Sony’s PlayStation VR headset has been the centre of attention since its initial announcement back at GDC 2014. It generated much excitement as it didn’t require a high-end gaming PC to operate like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and instead would be powered by the PlayStation 4.
Here's everything you need to know about PlayStation VR, including UK pricing and availability, the latest news, features and spec. For information on a potential next-gen headset, take a look at the latest PlayStation VR 2 news.
PlayStation VR: UK release date and pricing
PlayStation VR UK release date: 13 October 2016
Sony revealed at E3 2016 that users would be able to get their hands on the PlayStation VR headset from 13 October 2016, along with a number of 'great games and experiences' it had lined up for its first forte into the world of virtual reality.
PlayStation VR: UK price and availability
During the PlayStation VR event at GDC 2016, Sony CEO Andrew House announced that the PlayStation VR headset will set gamers back £349, £150 less than the £499 Oculus Rift and £250 cheaper than the £699 HTC Vive.
Amazon is stocking the PlayStation VR headset, which can be found for £298.95. Amazon isn't the only option though - GAME (£249.99), Argos (£349.99), John Lewis (£339.99) and Currys PC World (£349.99) are also accepting orders for the PlayStation VR headset.
While the price point attracted applause from those present at the event, all was not as it seemed as the CEO left out one vital piece of information. Yes the PlayStation VR headset costs ~£349 in the UK, but it doesn’t come with a PlayStation Camera, a vital element that’s required for VR use. The official PlayStation 4 Camera costs £36 on Amazon at the time of writing.
It’s the same story with the PlayStation Move controllers, although these aren’t required to use the VR headset as all VR content will be compatible with Sony’s DualShock 4 controller. These can be picked up for £69.99 from Amazon.
PlayStation VR: Latest news
Despite being available to buy in the UK, the PlayStation VR news keeps coming. Here's where you can catch up on all the latest PSVR announcements.
New PSVR controllers might be in the works
Despite offering an impressive game lineup and being the cheapest mainstream headset that you can currently buy, the PlayStation VR has always ranked last when it comes to its controllers.
Though we understand the decision behind using the Move controllers, it provides a less-than-impressive tracking experience when compared to the 1:1 tracking of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It really can break immersion, especially when trying to reach something and your 'hands' go off-screen.
Sony may be doing something about that, if a patent filing is anything to go by. Sony Interactive Entertainment filed the patent in Japan which showcases an enhanced, upright design with straps to keep the controllers secure in your hands. The most notable addition is that of an analogue stick on each controller surrounded by quick-access buttons. Another patent claims that the controllers could also boast individual finger tracking.
There's no indication on if/when Sony may launch these controllers, and as is the case with most patent filings, we may not ever see the product reach market. But, regardless, it shows that Sony is aware of the disappointment around the Move controllers and is looking to do something about it.
Sony to release an improved PSVR headset
A year after launch, Sony is set to update the design of the PlayStation VR headset, addressing some issues with the company's latest product.
The main physical changes to the PSVR headset include a relocated headphone jack (now on the back of the headset as opposed to connected to the cable) providing a cleaner, more integrated design. The cable leading from the headset to the PS4 is also thinner too.
That's not the main reason for the redesign though. The star of the show is the upgraded Processor Unit that makes HDR passthrough possible, rather than forcing PSVR owners to disconnect the unit as is the case at present.
The updated headset is set to go on-sale in Japan on 14 October 2017 and while there's no solid UK release date just yet, Sony has confirmed that it'll be made available in other countries with no change to pricing.
PlayStation VR: Specs and hardware
Below we'll tell you what to expect from the PlayStation VR, but you really need to see it for yourself. Sony has announced that it will be bringing PlayStation VR demos to 500,000 shops in June in the US, with the UK shortly behind. GameStop will be a key launch partner for Sony in the States, but the PlayStation VR will also be demoed in stores showing the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift - hopefully we get the same treatment here soon!
The final PlayStation VR headset boasts pretty impressive specs that should get prospective VR gamers excited. For one, it boasts a 5.7in 1920x1080 full-HD OLED display, equating to 960x1080 per eye. The high-quality display coupled with a 100-degree field of view and an 18ms response time should provide users with an experience indistinguishable from real life – according to the Sony CEO anyway.
Sony's virtual reality headset features a 120Hz refresh rate and thus has the potential to render games at 120fps, which is notably higher than the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive's 90Hz offering.
Combined with a powerful PS4 or PS4 Pro console and the OLED screen's high refresh rate, Sony says PlayStation VR offers "amazingly smooth visuals". Although what the firm forgot to mention was that the VR headset won’t be powered by the PS4 – not by itself, anyway.
Instead, PSVR owners will have to make some room for an additional box that’ll connect to the PS4 and provide most of the processing power for the virtual reality headset. The box also provides a ‘standard’ output for the TV, giving your friends a good idea of what’s going on inside the headset, as if you were playing a normal PS4 game.
The PlayStation 4 system is easily able to track movement thanks to built-in accelerometers and LED side lights detectable by a connected PlayStation camera. Sony claims that the PlayStation Camera can track the PSVR headset up to 1,000 times per second, which should provide gamers with a beautifully seamless experience.
It also allows users to turn their heads 360 degrees in-game, allowing gamers to look behind them when inevitably being chased by a weapon-wielding enemy. This is possible thanks to sensors on the back of the headset, which lets the system know when you’re looking behind you.
Much like Valve and HTC's Vive, the PlayStation VR headset will track your location within a physical space, allowing you to walk around your virtual world. However while that sounds great, it's not as advanced as the high-end 5x5m Room Scale tracking system used by the Vive. In fact, while the PlayStation VR can track your movement, you can only move around three steps in any direction before you go out of range and lose tracking altogether.
This is because the tracking system relies on the PlayStation VR camera and as soon as you're out of view of said camera, you'll see a message pop up in front of you prompting you to go move back to where it can track you once again. Sony officially acknowledges the fact that the PlayStation VR will track your movement, but says that many of the games are intended for sit-down use so there won't be much need for movement tracking.
PlayStation VR: Accessories
With regards to controllers and accessories, the PlayStation VR primarily uses the DualShock 4 controller as it’s a familiar controller for PS4 gamers, allowing them to game without looking at which buttons to press (which is even harder with a headset on!).
It’s also because DualShock 4 controllers feature motion sensors, and can be tracked by the PlayStation camera. This gives developers more creativity when developing ways for gamers to interact with the game, and should bring something new and interesting to the table.
PlayStation Move batons
Using a DualShock 4 controller isn’t the only way to interact with the virtual world. Sony also utilises the PlayStation Move Batons, accessories from Sony’s earlier motion-control system from the days of the PlayStation 3 that many had written off.
The Batons allow players to control both their characters and environments via gestures rather than traditional button presses, and looks to provide users with a more immersive and interactive experience than when using a DualShock 4 controller alone.
PS VR Aim Controller
Following Sony’s E3 2016 press conference where the company showcased a number of launch PSVR games, the gaming giant also quietly announced the PS VR Aim controller – a Move-esque controller designed specifically for use with VR sci-fi shooter Farpoint.
Many fans compare the Aim controller to the Sharp Shooter gun accessory which launched alongside Killzone 3, designed to emulate an assault rifle, however Sony’s latest offering is simplistic and designed to be used with a variety of VR-enabled weapons. The design allows it to be used pushed into the shoulder like when using a rifle (which also allows you to look down the scope of the gun!), as well as being comfortable to hold when hip-firing.
Despite looking simplistic, the PS VR Aim controller boasts the same buttons as a DualShock 4 controller. This includes two triggers, two bumpers, two analogue sticks, a D-Pad, Share and Options buttons, a button emulating the Touch Pad and of course, X, O, Triangle and Square buttons, providing gamers with a way to perform the same actions you’d normally perform in-game when using the Aim controller.
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