Who could have predicted that the most affordable and therefore most popular form of premium tethered VR would come from a console maker? It would have seemed crazy when we were still shaking our fists at the minimum PC specs for the Oculus Rift a few years ago. And yet, here we are. Sony’s PS4 VR accessory isn’t as good as a premium PC setup, but it IS pretty darn good. It also has some of the best exclusive VR games on the market and you can buy the entire setup for less than just a quality PC HMD.
Of course, the PS4 lacks the horsepower to really provide a top-notch VR experience. Sony and game developers have come up with some impressive tricks to make the subjective experience better, but you can only McGuyver the base hardware so much. Even the PS4 Pro, with it’s massively improved GPU, is still hampered from reaching good frame rates by a relatively anemic CPU.
The Playstation 5, on the other hand, is going to be orders of magnitude more powerful. Right now it looks like the next generation of mainstream consoles will be touting GTX 1080-class GPU performance and much better x86 CPU performance, thanks to AMD’s latest architecture and massively improved performance per clock. That’s perfect for great VR and the good news is that existing owners of PSVR can move their system forward to the PS5. We already know that a successor to the PSVR won’t be launched along with the PS5, but rumors on a “PSVR 2” are piling up quickly. Take them all with a massive grain of salt.
PSVR 2 Predictions
Sony has already updated the original PSVR with new hardware, adding features like HDR. However, a true next-gen headset is going to need some big improvements. Patent filings by Sony show they are working on something, but nothing concrete is on the table as yet.
One thing we do think will happen is a complete revamp of the tracking system. The current PSVR cleverly used old Sony tech in the form of the PS4 camera and PS Move controllers from the PS3 era. However, that’s not a true 6DOF solution and a major limitation compared to PC tethered headsets. Today things have moved on and inside-out tracking is the norm. So that’s a reasonable expectation.
Sony patents also point to a wireless HMD, which would make for a pretty compelling living room setup and open up room-scale play in a way that current PSVR titles can’t match. Wireless display tech is already established with the latest PC VR headsets, so it’s not an outlandish idea.
One area of concern is the cross-generational aspect of PSVR on PS5. The PS5 will play all PS4 games, which presumably includes PS4 VR titles. However, we don’t know if PS5 VR titles that work with the Gen 1 HMD will also work with the PSVR 2. If they do, will the older HMD hold them back? It’s likely to get both confusing and messy.
Other “well duh” rumours include that the new HMD will have a wider field of view, better resolution, better refresh rate and gaze-tracking. These are already commonplace in existing HMDs. So the only limit is how much Sony thinks consumers will pay for it.
We’ll have to wait a while to find out for ourselves however. The PS5 is likely to launch sometime in 2020, with the PSVR 2 (if it exists) coming out months after that at the earliest. One good thing about the current situation is that you can buy a PSVR now if you like, move it over to your PS5 and by the time the PSVR 2 does launch you’ll have had your money’s worth.