Sony’s PlayStation 5 virtual reality plans leak from dev briefing

Good news for people wanting to escape reality from the comfort of their own living room. The first details of Sony’s PlayStation 5 virtual reality headset have leaked, thanks to a “closed door summit” of developers where, evidently, the doors weren’t shut very tightly after all.

The YouTube channel “PSVR Without Parole” – a sentence seldom passed down by actual high court judges – broadcast a number of interesting details about the upcoming headset in a video which I’ve embedded below.

If the details here are true, this is going to be a big step up from the original PSVR. The headset will use fresnel OLED screens with a resolution of 2,000 x 2,040 per eye. Multiply that by two, for the number of eyes humans tend to have, and you get a resolution of 4K. 

The PS5 is powerful, but outputting 4K smoothly is still a big challenge – and one that has to be tackled. Uneven frame rates in virtual reality can cause motion sickness, and people throwing up when using your product isn’t ideal PR (unless you happen to manufacture syrup of ipecac). 

For that reason, the hardware apparently has some clever tricks up its sleeve. Not only will it use a flexible scaling resolution, but built-in eye tracking means the headset knows what you’re looking at, and the headset will only use heavy resources rendering things that are in your line of sight. Neat!  

The controllers, which Sony already provided a glimpse of earlier this year, are a big step up from the oddball Move pads that came out of PS3 retirement for an unlikely resurgence on PS4. The new ones look a lot more like Oculus grips, and will apparently have capacitive sensors that not only can tell when they’re being touched, but will estimate how far away fingers are from them at any given time, too. 

All this clever hardware is wasted if there are no games, of course, and Sony is said to be keen to push developers away from throw-away experiences and towards fully fledged triple-A titles. For that reason, Sony is apparently encouraging teams making big PS5 titles to support VR as an alternative way of playing the regular ‘flat’ game. This was trialled inconsistently with PSVR on PS4, with the likes of Resident Evil 7, Hitman 3 and No Man’s Sky all offering virtual reality versions of their respective gameplay at different points in the console’s lifespan.

The next PSVR isn’t expected this year, and the video ends by saying that Sony will likely announce something in early 2022. Given PlayStation 5 consoles are still incredibly hard to come by, it’s probably just as well Sony doesn’t have the first big accessory available right now. But perhaps some enterprising sort could create an experience for the original PSVR where gamers can experience the thrill of having a PS5 console delivered to tide them over until real stock actually appears… 

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