What can I say, I love to be up to date with the latest tech when it comes to gaming. PSVR released almost a month ago now, and at the time of the pre-launch hype, I was excited and then reserved. $500 is a lot to spend on a new peripheral, but this is VR we’re talking about, something I dreamed about since I was a kid, watching movies like Johnny Mnemonic and Total Recall. So fast forward to 2016, we don’t have flying cars or Minority Report like crime tracking, but VR is finally here and possible in my own home. The excitement levels just couldn’t contain themselves, and when the accessary released, I grabbed one immediately. This was it, this was finally the time I had waited for.
First off, the PS VR is a system that is overly convoluted when it comes to set up. Cables everywhere, making my PS4 look like it’s about to get taken away by a tentacle grabbing alien. The PSVR set up isn’t pretty, but it’s not a huge hindrance. It will mostly bother those that like a super clean and tidy entertainment stand. I got over it, but it bugged me. The initial idea setting up the system and getting everything ready to go seemed so foreign to me at the start. Cables, plugging into another box, plugged into the USB, also another power cord, a camera now set up. I almost expected my PlayStation 4 to start foaming at the mouth.
Once initial set up was done, I started off with the PlayStation VR world disc that came in the bundle. I tried out the London Heist in first person and it was amazing to see myself in these various moments in a crime. From a shoot out on the highway that had my mouth dropping, to being stuck in front of a fist fight dodging swings. This is VR, this is amazing, and this is next level here. I tried out the plethora of other games in the disc and soon moved into the demo disc and VR playground that is offered on the PSN Network. Demo wise, I was getting some mixed results.
Here They Lie just about made me throw my headset off and grab the nearest chum bucket. It was first person and let me control my own movement. I didn’t expect such a violent reaction but there is was. As if I was in the matrix and just got punched in the gut. The nausea was very real and troubling. I moved into some other titles with mixed results. I had heard with Driveclub that it was THE vomit comet of games released. I was surprised then when I raced a lap or two with little to no effect. Then I hit a wall and tried going in reverse… holy shit, my brain could not handle it. I tried to move forward and proceed on and then made my second mistake, looking to the side when taking turns. Whelp there went my lunch.
Before turning off the unit I gave the PS VR playground a chance. This was by far the crowning achievement of VR I played so far. This demo had so many different gameplay types that were light hearted, and anyone could get an idea of what VR offered with this. The platforming game here was absolutely mind blowing to me with the interaction with the controller, the head tracking, and neat visual elements. Yet it gave way to another small set of nausea, moving forward had me like whoa; I was starting to notice a pattern.
I was beginning to realize that VR was having a positive and negative effect on me. On one hand, I was absolutely immersed and enthralled with the way this small little headset could put me into a world that had me totally captivated. It reminded me of something one might experience at a theme park like Disneyland, but instead of going to park or paying a onetime use fee, this was hardware in my home, to use whenever I want. On the other hand, about half the experiences I was having were mixed results when it comes to me playing the games, or what I would experience after a long duration of game time. I tried to offset this like any good doctor might suggest to a person with motion sickness, VR or otherwise. Take breaks, take medicine, but nothing seemed to work to remove it completely.
Third person games or games not in the first person perspective I had little to no trouble with. First person, when stationary in movement, once again fine. It boiled down to controlled movement in first person and some select third person games. It hit fast, heavy, hard, and even as writing this, I’m still experiencing some issues from my session last night, which is the reason I’m writing this article today.
Last night I was able to grab a copy of Robinson: The Journey. This game sealed my fate in VR and gave me the ultimate conclusion I was already afraid to admit. The game itself aimed to take me to a foreign planet, with Dinosaurs and other creatures in a sci-fi experience like no other. I was excited to give this a try, I’ve been playing VR on and off for almost a month, I should have my VR legs right? Wrong… so much that I had to stop playing this after about 15 minutes. In disbelief I sat there and literally asked myself “Is this amazing new VR simulation not for me?” I still am thinking about it even now.
I popped some Dramamine and waited for about 30 minutes and then tried again. Ok, better this time and I was able to play for another solid 40 minutes or so yet when I finished I was exhausted, and had cold sweat running down my face. I felt like I had been able to take medicine and withstand the experience, but is this what I would consider fun and what to subject myself to every time I played VR? I had to think about that extremely hard. At what point does something you love to do or experience become a hindrance and no longer a fun option? PS VR had already made me question this, and ultimately that’s why it’s on the way now back to the store for a refund.
This isn’t a life or death decision, it’s videogames and a form of entertainment. This didn’t make the choice any harder. Being a huge gamer for all my life and wishing for the day of VR and my body simply can’t handle perhaps 40 percent of the games that I’ve tried, this isn’t doing me any favors. At the current price point and tech, it’s just a big pill to swallow. Get an amazing experience unlike anything ever experienced before but lose your equilibrium for the day, or even lunch if you’re lucky. Doesn’t seem like a bullet point I’d expect to sell me on a product does it?
I hope to see the technology improve and game developers find ways for VR to work easier with more motion sickness prone individuals like myself, as I know I’m surely not the only one affected. As it stands. PSVR, it’s not you, it’s me. I want to have you in my life, but it’s not the right time and I don’t know if it ever will be. It makes me sad, but it’s time to part ways for now. Best of luck and for all those that can stomach PS VR, I’m envious of you all. Enjoy it.