayStation VR on October 13th for $399.
While that is a steep price point (and it’s higher than a PS4), it’s actually considerably cheaper than the alternatives. Excluding any other hardware requirements, the Rift costs 50% more than the PS VR at $599 while the Vive is twice the price of the PS VR at $799. You can actually buy a PlayStation 4 console and PS VR headset for less than the cost of a Vive. Again, that’s all excluding the possible computer hardware upgrades that you would require to be able to power a VR device and controllers or cameras you may need (Sony says there is a package with all the required parts priced at $499). I’m pretty sure that I’d need a new graphics card and my desktop is three years old.
The lower price does come with some drawbacks when compared to the other VR devices. While the Oculus, for example, has higher resolution screens (1200p) and higher target framerate (90 FPS), the PS VR has 1080p screens and is said to have a framerate target between 60 and 120 FPS. While the PS VR will be tied to the current PS4 for the time being, one would have to imagine that the PS4 Neo will get the framerate closer to the high-end of the range and hopefully keep it consistent.
The block of Sony’s press briefing dedicated to the PS VR spent very little time on the hardware and focused on the number of games that will be compatible with the headset. Announced as PlayStation and PS VR exclusives were Batman: Arkham VR and Farpoint. As was rumoured ahead of E3, Star Wars: Battlefront will have a special X-Wing VR mission on PS VR which also introduces space battles as fans had been requesting prior to the game’s release. PlayStation will also get VR versions of Final Fantasy XV and Resident Evil VII.
Earlier Monday, Microsoft described their Project Scorpio console as being VR ready. One wonders which device will bring VR to the Scorpio and if they’ll be able to trump PS VR’s quality by waiting a year to jump into VR and only doing so with their more powerful console rather than their base Xbox One. Then again, I have to wonder if VR is going to be a quickly dying fad like motion controls when Kinect and PS Move were haphazardly tacked onto the Xbox 360 and PS3.