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 only just learned that it will be officially called PSVR 2. 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: Everything We Know About PS5 VR
PSVR 2 Design Revealed
After a year on from its initial announcement, we finally know what PSVR 2 actually looks like. The headset boasts a sleek white form factor with a white shell similar to the PS5 console’s faceplates (and not too far off from a Meta Quest 2). Take a look below.
Not bad, right? We’re keeping the halo strap design from the original and you can see four front-facing cameras on the visor for inside-out tracking. The motion controllers also now have the same white shell (you can see the initial designs in black below). But let’s get into what all of this actually means.
PSVR 2 Release Date? Is It Coming In 2022?
In a post on the PlayStation Blog this February 2021, CEO Jim Ryan confirmed a new headset is in the works. Then, at CES in January 2022, Ryan confirmed the device would be called PSVR 2 (it had previously been referred to as ‘the next-generation of VR on PS5’). During a recent developer conference, the company reportedly codenamed the headset NGVR, or ‘Next-Generation VR’.
We’re hopeful that the PSVR 2 release date is sometime this year given that Sony seems to be actively talking about the headset now. But the company is yet to explicitly confirm a 2022 launch window and, given the ongoing component shortage plaguing the hardware industry (not to mention Sony’s own PS5), there’s every chance it could launch in 2023 instead.
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 Specs: Near-4K Resolution, Wider Field Of View And A PSVR vs Quest 2 Comparison
Official PSVR 2 specs have now been announced and confirm UploadVR’s report of the first reveal details in May 2021. The headset features a massive jump in display resolution over the original with 2000×2040 per eye and retains an OLED display with HDR support. It’s also got a 110 degree field of view and new features like eye-tracking and in-headset vibration. Below is the spec sheet stacked up next to the original PSVR’s specs and a comparison to Meta’s Quest 2, too. You can also read a much larger comparison between Quest 2 and Meta’s upcoming Project Cambria right here.
|Specs||PSVR 2||PSVR||Quest 2|
|Display Per Eye||2000×2040||960×1080||1832×1920|
|Refresh Rate||90Hz/120Hz||90Hz/120Hz||72Hz/90Hz/120Hz (limited to only some apps)|
|Field of View||“Around 110 degrees”, direction undisclosed||Estimated around 95 degrees horizontal, 111 degrees vertical||Estimated around 90 degrees horizontal and vertical|
|Lens Separation||Adjustable (specifics TBA)||Yes||3-point adjustable|
|Audio||Headphone jack||Headphone jack||Built-in speakers, headphone jack|
|Controllers||Bundled Sense controllers with buttons, sticks, capacitive touch sensors, haptic feedback (single actuator per unit), trigger resistance||Support for DualShock 4, PS3-era PlayStation Move controllers and rifle-shaped Aim controller||Bundled Oculus Touch controllers with buttons, sticks and capacitive touch sensors|
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 2021’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 Has Inside-Out Tracking – You Won’t Need A Camera
The original PSVR had a camera-based tracking system that required you to place a PlayStation-branded camera in front of your play area. It allowed for full positional tracking when facing the lens, but there was a lot of drift and motion controls would be lost if their lights were obscured from the camera, so no turning your back around. PSVR 2 won’t have this issue – cameras on the headset will track the controllers and thus give you a much easier setup and a much great degree of freedom.
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 can also be used to mimic your eye’s gaze on a virtual avatar. 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 PSVR 2 is A ‘Completely New Format’ For VR
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. It might mean the device has its own ecosystem and UI on PS5 rather than just using a virtual screen of the standard menu.
The First PSVR 2 Game Has Been Announced
Sony’s CES announcement wasn’t just for a name – we also saw the first-ever PSVR 2 game confirmed. That game is Horizon Call of the Wild, a spin-off to Sony’s popular open-world series set in a post-apocalyptic world with robot dinosaurs. It’s been developed by Firesprite, the studio behind The Persistence that Sony acquired in 2021, with help from Horizon developer Guerrilla Games. You can see the first trailer for the project above – you won’t be playing as series protagonist Aloy but you will meet her as you take on the role of an entirely new character. A release date for the PSVR 2 exclusive hasn’t been confirmed.
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
Another piece of official information Sony has revealed about PSVR 2 so far is for the controllers. Earlier in 2021, 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 In The Future
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 the only officially confirmed PSVR 2 game is Horizon Call of the Mountain. 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!