An exclusive first look at PlayStation VR Worlds

What is the Matrix?

With every new bit of gaming kit you’re going to want a game that’ll justify the exorbitant cost of being a day one adopter. Who you’re trying to satisfy varies from person to person. It might just be yourself. Maybe some mates who are visiting your house after an excitable invite. Hey, it could even be a significant other on your case about “how will we feed the children and / or pets” after this expenditure. Thankfully, PlayStation VR Worlds settles all disputes. It’s essentially the Wii Sports of Sony’s PS VR headset.

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This package is divided up into five radically different experiences: The London Heist, Ocean Descent, VR Luge, Scavenger’s Odyssey, and Dangerball. There’s something here to suit every taste, and in the interest of…I’m going to say “science”…I managed to test everything on three generations of my family. The subjects were extremely diverse individuals, some very familiar with gaming (youngling through to teens), others noobish (non-gaming wife) and then there were those outright hostile to games (competitive older brother and crotchety old man). I expected an uphill battle to convince the latter group; so imagine my surprise when they got on-board the second they donned the PSVR headset and got gawking around the amphitheatre environment which serves as the main menu.

Their resistance was futile, in retrospect.

The first stop you should make is Ocean Descent. It is, if you’ll permit me a small pun, rather immersive. No controller inputs are required, you simply select one of three different dives (Coral Reef, Wildlife Tour, or Shark Encounter) then you’re plonked into a shark tank and asked to get your Finding Nemo on. The longest dive only lasts ten minutes but they’re all weaponised crowd-pleasers that can instantly convert any naysayers. The shark encounter is easily the pick of the litter,  though it should absolutely be treated like a horror experience. Childhood trauma, fertilised pants, and the odd senior moment stroke could be in your future.

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Meanwhile, The London Heist is a Time Crisis-lite affair which reveals the great FPS potential of PSVR when used with two Move controllers. You can get by with the limited motion provided by a DualShock 4, but having two independent gloved hands – that react 1:1 with your own — is where it’s at. The titular heist is effectively an interactive story which lets you interact with prop objects in the world, and you get two major gun battles. Swapping lead with carbon copy henchmen doesn’t last very long, but it’s still ludicrous amounts of fun — hell, even the simple act of ducking behind cover, or slapping in a new magazine, is grin-worthy. Like the ocean voyage, The London Heist can be knocked over in under half an hour, though a lot more time can be wasted on trophy hunting, or just having score wars with mates in a handful of shooting galleries.

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Next up is VR Luge; a glorified tech demo that showcases how accurately your head movements can be tracked via PSVR. Gravity is your co-pilot when your virtual self lies down on an oversized skateboard to go bombing down a traffic-laden hill. Each of the four runs (or “tracks”) only lasts about two minutes, but the sense of speed is phenomenal and you’ll need some serious neck-eye control to avoid the various trucks and out-of-control lumber that’s flung your way. Take too many hits and you’ll not have the speed needed to reach the next time-imbuing checkpoint, and then you’re back at square one. VR Luge is not easy to beat, which is a good thing, given how painfully short this mode is.

The sci-fi themed Scavenger’s Odyssey is a bit more involved, control-wise, than everything else. Essentially, you take on the role of an alien treasure-hunter searching for a long-lost artifact in uncharted space. Using weird, blue virtual hands, you can manipulate a mech into leaping huge distances, climbing walls and ceilings, and strafing about during combat moments. Lasering freaks (by using a combination of Dualshock 4 controls and your eyes to bullseye them) is an odd but satisfying experience, as is employing a gravity gun to fling chunks of space crap into mobs. Scavenger’s Odyssey, like everything else on the disc, is short, sweet, and a convincing teaser of what PSVR is capable of. Just don’t expect it to last more than a few hours.

Last, and in my opinion least, is Dangerball. It’s best described as a “futuristic Pong” where you use your face to headbutt a ball back and forth. Thrash your head forward long enough and you’ll break through the defensive blocks of your opponent to win a point. It’s not the most enjoyable experience as it requires quite a large physical play area in order for you to be truly effective. Honestly, myself and the other test subjects grew tired of it pretty quick, and moved on to better things in short order.

You know what? I’ve really got to stop ending the tour with the downer that is Dangerball, because by and large PlayStation VR Worlds is worth a purchase. What it lacks in depth and longevity, it more than makes up for in gameplay variety and proof-of-concept deliverance. Let’s be frank here, the PSVR is stupidly expensive right now, and you’re going to need to convince people of its worth very, very fast. PlayStation VR Worlds achieves this in record time and as such deserves a place in every early adopter’s library.

7/10

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