PlayStation VR Review: Plug & Play

The Wall Street Journal review of the Playstation VR is glowing -- but perhaps not for the reasons you'd expect. Some key excerpts from Geoffrey A. Fowler:

This isn’t a story about better tech. Sony’s much-hyped rivals, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which must be connected to powerful PCs, offer more sophisticated virtual reality experiences. (Vive remains my favorite tech demo of the year—it can fill an entire room with a virtual whale!) But Sony has wisely traded technical capability for something VR needs much more right now: broader appeal. PlayStation VR moves it out of the realm of expensive geek tech, and into something that fits in an actual family room.


Unwrap a few new pieces of PSVR hardware, swap around a few plugs on your existing PS4, and you’re set up in under 15 minutes. (With the Rift and Vive, I regretted not getting an engineering degree. You need to connect them to a high-end PC, with special graphics cards and drivers.


You can use PSVR without remodeling your house—or designating a spotter to ensure you don’t chip a tooth on the coffee table. And that may be PlayStation VR’s greatest feature: Instead of requiring you to fire up a Windows PC then creep around furniture, it’s just sitting there, ready for a rainy day escape or fun with friends.

You get the picture. Instead of being the most technically impressive version of virtual reality, they love Playstation VR because it's the most accessible and approachable. This isn't something that only the techiest of tech folk can use -- provided they have the access or the means to access the right Windows PC hardware -- it's something any of the 40 million people with a PS4 can buy and use basically right out of the box. This sure seems like it will matter. 

And it goes beyond the set up:

There is just one more problem with the actual reality of VR: It’s just awful being a bystander while some goggle-wearing geek gropes at digital dimensions you can’t see. But Sony has some ideas on how to make things more collaborative—without two headsets. PlayStation VR comes with a “social screen” option, which lets friends (and annoying little brothers) watch what’s happening inside the VR goggles on the nearby TV
They weren’t available to test, but Sony has also promised games that will have an interactive element for people in the room who aren’t wearing goggles. One, called “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes,” traps the person wearing the headset in a virtual room with a bomb they must defuse. Everyone else on the couch shouts instructions, which they get by deciphering what they see on the TV screen.

This is a great idea. On-trend with the e-sports -- watching people play games -- movement. And something the genre (VR gaming, in particular) desperately needs if it's going to get off the ground any time soon.

The Verge review of the Playstation VR is decidedly less positive, but still acknowledges the savvy move by Sony when it comes to all of the above. 


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