2016 is shaping up to be the year that home entertainment gets a virtual reality shot in the arm and if we’re being completely honest, all of the signs would indicate that the PlayStation VR headset is likely to be the best package available when it arrives in the UK later this year. With big name competitors like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive also out this year, along with lower-tech mobile contenders like the Samsung Gear VR, it’s not necessarily a foregone conclusion, but when you look at it across the board, the PlayStation VR looks like the front runner.
It’s got high enough spec and the technical firepower from the PlayStation 4 to put it firmly in the same high-end category of virtual reality headsets as the Vive and Rift, but it’s got a lower launch price. Added to that is the uncluttered simplicity of the device, which has been designed to couple up with the PS4 to deliver its virtual reality experience, unlike the complicated detail behind the PC specifications needed to fire up the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.
It’s also got a slight edge on the content front, with the most exciting games roster of all the VR headsets, so it will be a surprise if it doesn’t come out as the top selling virtual reality device on the market in the UK come the end of 2016.
PlayStation VR release date
In a stroke of simple genius, Sony has confirmed an incredibly simple concept of a UK release date planned for October 2016 that will see it available in stores and online in the run up to Christmas. That sounds a little like a no-brainer, but when you consider the fact that the Oculus Rift has “officially” launched already, but has no clear plan for retailing in your average shop or online store in the UK as of yet, you can see that the PlayStation VR’s release date and availability plans look like a master stroke.
The timing of the release date a little ahead of Christmas 2016, is yet another reason it could wind up being the winner in the VR tech race that’s well and truly in full flight this year. The lower price point and ease of uptake, especially for existing PlayStation 4 owners, will undoubtedly result in the PS VR being one of the biggest gift list items for winter gaming excitement. It’ll still have to compete with big games like Mafia III, Gears Of War 4 and Battlefield 1 for UK shopper spending cash, but with so much excitement around virtual reality at the moment it could be new technology that edges it this year.
PlayStation VR price
In yet more clever launch strategy planning from Sony, the PlayStation VR will be one of the more reasonably priced virtual reality headsets out this year, coming in at £349 in the UK ($399 in the US and €399 in the EU). This compares to a fairly significant £500 estimate for the Oculus Rift in the UK ($599 in the US) and around £690 for the Vive ($799 in the US), so for a high-end VR headset it’s definitely on the more affordable side of the spectrum, especially if you’ve already got at PlayStation 4.
However, even if you’ve got to add this on to the overall price tag, putting another £290 onto the price tag, but that’s still less than the Vive, which would still require a PC to fire up. With the Oculus Rift you’ve got the added price tag of a Rift ready PC to take into account and then with mobile virtual reality headsets like the Samsung Gear VR you’ve the cost of a smartphone to add to the bill, so all told the PlayStation VR is a front runner where price is concerned.
PlayStation VR games
The PlayStation VR will have a fairly decent roster of games to test out your virtual reality thrill-seeking skills on. A few of them overlap with games that are also available on the Oculus Rift, but there are also a few exclusives for the gaming headset. Check out some of the cooler games below:
RIGS Mechanised Combat League
This is a first person robotic sports arena shooter taken to the extremes. It’s single player at its core, but you’ll also be able to go online to battle it out as a part of a team of pilots against any and all challenging teams. It’s arguably the most promising launch title for any of the virtual reality headsets.
This is a first person space ship shooter that is also available on the Rift. You fly in the deepest recesses of space to take part in massive scale dogfights as the pilot of a futuristic space gunner.
Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood
This is a scare-fest arcade shooter with a roller-coaster ride twist, exclusive to the PlayStation VR. Blast everything from killer clowns to monsters and masked villains in a bid to escape the nightmare.
This PS VR exclusive is a five mini-games in one title that will see you getting a taster of different virtual reality experiences. These include a London heist arcade shooter, crazy VR downhill luge, a futuristic tennis style game where your head is the racket, an underwater submersion experience and a futuristic space shooter.
Robinson: The Journey
This is a dinosaur world adventure where you’ll need to run and walk to escape the massive plodding feet and savage teeth and claws of the Jurassic-age beasts that surround you.
Ubisoft’s bird flight simulator, Eagle Flight (pictured above), looks pretty cool with a deserted Paris skyline to fly around in as you take control of an eagle and take to the skies. Read more…
Yet another PlayStation VR exclusive, Golem is a surreal mechanised adventure that’s currently in development, so it’s to look after beyond the release date.
Ace Combat 7
Bandai Namco’s modern day fighter jet simulator is being developed with support for the PlayStation VR, so you’ll be able to take to the cockpit in the most realistic flight experience we’ve seen on a home console.
Finally, Star Wars Battlefront will also be coming to the PS VR, which will be the biggest online first person shooter to arrive for the virtual reality gaming revolution that’s starting to build. Read more…
How does the PlayStation VR work and what can you do with it?
Just like all virtual reality headsets, you essentially plonk it on to your bonce and enter a world of wonder, but with the PlayStation VR it all works off the power of the PlayStation 4. You’ll simply plug it into your console and away you go, you’re suddenly VR-ready.
Gaming is by far the biggest feature of the PS VR, and we’re hoping on some big hitters arriving at E3 2016 next month (June 2016). In addition to gameplay being controlled with head movements, you’ll also be able to enjoy virtual reality gaming experiences using the PS4 controller, as well as the PlayStation Move motion controllers, which you can see in action in the trailer below.
In addition to playing dedicated VR games with full 360 degree views of the gaming experience, the headset will also allow you to play regular PS4 games in cinema view. This essentially means that they simply play in front of you as standard without camera controls for your head, which could come in handy if your games console setup is on the main TV and there’s often a battle for who gets to watch or play what.
There’s less talk of other home entertainment elements from the guys at Sony, so things like using it as a personal cinema screen or massive screen virtual TV isn’t really the order of the day when it comes to the details from PlayStation. However, we know it’ll be able to screen 360 degree content, so we’ll be very surprised if movies, TV, apps, social media and online browsers don’t also feature on the PlayStation VR.
PlayStation VR tech spec
The screen is built on OLED technology and provides approximately a 100 degree field of view from just a 5.7-inch screen display panel. The resolution is 1920 x RGB x 1080, which equates to 960 x RGB x 1080 per eye, and it will operate at a variable refresh rate of 120Hz and 90Hz. It contains a fine tuned accelerometer and gyroscope to provide the head control functionality and hooks up to the PS4 with HDMI and USB connectors.
It weighs 610g without the cables, which is the equivalent of a little over half a bag of sugar or a tin and half of baked beans if you want to try strapping anything to your head in a bid to get used to the neck muscle requirements for virtual reality gaming.
We’re very impressed with the prospect of the PlayStation VR. Sony has clearly worked hard to get all of the elements to work well, delivering what we think is the most balanced intro to virtual reality gaming. It’s high-end spec and lower cost makes it a serious contender to win the VR technology race and when you add the ease of access into the mix you’ve got something that could be the biggest talking point around Christmas 2016.