PS5: PlayStation announces new version of PSVR headset to enable ‘ultimate entertainment experience’

Sony says the headset will have a new controller, but users will have to wait until 2022 to see it properly

Adam Smith
Tuesday 23 February 2021 15:34 GMT
(Getty Images)

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PlayStation has announced a new version of the PS VR that it says will enable the “ultimate entertainment experience”.

The new virtual reality headset will be designed for the PlayStation 5, allowing it to make use of that consoles vastly increased processing power as well as changes that built on what the company has learned from creating its original version, Sony said.

It will also come with a new controller, which will borrow some of the features that came with the new DualSense controller found in the PlayStation 5, Sony said.

It is possible that this could refer to haptic feedback, which adds powerful vibrations while you play “such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud”, Sony said when the controller was revealed.

The new controller also has “adaptive triggers” on the L2 and R2 buttons “so you can truly feel the tension of your actions, like when drawing a bow to shoot an arrow.”

This, however, puts the company at odds with some of the other trends in the ecosystem should the controller be the main way to manage virtual reality. Facebook, which owns the Oculus headsets, uses the cameras at the front of the headset for hand tracking in lieu of buttons and joysticks. The more expensive HTC Vive has similar capabilities.

But the new console will not be released this year, with PlayStation saying “a lot of development” till needed to be done. “We wanted to provide this early update to our fans, as the development community has started to work on creating new worlds for you to explore in virtual reality,” said Hideaki Nishino, a senior vice president at PlayStation, in a blog post announcing the new hardware.

In an interview with the Washington Post, the CEO of PlayStation Jim Ryan gave some minor hints as to the qualities of the new headset.

For a start, it will be “considerably less cumbersome” than the current PSVR, which requires a separate processor to connect to the console and the television. This is a criticism that has been levied at virtual reality headsets for some time, only really being challenged with recent products that have become lighter and wireless as the technology develops.

“Generational leaps allows you to sweep up the advances in technology that have taken place,” Ryan said. “Given this was our first foray into virtual reality, it gives us a chance to apply lessons learned. One of the very vivid illustrations of that is that we will be moving to a very easy single-cord setup.”

The original PSVR was launched more than four years ago, for the PS4. While Sony appeared to throw its backing behind virtual reality at the time, support for the headset has dropped off in the time since – and the PS5 is unable to connect to it without using a special connector, leading to speculation that it was either being left behind entirely or replaced.

“PlayStation believes in VR. Sony believes in VR, and we definitely believe at some point in the future, VR will represent a meaningful component of interactive entertainment”, Ryan told the Washington Post.

“Will it be this year? No. Will it be next year? No. But will it come at some stage? We believe that. And we’re very pleased with all the experience that we’ve gained with PlayStation VR, and we look forwarding to seeing where that takes us in the future.”

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