With PSVR presenting some of the most innovative gaming tech to hit the market, Sony’s traveling demo booth needs to be experienced firsthand.
I tripped over the Sony PSVR booth at my local mall. It was not advertised in any form on Sony or Crossgates Mall’s social media, and was even not populating on Sony’s PSVR event listing webpage. And yet, lighting struck, so down I sat to experience an expanse of warp speed and dogfights unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
The first thing you’ll notice about using a PSVR headset is that you don’t notice anything around yourself in the real world. The whole experience is jarring because at something such as a tech demo booth in a mall, you’ll be very instantly blinded and deafened to the environment around you. Once you adjust to the extreme shifts happening to your senses, you’ll quickly forget that anyone in the real world is watching your every head movement on a large television screen. It’s that immersive.
I’ve had this sort of experience before at a Microsoft VR headset tech demo. There, Microsoft had a roped off area for you to stumble around in blindly. It was terrifying, neat, and also, terrifying. PSVR felt safe, because while the immersion of walking around in the virtual world was awesome in Microsoft’s demo, Sony’s seated setup felt comfortable, accessible, and natural.
There were around 15 different games to try out a demo for. They ranged from VR versions of titles like shooter Superhot and adventure game Moss, to PSVR exclusives like environment/experience game PlayStation VR Worlds. No matter what title you played, there was a unanimous sentiment: the immersion was real, and it was hard to let go and stop playing.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew was my PSVR demo choice, and I have not been able to stop thinking about it ever since. I was warned by the event staff that it was a tougher demo to get through, but after watching younger kids pummel opponents in boxing game Knockout League, I was ready for a more serious challenge.
If you wear glasses, PSVR is built for you. The devs behind the tech knew that people didn’t want to be left out of the PSVR experience if they were bespeckled, meaning Sony needed to come up with a way for the headset to fit comfortably around eyeglasses without ruining the peripheral immersion (or smudging lenses).
If I was to not wear my glasses, I would not have been able to see the headset’s gorgeously displayed screen. The experience was bettered all the more by the simple focus controls. A button on the top-right side of the headset released the tension keeping the headset in place in the z-plane, but I found that most of the positive vision adjustment came from simply tilting the headset up and down.
When the Star Trek demo booted up, chills immediately ran up and down my spine. I wasn’t just watching the captains of giant space voyaging ships, I was the captain. Spock accompanied me on some of my travels, but I will admit that as the demo flipped back and forth between control rooms, I became disoriented as to who was where and what I was even doing.
The responsiveness of the PlayStation Move controllers were everything the Wii Remote wishes it could have been. The captain’s hands were my hands. It was surreal, to say the least.
While reveling at the awesome power of immersion and responsiveness to my every movement, I realized that yeah, I had a job to do here. Commands were being spoken into my ears with tension and caution, making me feel like the stakes were real. I was in charge of leading my crew to safety, and I was going to make sure that that happened, no matter what.
It stared to feel like literal rocket science in that there were so, so, soooooooo many buttons on my display at all times. I cannot emphasize enough how overwhelming it is to have the weight of “human” lives on your shoulders with no clue as to how to save them. Sure, there were instructions trying to label what to do next in a step-by-step format, but even a simple “1):” gets easily lost amongst all of the in-game chatter and visual stimulation.
I loved feeling lost and scared. I didn’t want a vanilla PSVR experience. The one that I got was the stuff of all sorts of social nightmares. Seriously, I felt like I was in a dream where I forgot all of my lines but was still forced to perform the lead role of a Broadway musical.
I eventually got my wits about me, miraculously torpedo-ed some oncoming hostiles, all the while getting the feel for how much actual, real-life effort I needed to put in here to get my hands to “touch” the command buttons.
I’m sure the demo lasted for over 10 minutes, but it felt like it passed by in the blink of an eye. I wanted more, and still do. The thirst for further exploration and play is the means by which these high-tech units get sold.
PSVR would make for a cute party trick, and a boogie experience that of which has yet hit the market at a reasonable enough pricepoint. There’s something magical here in Sony’s presentation of the PSVR technology. In all of the complexity of the Star Trek PSVR demo, I was able to see the underlying thread of excitement and finesse that went into building this state-of-the-art technology.
Sony’s PSVR demo booth may pop up around you. I wish beyond all desire that there was a better way for me to promote it, but even event staff said that there were, and I paraphrase here, “reasons why big companies don’t advertise demos like this on social; maybe something legally.”
In the meantime, I encourage you to use Sony’s PSVR demo tracking tool in the hopes that it is updated to tell you where you can get this word-of-mouth experience for yourself. PSVR is a needle in a haystack to find, but it’s a beautiful experience meant to be felt by your own mind.