Home Tech How Sony could make PSVR 2 amazing on the PS5 – CNET

How Sony could make PSVR 2 amazing on the PS5 – CNET

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The PlayStation VR lives on with the PS5… and a few extra accessories.

Scott Stein/CNET

Back in 2016, VR was suddenly a Big Thing. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive promised immersive trips to other worlds on PCs. That same year, Sony released the PlayStation VR for the PS4, bringing reasonably priced virtual reality to a living room game console.

Five years is a long time, but Sony has announced a follow-up to its VR hardware, designed from the ground up for the PlayStation 5. You can play VR right now on a PS5 using the old PSVR and there are some great games to discover. But it’s a hassle to connect the wires and find the controllers it works with (you need a DualShock 4, or a pair of weird PlayStation Move wands).

A brand-new headset could be a big deal for opening immersive experiences for Sony’s console. And, looking at the tech in VR (and the PS5) right now, it could get a lot better very fast. But one thing I’m not wild about is that it apparently will still need to be tethered to your console with a cable. Sony has had plans for a next-generation VR headset for a while, but I don’t know if what Sony has planned for the PS5 will reinvent VR as we know it, or just catch up to the present moment.

What would I actually want from a PSVR 2? Simple: be a better Oculus Quest.

Oculus Quest 2

The model for a great, single-cable VR headset (that can also be standalone) already exists (Quest 2).

Scott Stein/CNET

The Oculus Quest 2 is a fantastic stand-alone VR headset that can also connect to a PC. That dual-function design is exactly what I hope Sony somehow goes for. I don’t expect Sony to make a standalone VR headset right now: The cost for a processor and batteries would likely boost the PSVR 2 price pretty high and Sony probably wants to make its VR design feel smaller and more affordable. But I’d love to play games on the go with a Sony PSVR device that doubled as its own game console, like a VR version of the Vita. Sony’s had experience in handheld game consoles and makes phones (and nearly every other type of consumer electronics), so it’s not a crazy idea.

But I’ll bring it down to Earth. Let’s assume that the next PSVR doesn’t work as a standalone device and only works with a PS5. There’s still a lot I’d want.

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The DualSense controller for the PS5 already has groundbreaking force feedback and haptics. Those would be amazing in a VR controller.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

A totally new, killer VR controller. Sony’s biggest opportunity with the PSVR 2 is to invent a VR controller that can be as good as the DualSense is for PS5. There are few great VR controllers, but one of my favorites is the Oculus Touch that comes with the Quest 2. Its combination of analog sticks, buttons, triggers and finger movement sensing add a lot of options to VR games.

Sony’s current controller options for the PSVR are… bad. The DualShock 4 works, but isn’t custom-designed specifically for VR. Meanwhile, the PlayStation Move wands (which date back to the PS3 era) are needed for dual-handed games, but lack analog sticks. Sony should design a whole new controller that works in the fantastic, realistic haptics of the DualSense controller. Including super-subtle vibration could add a realism that other VR controllers lack. 

Sony could (and should) also work the force-feedback triggers on the DualSense into the PSVR 2 controllers. On PS5 games, these triggers can create a feeling of uncanny touch. In VR, they could make tools crossbows, steering wheels, or anything else feel like they’re really reacting to your hands. 

A higher-resolution display. Sony’s already confirmed that the next PSVR will have this and that’s no surprise. The PSVR’s current display looks fuzzier and lower-res compared to headsets like the Oculus Quest 2 or the HP Reverb G2, which are finally crisp enough to read text and display games at levels that feel less pixelated. Hopefully Sony can even take the display a step beyond the competition, perhaps using MicroLED technology that can offer high resolution in a compact package.

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The old PSVR cable system has got to go.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Self-contained camera-based in-headset tracking. The current PSVR needs a set-top camera that tracks glowing lights on the VR headset to sense movement in space, but most other modern VR can do tracking with outward-looking cameras studded throughout the outside of the headset. Ditching the need for the PlayStation camera would help VR games stay immersive at any angle and allow me to play without being trapped in front of the TV.

A single cable will help, wireless would be better. Sony is promising a one-cable connection for the next PSVR, skipping the multiple cables (and separate processing box) that the existing PSVR needs. That sounds great and would make me a lot more likely to connect the PSVR 2 more often. But, I’d love to go a step further and make it wireless. There are ways to do this, especially over Wi-Fi 6. We’ll see if Sony can make it happen.

Maybe… mixed reality. Sony’s dabbled in AR before, all the way back on the PlayStation 3 and PSP, with games that used cameras to blend video game characters and the real world. AR has come a long way since then, but Sony could be in a unique position to use headset cameras and blend VR with passthrough video of the real world. This idea of VR basically mixing reality to blend in AR is already used to some degree on the Oculus Quest when it draws room boundaries, or in high-end business headsets made by companies like Varjo. Sony could break new ground with experimental games on the PS5 that could do this… imagine Astro hiding behind your sofa?

Sony said the PSVR 2 won’t be coming this year, but it could be coming in 2022. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for new information that might pop up before then.

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