Britain has been baking under a heatwave recently – one that I’ve been struggling to enjoy, harbinger as it is of global warming. Climate change is kind of terrifying, right? And yet no one in charge seems to be doing much about it. Particularly in the UK, where the political class is preoccupied with administering Brexit – an utterly pointless and ruinous exercise – rather than actually focusing on the important things, like the fact that this July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.
Thank goodness for video games, eh? At least we can bury our heads in digital entertainment and lock out the outside world for a precious few hours. And nothing locks out the world better than VR – although the stifling heat means the last thing I want to do in this weather is don a sweaty game helmet.
‘It’s too hot’ is just one of the many excuses I’ve used over the past few months to avoid playing PSVR games. ‘It’s too much of a faff’ is another common one. Faced with the prospect of spending minutes adjusting the helmet and camera to their optimum positions, I’ll often give up on the idea before even trying, instead loading up one of the non-VR games on my PS4. It doesn’t help that my PlayStation Camera seems to be particularly temperamental, often telling me it’s not connected when it actually is. Unplugging it and plugging it in again usually fixes the problem, which I suspect might be caused by a dodgy connection in the wire. I should probably take it back, but that’s another job currently filed under ‘can’t be bothered’ – along with playing VR games.
‘I’m too tired to play VR’ is another regular excuse. After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is strap a screen to my tired, aching eyes and wobble around in my living room. Instead you’ll most likely find me slumped almost horizontally in a beanbag, playing a game that requires the least amount of thought possible. Poor old VR, it hardly ever seems to get a look in.
And yet. AND YET.
In the rare cases when the stars align and I’m not too hot or too tired to don my PSVR headset, the experience is utterly phenomenal. Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is seriously one of the BEST GAMES I HAVE EVER PLAYED, and I’d encourage anyone and everyone to experience it at least once. Polybius, too, is brilliant, a mind-warping experience that’s probably the closest you can get to taking drugs in video game form. And Moss is a masterclass in how to use VR to enhance a platforming game, not to mention being impossibly cute.
In short, VR is bloody great, and I’ve been impressed in particular with the effort that Sony has invested in it, ploughing money into truly superb first-party efforts like Astro Bot and Blood and Truth. The fact remains though that the PSVR – and VR in general – is just a bit too fiddly to see regular use.
But hopefully the next generation of PSVR will fix a lot of the problems – making it wireless would be a start, and ditching the camera in favour of ‘inside out’ tracking would reduce a lot of the faff. One day, perhaps, VR will shrink to the point where it’s simply a case of putting on a pair of glasses.
I’ll probably still find excuses not to play it though. But then again it’s clear that VR isn’t a replacement for mainstream games – it’s a special treat to be enjoyed when the time is right.