Rossko debates whether or not his time is already up with PlayStation VR.
I got my PlayStation VR headset on launch day. Well, several days after launch day. You see, those fine folk at DPD decided to send the headset to my parents house instead of mine. Wouldn’t have been an issue except I live in a different country to them. What followed on launch when my headset didn’t arrive was a series of conversations to my dear Mother explaining the situation, attempting to tell her that a mistake had been made and I needed her help in order to get it to me. Cut to five or six days later and lo and behold, that PlayStation VR headset that I had coughed up a sizeable amount of money for was mine.
Opening the thing was a heavenly experience, if you’ve caught my unboxing you’ll know why just said such a stupid thing as ‘opening a box was a heavenly experience’. In my hand was the future, the reason why I went out months beforehand and got myself two very cheap Move controllers, something I felt was very wise once Sony started selling them at extortionate prices once the headset was released. PSVR signalled a brand new reason to play games. Heralding the arrival of a technology that I was certain was going to blow the collective minds of all that played it.
And at first, it was! I had played with the headset before but only at exhibitions such as EGX where it was placed upon me by a charming PlayStation rep who twonked the thing on my head and told me to sit down. That day I played RIGS, the mechanised combat 3D shooter sport robot thing game which looks great watching someone play it, but in reality is about as comfortable to actually play as a game of checkers on top of a drowning hippo.
I had little to no clue what I was doing in RIGS in that five minute experience I was forced into (I wanted to play Batman VR, ergo, the decision was made for me) but in that time I could definitely see the potential in this wondrous new tech. I looked around and a full stadium surrounded me. I looked down and I was a pilot of a big ass robot which was absolutely very cool indeed. I was disappointed in the game but could see where the tech could be used in other areas to create some rather wonderful experiences.
Cut back to the day I got the system and it was a genuinely brilliant feeling to finally have one that I could call my own. No longer would I have to queue up for hours just to sniff the damn thing but I could place the unit on the head of myself and my friends and family whenever I pleased. It was great to see the thing just sitting there, waiting to be played. I bought the headset without any games, thinking that the included demo disc would see me through a couple weeks until I could afford things again like food and general life necessities such as the former. Ergo, I ditched the demo disc almost immediately after I realised there was a far more impressive collection of demos available on PSN. It was the demo disc but with a vastly more impressive library of games to try out.
All the games I had read about online and watched videos of people playing were housed in this set (and is pretty much essential if you’ve just got yourself a headset) and here I had my first experience of the games Sony were seriously pushing such as Until Dawn Rush of Blood, Tumble VR, Batman Arkham VR (huzzah!), Job Simulator and DriveClub, along with a ton of others. Over the next few days I would rarely take off the headset as I immersed myself into this glorious new tech. I picked up PlayStation VR Worlds and had an amazing time blasting my way through London’s murky undergrounds, getting viciously attacked by a shark and avoiding VR Luge like a goddamn plague was coming for me (seriously, if you’re concerned about the headache inducing vomit party VR tech can provide, never go near VR Luge). I got my partner involved in PlayRoom VR which is quite honestly probably the best experience you can have with the tech thus far, it offers a variety of different VR experiences including a little platformer which could genuinely signal the beginning of a revolution in that genre. I was in love, my whole year was working towards affording the headset, the Move controllers, the camera and it had all been worth it. I was completely obsessed.For about a fortnight.
Then I wasn’t. I couldn’t for love nor money find the motivation to put the headset back on. After getting paid again I exhausted the launch line-up. I picked up EVE Valkyrie with the intention of playing through to the end but after my first experience of it (which was great) I felt like I had seen everything it had to offer me. Until Dawn wasn’t doing it for me and DriveClub was making me feel ill. That’s when I sat back and had a feeling that perhaps the biggest fear I had with PlayStation VR was about to come true…
Am I already bored with virtual reality?
For a few days I sat back and thought about it. There I was, just staring at this device that cost more than the console I was playing it on when I purchased it. It was staring back at me like ‘what’s your problem, bro?’ and I couldn’t really give it an answer. The time I had with the headset was glorious, it’s not like I didn’t enjoy the experience by any means, it just wasn’t enticing me. It wasn’t making me feel like I was really missing out on anything. Had I seen it all? Not by a long shot, there were games I still wanted to pick up such as Loading Human and Robinson, but I never did and still haven’t to this day. I’m concerned I’m always going to feel like it has nothing new to show me, and I’ve had the damn thing for less than 3 months.
Where could this come from? PSVR launched at the wrong time for me I think. The end of September is the kick off of the ‘gaming season’, where a majority of the years big hitters all come out at once. I probably cite this as a major contributing factor to it. Since the release of PSVR I’ve played Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, Infinite Warfare, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Return to Arkham, Batman The TellTale Series, FIFA 17, Assassin’s Creed The Ezio Collection, Battlefield 1, LEGO Dimensions Year 2, Overcooked, Seraph and a smattering of others.
Now, that’s a lot of damn games to come out in the space of about 10 weeks. In that time I’ve also had a two week holiday, so I could factor in the fact that perhaps I’ve just put VR on the backburner while I pile through the utterly absurd amount of games I’ve managed to buy this season and it probably isn’t over with Final Fantasy XV on the horizon and The Last Guardian. I want to jump back into PlayStation VR but I just have absolutely no drive whatsoever until I get all of the above games complete, of which I’m about halfway (ish). What I did do was check out the VR additions included in a couple of them including the Tomb Raider VR and Call of Duty Jackal Assault. The former was pretty fun if not memorable and the latter was vomit inducing so I won’t be doing that again.
The second factor is I’ve just got a PS4 Pro.
Now, this shouldn’t really be an issue as well, why would it be? Well, Sony in their infinite wisdom decided that if your HDMI is plugged in the headset’s processor kit, the HDR functionality just won’t bloody work, which is rather frustrating considering I bought the system to make my games look super fancy and junk. In order to see my games in their shiniest HDR-enabled glory I would have to take the HDMI out of the processor unit, but it back into my PS4 and replace the HDMI going into my TV with the original HDMI lead.
Now, yes I know what you’re thinking, ‘oh Rossko what a terribly pathetic problem to be lumbered with. Are you sure you’re going to be ok? Do you need someone to hug you through this terrible period of your life?’. Yes, this nonsense is the mother of all first world problems but still, when I spend nearly £700 on tech to make all this work seamlessly, you want it to bloody work seamlessly. The fact is, it simply doesn’t, which, in my humble opinion, is a major misstep on Sony’s part.
The fact the system can’t do what I bought it for if I have a £350 accessory plugged into it is quite frankly, bloody ludicrous.
Ergo, my VR headset is currently not plugged into my Pro and I have little or no desire to plug it in until maybe someone comes over and wants to try it out for themselves. Which oddly, is where I seem to be getting the most joy out of the whole thing.
So yes, there are plenty of reasons to keep hold of my headset, I’m not going to be selling it anytime soon, I want to see what’s around the corner for VR and console gaming. 2017 will need to be a huge year for the tech if it’s going to succeed and it will need to justify its price soon enough, whether it’s doing so already remains to be seen by the general buying public out there. My biggest concern is that Sony won’t be able to keep up with demand, which is still skyrocketing despite no units seemingly available anywhere.
The lack of Black Friday deals which include PSVR tells you everything you need to know about availability of the headset and the fear is that the public interest may wain the longer they have to wait to just walk into a store and pick one up. Online retailers seem to be doing a little better at stocking them, but a quick walk around Cardiff and no retailer has them, a month before Christmas. That’s a worry. Can only hope those getting one for Christmas have already been stashed away and bought months in advance. Fingers crossed for you lot still waiting for one come Christmas Day. If you get a Samsung Gear VR, well, I’m sorry for you.
So my conundrum is being blamed on the gaming season and the technical limitations of £700 worth of kit which I wasn’t aware of before purchasing. Of course, the Pro came out a while after the VR and this problem wasn’t reported until I read it on Twitter via Chris Scullion of Tired Old Hack. It then came to be a widespread issue, so be cautious if you do have yourself a HDR enabled TV. If not, well there shouldn’t really be a problem.
I hope I can find a solid reason to get back into VR, and I hope I can get past my worries and woes and enjoy the technology all over again. VR really offers a fun, new and exciting way to play our games and I have no doubt it will be the success that Sony are hoping it will be. I hope I can personally justify the purchase and make sure it becomes an everyday part of my gaming life, which by doing so will for me justify the price. I don’t want to spend another 10 weeks just staring at it wondering if I can be bothered to even put it on.
I really hope I can find a new excitement, because sadly, right now it’s just not there.