By Kyle Orland
New headset coming after 2021 will have higher resolution and new controllers.
A new generation of PlayStation VR hardware, including a new controller designed specifically for VR, will be coming to the PlayStation 5 sometime after this year, Sony announced today.
PlayStation VR provides a lot of bang for your virtual reality buck. The short announcement is light on details and doesn’t include any photos or prototypes of the new headset or controller. But it does mention that the next PlayStation VR will include a higher resolution and field of view than the 2016 original, which is stuck at a somewhat dated 1920×1080 resolution.
For context, last year’s $299 Oculus Quest 2 came in at a total resolution of 3664×1600, and that’s for an untethered standalone headset with much less horsepower than the PS5. Valve’s high-end Index headset, meanwhile, sports a 135 degree field of view, much wider than the ~100 degrees on PSVR (cheaper modern headsets generally have closer to 90 to 100 degree view fields, though).
Hands-on with the PS5’s synesthetic DualSense controller. Besides redesigned ergonomics, Sony says the next PSVR controller “will incorporate some of the key features found in the DualSense wireless controller.” Those could include the precise haptics, variable-resistance triggers, and crisp built-in speakers that have already been used to great effect in some standard PS5 games.
That would represent a big step up from the PlayStation Move controllers that many PSVR games currently use for hand-tracking. Those were originally launched in 2010, well before consumer-grade VR was a concern, and they are generally seen as a more precise answer to the hand-wavey controls of the Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect for flat-screen gaming. A controller specifically built for VR could improve the fidelity or even eliminate the need for an external camera for tracking.
Lifting the VR veil: How PlayStation 5 works with Sony’s last-gen headset. Existing PlayStation VR owners can currently use the headset and controllers with the PlayStation 5, but doing so requires a special adapter to connect the aging PS4 camera (the PS5’s own “PlayStation HD camera” is not compatible with the current PlayStation VR). Ars’ own testing at the system’s launch also found that PSVR games generally hadn’t gotten a noticeable bump in fidelity on the PS5, as some other backward-compatible games had.
Before today, Sony was unwilling to comment very directly on the future of virtual reality hardware on the PS5. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan told The Washington Post back in October that “PlayStation believes in VR. Sony believes in VR, and we definitely believe at some point in the future, VR will represent a meaningful component of interactive entertainment. Will it be this year? No. Will it be next year? No. But will it come at some stage? We believe that.”
Sony has sold over 5 million PlayStation VR headsets since 2016, after passing 4.2 million sales in early 2019. That makes PSVR one of the best-selling VR headsets overall thus far, though in recent months, the aging hardware has been heavily outsold by Oculus’ standalone Quest headset, according to estimates from analysis firm Superdata.