It’s been five long years since Sony release the PlayStation VR back in 2016, but luckily the PlayStation VR2 is on the way soon to take the best console VR to the next level.
With the PS5 now out worldwide, it’s no surprise that fans are ready for a PS VR2 headset to go with the new home console. Sony has now shared the design, controllers, and specs of the hardware – along with its first big-franchise game – but we’re still waiting to find out when it’ll come out, and how much it’ll cost when it does.
Bloomberg reports that Sony is aiming for a holiday 2022 release window, which would make a lot of sense, citing “people with knowledge of the matter.”
Supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also predicted the next-gen PSVR headset would appear in 2022 alongside headsets from Apple and Oculus after allegedly seeing order details for Taiwanese lens manufacturer Yujingguang from the three companies, but he’s since changed his mind and now expects the hardware in Q1 2023.
YouTube channel PSVR Without Parole (which has gotten a few PS VR2 leaks right already) also claims that Sony is now aiming for a launch in Q1 2023. The delay is down to the usual chip shortages, but more specifically the shortages of the PS5 console itself, with the company apparently reluctant to launch the new headset into a marketplace where its accompanying console is still near-impossible to purchase.
Display industry expert Ross Young also reports on “delays to 2023” for Sony, adding weight to worries that we won’t have the new VR headset in time for Christmas this year.
How much will PS VR2 cost?
The first-gen PlayStation VR starter bundle costs around £259 to buy right now in the UK, but that affordable price tag came after a handful of price drops. In fact, the full PlayStation VR kit was priced at £399/$499 at release back in 2016, and we think that’s more representative of the potential cost of the second-gen PlayStation VR headset.
The PlayStation VR2 will sport a lot of new and upgraded tech to improve the overall VR experience for PlayStation gamers (which we go into more detail about below), but of course, the use of high-end tech could bump up the overall price.
For reference, the high-end Vive Cosmos costs £699/$699, although the more recent Oculus Quest 2 comes in much cheaper at only £299/$299.
What we’re trying to say is that the price will vary depending on the tech on offer, and for that, we’ll have to wait until Sony fully reveals its next-gen VR headset.
What about the PS VR2’s design and specs?
Sony has gradually teased details about the new VR hardware, giving us a look at the headset and the Sense controllers and dropping a few technical specs, but we’re still waiting for a comprehensive spec rundown.
We’ve collected all of Sony’s official information right here, along with the leaks, rumours, and patent applications that reveal a little more.
The design of the headset is one of the last details Sony has waited to reveal, but we do now know what it will look like.
In the blog post introducing the design, senior vice president Hideaki Nishino explains that it was inspired by the PS5 itself, but features more rounded edges and curves to represent the 360-degree view that players have within the VR space.
Some touches have purposefully been left the same, so that returning players will find the experience familiar, including the location of the headphone jack and the adjustable scope and headband. Other elements are new, such as a lens adjustment dial to match the lens distance between the player’s eyes.
While Sony hasn’t confirmed the exact size and weight, the blog also says the new headset is both slimmer and lighter than the first generation.
One of the other big changes for comfort is a new vent along the front of the scope, which should help you keep cool (and reduce sweat) during longer gameplay sessions.
Oh, and in case you worried, the tiny PlayStation symbols found on the PS5 and DualSense are back here too, and will run along the front and back bands of the PS VR2 headset.
We’ve also had a look at the design in real life, after developer Bit Planet Games tweeted out a photo of the headset… shortly before realising it wasn’t supposed to and deleting the tweet. Of course, the internet captured it in time.
The photo doesn’t really reveal anything we don’t already know, but does give us a better look at the scale of all the hardware – including the new controllers.
The current Move controllers do the job, allowing you to interact with virtual environments, but without 1:1 tracking, they simply can’t compete with the experience on offer from Vive, Cosmos or Oculus Touch controllers – and Sony knows it.
Weeks after Sony confirmed that it was working on new controllers for the PSVR 2 headset, the company published a PlayStation Blog post detailing our first proper look at the upcoming controllers – since confirmed to be called the Sense controllers – and has since followed up with the final design seen below.
Sporting an orb-like design reminiscent of the Oculus Quest 2 controllers, Sony says that the shape “allows you to hold the controller naturally” with no constraints on how you can move your hands, and the ergonomic design should translate to a more comfortable experience than holding the ageing batons.
The Sense controllers also sport the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback present on the DualSense controller for PS5, arguably the best features of Sony’s new controller. That’s backed up by finger touch detection, allowing you to make natural gestures in-game, along with the standard plethora of analogue sticks and action buttons.
There aren’t any big in-your-face lights to rely on for tracking this time either, with Sony instead opting for smaller tracking rings that live at the bottom of each controller.
According to PSVR Without Parole’s report on the secret dev conference, the finger touch detection will go one step further: in addition to capacitive touch sensors, the controllers will be able to detect how far away from the sensors your fingers are, and even use that to infer where your other fingers are, generating an idea of the shape of your whole hand without you touching a thing.
The new controllers are a huge step for Sony, and the company teases that there’s still more to come.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way. One of the most anticipated upgrades to the second-gen PSVR is wireless connectivity, but Sony has already debunked that one, confirming on the PlayStation blog that the headset “will connect to PS5 with a single cord to simplify setup and improve ease-of-use, while enabling a high-fidelity visual experience.”
The cord in question will be a USB-C lead, which makes sense given that Sony placed a single USB-C port pretty prominently on the front of the console.
So far the only VR headsets that are wireless as standard are standalone models like the Oculus Quest 2, which are by their nature less powerful. HTC has released wireless add-ons for the Vive and Vive Cosmos, but doesn’t support wireless play as standard – perhaps Sony will take a similar approach and release a wireless adapter post-launch.
One of the biggest steps forward for the new headset is that it uses “inside-out tracking,” with cameras built into the headset itself to register your location and movements.
Importantly, that means that there’s no need for an external camera – meaning there’s one less expensive accessory to buy, and one less bit of clutter and cabling taking up space in your living room.
The integrated cameras aren’t the only tracking enhancement in the PlayStation VR2.
Sony has confirmed that the headset also supports eye tracking, allowing it to recognise where you’re looking even if you don’t move your head. Sony suggests that this will allow you to use looking in specific directions to “create an additional input for the game character.”
Going by a patent that was published back in July 2019, the headset could also use this information to refine what each eye sees and improve stereoscopic depth, also known as parallax imaging.
Eye-tracking market leader Tobii confirmed in July 2022 that it hat it is providing the eye-tracking hardware, estimating that the deal will represent more than 10 percent of its revenue for 2022.
“PlayStation VR2 establishes a new baseline for immersive virtual reality (VR) entertainment and will enable millions of users across the world to experience the power of eye tracking,” said Anand Srivatsa, Tobii CEO.
“Our partnership with Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) is continued validation of Tobii’s world-leading technology capabilities to deliver cutting-edge solutions at mass-market scale.”
The PlayStation VR headset sports a 5.7in 1920 x 1080 (386ppi) display, which was acceptable in 2016 but not so much in 2022.
As we move away from first-gen VR headsets, consumers are demanding higher-res displays to improve the overall look of VR content and make things like reading text in VR more comfortable, and it looks like the PSVR 2 won’t disappoint on that front.
Sony has confirmed that the PS VR2 will feature OLED displays, with a resolution of 2000×2040 per eye – giving a total resolution of 4000×2040, making the headset 4K.
It will support HDR along with foveated rendering, a rendering technique that involves reducing image quality in the peripheral vision to allow improved quality in the areas where the player is looking.
A 110-degree field of view is among the widest in the current VR headset market, and support for both 90Hz and 120Hz frame rates will produce a smoother, more natural visual experience.
In addition to the haptic feedback built into the new Sense controllers, Sony has included haptic feedback in the headset itself.
A single built-in motor will vibrate the headset in response to in-game events, which combined with the console’s Tempest 3D audio support could help make games much more immersive.
“For example, gamers can feel a character’s elevated pulse during tense moments, the rush of objects passing close to the character’s head, or the thrust of a vehicle as the character speeds forward,” Sony’s official blog suggests.
One rumoured – but unconfirmed – feature is transparency mode. This would allow the headset to display a certain amount of transparency when required – like when getting close to a real-world object – utilising the forward-facing cameras of the headset.
It’s a feature of most other major VR headsets, and would certainly be a welcome addition to the PlayStation VR 2.
An unusual patent from 2017 was dug up by UploadVR, and reveals that Sony was interested in ways to shadow ban players in social VR apps based not only on their language, but also their behaviour and even body language.
The idea is that users making rude gestures could be tracked by the headset’s sensors, and given a ‘safety rating’, with people who hit a certain rating tagged as ‘griefers’ so that they can be banned from certain social areas or marked for investigation.
Sony never implemented this tech on the first PSVR, but this is perhaps a sign that it might be coming to the new more powerful hardware – and that with it, Sony might be intending to invest more deeply into the social side of virtual reality.
Compatible with first-gen PSVR games
The PS5 is backwards compatible with the almost the entire PS4 library, so we expect that to apply to the PlayStation VR library too, though this hasn’t yet been confirmed.
A report from PSVR Without Parole claims that Sony is going to be emphasising remasters of first-gen PSVR games though, so expect to see plenty of older titles re-released and optimised for the new hardware.
Confirmed PS VR2 games
So far there are only a few confirmed PS VR2 games, but one is a doozy.
The big one is Horizon Call of the Mountain, a VR spin-off of Horizon Zero Dawn and its sequel Horizon Forbidden West.
Sony revealed more during its early June 2022 State of Play event. The next big one is that horror favourite Resident Evil Village will be getting a patch to add in PS VR2 support for the full campaign, but it was also confirmed that No Man’s Sky is getting an updated VR version for the new hardware.
As for proper new games, The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners is getting a sequel that will come to PS VR2, and developer Vankrupt Games has separately revealed in a surprisingly candid reply to a fan that Pavlov: Shack, currently playable on Oculus Quest 2, will be available on PS VR2, suggesting that the original headset “doesn’t have fidelity” required by the title.
We know more games are on the way too. During a business briefing, Sony’s Jim Ryan promised that there will be “20+ major first-party and third-party titles” at launch.
“Right now, there is a considerable amount of money being spent on partnerships with independent and other third-party developers to secure a considerable pipeline of attractive VR content at the launch of PlayStation VR2,” Ryan explained.
“That energy, that effort and that money will continue to grow as the installed base of PlayStation VR 2 headsets grows also.”
PSVR Without Parole’s dev conference report mentioned earlier reveals a little more about Sony’s game strategy for the new PSVR.
For one, the channel claims that Sony will have a new focus on AAA VR games, moving away from what it calls “virtual reality experiences.” To that end it will be pushing developers to work on games that support both VR and playing on TV, and as part of that will help to make it simple for players to only download the VR or TV versions of games as appropriate.