By Spencer . March 19, 2014 . 6:18pm
At GDC today, we got to go hands-on with Project Morpheus, Sony’s virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4. We tried two of the demos available for the device on the show floor—The Deep and Castle.
The Deep is an underwater demo designed by Sony London Studio. The Deep puts players in a cage that descends on rails. I looked down to see “my” feet, which were wearing flippers and I had a flare gun in my hands. The flare gun was controlled with the Dualshock 4′s motion controls and pressing a trigger button fired a flare.
As I descended deeper underwater, a school of fish swam around the cage. I turned my head to follow the fish and Morpheus, the helmet, tracked my head movement without out a hitch. Soon, a shark appeared and swam around the cage, too. I fire a flare, but missed, since the flares move slower underwater and arc downwards.
The shark then reappeared and took a bite out the oxygen tank above the cage. Since its jaws were right in front of me I was able to hit it, but that didn’t have any effect. A representative from Sony explained after the demo that shots weren’t registered in the demo. The shark continued to attack the cage as it went deeper until the demo was over.
The Castle was a PlayStation Move + Project Morpheus demo, where each move controller represented one hand. The demo is set in a castle courtyard and a training dummy wearing full plate armor was in front of me. You could punch the dummy, and it felt like the game was tracking my movements. (There was, however, one punch that clipped through the dummy.)
A sword in the ground was to the left of me, and I picked it up by moving my hand over the sword and pulling the trigger on the move controller. I then swung the sword and started cutting the dummy apart. Sometimes, the demo had difficult registering horizontal slashes when I was trying to cut the dummy in half. Vertical slashes worked better and one neat feature in the tech demo was that you could grab the dummy’s arm with your free hand and lop it off using the sword in your other hand.
Afterwards, I got to fire a crossbow. Aiming was a little tricky, since the virtual sight wasn’t working, but after you got used to that and how the arrows arc downwards it felt natural. I shot at some stationary targets without an issue. Then, I turned around and behind me was a dragon. It flew above me and I could see a bit of it when I looked up. When the dragon landed in front of me, I fired the crossbow and threw a sword at it. Neither hurt it, and the dragon ate me, ending the demo.
I used Project Morpheus for about fifteen minutes and it was reasonably comfortable. Someone else had to adjust the focus and strap it on for me. Also, the headphones were a separate piece in the prototype. The screens are clearer than an Oculus Rift (I’ve played with both) but the graphic quality isn’t as sharp as, say, a PlayStation 4 game.
Still, as a sample of what’s to come, it was impressive, but a lot of questions like release date, cost and, most importantly, what games will be available, are yet to be answered.