It's been five long years since Sony release the PlayStation VR back in 2016, but luckily the PlayStation VR2 is on the way soon to take the best console VR to the next level.
With the PS5 now out worldwide, it's no surprise that fans are ready for a PS VR2 headset to go with the new home console. Sony has now shared the name, controllers, and specs of the hardware - along with its first big-franchise game - but we're still waiting to find out when it'll come out, and how much it'll cost when it does.
When will PS VR2 be released?
Sony has confirmed that it's working on the PSVR 2 headset, and we're hoping to get to see it some time this year.
Supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks the next-gen PSVR headset will appear in 2022 alongside headsets from Apple and Oculus after allegedly seeing order details for Taiwanese lens manufacturer Yujingguang from the three companies.
Hardware analyst Brad Lynch also reported in January 2022 that Chinese company Goertek will be handling some production for the headset, with mass production set to begin "soon".
Meanwhile Bloomberg reports that Sony is aiming for a holiday 2022 release window, which would make a lot of sense, citing "people with knowledge of the matter."
Furthermore, citing a behind-closed-doors developer conference (more on that below) YouTube channel PSVR Without Parole claims that Sony "will reveal their launch details in early 2022," which if anything suggests the launch might be earlier in the year than the holiday period.
How much will PS VR2 cost?
The first-gen PlayStation VR starter bundle costs around £259 to buy right now in the UK, but that affordable price tag came after a handful of price drops. In fact, the full PlayStation VR kit was priced at £399/$499 at release back in 2016, and we think that’s more representative of the potential cost of the second-gen PlayStation VR headset.
The PlayStation VR2 will sport a lot of new and upgraded tech to improve the overall VR experience for PlayStation gamers (which we go into more detail about below), but of course, the use of high-end tech could bump up the overall price.
What we’re trying to say is that the price will vary depending on the tech on offer, and for that, we’ll have to wait until Sony fully reveals its next-gen VR headset.
What about the PS VR2's design and specs?
Sony has gradually teased new details about the new VR hardware, giving us a look at the Sense controllers and dropping a few technical specs, but we're still waiting for a proper sense of what the headset is going to look like.
We’ve collected all of Sony's official information right here, along with the leaks, rumours, and patent applications that reveal a little more.
The design of the headset is one of the major elements that Sony hasn't revealed officially. That means we don't know exactly what the PSVR 2 will look like, but our best look at it suggests that it won't be identical to the first generation.
Spanish site Distrito Metaverso found a patent application filed by Sony in October 2021 that reveals a good look at a possible headset design.
This is described only as a "head-mounted display," but it certainly looks like a VR headset to us. It also looks like a detailed, near-final design - whereas the older patents seen below use basic headset designs to illustrate specific tech concepts.
This doesn't reveal too much new about how the headset itself will work, but it looks smaller than its predecessor, and re-balanced to have more weight behind the user's head and less resting on their face - which certainly sounds more comfortable.
Let's get the bad news out of the way. One of the most anticipated upgrades to the second-gen PSVR is wireless connectivity, but Sony has already debunked that one, confirming on the PlayStation blog that the headset "will connect to PS5 with a single cord to simplify setup and improve ease-of-use, while enabling a high-fidelity visual experience."
The cord in question will be a USB-C lead, which makes sense given that Sony placed a single USB-C port pretty prominently on the front of the console.
So far the only VR headsets that are wireless as standard are standalone models like the Oculus Quest 2, which are by their nature less powerful. HTC has released wireless add-ons for the Vive and Vive Cosmos, but doesn't support wireless play as standard - perhaps Sony will take a similar approach and release a wireless adapter post-launch.
The current Move controllers do the job, allowing you to interact with virtual environments, but without 1:1 tracking, they simply can’t compete with the experience on offer from Vive, Cosmos or Oculus Touch controllers - and Sony knows it.
Weeks after Sony confirmed that it was working on new controllers for the PSVR 2 headset, the company published a PlayStation Blog post detailing our first proper look at the upcoming controllers - since confirmed to be called the Sense controllers - and there's a huge upgrade on offer.
Sporting an orb-like design reminiscent of the Oculus Quest 2 controllers, Sony says that the shape "allows you to hold the controller naturally" with no constraints on how you can move your hands, and the ergonomic design should translate to a more comfortable experience than holding the ageing batons.
The Sense controllers also sport the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback present on the DualSense controller for PS5, arguably the best features of Sony's new controller. That's backed up by finger touch detection, allowing you to make natural gestures in-game, along with the standard plethora of analogue sticks and action buttons.
There aren't any big in-your-face lights to rely on for tracking this time either, with Sony instead opting for smaller tracking rings that live at the bottom of each controller.
According to PSVR Without Parole's report on the secret dev conference, the finger touch detection will go one step further: in addition to capacitive touch sensors, the controllers will be able to detect how far away from the sensors your fingers are, and even use that to infer where your other fingers are, generating an idea of the shape of your whole hand without you touching a thing.
The new controllers are a huge step for Sony, and the company teases that there's still more to come.
One of the biggest steps forward for the new headset is that it uses "inside-out tracking," with cameras built into the headset itself to register your location and movements.
Importantly, that means that there's no need for an external camera - meaning there's one less expensive accessory to buy, and one less bit of clutter and cabling taking up space in your living room.
The integrated cameras aren't the only tracking enhancement in the PlayStation VR2.
Sony has confirmed that the headset also supports eye tracking, allowing it to recognise where you're looking even if you don't move your head.
Sony suggests that this will allow you to use looking in specific directions to "create an additional input for the game character."
Going by a patent that was published back in July 2019, the headset could also use this information to refine what each eye sees and improve stereoscopic depth, also known as parallax imaging.
The PlayStation VR headset sports a 5.7in 1920 x 1080 (386ppi) display, which was acceptable in 2016 but not so much in 2022.
As we move away from first-gen VR headsets, consumers are demanding higher-res displays to improve the overall look of VR content and make things like reading text in VR more comfortable, and it looks like the PSVR 2 won’t disappoint on that front.
Sony has confirmed that the PS VR2 will feature OLED displays, with a resolution of 2000×2040 per eye - giving a total resolution of 4000x2040, making the headset 4K.
It will support HDR along with foveated rendering, a rendering technique that involves reducing image quality in the peripheral vision to allow improved quality in the areas where the player is looking.
A 110-degree field of view is among the widest in the current VR headset market, and support for both 90Hz and 120Hz frame rates will produce a smoother, more natural visual experience.
In addition to the haptic feedback built into the new Sense controllers, Sony has included haptic feedback in the headset itself.
A single built-in motor will vibrate the headset in response to in-game events, which combined with the console's Tempest 3D audio support could help make games much more immersive.
"For example, gamers can feel a character’s elevated pulse during tense moments, the rush of objects passing close to the character’s head, or the thrust of a vehicle as the character speeds forward," Sony's official blog suggests.
One rumoured - but unconfirmed - feature is transparency mode. This would allow the headset to display a certain amount of transparency when required – like when getting close to a real-world object – utilising the forward-facing cameras of the headset.
It’s a feature of most other major VR headsets, and would certainly be a welcome addition to the PlayStation VR 2.
An unusual patent from 2017 was dug up by UploadVR, and reveals that Sony was interested in ways to shadow ban players in social VR apps based not only on their language, but also their behaviour and even body language.
The idea is that users making rude gestures could be tracked by the headset's sensors, and given a 'safety rating', with people who hit a certain rating tagged as 'griefers' so that they can be banned from certain social areas or marked for investigation.
Sony never implemented this tech on the first PSVR, but this is perhaps a sign that it might be coming to the new more powerful hardware - and that with it, Sony might be intending to invest more deeply into the social side of virtual reality.
Compatible with first-gen PSVR games
The PS5 is backwards compatible with the almost the entire PS4 library, so we expect that to apply to the PlayStation VR library too, though this hasn't yet been confirmed.
A report from PSVR Without Parole claims that Sony is going to be emphasising remasters of first-gen PSVR games though, so expect to see plenty of older titles re-released and optimised for the new hardware.
Confirmed PS VR2 games
So far there are only two confirmed PS VR2 games, but one is a doozy.
The big one is Horizon Call of the Mountain, a VR spin-off of Horizon Zero Dawn and its sequel Horizon Forbidden West.
The second is less high-profile. Developer Vankrupt Games revealed in a surprisingly candid reply to a fan that Pavlov: Shack, currently playable on Oculus Quest 2, will also be available on PSVR 2, suggesting that the original headset "doesn't have fidelity" required by the title.
PSVR2, psvr1 doesn't have the fidelity for Pavlov— davevillz (@davevillz) March 29, 2021
PSVR Without Parole's dev conference report reveals a little about Sony's game strategy for the new PSVR.
For one, the channel claims that Sony will have a new focus on AAA VR games, moving away from what it calls "virtual reality experiences." To that end it will be pushing developers to work on games that support both VR and playing on TV, and as part of that will help to make it simple for players to only download the VR or TV versions of games as appropriate.