One of the most sought after showcases at this years TGS was always going to be Sony’s VR headset, previously known as Project Morpheus and unveiled at TGS 2015 as Playstation VR. Unsurprisingly, getting time on it was difficult, even on the press days with comparatively low attendance (a meager 29,000 people each day) but thankfully the stars aligned for me and after acquiring my Playstation press badge (my TGS press badge wasn’t enough, apparently) I was ushered into a short line and told the rules. I was only allowed to demo the VR once each day, and even though the board listing the available demos hovered teasingly over my shoulder, I would not, as it turned out, have any choice or say in what demo I played. All I could do was hope and pray that I got only one that mattered to me; the Hatsune Miku VR tech demo.
The stars aligned again.
Led up some stairs and into an alcove behind a black curtain, a Playstation staffer secures my headset and I’m immediately taken aback by how light it is. Like most of you who’ve yet to try this tech, I always imagined one of the drawbacks would be excessive weight and I was delighted to discover that fear was unfounded. The PS-VR headset is comfortable and light and even with headphones over it, doesn’t feel cumbersome in the same way that 3D glasses always did. Then I got handed a PS Move controller (yes, a PS Move controller) and Miku herself appeared before my eyes.
The game itself was initially underwhelming, in that it wasn’t really a game at all. I was in the audience at a Miku concert, surrounded by Miku fans enthusiastically waving glowsticks in synchronized motions. Eventually, once I stopped waiting for rhythm-action commands and decided to wave the controller a little to try and make something, anything, happen, I realized what was happening. My controller was a glowstick and by joining the audience, I could make stuff appear on Miku’s stage. Including, as I realized rather suddenly, myself.
Just when I felt myself getting slightly bored, in a flash I was on-stage with Miku. Moments later she was inches from me, speaking to me, singing to me. She blew me a kiss and I’m pretty sure I made whatever noise is made when an otaku’s heart explodes inside his chest. I signed a disclaimer saying they could use the footage for promotional material, so it’s possible it might show up online someday, I might as well admit it.
It sounds silly, but this was genuinely more amazing than I’d ever have imagined it could be. True, I didn’t actually get to experience a VR ‘game’, in the traditional sense, but the sense of agency, the interaction level alone was a leap forward the likes of which we haven’t seen since the PSX and N64 took us boldly into the realm of three dimensions. It sounds cliché, and it is, but I am officially a believer; VR is the future of gaming.
As for where Playstation VR stands in that market, it’s a little uncertain. I haven’t tried the Oculus yet, so I can’t make a comparison on the comfort of either device, and I guess in the end it will all come down to software. There have been murmurs recently that Sony are holding back Sci-Fi space ’em up No Man’s Sky for release alongside their VR headset, which could be an absolutely crushing blow for any of their competitors, but at the moment there’s still more questions there than there are answers.
Not least of which how the human race will survive once someone inevitably gets some eroge on this shit.