After a month, I finally love my Playstation VR 2
I spurned my Playstation VR 2. After a few weeks, I love it. What happened?
It was a difficult start. I couldn't get used to the device, regretted the purchase, and was upset. If I were just a consumer and not a journalist writing about virtual reality almost every day, I might have sent the Playstation VR 2 back.
I bought the VR headset along with a PS5, which will never be used for 2D games because I now play almost exclusively in VR. The bill was way over 1,000 Euros and the expectations were high.
For the past two years, I've been playing mostly on my Meta Quest 2, mostly native, sometimes connected to a PC. VR headsets are often compared to clothes. They either fit or they don't. When I put the Playstation VR 2 on, it was like trying on not just different clothes, but an entirely new kind of garment.
The device felt even bulkier and heavier than Meta Quest 2. It pinched my head, my nose, my neck. It gave me headaches. The first Playstation VR sat well on my head and face. How did Sony manage to take a step backwards in comfort?
Off to a rocky start
There were other factors that clouded my enjoyment of the device: Coming from PC VR, I was bothered by the slightly blurrier image and the lower resolution of some VR games I am familiar with from PC VR.
The room scanning did not work properly, so I often had to stand up and look around the room for minutes while the system analyzed and saved my surroundings.
Another time, when I reached for the VR headset, it installed multiple updates: first for the PS5, then for the VR headset, then for each of the two Sense controllers. One of the controllers promptly wouldn't update or turn on until I restarted the system. Fifteen minutes had passed, and I was still not in the game I wanted.
This may all be a series of unfortunate coincidences. But it left a taste that reminded me unpleasantly of issues I had in the past with PC VR. I put the device aside and watched TV instead.
VR headsets are like cars
The VR headset now recognizes my room easily, and I haven't had any problems with updates. And what about comfort? After a lot of trial and error, I found the perfect fit, and putting on and taking off the Playstation VR 2 has become a routine. When needed, I'm in the VR within a minute, comfortable and within the sweet spot.
This experience always makes me think of Jed Ashforth, one of the designers of the first Playstation VR, who wrote a long article about his reaction to the Playstation VR 2. Ashforth compares VR headsets to cars, an analogy that I don't think could be more apt.
"This is one of those things where reviewers in the mainstream media sometimes can sound understandably naïve in their critiques; you might get lucky straight out of the box, but for most users it can take a few sessions before your adjustments feel right for you, the fit feels natural, and you can jump straight in and start using it without any faff. It’s kind of like getting a new car, where your ‘perfect’ seat settings need dialing in a little more precisely over your early trips, and you keep squirting your screen spray every time you try to flash your lights."
This description accurately captures how I felt about Playstation VR 2 in terms of comfort and user experience.
A happy ending (for now)
Over the past two weeks, three accessories made my experience easier and better: the official Sense controller charging station, lens inserts from the VR optician, and Sony's Pulse 3D wireless headphones. The latter solved the problem of having no hardware volume control and provided an unexpected boost to immersion. Taken together, the accessories were quite expensive, but well worth the investment.
This is reflected in my VR consumption: I have barely touched Meta Quest 2 in the last two to three weeks. If at all, it was only for short, motion-intensive bursts of VR gaming. Once I got used to the OLED display of the PSVR 2 and the graphics provided by the PS5, it was hard to get back to my Quest 2. For deeper immersion, I put up with the cable, which surprisingly does not bother me too much.
Of course, I still have one or two minor issues with the system. The nose pads are a little tight, and occasionally the PS5 asks me to turn on the TV before I dive into virtual reality. But overall, I'm extremely happy with my Playstation VR 2 and look forward to the more than 100 VR games Sony says are in development for the platform.
This experience reminded me of a simple but forgotten fact: that people can have very individual reactions to certain VR headsets, and that sometimes they take some getting used to - but also that patience can pay off big time.