Sony’s PlayStation VR (PSVR) will soon become the cheapest high-end virtual reality experience. Priced at just £349, it’s over half the price of an HTC Vive and can be plugged into any PS4, making it hugely accessible to the mass market. But can a £349 piece of tech rival the likes of the Oculus Rift or Vive? After donning the cowl in Rocksteady’s upcoming PSVR exclusive, Arkham VR, I’m convinced that virtual reality on the PS4 is equally as great as its incredibly expensive rivals.
In Arkham VR you are the Batman, and as far as VR experiences go it’s been amongst my most anticipated. During my 20-30 minute demo I was guided across two sections: the first focused entirely on suiting up as Batman, whereas the second took place in an alleyway and showcased detective vision.
How does it work?
During my demo I was situated in an enclosed booth, running a PS4 and set up with a PlayStation camera attached to the top of a monitor. As I held two PlayStation Move controllers, the camera was able to track where I was in a 3D space, allowing me to step forward and take a closer look at my environment, or, at one point, peak over the edge of a building.
Is it any good?
Absolutely. What caught me off guard the most was the clarity PSVR presented. The graphics were on par with many hi-tech demos running on my powerful HTC Vive. Sure, the room scale features and controller tracking isn’t as accurate against more premium products, but it’s commendable for such a budget headset. My low expectations for PSVR have been exceeded alongside the help of Arkham VR; suiting up as Batman was a phenomenal experience.
Though both of my demos were short, they gave me an in-depth look at what to expect when it lands in October. As I embarked upon the ‘suit up’ procedure to become Batman, I was taken in a lift through various stages; slipping on my gauntlets, the bat suit and cowl. I also had the chance to test out an array of gadgets, including the grapnel gun, forensics scanner, and Batarangs (all located on my utility belt).
Near the end of my first demo I was placed in front of a mirror. As I stared back at myself, as Batman, I jiggled my shoulders, raised my arms and titled my head; it was immense to see all my actions perfectly replicated without hardly any latency.
Anything bad to report?
Amazingly, not all that much. It’s clear that when compared to the Oculus and HTC Vive, the PlayStation camera doesn’t track your hands accurately 100% of the time, but for the moments my hands jittered or disappear for a split second, I was too caught up in the immersion to care. This also isn’t too surprising, given the PSVR is the cheapest ‘premium’ headset and doesn’t require a huge amount of space.
The only other niggle, which is more of a requested improvement/feature, is haptic feedback. When I pressed down the keys on a piano, or touched my hands together, it would’ve been nice to feel vibration to give my hands more feedback. Another suggestion, which may already be in the main game, is rather than allowing me to blink (move around) to fixed positions, I’d prefer to be able to choose where to teleport – as seen in many other VR games; allowing complete freedom on where to move to.
I learnt that the main game will weigh in at around 6-7 hours, which for a VR game priced at £15.99 sounds like a bargain. As for how much freedom players might get in the final product, and whether there might be a chance to simply explore outside of the confines of the story, remains to be seen. Those who enjoy participating in riddler challenges, however, will be happy to learn they will be making a return in Arkham VR, so here’s hoping for some longevity and addictive sessions to top the world leaderboards via that.
I may have been sceptical about the quality of Arkham VR with PSVR, but now I couldn’t be more excitement. Here’s hoping the full game lives up to my short demo when it launches in October alongside the PlayStation VR.