PSVR 2 developers have many more polygons to work with than Quest 2
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners 2 was released on both low-end and high-end VR platforms. This presented many challenges.
The VR game (check our review of TWD:SS 2) was released in December 2022 for the standalone Meta Quest 2 and Pico 4 VR headsets, followed by the much more powerful Playstation VR 2 and PC VR headsets in March 2023.
In an interview with Multiplatform, Lead Environment Artist Dana Klaren describes the challenges of developing for multiple VR platforms.
"There were many technical limitations and requirements for the environments. The biggest factor was that we were shipping the game on multiple hardware platforms that ranged drastically in their capabilities. On the lower-end, we needed to ship the game on mobile VR headsets (Quest 2 and Pico). We also made it available for a wide range of PC hardware, and on the high-end, we shipped it on PS5 for the new PSVR2 headset."
Stark differences in performance headroom
PC VR headsets and PSVR 2 have access to powerful external computers with large cooling systems and power from the wall, while VR games on Meta Quest 2 and Pico 4 are rendered using a smartphone chip that runs on a very limited battery. Obviously, this results in big graphical differences.
Videos like the one above have already shown this. Klaren quantifies the difference in performance headroom:
"The number of polygons we could display on our high-end hardware was about 26 times greater than the number we could display on our low-end, to give you an idea of the challenge," Klaren says in reference to Saints & Sinners 2.
Meta Quest 2 can render about one million polygons, according to Meta. However, this number depends on many factors. In any case, getting a game as complex as Saints & Sinners 2 to run on mobile VR headsets is a huge achievement.
Standalone VR headsets have other advantages
The advantage of Meta Quest 2 and Pico 4 is that they are much cheaper, tetherless, and you can take them anywhere.
Either more powerful and stationary or less powerful and mobile: This is one of the compromises you have to make with current VR headsets. Anyone considering a purchase should take this into account.
In the interview, Klaren goes into detail about the extensive graphical adjustments the studio had to make for the different hardware. For example, the LODs (different levels of detail of game assets depending on distance) were hand-crafted rather than automatically generated for each platform.
The developer also describes how digital environments in VR affect players differently than on a conventional screen. You can read this very interesting interview at Multiplatform.