Well, while at GDC I was lucky enough to try out Sony’s new Head Mounted Display, and I was impressed. It was very light, all the weight was on the top of the head so there was no uncomfortable twisting forces. It was very immersive and a whole lot of fun.
I was treated to two demos. In the first I found myself hoisted up in a shark cage and dropped into a tropical ocean near a coral reef. Predictably, not everything went to plan and whilst the team on the boat were trying to fix the winch to pull me up a huge shark appeared from the depths at started taking my cage apart.
In the second demo I was in a medieval castle where I could attack a training dummy with swords and a cross bow. You could even grab the dummies arm, hack it off and then swing it at him which was a lot of fun. All too soon the demo ended when a huge dragon statue came to life and ate me!
Although I heard rumours that a few of the units were failing the product as a whole seemed very close to being released. The big question for me now is how much will it cost, especially when you consider that you need a PS4, a Move camera and controllers and the head mounted display to use it.
The other question for me are on health and safety, and on the social aspect. On the health and safety side Sony seemed keen to highlight that they could track the back of your head, implying that you could turn around in games. However, whenever you do that you end up wrapping yourself up in your own cable. I can’t see these headset being used in any other way than sitting down, unless you invest in some sort of rig like the Omni.
Sony seemed to be promoting the headset as a social experience in a couch coop setting, but the headset was so immersive that I don’t see how it can be. If I were playing with me, I certainly wouldn’t trust me when I couldn’t see or hear what I was doing.
In other news, there was a big focus on the Oculus Rift at GDC. They seemed to be everywhere! Not just in OculusVRs substantial area in the trade show. Since GDC Facebook as bought OculusVR for $2bn. I don’t see the two headsets really competing, ad they’re focussed on different markets, but it seems the future is bright for Head Mounted Displays.