One of the main reasons why I so much wanted to get to the exhibition “IgroMir 2015” was the fact that for the first time in Russia the virtual reality set PlayStation VR will be demonstrated . The appeal of the new gadget is always a bit dodgy, and given that I just can not pass by a new gaming accessory for the PlayStation 4 console, and at all made my visit to the Sony stand unavoidable. So, I carefully researched the subject of my interest and now I am ready to share with you my impressions from the headset.
In 2014, Sony announced that it was entering the race to develop helmets for virtual reality, which at that time was the only serious player – Oculus Rift, as well as several companies of a smaller rank. The project was code-named Project Morpheus, and the best engineers of the Japanese company worked on it, including our compatriot Anton Mikhailov, who at one time developed the PlayStation Move controllers for Sony, which allowed tracking the movements of the players’ hands in space with the help of glowing spheres, gyroscopes, accelerometers and video cameras. It should be noted that this is not the first Sony experience in the field of helmets of virtual reality. Back in 1997 she produced the Glasstron helmet, with which it was possible to play MechWarrior 2, as if you were in the cockpit of a giant combat robot. The Japanese company, as it turned out,
Frankly: it was not easy for even journalists to get to the Sony stand. In the first “business day” of the exhibition only privileged representatives of the press had access to the stand, to which Sony decided not to relate us. The right to photograph and test on itself a gadget was only those who for a long time before the exhibition was included in the lists of the first lucky ones and came at a strictly stipulated time. But we are not bastards, so we decided to catch up on the remaining days of Igromir. Already the next morning we stood near the stand one of the first in the live queue, as in the remaining days for the press on the part of Sony no indulgence was foreseen. “We have a democracy here,” said one of the company’s employees. Well, democracy is so democracy.
And the turn to the innovative gadget, which should go on sale not before the spring of 2016, lined up just gigantic. We used our passes and leaked into the hall a few minutes before ordinary visitors were allowed in. But just seconds later, a line of several dozen schoolchildren with burning eyes lined up behind us. The string of people continued to grow at an incredible rate. Given that there were only three PlayStation VR headsets on the Sony stand, and a demo took about five minutes to show, you can imagine how slowly this line was moving. Running a little forward, I will tell you that the next day I had to heroically defend in the queue two and a half hours to try out the second of the presented demos. But all these inconveniences were definitely worth it.
I’ll begin my story with physical sensations from the headset. These sensations are exceptionally positive. No tight belts, as in the case of the first revisions of the Oculus Rift. Here everything is based on a system of sliding arms, as in headphones, only this headband is not attached from above, but on your head. The front helmet is equipped with a soft pillow that rests against your forehead and evenly distributes the load in such a way that you do not experience discomfort. The headset is very light, so you can not say that the head or neck quickly get tired of it. The attachment is conveniently pushed and adjusted to the diameter of your head. There is a special button on the headset that adjusts the distance of the virtual screen from your eyes. It is located on the right under the “visor” of the headset. By clicking on it, you can freely adjust the position of the screen to your taste, simply moving the screen forward and backward. Personally, I maximally pulled him to his eyes, to completely immerse himself in fictional worlds. By the way, people who wear glasses have nothing to worry about. PlayStation VR provides this and will allow you to find yourself in virtual reality without taking your glasses off.
Here it is necessary to note one small detail. When you put on the PlayStation VR, you see a small gap between the headset and your nose at the bottom, through which the light from outside is piercing. At first I thought that this was done for the benefit of citizens with a particularly outstanding snob, but then realized that this was a special engineering solution serving a completely different purpose. What is it for? In order that a person does not forget that all this is not real, but only a fetus of the imagination of programmers and artists. After what we felt and saw at the PlayStation VR stand, this tiny “slot” connecting you with the real world becomes a kind of rescue cable that calms you in especially tense moments of the game and does not allow you to lose your composure.
PlayStation VR headset is not equipped with built-in headphones, like Oculus Rift. So you have to put your own headphones on top of it. For the PlayStation 4 console, Gold Wireless Stereo Headset headphones are available with surround sound that can simulate up to 60 virtual sound sources. If you do not want to go broke on branded headphones, any other compatible PS4 will work. In general, in terms of necessary for the operation of additional gadgets PlayStation VR is a whole designer. Just imagine: in addition to the headset and console, you will need a PlayStation Camera, console compatible headphones, and PlayStation Move controllers, yes, the ones with luminous spheres. I, fortunately, have it all in the collection. I bought these accessories back in those days, when the virtual reality for the PS4 was not known, so now it’s infinitely glad to it. And what about those who are just going to buy a PlayStation VR? This is a serious question.
The picture on the internal screen of the headset is very high quality. I judge it on the basis of my little knowledge of virtual reality. No, I have not tried the final version of Oculus Rift, which should go on sale, but in comparison with the first revisions of the Palmera Lucky headset, the PlayStation VR in my eyes wins on the quality of the picture. Given that this picture has a resolution of 960 by 1080 pixels per eye (the general resolution of the screen is 1920 by 1080 pixels), one can imagine what will happen when similar headphones with a resolution of 4K and higher appear in the future. At the moment, a very small number of people have computers capable of issuing such permission, so we will have to be patient. As for the PlayStation 4 console,
Technically, the headset was significantly tightened from the first demonstration in 2014. In addition to the increased resolution of the 5.7-inch OLED display and the increased image refresh rate that Sony engineers achieved with the unique technology of inserting intermediate frames, the viewing angle was increased, which is now 100 degrees. Frankly: the edges of the picture is not visible. You see the virtual world, but you do not notice its edges with a sidelight, and it’s just a delightful feeling. I did not notice any delays between my movements and the reaction of virtual reality. The developers claim that they achieved an incredibly low latency of only 18 milliseconds. Well, I have no reason not to trust them in this matter. The picture is incredibly smooth and realistic. Literally after a few seconds you begin to forget, that this is only a game, and dissolve in the virtual world. Perhaps this can be called an undoubted advantage of the new technology. The only thing that confuses me personally is the wires that run from the console to the PlayStation VR. The developers promise to make it wireless in the future, but they are unlikely to be able to get rid of the cable to the official release in 2016. Although who knows?
I started my acquaintance with the PlayStation VR with the demo version, which was developed by the Japanese studio Capcom, which is familiar to all of you with its series of games Resident Evil and Street Fighter. The demo was called The Kitchen and was a five-minute horror, which reminded me of the recent horror film PT from Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro. I was seated in a chair, I was given a DualShock 4 gamepad and was strictly forbidden to press anything on it. At first I was confused, but then I realized that it was not just for fun. You find yourself bound in the middle of a dark room reminiscent of the country house kitchen. To the left of you are dirty windows, to the right – a huge old refrigerator and shelves with utensils. Directly in front of you is a tripod with a working video camera, and on the floor in the corner lies the body of an unknown man. I lowered my eyes and found my connected wrists. Now it became clear to me why you need to keep the gamepad in your hands: so you have the palms closest to each other, which corresponds to their position in the game. His role was played by the fact that my character in the game was wearing the same jeans as me. I saw my legs through the slot below the headset and immediately saw their continuation in virtual reality. Believe me, this repeatedly adds realism to what is happening. At first I pushed and dropped my tripod with the camera, and from the roar I came to the mysterious man who was unconscious all this time. He jumped up, grabbed a knife and asked me to raise my hands, so that it would be more convenient for him to cut my fetters. I lifted the gamepad, and he began to cut the ropes with a blade, and with a convulsive drumstick to himself, that you must immediately leave here. Behind him a woman emerged from nowhere with long tangled hair and a face distorted by a hellish grimace. She rushed at him and stunned him. Then she picked up the knife and approached me. The blade swayed in my face, and I can clearly see the dangling strands of her dirty hair and crazy eyes. I want to move back from it, but nowhere – the back of the chair on which I sit interferes. Suddenly, a woman stabs me in the left leg. You may not believe me, but at that moment I experienced a phantom pain, as if the blade had entered not into a virtual hero, but into my own flesh. This feeling is hard to describe in words, so just take my word for it – the effect of the presence is incredible. What happens in the demo version next – I will not tell you so that you can familiarize yourself with this demo when the PlayStation VR goes on sale. Surely, Sony will publish it in free access. However, I will say that The Kitchen is an incredible experience for connoisseurs of horror and seekers of new impressions. Unfortunately, I will not be able to show you any of the frames from this demo, as it is specially launched without a demonstration TV to keep the story secret. It was interesting to watch from outside for other people who tried The Kitchen after me. They shuddered, shouted and tried to jump from the chair, but the staff of the stand calmed them down. The demo is really very scary, it’s silly to argue with this. to keep the plot secret. It was interesting to watch from outside for other people who tried The Kitchen after me. They shuddered, shouted and tried to jump from the chair, but the staff of the stand calmed them down. The demo is really very scary, it’s silly to argue with this. to keep the plot secret. It was interesting to watch from outside for other people who tried The Kitchen after me. They shuddered, shouted and tried to jump from the chair, but the staff of the stand calmed them down. The demo is really very scary, it’s silly to argue with this.
The second demo, which I tried on myself, is a work of the British studio London Studio. It is called The London Heist and tells about everyday life of representatives of the criminal world. The format of the exhibition “IgroMir 2015” did not allow us to show the full version of the demo, so it was launched in a truncated form. From it was completely cut out part with the pursuit and gunfire on the cars. But even what the organizers left us, makes an indelible impression and is remembered for a long time. It all begins with the fact that you, like in the case of The Kitchen, sit tied in a chair in some basement room. Before you is a bald smirking bandit with a gas burner in his hands, which, apparently, is going to torture you to find out some valuable information. Beforehand, you are given each hand on the PlayStation Move controller, so you can see your limbs in virtual space. At first, I was embarrassed that I could not find my hands anywhere near, although I brought the controllers to my eyes, and then it turned out that I just had to wait a bit and the game would allow you to freely manipulate them. At the moment when the bandit had already brought his torch to my eyes, a phone call was ringing. His boss asks me to hand it over to me, and he, as if mocking, holds the phone over my head. It is at this point that you need to reach out, take the smartphone and put it to your ear. Curiously, it is in this ear that you will hear the voice of the telephone interlocutor, as I said above – the surround sound in the case of virtual reality is very important. After that, we are transported to the past, where you have to rob some rich estate. You are examining someone’s office, open the lockers of the desk, find a gun and a few clips for it, find the key and open the safe with jewels, but at the same time the alarm goes off and the guards come running to you. The shootout looks just gorgeous. You can hide, dodge, crouch, while shooting back from enemies and recharging your gun. The weapon is recharged, as in real life – you grab the clip from the table and insert it into the gun. The first few seconds to shoot is unusual, but very quickly you will learn and start to hit the enemies directly into their grinning heads. Enemies cinematographically fall and break their bodies furniture, break from the balcony, hiding from you behind various shelters. Everything ends too quickly, and you want additives, but when you are removed from the headset, you see a couple of hundred people, which many hours stand in line and also crave to touch the new technology. By the way, if in The Kitchen the resolution of the picture seemed a bit grainy to me, then in The London Heist the graininess was no longer evident, which suggests the use of different resolutions in different games.
The third demo version is a branch of EVE Online’s space strategy called EVE Valkyrie in the genre of space simulators. We have already seen it before in the version for Oculus Rift, so we did not dare to defend the queue for the third time. And looking at the length of this queue, it became clear that we will have time to grow old and die much earlier than it will end. Nevertheless, we interviewed the eyewitnesses who managed to try the demo on themselves. They really liked it, however, it seems, among the people who left the PlayStation VR, it was impossible to meet dissatisfied people. Both representatives of the press and ordinary visitors of the exhibition agreed that it was a complete delight and the most anticipated gaming accessory of the beginning of 2016.
However, it was not without small technical overlays and unpleasant moments, which I’m not going to keep silent about. For example, a couple of times during the demo The London Heist the position of my hands in the virtual space seemed to move slightly aside, but then they returned to their place. A couple of times with me, consoles with demos were hanging, and they had to be restarted. All this can be attributed to the fact that the software is still quite raw and the developers have a few months to optimize and debug it. Also personally, I was very much indignant with the fact that one of the volunteers (yes, Anton, this is us about you), whom Sony PR hired to work on the stand, constantly wrinkled faces to visitors in the headset, taking advantage of the fact that they do not see him. He walked around them and frankly mocked them, amusing the crowd. I did not see anything funny in person. For me it was inappropriate and very ugly on his part. But who am I to judge? However, the rest of the stand staff were quite friendly and pleasant to talk with.
PlayStation VR, of course, is a very attractive acquisition for all fans of video games. Of course, we face the obvious question: how many games will support it on the PlayStation 4 console? To date, for the headset claimed games such as Adrift, Ark: Survival Evolved, EVE Valkyrie, Project CARS, Surgeon Simulator, War Thunder and dozens of others. Here it should be borne in mind that I listed only a few multiplatform projects, without taking into account the games that Sony itself is preparing for release. But she even createdA separate studio for the development of exclusive VR-games. Even if there are not enough available games at the start of sales, I’m ready to wait for how many and all this time to pamper myself with technical demos, of which for today more than two dozen have been created for the PlayStation VR. Remember at least a demo of Summer Lesson, in which you can communicate with charming Japanese girls – is not it cute? The next year promises to be hot, because three sets of virtual reality from major manufacturers HTC / Valve, Oculus VR and Sony will immediately go on sale. It remains only to wait for their release and compare prices, as today we do not know the cost of any of these three gadgets.