970 – Vrrrrrrrr

So the PlayStation VR turned up today. Nearly didn’t – somehow I’d ended up in Game’s “second wave”, and so the day booked out for working at home was technically somewhat premature.

Fixing the situation was a tad frustrating. About 40 minutes on hold to Game’s customer service without success; slowly watching myself count down from 15th to 1st in the we chat queue, only to crash and lose the session. Twitter discussions degenerating into “call the local store” far too rapidly. Said store not opening. And me being cross.

But, as it turns out, when you need a fairly expensive and slightly exploratory gaming accessory in a hurry, the Argos in Leytonstone has one in stock. So that was all right.

First thoughts:

  • You’ll get quite hot installing it because there’s a *lot* of cabling, front and back. Putting the headset on triumphantly after that will lead to a lot of steaming up.
  • The connection mechanics involve so many separate cables – it’s charmingly hacky that you can see how it all works
  • You’ll need to put on your glasses if you wear them. Two slightly fuzzy stereoscopic images moving fast at speed rather drills your visual context after a bit.
  • It’s pretty light considering
  • A shame the two screens aren’t each full HD, but they definitely aren’t standard def. And the OLED displays are just beautiful.

Of the games I tried

  • Worlds is very pretty, but there’s no “play” and no “story”. Feels like the sort of educational CD Rom schools would buy
  • Headmaster has a silly Stanley Parable style commentary which is quite funny, but still can’t disguise that it’s just a football-heading game
  • Allumette feels like a VR version of a Pixar short. It’s a film, not a game. As in, it’s actually not remotely designed to be played. But it is interesting that you can/should use the VR to see scenes or action you wouldn’t have otherwise. Peering inside one of the flying boats was excellent. Look forward to finding out how long it is and how it ends.
  • Tumble VR is rather fun – jenga meets boom blox. Tone of the commentating robot is slightly annoying, but I’ll probably buy full version of that.
  • The Playroom VR had some really nice games but they were a little buggy – I particularly liked smashing my way through a city with my head, like Godzilla on the rampage
  • Driveclub – felt like it needed a little more polish sadly. The graphics were pretty good, but the aliasing seemed a bit off for the little screen. Or perhaps there’s just too much going on and my brain cells were fried. Wonder if this would give you motion sickness, but really I need to have a proper go at this with my glasses on
  • Bound – beautiful. I have no idea what is going on, and it’s clearly An Indie Game. But as they kill bugs and other issues will be interested to see what that turns into.
  • Battlezone – the one I was really looking forward to. It’s great fun and looks amazing, but only one level on the demo disc and the real game is fifty quid. FIFTY! For BATTLEZONE?
  • I’m really really looking forward to properly using “Keep talking and nobody explodes” – it’s almost designed for this platform. You’re a bomb disposal expert, trying to defuse a very complicated bomb that you can see on your VR heldest. Without instructions. Other people out in the room can’t see the bomb, but they do have the instructions. So you have to talk to each other to solve the puzzle within five minutes. I love this kind of thing – asymmetry of skill and information, props for sociability etc

But the oddest thing is that when you’ve got a VR headset on and get sucked into a game, you can genuinely find that you stop only to find that all the timeswitches around you have already triggered and you’ve spent the last fifteen minutes unwittingly playing a game in complete darkness.

If’s probably ‘flow’. Not stupidity. ‘Flow’.

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