Never in my life have I experienced virtual reality in any shape or form. I’ve never been in the same room as a VR headset, or even been invited to someone’s place to try it out. That is partially because VR is still so niche that it hasn’t become a widespread gaming utility yet, but it’s also because VR still has a lot to prove to me and gamers like me – traditionalists who grew up sitting in front of televisions with a controller in-hand.
I never felt compelled to buy Sony’s first iteration of PlayStation VR, which launched in 2016, and was last reported to have sold five million units as of January 2020. Part of my consternation at the time was the waning support for PlayStation Vita – a handheld I still own and adore. While Sony is nowhere near as prolific at killing their hardware and software as Google, they didn’t exactly throw their full might behind PSVR either. By my count, PlayStation’s stable of internal development teams only produced 15 games for the original PSVR. That’s not a sterling number for a VR rig that has been on the market for six years. Fast forward to 2022 and here we are yet again, left with a device in the original PSVR that Sony did not adequately support from their internal teams. It’s déjà vu for me, and I can’t help but wonder if Sony is rinsing and repeating with PlayStation VR2, or if this will be the device that sticks for them. Somewhat on the contrary, I also wonder if the first PSVR was a half-measure for them, and by the time they sold five million headsets, the ship had sailed on PS VR2. This new headset has been in development for years, after all.
Yet despite Sony’s recent history, and despite my trepidations, I pre-ordered PS VR2. And I went as far as one could go – opting for the Horizon Call of the Mountain bundle and adding-on the Sense controller charging station. You could say that I’m “all in”. Why? Perhaps I’m just caught up in the hype train (that’s always likely) but it’s difficult not to be enthused by the hands-on previews we have received to this point. Nearly everyone who has been able to experience it has been wowed by it, and some have called it a massive leap forward from the original PSVR.
And finally, one of the biggest reasons anyone gets excited about new hardware is of course the software that goes with it. While I am still skeptical of Sony’s long-term support for the reasons above, there are a number of titles already announced for PS VR2 that I am looking forward to. Horizon Call of the Mountain, Cities VR, Demeo, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, Firewall Ultra, Crossfire Sierra Squad, Kayak VR: Mirage, Pistol Whip, After the Fall, and No Man’s Sky. Yes, some of those are just ports from other VR headsets, or upgrades from PSVR, but you have to remember this is uncharted territory for me. Even if you remove the upgraded titles from that list on principle, there is still plenty to be excited about in the launch window, in my opinion. The question is, will the support be there in a few years? Will PlayStation Studios get behind this thing? The answer is that they must, or they risk losing the faith of consumers like me who are willing to give the benefit of the doubt following the first PSVR.
So am I simply star struck by a combination of sexy sounding tech specs, overly positive preview coverage, and a few impressive looking launch window games? Perhaps. But the last time I purchased one of Sony’s niche devices, I fell in love with the PlayStation Vita. And like many hurt lovers, I keep coming back for more. Time heals all wounds, they say…but on the other hand, sometimes it rips them wide open again.