PlayStation VR 2: Everything We Know So Far About the PS5’s Biggest Accessory


The next big VR gaming headset may not be the Quest Pro, or Apple’s expected device. Instead, consider the PlayStation VR 2. Sony’s long-expected sequel to its 2016 headset for the PlayStation 4 isn’t arriving until early 2023, but we got a chance to try the hardware recently, and came away impressed. For gamers who don’t mind being tethered to a game console, this could end up being the most important VR hardware release in a long while.

The PSVR 2 isn’t a stand-alone, self-contained headset like Meta’s Quest 2 (aka Oculus Quest 2). That means you’ll need to tether it to a PlayStation 5 (and, of course, own a PS5) to use it. We still don’t know a specific release date or price yet, either. But we do know lots of other key details: specs, the design, how some of its software features will work and even some confirmed games. 

PlayStation VR 2: Everything We Know So Far About the PS5's Biggest Accessory 1


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The PlayStation VR 2 looks, in a lot of ways, like the headset we wanted for the PS5 all along. A new design has a color scheme that matches the PS5, and a headband-type visor that’s similar to but smaller than Sony’s first PSVR. The high-res, vibrating, camera-equipped, eye-tracking capabilities of Sony’s second-gen PlayStation headset look like they fit the top-end specs anyone would dream of. 

Earlier this year, Sony revealed a ton of details about its expected next-gen VR headset, which is a long-awaited update to the PlayStation VR that Sony released for the PlayStation 4 back in 2016. Sony’s been revealing more details about the headset in little drips and drops: Specs were revealed in January in a detailed blog post, while its funky dedicated VR controllers, which are reminiscent of the PS5’s DualSense controllers, were revealed last year.

More recently, Sony revealed new details on how in-VR game broadcasting and room-sensing with its passthrough cameras will work.

We also know about one exclusive game: Horizon Call of the Mountain, which is set in the same universe as Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West.

We got to try this game, and the hardware, for hours one day in September. It works much like other VR headsets, but with greatly improved display technology, eye tracking, and advanced vibrating haptics and triggers in the controllers and headset that make virtual objects feel a lot more convincing.

The VR headset’s eye tracking also enables foveated rendering, a technology that focuses only on where the fovea of the eye is looking to maximize resolution, getting more graphics punch with fewer pixels.

Sony’s PlayStation Head of R&D, Dominic Mallinson, suggested eye tracking could be likely back in a 2019 conversation with CNET.

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PSVR 2 can scan your room and live-broadcast your VR gaming

Passthrough cameras on the headset work like cameras on the Quest 2 and other VR headsets, showing the real world in your headset. The headset will also “mesh” your physical space, scanning walls, floors and obstacles like chairs and desks to get a clear sense of play space. It can create a boundary you can play in.

The meshing part is particularly interesting, because it’s something AR headsets and mixed-reality headsets do. It means the PSVR 2 could, theoretically, also have some mixed reality experiences like the Quest 2 is already playing with, although Sony hasn’t announced anything on that front yet.

One unique feature is a live broadcast mode, which will use the PS5’s TV-mounted camera to record yourself overlaid with footage from your live gameplay into a single stream. Mixed reality livecasting tools have been emerging for Quest 2, but no game console has ever had this feature before.

There’s a cinematic mode plus a VR mode

Sony also details two display modes for the headset: one, for VR, will display at 2,000×2,040 pixels per eye in HDR, at 90Hz or 120Hz. A 2D “cinematic mode,” much like what the original PSVR can do, plays movies and 2D games at 1,920×1,080 resolution in HDR at either 24Hz, 60Hz, or 120Hz.

Specs we know so far:

  • OLED displays, with 2,000×2,040-pixel resolution per eye, 90Hz and 120Hz frame rates
  • 110-degree field of view
  • Eye tracking and foveated rendering
  • Adjustable lens separation
  • In-headset vibration
  • 3D audio
  • Built-in microphone and audio-out headset jack
  • Four external cameras for tracking
  • Single USB-C connection
  • Sense controllers with USB-C ports, Bluetooth 5.1, rechargeable batteries, 6DoF tracking, finger tracking using capacitive touch buttons and infrared, haptics and specialized haptic triggers like the DualSense controller
Rear view of the PlayStation VR2 headset

There’s an adjusting knob on the back to tighten the headset fit.


Sony

Headset design: Vibrations, eye tracking, moving lenses

Even if Sony’s PSVR 2 headset looks bulky in the photos, it’s actually a lot more comfortable than the Quest 2. An adjustable headband, similar to the PSVR’s original design, means it’ll tighten around the head like a visor instead of using an elastic strap to squeeze your face. Sony promises adjustable lens distance for different eyes and faces, too, like the original PSVR had. That type of fit worked really well for my glasses, and the hardware felt surprisingly light during my first demos.

The headset supports headphones with a standard headphone jack, and has one cable that tethers to the PS5 via USB-C, via a jack that seems to come out of one side of the headband. That’s a lot fewer wires than the breakout box needed for the original PSVR.

Built-in eye tracking promises to deliver better graphics, and possibly allow eye control and eye contact in VR games. Eye tracking isn’t common in consumer VR headsets yet, but the technology should be arriving on other mainstream headsets, including Meta’s next VR device and possibly Apple’s as well.

The headset’s four tracking cameras will allow movement in VR to be tracked without using a TV-connected camera bar. The tracking should work in a similar way to other VR headsets. It’s possible that the cameras could allow some pass-through mixed reality, too, blending VR with what the cameras see onto the headset’s display.

Side view of the PlayStation VR2 headset

A side view of the headset, and another angle on the Sense controllers.


Sony

Games revealed so far

Sony’s own exclusive, Horizon Call of the Mountain, remains the PSVR 2’s splashiest game, but other games have been announced as well. No Man’s Sky, which can be played on PSVR, is a confirmed PSVR 2 port. Also announced: The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Retribution (yes, that is just one game); Resident Evil Village; Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge; and Demeo.

What we still don’t know: A lot

Even though Sony seems to have dumped a ton of information, there are still a lot of unknowns about the PSVR 2 that we hope to find out sooner than later:

Sony still hasn’t put a price on the PSVR 2, which suggests it won’t be cheap. The original PlayStation VR cost $400 for just the headset back in 2016. With the PSVR 2’s eye tracking, higher-end display and fancy controllers, this could end up costing at least as much as the PlayStation 5. But that’s all speculation.

Sony said the PSVR 2 is now arriving in early 2023, but does that mean spring, or earlier, or later? One thing we do know now is it won’t be a holiday 2022 gift.

Sony revealed one PSVR 2 game, but how great will the rest of the lineup be? Sony could dip into its exclusive game library, or get timed exclusives from indie developers. The first PSVR launched with a number of notable games, and the PSVR 2 will need interesting games to sell the hardware.

Will it be backward-compatible with all the old PSVR games?

Odds are, according to reports, it will be backward-compatible with existing PSVR games. That would make sense because PSVR games on PS4 already work on the PS5 with the first-gen hardware. It’ll also help give the new headset a starter library; Sony could also update more of those games with PS5-optimized graphics.

Is there any chance it could be wireless?

Sony confirmed the headset is tethered with a USB-C cable, and you can see the tethered cable in the PSVR 2 photo above. Right now, the answer is no. It’s hard to imagine 360-degree Beat Saber with that USB-C cable attached, but PC VR headsets are cable-tethered, too.

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