Sony Unveils PlayStation VR 2, New Controllers and Horizon Call of the Mountain

Sony has revealed the creatively named PlayStation VR 2 and a new VR controller, the PlayStation VR2 Sense controller, today during its press conference at CES 2022.

While we didn’t get to see the new headset itself, we did see a host of new features and hardware that will be part of Sony’s next generation of virtual reality, with further details shared on the PlayStation Blog. Along with a simplified single-cord setup (!!!), the VR2’s improvements include:

  • Visual Fidelity: For a high-fidelity visual experience, PS VR2 offers 4K HDR, 110-degree field of view, and foveated rendering. With an OLED display, players can expect a display resolution of 2000×2040 per eye and smooth frame rates of 90/120Hz.
  • Headset-based Controller Tracking: With inside-out tracking, PS VR2 tracks you and your controller through integrated cameras embedded in the VR headset. Your movements and the direction you look at are reflected in-game without the need for an external camera.
  • New Sensory Features: PS VR2 Sense Technology combines eye tracking, headset feedback, 3D Audio, and the innovative PS VR2 Sense controller to create an incredibly deep feeling of immersion. Headset feedback is a new sensory feature that amplifies the sensations of in-game actions from the player. It’s created by a single built-in motor with vibrations that add an intelligent tactile element, bringing players closer to the gameplay experience. 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. Additionally, PS5’s Tempest 3D AudioTech makes sounds in the player’s surroundings come alive, adding to this new level of immersion.
  • Eye Tracking: With eye tracking, PS VR2 detects the motion of your eyes, so a simple look in a specific direction can create an additional input for the game character. This allows players to interact more intuitively in new and lifelike ways, allowing for a heightened emotional response and enhanced expression that provide a new level of realism in gaming. 

After some research, the feature that has me most excited is the foveated rendering, a fancy kind of eye-tracking that helps with rendering. The headset will track the player’s eye movements and boost the rending quality of what is being focused on while slightly lowering image quality in the player’s peripheral vision, meaning the VR2’s processing power won’t be wasted on what the player isn’t seeing. 

As a day-one adopter of the original PlayStation VR, I was also pleased to see Sony also take significant strides with its new controller, the VR2 Sense. Taking cues from the Oculus Touch controllers ergonomics, the VR2 Sense will wrap around the user’s hand, creating an ‘orb’ shape that feels more natural and allows more freedom of movement – which sounds so much better than the dildo-esque PlayStation Move controllers!

The VR Sense controllers will also feature:

  • Adaptive triggers: Each VR controller (Left and Right) includes an adaptive trigger button that adds palpable tension when pressed, similar to what’s found in the DualSense controller. If you’ve played a PS5 game, you’ll be familiar with the tension in the L2 or R2 buttons when you press them, such as when you’re drawing your bow to fire an arrow. When you take that kind of mechanic and apply it to VR, the experience is amplified to the next level.
  • Haptic feedback: The new controller will have haptic feedback optimized for its form factor, making every sensation in the game world more impactful, textured and nuanced. When you’re traversing through rocky desert or trading blows in melee combat, you’ll feel the difference, magnifying the extraordinary visual and audio experience that’s so central to VR.
  • Finger touch detection: The controller can detect your fingers without any pressing in the areas where you place your thumb, index, or middle fingers. This enables you to make more natural gestures with your hands during gameplay.
  • Tracking: The VR controller is tracked by the new VR headset through a tracking ring across the bottom of the controller.
  • Action buttons / analog sticks: The Left controller contains one analog stick, the triangle and square buttons, a “grip” button (L1), trigger button (L2) and Create button. The Right controller contains one analog stick, the cross and circle buttons, a “grip” button (R1), trigger button (R2) and Options button. The “grip” button can be used to pick up in-game objects, as one example.

Closing out the presentation, we got a brief look at a significant first-party studio title coming to the VR2, Horizon Call of the Mountain from Guerrilla and Firesprite. Horizon Call of the Mountain is an original title specifically made for the new hardware that ‘will open the doors for players to go deeper into the world of Horizon.’. Considering the criticism, the OG VR received for its lack of backing from major studios, a possible launch title from such a beloved franchise is hopefully a strong sign of what’s to come.

With VR2 on the way, maybe M*A*S*H V*R won’t remain a pipedream?

While Sony shared no details regarding a price point or release date for the new hardware, rumours suggest a possible Q4 2022 release.

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