Sony PlayStation VR Review

An affordable, entertaining virtual reality add-on for the PS4

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

3.8

Sony PlayStation VR

Sony Playstation VR

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward 

What We Like

  • Great game selection

  •  Comfortable design and fit

  • Easy upgrade for PS4 owners

  • Bundles are affordably priced

What We Don't Like

  • Imprecise controller tracking

  • Limited scope to VR experience

  • Setup can take a while

The PlayStation VR is a really fun addition to the PlayStation 4 console experience, and a solid and reasonably-priced entry point into VR.

3.8

Sony PlayStation VR

Sony Playstation VR

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward 

The PlayStation VR is a sleek, futuristic-looking headset that plugs right into the PlayStation 4 (or Pro) console and sits atop your head, immersing you in 360-degree game worlds and active play experiences. PC VR headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift can deliver better graphics and more complex, room-scale experiences at a higher overall buy-in cost (between headset and computer), but the PlayStation VR still delivers a strong and more cost-effective experience that's really easy to use and enjoy. And it has some of the best VR games around.

Sony PlayStation VR
Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Design and Comfort: Smartly constructed

Most VR headsets strap securely to your head, relying on spandex/Velcro straps to ensure that the headset doesn't sink down your face during use. The PlayStation VR takes a much different, but smarter, approach.

Instead of using straps, the PlayStation VR sits on top of your head and hangs the visor down in front of your eyes. It has a well-cushioned, rubberized ring that fits around your head. Once you've found the right position, a small dial on the back locks the position and tightens the band just enough to keep it in place. 

The visor itself is also intelligently designed, letting you slide it up to and away from your face and lock it in position. This provides a couple of benefits: it's easier to get the visor on your face and in the right spot, especially for glasses wearers, and the rubbery barrier feels better suited for accommodating glasses than many other headsets. Also, if the lenses get foggy during play or you need to look outside the headset for a moment, you can just slide the visor out a couple inches instead of fully removing the headset. That said, the PlayStation VR visor doesn't enclose your face as well as other headsets, potentially allowing some outside light in. 

And while the PlayStation VR is heavily composed of plastic, the glowing blue lights and curvy design give it an almost futuristic allure. Nobody ever actually looks cool while wearing a VR headset and miming movements in a digital world, but the PlayStation VR does look neat.

Sony PlayStation VR
Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Setup Process: It's a lot of cables

Setting up the PlayStation VR isn't necessarily difficult, but it is laborious. There are a lot of cords to connect and hardware pieces to have in place to bring the experience to life. 

The PlayStation VR comes with a small Processor Unit box, which plugs directly into the PlayStation 4 to add some extra computational power for the headset. You'll have an HDMI cord running from your TV to the Processor Unit and another from your Processor Unit into the PlayStation 4, as well as a USB cable between the two. There's a separate power brick for the Processor Unit, as well, and you'll also need to plug in the PlayStation Camera, which is required to see and track the headset and motion controllers. 

Setting up the PlayStation VR isn't necessarily difficult, but it is laborious. There are a lot of cords to connect and hardware pieces to have in place to bring the experience to life.

It's kind of a pain, especially if you don't want to leave all of those cables and extra bits in place when you're not using the PlayStation VR. That means you'll need to set up and take everything down every time you play, which is a lot more time-consuming than just popping on a standalone, wireless headset like the Oculus Quest and pressing the power button.

The newer CUH-ZVR2 revision of the PlayStation VR headset makes very small changes to the design, including moving the power button from an in-line remote to the headset, as well as slightly tweaking the Processor Unit. Additionally, the Processor Unit from the original CUH-ZVR1 headset (reviewed here) won't let you get a 4K signal through to your TV when not playing VR games, which means you'll have to remove the Unit from your setup for full gaming and media fidelity on a 4K TV. The CUH-ZVR2 model doesn't have that problem.

Once all the cords are connected and devices are in place, you'll just need to wirelessly sync up controllers. Some games utilize the standard DualShock 4 gamepad, while others use the PlayStation Move motion controllers (one or both). Some games also let you choose between the two options.

Sony PlayStation VR
Lifewire / Andrew Hayward 

Performance: Inconsistencies persist

From an in-game and in-headset performance standpoint, PlayStation VR games often look great and run well. That said, this isn't the highest-resolution VR screen on the market, providing just 1,080 by 960 resolution in each eye. Compare that to the huge resolution bump offered by the new Oculus Quest, which has 1,440 by 1,600 for each eye. 

Text and menus can look jaggy on the PlayStation VR, but once you're actually in the game, the colorful surroundings and speedy action quickly hide the deficiencies. Think of it like the Nintendo Switch. Sure, the system's 720p screen sounds underwhelming, but Nintendo's games still look awesome on it. The PlayStation VR feels a lot like that. It's a modest screen, but the powerful PlayStation 4 still delivers immersive, enrapturing experiences.

Note that there is a standard PlayStation 4 and a more powerful PlayStation 4 Pro, which adds 4K resolution support and allows for more detail in games and steadier performance. We tested the PlayStation VR using the PlayStation 4 Pro for this review, but have used the headset with the standard PlayStation 4 in the past and not noticed a significantly different experience. In other words, we wouldn't suggest you buy the PS4 Pro solely due to hoping for improved VR performance. Any improvements are likely to be very minor.

Text and menus can look jaggy on the PlayStation VR, but once you're actually in the games, the colorful surroundings and speedy action quickly hide the deficiencies.

VR games played with the DualShock 4 controller work reliably well, since the PlayStation Camera doesn't need to track positioning for your actions. However, the PlayStation Move wands can be fussy. While playing, you'll sometimes see the in-game representation of your Move controller—be it a hand, a weapon, a baton, etc.—float away from its correct position. 

This is usually fixed simply by moving the Move controller, which helps return it to the correct position in the game, but it's a disconcerting sensation. Occasionally, too, the PlayStation Move controllers don't feel as responsive as they should, and we had trouble reaching for or interacting with things that were at a distance in a game—such as reaching for items in shooter Blood & Truth or putting on the green in Everybody's Golf VR.

The camera-driven experience also limits the PlayStation VR's capabilities, as the PlayStation Camera must see the lights on the headset and glowing ball toppers of the PlayStation Move controllers to properly track them in your space. If you turn away or obscure a controller behind your body or something else in the room, it may not work properly. This means that larger, room-scale experiences aren't possible, and you'll also occasionally encounter issues during more active games.

Sound Quality: Headphones are a plus 

PlayStation VR games output audio to your TV or connected sound system, just as if you were playing a PS4 game on the television, so there's no change there. It's highly recommended that you plug in wired 3.5mm headphones for a more immersive VR experience, but unfortunately, the PlayStation VR doesn't work with wireless headsets. Even Sony's own wireless PlayStation audio headsets make you plug in a cable to use them with the PlayStation VR.

Software: Thankfully familiar

The PlayStation VR runs on the same system software you'll see on the PlayStation 4 itself, with the familiar navigation system for accessing games and apps, changing settings, and pulling up the menu while in-game. When you have the headset on and you're looking through the visor, you'll see a flat image of the menu from your TV screen on an otherwise black space. Essentially, you can treat the inside of your headset as a screening room for 2D content, including playing non-VR games. The overall upside here is that the interface is unchanged between the TV and the headset, so there's little new for PS4 owners to learn or adjust to.

Sony PlayStation VR
Lifewire / Andrew Hayward 

Games: Pretty robust library 

Sony's headset isn't the most powerful around, but the tech giant has flexed its connections to give the PlayStation VR arguably the best game selection of any VR platform today. There's more VR software for Rift, Vive, or Samsung's phone-driven Gear VR, but Sony's curated collection has a large number of major game and entertainment properties, not to mention some really strong and charming original experiences. 

In terms of VR exclusives, the PlayStation VR has Sony's own Astro Bot Rescue Mission, a delightfully imaginative platform-action game that uses its 3D worlds to play with perspective. It also has Tetris Effect, which seems like a strange game to play in VR until you're surrounded by its dreamy backdrops and visual effects, and ensconced in its soundscapes.

On the complete other end of the gaming spectrum is the terrifying Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which reimagines the survival horror franchise as a truly freaky first-person affair. There's also Gran Turismo Sport, which is such an immersive driving experience that you'll look ahead to virtual turns as they near. Sony's Wipeout: Omega Collection is also a super cool racer featuring futuristic hovercrafts that soar across curved, rollercoaster-esque tracks. It's also the PSVR game that's most likely to make you sick, but it's a lot of fun if your stomach can handle it. 

Sony's headset isn't the most powerful around, but the tech giant has flexed its estimable connections to give the PlayStation VR arguably the best game selection of any VR platform today.

Farpoint is a neat experience, too, letting you blast alien bugs on a strange planetary surface using a big, optional PlayStation Aim Controller accessory. It doesn't look anything like a real gun, but it feels like using one inside the game. And the Aim Controller can also be used for other shooters, such as the squad-based Firewall: Zero Hour.

The PlayStation VR also has many of the greats seen on other VR platforms, such as rhythm game Beat Saber, which has you swinging the Move controllers like lightsabers to slice through flying blocks to the beat of a song. There's also Superhot VR, an inventive shooter where the world and its gun-toting enemies only move when you do. The Move controllers can be a little fidgety with that one, sadly; it's best played on the Oculus Quest. Other highlights include the hilarious Job Simulator, dazzling and trance-like Rez Infinite, and beautiful action/puzzle game, Moss.

Those are the full-fledged games, but Sony's connections with various game publishers have also brought about compact VR experiences that ship with games like Star Wars Battlefront II, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Tekken 7, and Kingdom Hearts III. They're like fun bonus perks for being a PlayStation gamer. 

Every standalone game is available for purchase and download from the console's PlayStation Store, with some of the larger games also sold via physical Blu-ray discs at retail.

Price: Worth it for PS4 owners

The PlayStation VR has thankfully dropped significantly in price from the original $399 asking price for the headset itself, or $499 for a bundle with the PlayStation Camera and Move controllers. Now, Sony offers a number of cheaper bundles that feature games and the camera, some also with the Move controllers included.

These bundles typically range in price between $249-$349 depending on included games and hardware, and that's a pretty great deal for what is ultimately a compelling and easy-to-use VR experience that can piggyback off of an existing PlayStation 4 console. Of course, if you don't have a PS4, then you're looking at an additional $299-$349 purchase, which would make this a much costlier overall acquisition.

PlayStation VR vs. Oculus Quest

The PlayStation VR came out in late 2016, so it's no surprise to see newer rivals pack in better technology while overcoming some of the older frustrations and limitations. The new Oculus Quest is a fully standalone and wireless VR headset with its own processor onboard, making it is a delight to use. It has a rechargeable battery within, so you don't have to plug it in during use, and the highly precise motion controllers are tracked by the four cameras on the headset itself.

The Quest has some of the same games as PlayStation VR, and you can really see the difference with motion-heavy games like Beat Saber and Superhot VR, which feel a lot more precise and fluid with the Quest's tracking system and Touch controllers. At $399, the Quest is more expensive than the PlayStation VR headset by itself, yet cheaper than PSVR/PS4 together. It has fewer games for now, since it just released, but it has a ton of potential and a lot of early hype around it.

Final Verdict

 Fun, affordable VR.

The PlayStation VR isn't the most polished or refined virtual reality experience on the market, but it's affordable, has a lot of great games, and it's good enough to overcome some of the technical hitches and limitations of the platform. It's a must-buy for any existing PlayStation 4 owner with even the slightest interest in VR, given the stellar game library and very reasonable cost as an add-on experience.

Specs

  • Product Name PlayStation VR
  • Product Brand Sony
  • UPC 815820020271
  • Price $349.00
  • Release Date October 2016
  • Product Dimensions 7.3 x 7.3 x 10.9 in.
  • Ports 3.5mm headphone por
  • Compatibility PlayStation 4/PlayStation 4 Pro
  • Warranty 1 year
Was this page helpful?