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Playstation Experience: Hands-On With Project Morpheus’ The Deep
I’m a skeptic of Virtual Reality (VR). I don’t know who it’s for. I don’t know what the future is. I sure as hell don’t know how much it’s going to cost. That being said, now that I’ve finally had a chance to get my hands – or head? – on it, my skepticism about the experience itself is nowhere near what it used to be. However, I do still have many questions.
I stepped up to the kiosk to see a TV screen in front of me reading Deep Dive. I went into this demo completely blind, knowing very little about Project Morpheus or any of its tech demos. From what I could gather, I was headed underwater. The Sony employee put the headset on me and fastened it once around my head, and once around my eyes. I was impressed with the adjust-ability options of the headset, which lends itself to many customization options. I can’t imagine anybody not being able to fit their head comfortably into the headset. Once the headset was resting in a comfortable position my eyes went out of focus and experienced a bit of pain for about 5 seconds before comfortably adjusting to the VR screen. What you see in front of you is very odd, like nothing you’ve seen before, and you’re eyes know that. For the record, I do not wear glasses or contacts.
The PlayStation employee then put a pair of awful headphones on me. The headphones were small, loose, and the volume was far too low. It’s disappointing that I had to experience Morpheus with such awful headphones because I feel it robbed me of getting the complete virtual experience. My eyes and depth perception were completely in tune with the screen in front of me, noise cancelling headphones should have been provided. This may be one of the initial inherent problems with Morpheus. When the hardware finally finds life on retail shelves, if it is shipped without the proper headphones, that could be another peripheral added to the laundry list of things you need to maximize your VR experience.
When the demo started what followed was pretty much a visual demo. I was dropped into the ocean via a shark cage with nothing but a flare gun in my hands. The flare gun was controlled by a PS4 controller, using the light bar to aim and the triggers to shoot. The shooting was surprisingly accurate and it was very easy for me to suspend disbelief since I wasn’t able to see anything but the screen in front of me. As I was submerged deeper into the ocean I was shocked to find myself face to face with a shark! The shark spends the next 5 minutes circling your cage and attacking you from all sides, dismantling it piece by piece. The whole experience is very surreal. Quick movements especially have a great effect, and make you lean back in terror, all the while knowing that you must look like an absolute fool to the people around you.
The most impressive aspect of the whole experience is that you have full 360 degree vision. Looking up, down, and especially behind you is a ton of fun as the shark circles around you. This freedom of motion is key to the whole experience, and really makes you feel like you’re in the world. Eventually the cage gets broken down and the shark swims away, sparing your life, but pleased with himself for the destruction he’s caused. I took the headset off and instantly felt a little woozy. The muscles around my eyes felt tight but I never felt any sort of motion sickness I’ve heard that others have experienced. The pain went away after a few minutes and I was all set to continue my day and jump into the next demo line.
Reflecting on the whole Morpheus has left me with so many questions, but none of them about the tech itself. The depth perception and overall control of the whole experience was very impressive, and I enjoyed the short time I had with it. That being said, I don’t know if i really want anymore than a short time with VR. As the tech continues to develop and more games come out with new ideas, maybe something will intrigue me enough to want to immerse myself into a full VR experience. I don’t know what this will cost, but in order for it to be worthwhile to consumers, Project Morpheus is going to have to come at us with more than just tech demos and gimmicky sword games. We’re still waiting for that killer app that blows us all away, and helps Project Morpheus bulldoze its way into people’s homes. I’ll continue to look into it with an open mind and look forward to see what VR has to offer as the technology continues to develop. Only time will tell.