Our biggest remaining PlayStation VR2 questions answered

Zoom / Forward and upward with an all-new VR system.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Ahead of Sony’s arrival at the Tokyo Game Show 2022 this weekend, the company’s PlayStation division has been pushing a slew of news online to fans over the past 24 hours. Arguably the biggest news came from hands-on and first-hand impressions of the PlayStation VR2 add-on for the PS5 console.

Talk of the new virtual reality system, slated for a retail launch “early 2023”, is now being talked about out of Sony’s careful PR hands, and its early testers have provided impressions of both the hardware and some apparent launch software.

PSVR2: What we already know

Thanks to Sony’s announcements earlier this year, we know that the PSVR2’s OLED screen has a pixel resolution of 4000 x 2040, which can run VR software in 90Hz or 120Hz modes. That performance is boosted by a new rendering system, which aims to emphasize full pixel accuracy where your eyes focus and blur the parts where your eyes aren’t — and that, unsurprisingly, is paired with new internal eye-tracking sensors.

We also know that the PSVR 2 will ship with two brand-new gamepads, one for each hand, that follow the Meta Quest prototype for VR controllers (complete with buttons, triggers, and joysticks) but with the additional technical upgrades found in recent Sony DualSense gamepads—meaning, more gurgling. Accuracy and stress-filled “pushing” stimuli.

The new “inside-out” tracking system is similar to the kind found in the Meta Quest and many Windows Mixed Reality headsets, this uses built-in cameras to scan players’ surroundings in the real world and track in VR mode, no external cameras or tracking boxes are required. However, unlike the wireless Meta Quest 2 by default, PSVR2 requires a cable connection for power and data transmission to the PlayStation 5 console.

PSVR2: What we learned this week

Speaking of this cable connection: We’ve now seen it in action. The new single-cable connection, via the PS5’s only USB Type-C slot, is a revelation compared to the external “processor unit” and ubiquitous cables required for Sony’s first virtual reality system. This 4.5-meter cable is said to have been designed to weigh as little as possible, but a cable that can wrap around your legs may still be a deal breaker for some.

Sony has also confirmed that the PSVR will lack built-in audio. Just like the latter model, PSVR2 owners will need to connect headphones using the 3.5mm jack. The original PSVR shipped with budget earbuds, which may happen again for the PSVR2 — and to Sony’s credit, the new headset has stylish built-in “earphone jacks” that you can squeeze your existing earbuds into for tidy storage. But that’s a problem compared to the built-in audio found in the Valve Index and all Meta Quest models. This week’s demo videos show that Sony’s larger PS-branded headphones restrict users in VR, reduce airflow, and leave people sweaty, so interested users should consider high-quality, lightweight wired earphones before the PSVR2 launches in 2023. (My recommendation is the affordable, high-performance 3.5mm Koss KSC32-i.)

In better news, Sony’s lens mechanism includes a precise interpupillary distance (IPD) slider, which can be accessed via an easy-to-use dial while the system is attached to the face. (This is a big difference from the Quest 2, which has skipped such a slider as a cost-saving measure.) New users can access a manual calibration menu at any time to make sure the IPD setting matches their unique face, and this additionally asks users to look at a set From moving points to calibrate the PSVR2’s eye tracking sensors. So far, the PSVR2’s “hovering” fit, complete with a foam back strap and a sleek port for a snug fit, looks much the same we loved on the original PSVR. The fit around the eyes is said to be wide enough for eyeglass wearers, though we’re still waiting to hear about the new system’s weight and distribution compared to the original – at least, beyond suggestions that the current headset is too light.

Tease in July 2022 on how PSVR2's automatic room tracking technology will work when the system launches in 2023.
Zoom / Tease in July 2022 on how PSVR2’s automatic room tracking technology will work when the system launches in 2023.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

The new PSVR2 room tracking system, which relies on four built-in cameras, appears to automatically record the items in your gaming space. When users direct system cameras to a new room, the black and white transit view coats objects (furniture, entertainment centers) in a three-dimensional pattern of 3D triangles as PSVR2 cameras scan over them, rather than having users aim their hands at it scanning and “coloring” the playing space. If the PSVR2 gets it wrong, users can still use the system controllers to set their VR “limits” before playing starts. The headset includes a button on the bottom that can enable the PSVR2’s cross-camera mode at any time so users can see what’s going on around them without removing the headset.

We previously learned that PSVR2 has a set of built-in thundering engines – a first in consumer-level virtual reality – and now we know how they actually work. The intensity of the rumble can vary between a mild sensation, such as when flies are buzzing around your face during a sequence in Resident Evil: Village VR، Horizon VR: Call of the Mountain. So far, reports suggest that this sensation is more overwhelming than it is repugnant.

Sony has yet to confirm the maximum brightness of its OLED display, simply referring to its “HDR” rating, but Sony clearly takes screen quality and light bleeding seriously. OLED panels are generally better at managing an “infinite” contrast ratio, thus putting deeper blacks and brighter lights side by side, and the PSVR2 appears to include a superior light-blocking arrangement from the foam and nose liners.

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