PSVR 2 (or PS5 VR) – it’s no longer a question of if, but when?
Note: This is an evolving article, originally published at the beginning of 2020.
There’s still a lot to learn about Sony’s future plans for VR in a crucial year for PlayStation itself. PS5 is now with us and, as of February 23rd, 2021, we know for certain it will eventually have a VR headset to call its own. So far, though, very little has been officially confirmed about PSVR 2. In fact we still don’t even know if it will be called PSVR 2 at all. Let’s go over what we do know, though, as well as rounding up some of the other bits of info that help fill in the picture a bit more.
Without further ado, here’s everything we know about PSVR 2, or PS5 VR.
PSVR 2/PS5 VR Is Happening, But Not This Year (And It Might Not Be Called PSVR 2)
Rejoice! Sony Interactive Entertainment has confirmed PSVR 2 is officially happening. In a post on the PlayStation Blog this February, CEO Jim Ryan confirmed a new headset is in the works. It won’t, however, release in 2021. Ryan didn’t give a launch window beyond that information, but we certainly hope to see more in 2022. Rumors suggest we’ll see the first launch information early next year.
It also might not be called PSVR 2. Ryan didn’t give the headset a name in his post but, then again, Sony didn’t immediately name the PS5 when it first started talking about it in mid-2019, so PSVR 2 is still on the table. That said, in a recent developer conference the company reportedly codenamed the headset NGVR, or ‘Next-Generation VR’.
There was some uncertainty about if PSVR 2 could ever happen. In the weeks leading up to launch of the PS5, Sony delivered somewhat mixed messages about the future of VR. In October 2020, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said the future of the platform was “more than a few minutes away”, and the recent closure of Sony’s VR-dedicated studio in the UK didn’t inspire much confidence. Today, we can rest easy that those fears were unfounded: PSVR 2 (or PS5 VR) is definitely happening.
PSVR 2 Will Run On PS5 Via A Single Wire
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer but, just in case you didn’t know; PSVR 2 will run on PS5. Sony’s next-generation console is now rolling out across the globe and, although supply has been an issue, it’s slowly but surely finding its way into people’s homes.
In February’s blog post, Ryan confirmed that the new headset connects to the console via a single cord, meaning a much simpler setup than the mess of wires included in the original PSVR. There’s no confirmation of any possible wireless connectivity just yet, but we’ll come to that in a bit. Either way, the added processing power of the PS5 should go a long way to improving the PSVR experience. Again, more on that further down.
PSVR 2 Specs Include Near-4K Resolution, Wider Field Of View And More
Official PSVR 2 specs haven’t been announced but UploadVR was the first to reveal details in May 2021. Multiple sources confirmed to us that the headset includes a resolution of 4000×2040 pixels (2000×2040 per eye). In an August 2021 report from the private developer conference, PSVR Without Parole also reported it will have about a 10 degree wider field of view (FOV) than the original PSVR and it will use an HDR OLED display.
PSVR 2 Features Include Eye-Tracking, Foveated Rendering And More
Beyond the PSVR 2 specs, the headset will have some big new features. The kit will be able to track the direction of your eyes, for example, to use a technique called foveated rendering. This is when an experience only fully renders the area of a screen you’re looking at; the rest isn’t fully rendered but this should be noticeable in your peripheral vision. This should help dramatically improve performance on PS5. It’ll also have a lens separation adjustment dial for people to find the clearest image possible with.
It’s Got Haptics… In The Headset
Another interesting feature is the haptic feedback within the headset itself. This apparently isn’t as advanced a sensation as the haptic feedback seen in the new DualSense controllers, and might be employed more for comfort than enhancing immersion. We’re yet to really learn how the feature will be used exactly, though.
Sony Says It’s A ‘Completely New Format’ For VR And Dev Kits Are Going Out Soon
In a follow-up interview with GQ, Ryan hinted that the new PS5 VR headset will be a “completely new format”. Exactly what he means by that isn’t clear, but it could lend credence to the idea that this new device isn’t called PSVR 2. It might mean the device has its own ecosystem and UI on PS5 rather than just using a virtual screen of the standard menu.
In the same interview, Ryan also confirmed that developer kits are “about to go out”. No word on confirmed games yet, but hopefully we’ll hear much more on that soon.
PS5 Specs Show Promise For PSVR 2
The PS5 is an absolute powerhouse, capable of delivering native 4K games with stunning graphics. Meanwhile, the specs promise high-end PC power for console VR. Here’s a chart outlining the specs for the console stacked up against the PS4 and enhanced PS4 Pro, whipped up by our own David Heaney.
Based on these specs, PS5 is comparable to Nvidia’s RTX 2070 Super in terms of GPU power, and six times more powerful than the standard PS4. That will enable a huge leap forward for console VR games; hopefully no more blurry PSVR ports at the very least. In fact we’ve already seen as much; No Man’s Sky’s PS4 version is able to tell it’s running on PS5 and deliver much clearer visuals than on PS4 (see below).
Plus the console boasts an on-board solid-state drive (SSD) that Sony says reduces load times to near-instant. Again, that could have a big impact on crafting believable virtual worlds.
It Has New Controllers Inspired By DualSense
The second piece of official information Sony has revealed about PSVR 2 so far is for the controllers. Earlier in the year, it revealed these orb-shaped devices, which look like a huge step up from the now decade-old PS Move controllers used with the first PSVR.
At a glance, you can see these controllers feature analog sticks, two face buttons per device and trigger and grip buttons as well as the usual share and options buttons. These are much more in-line with modern VR controllers like the Oculus Touch, and PSVR Without Parole also reports they’ll have capacitive touch sensors for your thumb, index and middle fingers too.
Sony confirmed the controllers will even implement features seen in the new DualSense PS5 gamepad. This device iterates on the DualShock 4 with advanced haptic feedback technology and trigger resistance, two features that seem ideal for future VR support. If you haven’t, give Astro’s Playroom a try and marvel at the feel of Astro’s footsteps across different surfaces, or the push-back you can when controlling him in spring mode. They give you plenty of hints about what to expect from the VR controller.
Finally, no more Move controllers.
Wireless, Resolution And More: Sony Research Gives Us Hints At What To Expect
Sony’s research into a successor headset for PSVR 2 dates back years. In mid-2019, Sony’s Vice President of R&D, Dominic Mallinson gave a talk outlining what to expect from the next generation of VR headsets.
He outlined devices that boast ‘roughly double’ the pixel count of then-current headsets (PSVR, Rift, Vive) and support for high dynamic range, which brings a wider array of colors to the screen. Plus Mallinson pointed towards a wider field of view to see more of the virtual world, and optional wireless support. There might even be eye-tracking included.
Granted, Ryan’s blog post said the new VR headset connected to PS5 via a single cord, but that might not be the whole story. Mallinson’s quotes pointed towards the possibility of two models, or maybe that wire being an option. This was just a prototyping phase, of course, and all that could change, but the hope for wireless isn’t completely dead yet.
Not to mention that there’s been a steady stream of revealing patents for a potential PSVR 2 over the past few years. We’ve seen fillings for new tracking tech, systems for local multiplayer VR and more.
Sony Could Be Seeking ‘Hybrid’ AAA VR Games For PSVR 2
Okay, onto the games. So far there haven’t been any officially confirmed PSVR 2 games. But, at its August developer conference, Sony reportedly said it was appealing to bigger, AAA game developers to implement VR support into their titles as an option. PSVR 2 will of course support native VR titles too, but this could be a path to seeing other, bigger games in VR, much like PSVR 1 enjoyed Resident Evil 7, No Man’s Sky and Hitman 3.
We’re already seeing titles that look primed for PSVR 2. Resident Evil 8 returns to the first-person format from the VR-supported Resident Evil 7 and, although it’s already out, PSVR 2 support later down the line seems like a possibility. Gran Turismo 7 is also an obvious choice, while Sony has teams with great VR experience like Blood & Truth developer Sony London and Stormland studio Insomniac working away too. Combine that with support for third parties and PSVR 2’s potential line-up already sounds promising.
It remains to be seen, however, if the headset can play old VR games.
While You Wait, PS5 Supports PSVR For Backwards Compatibility
Not only is PS5 backwards compatible, but the console also supports the original PSVR, too. That means you can play original PSVR games on the headset, but you’ll need a special adapter to attach the PS4 Camera to your PS5. You can’t use the new HD Camera for PS5 with the headset, but Sony is sending out the adapter for free and bundling it in with new units. You’ll need to use all of your existing controllers for PSVR on PS5, though gamepad-supported games that don’t use tracking like Resident Evil 7 can use the next DualSense controller.
We also know that PSVR developers can update their titles with PS5-specific features, perhaps improving the visuals and performance of existing games. Along with the No Man’s Sky visuals upgrades, Blood & Truth has improvements as does Firewall: Zero Hour. Also bear in mind that not every PSVR game is compatible with PS5. Sony says the ‘vast majority’ of PS4 games will work on PS5, but we do know Robinson: The Journey isn’t compatible with the new console.
…But PSVR Can’t Be Used With New PS5 Games
While backwards compatibility support for PSVR seems robust, one thing you can’t do is use the headset with new PS5 games. That means cross-generation games with PSVR support on PS4 like Hitman 3 and No Man’s Sky don’t support PSVR on PS5. You need to run the old versions via backwards compatibility for it to work.
What’s your take on PSVR 2? Are you looking forward to the headset? Let us know in the comments below!