Sony’s latest look at the upcoming PlayStation VR2 headset paints the picture of a new virtual reality toy that’s competitive with other popular HMDs, like the Oculus Quest 2. But there is one standout in its new broadcast feature.
With a connected PlayStation 5 HD Camera, you’ll be able to beam an image of your headset-wearing self into the frame whenever you’re streaming a VR game to a platform like Twitch. This is really an extension of an existing feature, as the PS5 HD Camera can already add the player to non-VR streams. But the broadcast feature simplifies a process that would require a bit of technical expertise on PC, so knowing it supports PSVR2 is welcome news.
It comes as part of a larger Tuesday blog post from Sony that runs through a bunch of newly revealed details about the PSVR2 and how it works. None of it is terribly surprising, but it’s all positive steps forward for a product that felt decidedly behind the technology curve by the time it released in 2016.
The PSVR2 features front-mounted cameras that give users the option of switching to a real-world view of their surroundings with the press of a button. There’s no recording in see-through viewing mode, it’s just for finding your way around in a physical space. But there’s plenty of value to that as a safety feature, as competing headsets like the Quest 2 or Valve’s Index have demonstrated.
PSVR2 users will also be able to define the play area for a more mobile in-headset experience. It’s the same concept as the “Guardian” feature introduced in the first Oculus Rift headset. Looking at the play space from inside the PSVR2, you’ll use Sony’s new controllers to “paint” out your playing area. Then, while you’re playing, you’ll get a signal in-game if something you’re doing is crossing the previously set boundary lines.
Both of these safety features were less of an issue with PSVR, which was largely built around sit-down VR experiences. By adding these two essential safety features, Sony is seemingly aiming to make the “get up and move around” kind of VR experiences more accessible for PSVR2 users.
We’ve also got some new details on in-headset displays. In “VR Mode,” players are plunged into a 360-degree view of their game’s virtual environment, with a display resolution of 4000×2040 HDR (2000 pixel width per eye) and a frame rate of 90Hz/120 Hz. This is the experience you’ll get when you’re playing a VR game using a PSVR2.
The PlayStation 5 dashboard, apps, and non-VR games will also show up in the headset, but only in “Cinematic Mode.” This setup broadcasts whatever you’d normally see on your TV onto a virtual movie screen. The Cinematic Mode resolution tops out at 1920×1080 HDR with 24/60 Hz and 120 Hz frame rates.
It would be nice to have a properly immersive virtual environment for interacting with the PS5 dashboard at the very least. But that’s the sort of thing Sony could also patch in after launch. And even as it is now, the PSVR2 is already set up to compete with the top headsets available right now — we’ll have to wait and see if Meta’s “Project Cambria” changes that calculation — and it’s clearly miles ahead of where the original PSVR was at launch.