This year at E3 Sony held closed door demonstrations of its Project Morpheus virtual reality headset, and I was fortunate enough to get to spend some hands-on (eyes-on) time with device and two of the tech demos that Sony had prepared for it. The headset itself actually looks really great in person even if you look a little odd wearing it. It definitely follows the PlayStation brand of design in regards to its build, and it actually doesn’t feel heavy or uncomfortable to wear. The screens themselves seemed to be a bit clearer than the Oculus Rift, but the visuals themselves still sported a standard definition feel. Overall though, the tech appeared solid and made it easy to get immersed in the gameplay experience.
The first demo I played was called Street Luge, and based on my time with it I really hope it makes some sort of official release for the Project Morpheus, because it’s very well suited for a VR gaming experience. To fully get into a virtual street luge game I was sat down into a beanbag style chair to mimic the feeling of lying on your back. Once I put the Morpheus on the luge illusion was complete as I could look down at my feet as I was lying in the street, and the feeling was pretty radical.
The gameplay consists of you having to tilt your head in the direction you want to steer. As you tilt your head you can see your virtual body and board reflecting your movement as you speed down a steep highway set in a mountain range. To help gain speed you can draft behind cars speeding down the highway you’re luging on, but you must be careful not to run into them because you’ll lose speed. If you’re skilled enough and feeling daring, you can also luge under semi-trucks for an added boost, which I somehow pulled off, and it was awesome.
I can’t express how intense and thrilling the feeling of zipping down a highway in a virtual world really is. You truly do feel like you’re moving in the virtual world thanks to the Morpheus’ magical powers, so more often than not I found myself feeling like I was on a thrill ride, and I may or may not have let out a few yells when almost smashing into an obstacle, as if I were actually street luging in real life.
The next demo I played was called EVE-Valkyrie, and it required the use of a controller, so I got to experience Morpheus with and without a PS4 controller. This particular game places you in the cockpit of a star fighter, which you can look around using the Morpheus’ head tracking abilities. You must use the controller to steer the ship and aim, but you do get to use your sight to track enemies while using the ship’s missile system. This setup did make the controls feel a bit confusing at first, but after a few minutes it began to feel natural to use your head and eyes to target enemy ships with missiles.
Flying around the vacuum of virtual space does feel like you’re in the action, but it also feels a little disorienting. I never felt like puking, but the feeling of flying in space does have an affect on your body’s internal balance that may bother those individuals that get car sick, or motion sickness. With that being said I guess that’s a clear sign that the Morpheus is competent at creating a virtual world to give you the experience of piloting a star fighter.
By the end of the two tech demos I was sold on what Sony is doing with the Morpheus. I still don’t think VR gaming will be for everyone, but for those who are looking for a new way to game, or to be entertained in a virtual setting, I think the Morpheus will offer those experiences and pay off on its promises. Make sure to stay tuned to EB for more details as Sony slowly releases them over the next year or so.
If you have any questions in particular please use the comment section below and I’ll do my best to get back to you with an answer if I have one.
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