PSVR 2 (or PS5 VR) – it’s no longer a question of if, but when? And, to some extent, what?
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.
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.
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
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.
It Sounds Better In Just About Every Way
Specs for this PS5 VR headset haven’t been announced. But Sony has officially confirmed some of our suspicions in at least a general way. PSVR 2 will, for example, have improved screen resolution, better field of view and even better tracking input options. Again, there are no specifics on any of these features yet, but consider that PSVR 1 had a 1080p OLED display, a field of view said to be around 100 degrees with an outside-in tracking system that employs a user-facing camera and motion controllers well over a decade old, and you can begin to at least guess how those refinements might take shape.
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.
There’s A New Controller Inspired By DualSense
One of the most promising aspects of February’s announcement was that PS5 VR will come with a new VR controller. Ryan said that the device will even implement features seen in the new DualSense PS5 controller. This gamepad 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, 120 degree 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.
And There’s Probably Some Other Big Improvements To The Controller Too
PlayStation Move troubles are one of PSVR’s biggest problems. They don’t have analog sticks and it’s easy to move your arms out of view of the camera unless you have a hugely optimized setup.
Thankfully, we’re expecting this situation to improve on PSVR 2. Lots of Sony patents have suggested the company might be looking into new Move controllers. One specifically mentions some interesting haptic technologies and trigger resistance, the same features being applied in DualSense. Plus a recently-released research video seen above pointed to the controllers having new finger-tracking tech. We’re hopeful to see all these new features come together in the new motion controllers.
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.
Some PS5 Games Seem Primed For PSVR 2
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 out this May, 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.
What’s your take on PSVR 2? Are you looking forward to the headset? Let us know in the comments below!