For months, PlayStation VR on the PlayStation 5 has dominated headlines in this publication and many others. Now, at long last, we can finally see what all the fuss was about. But does it shape up to the hype?
PSVR on PS5: Immersion... to Diversion... to Improved Version.
Ever since Sony began to build up anticipation for their latest console, the PlayStation 5, all emphasis has been on one word: immersion.
Trailers? Immersion. Interviews? Immersion. TV Spots? Immersion. Product descriptions? Immersion. Play Without Limits was a slogan fried into our brains relentlessly. There was so much 'immersion', that I became immersed in it myself.
PlayStation obviously has a great history of offering immersive experiences, not least with their ground breaking PlayStation VR Headset. In fact, the early days of next-gen rumours had fans buzzing around in anticipation for a PSVR2, supposedly to be release alongside the PS5.
But in the run-up to release, Sony became more and more cagey about what exactly we should expect in a PlayStation VR sequel. Initially, they promised PSVR-PS5 backwards compatibility. More recently, the “games boost” feature was set to increase performance of (some) PS4 and PSVR titles on the PS5. But then, Sony simply put us out our misery: PSVR2 isn’t coming anytime soon.
So, how do PS VR titles play on the PS5? Is the experience noticeably better at all? To celebrate the long-await release of the ps5, I set about trying to find out.
Effortlessly improved? Sorta.
PSVR’s game-boost comes with a catch. We reported last week that backwards compatible titles would only be game-boost-able under two conditions: titles needed to have an unlocked frame rate or a scalable resolution. That imposed an issue right out the gate: whereas some games were PS5-ready (like Blood & Truth, for instance), others would require a developer update.
This basically means that gameplay for most titles won’t be noticeably better on release day, which is frankly quite disappointing. You’ll obviously notice a UI redesign and the like, but PSVR on PS5 doesn’t receive any other upgrades. Until more developers issue patches, PSVR on PS5 is straight-up, no-nonsense backwards compatibility.
But how does it play? PSVR on PS5 plays basically just like PSVR on the PS4 Pro with one major improvement - load times. In fact, average load times on the console have been halved thanks to its SSD.
These games also seem to play flawlessly, thanks in large part to the beefed up hardware. Obviously, they played really well on the PS4 Pro, too. But glitches, graphical bugs and frame rate drops are all but eliminated completely on PS5, making it for sure the best way to play these games.
I'm at risk of treading old ground. All these games play well because they played well on the PS4 Pro. You won’t be plugging in your PSVR to the free camera adapter and having some sort of mind blowing VR experience - instead, expect your replays to be slightly better (and that's only with the games that bother to game-boost.)
Don’t buy a PS5 just for its PSVR backwards compatibility. At least, don’t do it yet. It seems, after getting hands on experience with the console, that the game-boost features are more of a promise for something to come than a launch day selling point.
Feasibly, there could be a time a few months down the road where I’d crown PS5 the definitive way to play PSVR titles. Perhaps PS5 will see some new, enhanced-for-next-gen PSVR exclusive releases.
But that time is not now. That’s not to say that PSVR games play poorly on the new console, in fact the opposite is true. It’s just that the margins are so slim that - even though these titles play the best they ever have - it just doesn’t seem like there’s much point in making the upgrade just yet.
The PS5 is a ground-breaking, Next Gen system. Of that, I have no doubts. But don’t buy a PlayStation 5 for its PSVR backwards compatibility. Instead, I'd wait until Sony (or the developers) make it worth your investment.