Hands-on: PSVR2 represents the next big step in virtual reality

At the time, Sony’s PSVR headset was competent and functional. It hasn’t pushed the boat out compared to other devices, but by making it at least somewhat affordable, Sony has struck gold with its best-selling virtual reality headset to date. The company is now looking to beat device sales with PSVR2However, it is about it in a different way.

The follow-up is high-quality, expensive, and modern — just ignore the single cable that connects it to your PS5. It feels like a grab for the enthusiast market first and foremost before expanding its reach in subsequent years. Despite this, technology, games and experiences need to support this proposition. A recent training session with PSVR2 proved to us, at the very least, that Sony knows what it’s doing.

From its lightness to its next-generation Sense controls, everything about the device feels premium. Gone are the dated PS3-era PS Move sticks, replaced with futuristic pads that track movement more accurately. But in the context of the Horizon Call of the Mountain demo, the big difference is eye tracking.

Once the headset is attached and calibrated—the settings are easy to use, the buttons on the device itself, and the system-based tutorials make this trick—it’s all about rewiring your brain to control cursors with your eyes instead of your head. Admittedly, this took some getting used to (we were still somewhat cranky by the end of the demo) but once you’ve saved the feature, it makes navigating a lot easier. Just look at the menu option to select it instead of pressing the PS Move stick out, or turning your eyes to an object to skip pressing the button. There is a lot of potential to take interactivity to a new level with the feature; It’s at least what sets PSVR2 apart from its predecessor at launch.

PSVR2 represents the next big step in VR Hand 2 playback

The new Sense controllers work in conjunction with eye tracking, which adopts the circular nature of other VR headsets on the market. All of the buttons you’d expect on a PS5 DualSense controller are present except for the touchpad, which is implemented in the traceable movements of the input readers.

When playing Horizon Call of the Mountain, they allow you to scale cliff sides with pinpoint precision, either by sticking your hands into the cracks or using vines to pull yourself up. Everything feels natural, with the joystick letting you rotate the camera and get directions right before climbing. Sense controllers track your movements more accurately, with fewer motion issues or troubleshooting needed.

All of this happens with a good degree of comfort. Sony’s first PSVR headset for the PS4 was known for being easy to put on and adjust and then offering few issues as I played Astro Bot Rescue Mission or Blood & Truth for hours on end. After nearly an hour with Horizon Call of the Mountain, the same can be said for PSVR2. Many of the comfort options on the headset itself are the same: A button on the back of the main plastic strap lets you stretch it to a first position around your head. The visor that covers your eyes can be pushed back and forth to find the right spot, then the lens is adjusted using a scroll wheel to remove any distortion. It all locks into place with a wheel to secure the headset to your head. We can’t speak to how you feel after multi-hour sessions, but first impressions are positive. We are excited to return to the collaborative effort from Guerrilla Games and Firesprite Games.

PSVR2 represents the next big step for VR Hands On 3

Of course, PSVR2 comes with obvious tech upgrades to help it look and play better than was possible on PS4, but we walked away from our demo excited about its ability to improve immersion first and foremost. By shifting eye tracking for some interactions from button presses to retina scanning, you can do a lot with less movement. With improved hand tracking in Sense controllers, developers can create more complex functionality to extend what’s possible in VR.

It all comes as the next big step for virtual reality. Using Horizon Call of the Mountain as its flagship product, PSVR2 represents what some PS5 fans feel they haven’t gotten from their home console yet: a truly big leap into the future of gaming technology. It remains to be seen how the headset will hold up to longer periods of gameplay or what the game lineup will look like outside of the launch window, but Sony has packed the PSVR2 full of reason to be an even bigger hit than the previous generation.

PSVR2 launches on February 22, 2023, and you can check out Play all PSVR2 games through the link. Have you received your pre-order yet? Share your responses in the comments below.

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