The PlayStation 5 is one of the most exciting releases of 2020, giving gamers better graphics, faster storage, and new connection standards like HDMI 2.1, for an entirely new generation of high-end console gaming. It builds upon the success of the PS4 to unlock exciting new experiences in new and established genres, and new and established ways to play.
One of the major successes of the PS4 was the way it brought virtual reality to the console platform with the PSVR, so it would be a shame if the PS5 VR experience wasn't at least comparable, or even better.
On launch, the PS5 included support for the existing PSVR headset. However, Sony remained tight-lipped about any new PSVR hardware – at least until now. A next-generation VR experience for the PlayStation 5 is coming, though details are scarce.
The PS5 VR experience on day one
Sony has made it clear for some time that PS5 VR will be fully supported, but as the launch date approached, the specifics of that became more clear.
Will the PS5 have VR on launch? Yes, in the form of compatibility with the older PSVR headset. You'll need to request an adapter for the PS5 HD Camera, which isn't compatible with the PSVR headset without it. While Sony has not announced a single PS5 title compatible with PSVR technology, most VR-compatible PS4 games will still be playable on the new console.
Despite using older HDMI and USB cabling, the PSVR will be able to connect the PlayStation 5's HDMI 2.1 and USB-A ports without difficulty. That won't improve the experience, but there won't be any compatibility or support problems on day one, nor as the PS5 is updated through the console generation.
The experience with existing games shouldn't change dramatically either, as unless Sony and the game developers work specifically to leverage the additional power of the PS5 for increased visual fidelity, they should play just like they did on the PS4.
The only caveat for PSVR games on PS5 would be that if any PlayStation VR games had particularly demanding areas which lead to some stuttering or inadequate frame rates, the PSVR PS5 experience could correct that. It has heaps of additional GPU and CPU power to leverage when needed.
Will there be a PS5 PSVR 2?
Before the PS5 launch, Sony stated that the original PSVR will be compatible with it and existing games will also be playable on it. With no announcements of PS5 games being compatible with PSVR gear, gamers had to wait for an indication a PSVR2 is planned to have PS5 titles playable in VR. With all of the extra performance of the PlayStation 5, and its support for the latest cable standards like HDMI 2.1 and USB-C, there's a lot of scope for a new generation of PS5 virtual reality headset.
That wait ended in February 2021. Sony confirmed in a blog post it is working on a “next-generation VR system” for the PS5. While the announcement offered no specifics like release date or price, the blog post did offer some hints on what we can expect to see. Sony confirmed the new hardware will feature an enhanced resolution and field of view, better tracking, and a new controller. As for the release date, Sony only confirmed that it won’t be launching in 2021.
The delayed announcement is hardly unexpected. The original PlayStation VR was also introduced in the middle of the PS4's lifecycle, positioning it as more of an upgrade for existing PlayStation owners, rather than something you'd buy the console for. Its pricing and swift cuts certainly made it an attractive alternative to PC VR gaming for console gamers. Folks are speculating that the price point will be similar to the original PSVR's launch in 2016 at $400. Competitive pricing is crucial for Sony to go toe-to-toe with the Oculus Quest 2.
It's quite possible that a new PS5 VR headset will debut at much the same time in the PlayStation 5's lifecycle. Not only will that give plenty of time for developers to get to grips with the additional power of the console, but it will allow virtual reality hardware to mature even further. It is already available at much higher resolutions than the original PSVR offered, at higher frame rates, and with wonderful quality of life features like inside-out tracking and wireless operation.
A new PSVR PS5 headset would likely take advantage of the console's new connection options, too. Where the original PSVR used HDMI 2.0 and USB-A connections, a PlayStation 5 PSVR 2 would likely use HDMI 2.1 and USB-C. It could even just use USB-C for both data and power delivery. Modern VR headsets like the Oculus Quest 2 can connect to gaming PCs with a single active USB-C cable – although the official version is very expensive. Cable Matters has a great alternative to the Oculus Quest cable, by the way: Active USB-C to USB-A VR Cable. And if PS5 VR does indeed use USB-C only, a 3 or 5m active USB-C extension cable could make the experience much better.