PSVR2 headset and controllers

PSVR2 Observations: Part 1

26 April 2023

My new Playstation VR2 arrived! This series of articles will be about my user experience observations about this new VR device.

Initial Impressions:

  • Headset is bulky but futuristic looking, not heavy but certainly not light; surprising lack of cushioning around the eyes/nose but I guess they don’t want it resting on your nose-bridge?
    Controllers will take some getting used to, seem a bit off-weighted
  • PS set up was well done, eye tracking test was good, lens & focal length (where it tried to center your eyes) was difficult as my left eye rarely seemed to get aligned.
    Also did a room scan, which was automatic and pretty amazing. It gave me a very custom ‘safe zone’ in between my TV stand and sectional couch; you could further edit the safe zone if you wanted by using ray casters.
  • Looking at text and the menus was often blurry and adjusting the headset to make it less blurry took probably 30min.
  • Added my eyeglasses, and that helped significantly (even tho I am near-sighted); did both eye calibration tests again and things were better, tho still giving me 3D glasses effects on text (red and blue separation).
  • Trying to figure out how to hold the controllers when I couldn’t see them was quite difficult; using the video passthru was almost a necessity.
  • Had to clean off the lenses already since they somehow got dirty.
  • Decided to just jump into a game (Resident Evil 8 demo) and immediately the experience went from frustrating to WOW.

Game Experience:

  • The game’s title “screen” was me standing in a full environment outside; it was so cool that I could have stood there gazing at the buildings, mountains, grass, etc. for a long time. I looked at my hands and was a bit surprised to see them game-rendered as older and wrinklier than my own.
  • The menu used the raycaster UI, which was very precise but touchy and thus difficult to hold your cursor over something and click the controller’s trigger button to select. Once thru some menu options (pretty traditional game set up of 2D menus), I went into the real game, and appeared in a room.
  • The room was small and contained a bed, sink, and table. Everything was quite realistic; not super high-res, but my visual pickiness gave way to how realistic everything looked. I picked up a piece of paper by grabbing it; a flat 2D text rendering appeared on top of it (for readability I guess?). I crouched down to look under the bed and sink; very realistic.
  • Opening the door led to a hallway, where it was my first time “walking”. Since I’m in my basement where I only have a 6’x8’ area (plus the tethered power cord isn’t super long), I had to use the controller to “walk forward” most of the time. Initially this was motion sickness inducing, but sitting down and “walking” was a bit better. I liked standing in one place and looking around much more, which gave no motion sickness. Everything in the hallway still looked very realistic.
    Rachel tried it out, and found she had to use her glasses too. She didn’t do the eye calibration so it was not so clear. But she was also quite amazed. She liked walking with the controller, and didn’t feel immediate motion sickness.
  • Getting the headset back from her, it is clear that taking it on and off isn’t great for ensuring your view is precise, as the headset seems very touchy and the blurriness of text edges and such can change from even a slight tilt or push on the headset (not to mention completely taking it on and off and on again)

I can’t imagine the user research that went into this to get it at least this usable. Yes there was a lot of initial set up consternation and such, and i can see how that is a big barrier to new people trying to use VR (or even people trying to user test their app) but i think Sony did a pretty good job with calibration tools and such (it could have been much worse).
This is both a new experience for most people and a relatively new physical interface (not as refined as a keyboard and mouse, nor as simple as a touchscreen) so it’s bound to be hard. it’s literally taking over your entire sight plus giving your new “hands” to interact with, so it takes a lot to learn and get used to.