The original PlayStation VR is one of the most successful headsets of its kind, with over 5 million units sold. Due to its success, and the growing appetite for VR within the gaming industry, Sony announced the PlayStation VR2 with a release scheduled for sometime later this year, using the considerable advancements in VR technology since the first PS VR released in 2016.
Some remain skeptical of VR as anything other than a gimmick, a growing view in the console space as PS VR increasingly shows its age compared to headsets like the Oculus Quest 2. The announcement of greatly improved specs and other quality of life enhancements is far from PS VR2's more primitive predecessor, and Sony's upcoming headset represents huge potential for the PlayStation brand.
A key reason for PS VR2 great potential is the technology announced for its headset, with vast improvements to the quality and variation of releases. Many current PS VR games are reminiscent of tech demos or proof of concepts, designed to showcase the feeling of being in a VR space more than providing a rich story or something resembling a full-length game.
The hardware limitations are key reasons for this, with the lack of thumbsticks often resulting in static worlds with limited interaction. Other other games featured awkward teleportation using the Move controllers. Those controllers were repurposed PS3 peripherals and also contributed to games feeling limited, with poor tracking and a wand shape often breaking immersion. PS VR2 will feature thumbsticks on its redesigned sense controllers, which will hugely improve immersion and the types of games on offer to owners of the headset. Tracking will also no longer be an issue with the inconsistent light bar and external camera technology of the original replaced by embedded cameras in the new hardware.
As a result of these improvements, more ambitious titles can be developed, and existing powerhouses like Half-Life: Alyx could potentially see a release on PS VR2. Players may also see games from their favorite PlayStation franchises make their VR debut, as we've already seen with the announcement of Horizon Call of the Mountain. A more capable headset means more faith will surely be placed in its ability to convincingly present players with meaningful adventures from beloved IP, with VR titles giving a new perspective on stories and characters players already know and love. We may also see more games bridging the gap between two mainline entries in a AAA franchise, such as Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, a VR experience set between the first and second games. The 2017 title was a rare case of a VR game giving the player an immersive experience with existing characters while also being an essential part of the overall story. As Sony has doubled down on its commitment to VR, PS VR2 players could potentially experience more games presented in this way that enhance or accompany the exclusive games found on PS5.
First party experience
The experience developers gained from making games for the original PS VR represents another reason for the vast potential of PS VR2. Initial games for Sony's first headset were minimal, partly due to the primitive hardware as already explored, but also due to the inexperience of first-party developers when making games for the system. London Studio's PlayStation VR Worlds was a collection of standalone VR experiences, serving as an introduction for those taking their first steps with the original headset. They took lessons from a section of that game, The London Heist, and released the excellent Blood and Truth three years later, a full-length game and one of the better PS VR titles. Further lessons will have been learned here too, and the studio is positioned to build on its success with future PS VR2 releases.
An important new mascot for PlayStation saw success on PS VR, with Astro Bot: Rescue Mission followed by the well-liked PS5 launch title Astro's Playroom. The faith Sony has shown in the character means a PS VR2 title is inevitable, with Team Asobi again building on the foundations first set by that initial PS VR game. Some innovative third-party games also released on PS VR are Farpoint and Iron Man VR, providing a wealth of knowledge and experience for developers to create unique games on PS VR2.
The much-improved specs touted by PlayStation VR2 allow Sony to further establish itself as a VR leader in the console space. Tantalizing features such as eye-tracking, 4K visuals, and haptic feedback could also draw in PS5 owners who skipped the original PS VR launch. The fact that a new generation of PlayStation VR may also help convince the wider PlayStation audience that VR should be taken more seriously, Sony's betting on console VR having a lasting impact and a broader appeal than ever before.
Sony is also losing ground in other areas of the console market, making the upcoming headset feel more significant. The massive success of Xbox Game Pass and the sheer financial power of Microsoft demonstrated in the recent acquisitions of Bethesda and Activision/Blizzard are aspects of the industry that Sony currently can't compete with, further highlighting the potential importance of PS VR2 to Sony's strategy moving forward.
It can certainly be argued that PlayStation VR2 is coming at an important time for Sony in the wake of a strong start to the year from Xbox, while the headset also boasts specs that can represent huge improvements to VR in the console space. Various features have been improved, and the quality-of-life changes indicate the care that Sony is taking to create more of a lasting impact this time around. The more detailed, higher-budget games that could potentially be developed for PS VR2 are also an exciting prospect, with Sony's clear statement of intent by already announcing Horizon Call of the Mountain.
As PlayStation VR2 becomes more established and more PS5's are sold, it could be taken more seriously as a console accompaniment rather than a gimmick. VR, in general, has grown in popularity in recent times, and it feels like an excellent time to release the next generation of PS VR. The upcoming headset is potentially huge for Sony, and the anticipation will likely build as we find out closer to release.
Next-gen is finally here
To play the PS VR2, you'll need the latest next-gen console. The PS5 features improved visuals, an incredible controller, and impressive 3D audio. A must-have for any gamer if you can find one.
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