Hands On: Project Morpheus, Sony’s VR Headset For PlayStation 4

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:

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.

 

Castle:

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.


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  • John Diamond

    I like it, it’s very innovative.
    However the issue is that like 3d tv’s, this may not see a lot of success.
    Why? things which require you, the user to buy extra accessories just to be able to play it tend not to go over so well.

  • specs10

    This is exciting. To hear that Sony’s VR offering is at least comparable to the oculus rift and its performance is very encouraging. More options in the market is always a good thing for gamers.

    It looks like VR is getting good enough that it could be in the mainstream, and I can’t wait for some novel experiences that wouldn’t be possible on a TV or PC monitor.

    • Pdugna

      Mainstream part will be hard but the rest Sony is taking right, they are treating this as a medium not as a peripheral and for everything they have done so far it’s on par with the current “released” OR and still has plenty of time to fine tune the parts.

  • AkiraScare

    Almost Sword Art Online (0_o)

    • Pdugna

      we just need to get pass the moral problems of allowing something to enter our brains for everything else.

    • [S]unjay

      We need a real MMO Virtual Reality Sword Art Online game. Insta-buy!

    • Captain Levi

      Not really.
      SAO is “like” real life. Not just a game with a controller.

  • raeldor

    You say the screen was sharper, but how was the FOV compared to the Rift? Also, did they show it on an external monitor? Does it have the same warping algorithm as the Rift to counter the lens distortion?

    • Pdugna

      Fov was 90 I believe for now and yes they show the feed onto another TV screen the last question though I do not know yet though sorry.

  • Kaetsu

    I still haven’t latched onto the VR hype yet. Ever since the Rift was announced I figured it was just another gimmick and I still feel that way. I guess the only way to change my mind is to actually use the thing. I just don’t think I’ll like it because I like playing games without having things strapped to my face or having to wave my hands around.

    • KnifeAndFork

      What about Jack Bros on Virtual Boy?

  • Kaitou21

    It won’t be too long now…….

    • KoRLumen

      Yesssssss. Yesssssssssssss.

    • TheRealMalek

      Yeah but they need to cvreate a sleep mode before :D because way too many people will lose themselves in those games :D

      • Ferrick

        just implement Cubia and watch as they drop :D

    • CH3N9

      2016 – 2017 =3

      • 07thCrow

        I saw that as well! Honestly, if there isn’t a remake of the .hack// series with the VR, I will cry.

        • Kroz

          I know it baffles me that there is no HD collection or anything. CYBER CONNECT DONT PASS THIS UP!

          • 07thCrow

            I’m hoping that means CyberConnect has been waiting for something like this to come along. And you’re quite right; the series is well overdue for a remake/HD collection! :)

          • http://www.HealyHQ.com/ HealyHQ

            Seriously! I’ve been wanting a .hack HD Collection for ages!

    • 07thCrow

      First game I thought of when Sony mentioned VR! =3

    • Testsubject909

      So we should prepare for multiple cases of comatose gamers?

  • Lacerz

    Um… yeah. Sounds cool, but I like my wife.

  • Pdugna

    Another good thing to note about the comfortability of this VR headset is that there is room for people who wear glasses to use this thing so they aren’t blind to certain things.

  • PoweredByHentai

    An insider on NeoGAF (amar212) is saying that its latency is 30-40 ms, comparable to Crystal Cove (Oculus Rift version 2).
    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=104997560&postcount=1978

    That said, which Oculus Rift did you try? The Oculus Rift 1 or the new prototype that they’re calling Crystal Cove?

  • Croix Zapp

    Really hope this becomes a success and go mainstream.
    I own the HMZ-T2 and its main problem was comfort during long use..

  • Isaac Newton

    Nice and infomative article Spencer! XD

  • Suicunesol

    I think my biggest concern is how the controls and the headset interface with each other. Spencer mentioned how he used Playstation Move to pull up the sword in The Castle. Then he mentioned that he had to pull the trigger to pull it up. It is unimmersive to press buttons in a virtual world when it would feel much more natural to pick up objects with your hands. And if you do use a Dualshock over a remote, if at any time you needed to look down at the controls, you wouldn’t be able to because your eyes would be covered.

    Then there’s also the fact that VR games would inherently be in first-person, which means only FPS’s and first-person exploration games would really benefit from a VR headset. Strategy games, third-person adventure games, puzzle games, platformers, and others might not benefit (at all!) from VR, unless we have some truly visionary developers willing to make it work somehow. On the hand, we might see a revival in dungeon crawlers. Etrian Odyssey or Shin Megami Tensei in VR anyone?

    Given how popular first person shooters like Call of Duty are in the US, VR might pick up in the West. As for the East, it probably wouldn’t see much use past the pervert otaku crowd.

    • Shippoyasha

      I guess simulations or some type of pure fantasy escapism sims will be more of a thing. I don’t think pure, hardcore shooters may agree with your skill being held back by needing to look around manually with your head. For otaku content, there may be some games that lets you get into an anime world or an MMO. For super perverted otaku stuff, it’ll likely be in the realm of the PC development scene in Japan that’s mostly into that genre. If the thing gets a PC release that is.

    • KnifeAndFork

      “Given how popular first person shooters like Call of Duty are in the US, VR might pick up in the West. As for the East, it probably wouldn’t see much use past the pervert otaku crowd.”

      Which is sad on both ends.
      Really tired of the FPS dude bro pandering and the pervert Otaku pandering.

      Could use more creative ingenuity and variety

      • Shippoyasha

        Well, there isn’t anything wrong with FPS or pervy games. They will likely get their due, but major jump in immersion will probably result in a lot of whimsical fare at least at first. Besides, purely pervy games will likely be the domain of PC gaming where they can do full mods and porn games. While I’m sure console fare will be more cutesy than anything else. It’d be awesome to dive into the world of DBZ, Naruto, Toriko, One Piece and the like though. And I’m sure they will try virtual dive MMOs as it’s been something Japanese media has dreamt up for decades.

        FPS also likely work differently and less twitchy. Maybe more simulation like perhaps. That should be new.

    • http://gentlerobot.com/ Gentle Robot

      Yeah, I feel like this might be a good match for Kinect, though I can’t think of a decent application.

  • Ultimaniacx4

    “The screens are clearer than an Oculus Rift (I’ve played with both)”

    Now do you mean “I’ve played both the Morpheus and the Rift” or “I’ve played both Rift dev kits?” I want to know how the Morpheus stacks up against the new Rift dev kit that’s shipping soon. More talk about the actual hardware and less about the demo would be appreciated considering anything that can run on this can potentially run on the Rift as well.

  • Invisbin

    I honestly believe this can only fail if more devs and companies shy away from it. The tech is here, but now, once again, It’s up to the devs to have a vision. This could be a huge renaissance for the industry if people actually care to take the risk.

    FPSs could become the new, competitive esport for obvious reasons. It could even help train future army soldiers in the real world.

    Strategy Games can be more appreciated when it comes to POV. Escape the Room type games could benefit from VR. Could even be the new Bomb Diffusing training simulator.

    Mmos would become so immersive. The graphical astonishments of seeing your character cast a magic spell or actively looting a corpse would be vastly satisfying.

    Adventure games like Uncharted or Tomb Raider would look great. Virtually traversing beautiful landscapes or dirty old caverns would be a thrilling first person experience.

    Racers….ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM……ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM.

    Platforming could be as easy as “timing”your jumps on an automated landscape like The Impossible Game. No more struggling to judge distance between two landscapes.

    Hack n Slash games could be wild. Imagine dual wielding two PlayStation move controllers and flailing your arms around to match blade for blade the attacks of your enemies. Imagine actively parrying an enemy based on YOUR SKILL ALONE.

    See, the potential of it is there. We just need to not only give the care, but encourage devs everywhere that this could “revitalize” gaming for most people that are searching to feed that hunger. The tech is basically here. It’s up to devs to push the medium, and it’s up to us to give them the support they need.

    • kaotron

      yeah, it has alot of cool innovative applications that can make games feel more immerse but honestly the reasons why most companies dont want to do this is because it’s basically a gamble. A businesses number one priority is gaining profit, so many would rather play it safe and rehash more of the same.

      I felt the same way about augmented reality tech but most tech companies nowadays are primarily focused on making the same touchscreen smart phones.

      • Invisbin

        Yeah. That’s mainly why I’m starting to gain interest in the indie movement because they take the most risks AND usually profit from it.

    • bananaking123

      Don’t forget about crazy horror games. I don’t wanna turn around and see things behind me…

      • 07thCrow

        Horror games would be amazing (terrifying?) with this! Hmmm, now I’m really hoping to see something like a new Fatal Frame with the VR! Or maybe Daylight! XD

      • Invisbin

        Dude someone’s going have a heart attack.

    • 07thCrow

      My thoughts exactly! This could completely revolutionize and, as you’ve said, revitalize the gaming community! I was kind of disappointed that more wasn’t done with systems like the Wii and DS (maybe that will change more with the Wii U and 3DS), but the VR has so much potential! I also hope that all this excitement for the VR will encourage and inspire devs to create something truly imaginative and groundbreaking with it! :)

      • Invisbin

        I’m looking at indies. Those guys have the fresh minds we need.

  • http://hanzoadam.tumblr.com/ Hanzoadam

    So how ling till Sword art online =P

  • kaotron

    I really like the idea of VR and the fact that they are actually trying something new in the market but I dont think this will ever become the next big game changer to the gaming industry.
    the last gen had it’s motion control phase and I think this is just this gens trendy phase..

  • KoRLumen

    Hmm, I say give it a few decades. xD

  • Impressionnant

    It’ll be mainstream if the technology can be used outside of gaming.

  • Shippoyasha

    I think it could break into mainstream if it focuses on its strengths as a VR device. But of course, it’ll be a different story for hardcore gaming which likely would see a cumbersome head mount display as a detriment to twitch/skill based gameplay. But I can see VR being very useful for people who are disabled (maybe let them experience what life is like when not disabled or have them go on a virtual trip) or something like psycho therapy or helping people with rehabilitation.

    It would be a wonderful trinket for simpler games like maybe Minecraft where you can admire the world in a virtual setting. More casual MMOs would be AWESOME with the ability to be the character entirely.

    I can imagine that there will be very little of the hardcore and casual gamer crowd that would combine in VR. It’ll likely be its own brand of experience entirely.

  • kaotron

    yeah, I guess it can have a lot of cool applications outside of just gaming. There’s still alot of those people who are gonna end up calling it a gimmick and dont like the design of the hug e brick goggles.

  • Satori Satya

    Yeah when you don’t have to wear something so bulky over your head.

    Maybe in a few years, technology will make it possible to slim that thing down, so you don’t look like you’re wearing a big hair dryer on your head.

  • Satori Satya

    Not just that, but if you wear that around the house, your family is going to worry about you. Plus they’ll probably nail down the front door to avoid you from leaving the house wearing it.

    That is, unless they have already embraced your geeky ways. In that case, you wearing a helmet-thingy will be totally normal to them.

    It kinda reminds me of this:

  • Xerain

    I know people who already can’t play FPS because of motion sickness from it. Guess FPS will never be mainstream….

    But in all seriousness, the main barrier to mainstream is money. If you could sell bundle a VR headset with the PS5 for $399 USD, it would become mainstream without question.

    The Wii sold at a price point friendly to people who just wanted to mess around with WiiSports. For $250 you got everything you needed to experience the fad. The Wiimote wouldn’t have been given the time of day if it didn’t come bundled in, or drive the price up any more than people perceived the console to be worth without it.

  • http://www.HealyHQ.com/ HealyHQ

    I still don’t understand people who care oh so much about what they look like while playing games. If you’re immersed in a game, you’re not going to care. Trust me. I’ve seen enough slack-jawed gamers staring at screens to know. :P

  • Satori Satya

    I don’t know about you, but some of us live with other people at our homes.

    You see, its not exactly normal to enter a home and see someone sitting around with a helmet-thingy on their heads. So people will naturally ask you about what is going on. Which is too distracting while trying to focus on a game. Especially a VR game.

    But that’s not the main problem that I have with such a device.

    My main beef with this device, has a lot more to do with what makes me comfortable. Wearing something so bulky over my face/head while playing a game is not something that appeals to me at all.

    For instance, whenever I have to watch a movie, I try to convince my friends or family to skip watching the 3D version. Not because I worry that I would look stupid with those 3D glasses on (everyone else is wearing them, so who cares what they think) but because they’re uncomfortable. I keep getting distracted by them while trying to enjoy a movie. Because the glasses can get foggy or start to fall down, etc.

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