PAX Prime 2015: Welcome to the Unreal World

At PAX Prime 2015 last weekend, I got a chance to try out Sony’s virtual reality system for the first time. Running on a PlayStation 4 and using a pair of Move controllers, the headset codenamed Project Morpheus was shown off with a variety of demonstrations with themes such as horror and a kitchen environment.

I opted for a heist scenario in which a getaway driver and I tried to escape a flotilla of assailants on pursuit vehicles, which sounded like the best combination of movement and action for a short demo with the Project Morpheus hardware. Using the Move controllers to represent each hand and their respective triggers to hold or release grip, the level sent waves of enemies that required my shotgun riding character to grab virtual clips, fire a hail of bullets and repeat to survive the firefight through the highways of London. The experience of grabbing clips from the side compartment or the glovebox (which I had to open myself with a pinch and pull action) is quite memorable as I eventually figured out a balance of firing at enemies and shifting clips from the side onto the car dashboard for easy accessibility as the mission progressed. There was a fluidity and responsiveness to the input that was really exciting, I can imagine some amazing experiences when paired with iconic Sony franchises such as Uncharted or Metal Gear Solid from a first person perspective and the Project Morpheus hardware system.

The car itself also contains various points of interaction, allowing the player to open the door while in motion (but don’t fall out!), open the glovebox, tweak the air flow grates and more with a simple pinch of a Move trigger and utilizing any of the six degrees of motion for feedback. I tried throwing clips at the motorcycle riding enemies or slamming them with my car door to test the limits of the simulation, but neither had a noticeable effect on their behaviour.

Project Morpheus showed a lot of promise with its combination of a long developed headset and tactile input controllers for an experience running on in-market consumer hardware. There are still some visual quality issues to need improvement to match the fidelity of the Oculus Rift based on the demo I tried, but the team at Sony has a strong foundation to build upon.

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