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Sony PlayStation VR (PSVR) Review

What You Can Do With The PSVR

First and foremost, the PSVR headset is a peripheral designed to enhance your PlayStation 4 gaming experience. For over 20 years, Sony’s PlayStation platform has been synonymous with video games and that’s not about to stop anytime soon.  

When Sony launched the PSVR in mid-October, there were but a few games available for the system. That's no longer the case, though. Sony’s marketing machine boasted that there would be over 50 PSVR titles available for the holiday season and the company wasn't kidding. By December 20, Sony had 50 made-for-VR titles in the PS Store. 

The library of games includes several ports from the Vive and Rift platforms, such as Owlchemy Lab’s Job Simulator and CCP Games’ EVE: Valkyrie. You’ll also find exclusive PSVR content, such as Batman Arkham VR and RIGS Mechanized Combat League.

Sony offers several VR experiences that are tacked onto standard games, such as the Star Wars Battlefront Rogue One: X-Wing VR mission and the Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, which features a new VR-compatible chapter called “Blood Ties.”

The PlayStation VR platform will also play host to several familiar franchises. Polyphony Digital is working on a VR experience for the next installment of its beloved Gran Turismo racing series; Evolution Studios launched an all-VR version of Driveclub, and Capcom’s upcoming Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is playable from start to finish in first-person VR.

Virtual Reality Can Be Social

Game consoles often reside in living and entertainment rooms, which makes them easy to share with friends and family. Sony’s VR system is uniquely set up for social activities because it can display independent views inside the headset and on the TV. Sony calls this the “Social Screen,” and developers are free to use it as they see fit, opening the door to asynchronous gameplay with one person in VR and others playing through the TV.

The Playroom VR features multiple mini-games that utilize this concept, with one person in VR and up to four others controlling on-screen avatars with DualShock 4 controllers. Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes is another example of asynchronous play, though perhaps not as impressive. The real-world players scroll through pages of a guidebook on the TV to help the VR player defuse a bomb. Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes is available for the Rift and Vive, but in the PC version you scroll through a PDF document or print the pages.

Why Bother With A Big-Screen TV?

Like Oculus and HTC (Valve), Sony offers a cinematic mode for the PSVR that lets you enjoy 2D content with the headset. You can play any game from your collection of PlayStation titles, or you can sit back and enjoy a movie on a huge virtual screen.

Believe it or not, you don’t even need a PlayStation 4 to use Cinematic mode. The PSVR headset is designed specifically to interface with the PS4 console, but the headset is device agnostic—it just needs an HDMI signal.

You can play Xbox One, Xbox 360, or Wii U games on the PSVR headset, or you can plug the headset into a DVD/Blu-ray player to watch movies, making PSVR an interesting alternative to owning a big-screen TV if you live in a small apartment or dorm room.

So You’re Saying There’s A Chance (To Use PSVR With My PC)?

The PSVR headset works with a PC the same way it works with other HDMI-equipped devices: in Cinematic mode. It wasn't Sony’s intent to make a VR system for the PC, but it can't stop clever people from creating drivers for the hardware, and there are already power users trying to crack this nut.

If you like to tinker and don’t mind messing with unfinished, experimental software, there’s even an option to try out. Github user gusmanb created the PSVRFramework, which “allows you to control the PS VR set states, turn it on/off, enter/exit VR mode, recenter theater, control box power and read the headset sensors.” A company called Trinus even managed to get the PSVR working with Valve’s OpenVR and now sells the software that makes this possible. Trinus PSVR also works with Vireio Perception, so you can play non-VR PC games in VR on the PSVR HMD.