The PSVR headset is finally upon us and we've been testing a consumer model in the last few weeks in order to bring you our in-depth Sony PlayStation VR review and features.
During our play we've experienced some incredible games but also encountered a few problems, some minor, some a bit more intrusive. We've also discovered ways to get round them or even eliminate them entirely.
Sony has also provided us with some official guidelines and help for like minded PSVR fans who stumble across the odd issue or two. We've also found out a few ways to solve a couple of minor problems ourselves. Hopefully, some of the tips and tricks below will work for you as they did us.
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How to set up PSVR
The first thing you'll do when you upack your PlayStation VR headset is baulk at the amount of cables and elements you need to unwrap and correctly connect. However, Sony has masterfully labelled each with a number so you can follow a practical order to ensure all the right cables go into the right places. The Processor Unit too.
It also supplies a handy diagram of how they all connect together, and you get a step-by-step guide in the box.
The more tricky, important stuff comes when setting the headset up. A wizard takes you through some of the calibration process, but there are other things you need be aware of too.
Sony PlayStation VR tracking issues
PlayStation Camera placement
You don't get a PlayStation Camera in the box, you have to supply that separately, but it's as important as a PS4 and the headset itself as you can't use PSVR without it. Both the old square PS Camera and the new round one work by tracking LEDs on the headset and controllers to keep on top of where you are looking or moving your hands.
Unfortunately, as it works on light, you have to be really careful where you place the PlayStation Camera. If it can spot bright light sources or other elements that can be confused with the LEDs, it can affect in-game tracking.
We've found that incorrect placement can cause a strange shifting effect in games, where the Camera can't track the headset properly even when stood still. You also ideally want to place the Camera around 6ft from your standing or seated play position.
Check for reflective surfaces, other LEDs or bright lights
Things that can affect the Camera's tracking abilities include LEDs blinking or shining on other consumer electronics in sight, reflective surfaces such as mirrors or glass-fronted, wall-hung pictures, or light coming in through a windows. Lamps that are in direct line of sight of the Camera should also be turned off.
We even found placing a throw or blanket over a shiny leather sofa to help.
Don't have direct light shining onto the PSVR
Direct light shining onto the headset can make the tracking LEDs harder to read, so try to avoid that scenario. That includes switching of a massive TV if it is directly in front of you. As the PSVR passes the picture through to the telly as well as the headset, the TV images shining back onto the headset could be a factor in tracking issues.
You can see if there are any weird lighting issues when playing a game and pressing the PS button on one of the controllers. An in-game menu will pop up. Choose Adjust PlayStation VR > Confirm Your Position. This will show a live image of what the Camera can see. It is a negative, so any dark areas on screen could be affecting the tracking.
If the screen is all white, save for the headset and controller tracking lights, you should be okay.
Charge your controllers
As well as headset tracking issues caused by lighting and reflections, you might find that visual representations of your DualShock 4 or Move controllers leap around or stutter when in the virtual world. This includes the floating hands in games like Batman: Arkham VR and the London Heist segment of PlayStation VR Worlds.
One thing that can be causing this is a lack of battery power. You are advised to keep your controllers topped up with as much juice as possible every time you play. Low power can mean they struggle in games.
Other Bluetooth kit can potentially affect tracking
One of the other reasons the system struggles with tracking controllers could be down to too many other Bluetooth devices being in the vicinity. The DualShock and Move controllers wireless connect to your PS4 through low latency Bluetooth standards so they can potentially be affected by multiple other Bluetooth signals flying around. In this case, Sony advises you turn off other Bluetooth devices when using PSVR.
Change your position
Some games work best when seated, others when standing, but all basically work from the same Camera setup. One thing we found to reduce tracking problems is to stand a bit closer to the Camera or move a seat closer. That's not ideal if you want to play from a sofa that's already in a room, but it does tend to work, so at least try moving closer to see if the tracking stutters reduce.
Sony PlayStation VR screen issues
PSVR images are blurry
It is paramount that you wear the PlayStation VR headset correctly and as tightly as possible. The closer the visor is to your eyes the better the fidelity of the image.
The headband must sit tight on your head, with a tightening wheel to be clicked on the back until it is firm but comfy. Then you press the button at the bottom of the visor and bring it to your face. Make sure it is clicked in as close as possible.
If you are unsure how to do this or the image has gone blurry, press the PS button on a controller and select Adjust PlayStation VR > Adjust Headset Position from the menu. It then runs you through the same instruction wizard you will have seen when originally setting it up for the first time.
Wipe lenses with supplied cloth
If you have fingerprint marks on either lens that can also affect clarity. Make sure you use the cloth supplied to give them a wipe occasionally.
Never use fluid with the lenses.
If you can't find the supplied cloth, you could use a camera lens cloth, which you can buy from camera shops on the highstreet and online. It's not advised to use a glasses lens cloth though as that might be too abrasive for the headset's own lenses.
Edges are likely to be blurry
The far edges of the screen are likely to be blurry considering the viewing angle is restricted to 110-degrees. Just move your head and you'll see them clearly though - it's much like your own, natural peripheral vision.
Keep the PlayStation VR out of direct sunlight
Always make sure between play sessions that the lenses of a PSVR headset are never pointed towards a window or anywhere else where they can be exposed to direct sunlight.
Lenses are similar to magnifying glasses in that they can focus sunlight into a harmful beam that could irreparably damage the screen, causing detroyed pixels, discolouration or even burn marks.
Although this has not happened to us with the PlayStation VR, it has on an Oculus Rift, which uses similar OLED display technology. The sunlight, which can only take a minute to harm the device, made a smudged red blob appear on the screen that will never go away.
It is imperative that you keep the headset protected from such a mishap yourself.
Sony PlayStation VR audio
Remember your left and your right
Unlike the headphones that come with the HTC Vive, the Sony earbuds supplied with the PSVR are easy to pop into your ears when you are already wearing the headset.
That's because the left earpiece has a shorter lead than the one that you wear in your right ear. You will always know which way round to put them that way.
Of course, that's irrelevant if you want to upgrade to higher standard headphones, such as virtual surround gaming cans, but handy when just setting it up for the first time.
Sony PlayStation VR games tips and tricks
As we play more and more games, we should be able to pass on any technical tips and tricks for them, such as in-game calibration, etc. It is unlikely we will give you any gameplay hints here (unless they are really, really good).
Installing games from the PSVR demo disc
When you first unbox your PlayStation VR headset and go to play for the first time you'll notice that it comes with a demo disc of some of the launch titles. It will take a while to install though, so we'd advise not standing around with the headset on your noggin like a lemon while they do so.
When you are finally inside the demo disc hub you will see several truncated games. You can play a brief demo of each, but also purchase the game from within the hub.
If you do so they will still need to download and can take some time, depending on your internet connected. Again, we'd advise switching the headset off and waiting or play some of the other demos while you wait.
Installing PSVR games generally
You might also find, as we did with PlayStation VR Worlds, that although a game looks like it has installed fully on a PS4 homescreen some of the experiences inside the game still need to download before you can play.
Again, patience is suggested and either play something else or power down the headset.