What’s this, another new feature on Pure PlayStation? Damn, Pure PlayStation, back at it again with the new stuff? Yes, we’re doing something a little different: 6 Months Later. Trademark is pending, though that’s because we’re broke and can’t afford to actually file a trademark…
6 Months Later is where we go back and take a look at games (or in this case, hardware) and see what’s happened in the six months since release. With all the patches, updates, and DLC being pushed out on a weekly basis, it’s worth having a look. So, let’s dig in, shall we?
The very first edition of 6 Months Later is all about PlayStation VR (PSVR) and what’s gone on since Sony’s cheap and cheerful headset dropped on the market. Enjoy.
It’s hard to imagine that last year I walked into a store and bought a PSVR headset. 400 of my hard-earned euros vanished in the beep of a checkout scanner. Then I got home and lost another 200 euros on games. I’m not a smart man… I remember being quite giddy when I was stood in Saturn (my local electronics retailer) with the PSVR in my hands. I’d been looking everywhere for one as they were pretty hard to come by. Pre-orders had eaten up most of the available stock in my town, though going into Saturn I saw a massive pallet of the things just sat there. The gaming gods were looking out for me on that day, and for that, I pour them a little of my wine to the ground as a sign of respect.
So, what’s gone on since then? Honestly, lots! We’ve seen the hardware being pushed to its limits. We’ve seen the hardware being used for elaborate scams by FOX, and we’ve seen some pretty dire games, though there have been a few top-notch experiences, too.
Launch day gave us a gluttony of games. We had Batman: Arkham VR, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, DriveClub VR, and a dozen others to tempt us to throw away the rent money in favour of virtual reality. The first wave of games were really quite impressive with some pedigree behind them, and few were even being helmed by Sony and its studios. Third-party support was pretty good, too, with Arkham VR, Battlezone, and Rez Infinite impressing critics and deep-pocketed gamers alike.
6 months later, it’s not such an inspired story. First-party games are few and far between. We’ve got Farpoint to look forward to in May, thought that’s being developed by an indie studio that hasn’t got a proven record with VR games. Then there’s Gran Turismo Sport which will have a VR mode, but it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to plough through the game just using the VR headset. Looking into the future, it’s not clear what Sony has planned for PSVR in terms of first-party games. Instead, third-party publishers are keeping the flow of games coming, though they’re not as often as I’d like. Resident Evil 7 was an inspired achievement by Capcom, and Ubisoft’s Werewolves Within and Eagle Flight are both equally impressive in their own ways.
Personally, I think Sony has bitten off a little more than it can chew. The device is great but the commitment doesn’t seem to be there, at least not from Sony and its lack of investment in producing new games for its own system. That burden rests upon the third-parties, many of them being smaller independent outfits rather than the big-hitting industry leaders. With this being the dynamic, I think we can expect the big thrills to fizzle out or just come once in a blue moon while the smaller experimental games will be front and centre.
On the tech side of things, the PSVR has actually improved since launch. Sony’s done a fair job at keeping up with the firmware updates, some of which have dramatically improved the player experience. In the early days of PSVR there were many complaints of dodgy tracking with the ancient PS Move wand controllers. These days it’s not so bad and it actually works really well, though that’s still dependant on the game at times. We’re still waiting on some must-have apps for the headset, some of which have been available on cheaper devices for a long time. Netflix in VR? Please! To be fair, we do have YouTube and VR support.
So to summarise: The PlayStation VR had a great launch with lots of games and a thousand things to say. However, 6 months later and we’re seeing fewer big-name hits, fewer first-party releases, and a not-so bright future. It’s been a great ride so far, but I can’t help but feel that this version of PSVR is a test bed for a better piece of hardware in a couple of years and that sooner or later, in true Sony form, support will be completely dropped when the sales don’t meet expectations.
For what it is and how it has come along since October 2016, I think it’s still a worthwhile investment if you are really, really interested in gaming in the virtual space. It’s still rather expensive, mind, so keep that in consideration. Prices are likely to go down within the next few months so if you’re still not sure, wait for a decent sale and have a whale of a time.