Back in March Sony introduced Project Morpheus, its virtual reality gaming peripheral for the PlayStation 4. The peripheral will have 1080p resolution with a 90 degree field of view and accelerometer and gyroscope sensors built into the head mounted unit. It will work in conjunction with the PlayStation Camera, which will accurately track your head movement, and both PlayStation Move controllers and the handheld DualShock controllers.
At Sony’s E3 press conference they reaffirmed that teams were hard at work at developing the peripheral focusing on software and sight and sound. At PlayStation’s booth there were stations set up showcasing some tech demos like Street Luge and The Castle.
I was able to try Project Morpheus at E3 in a private meeting room and it appears to be coming along nicely, but still feels far from ready for retail release. The peripheral didn’t fit too comfortably at first, and there was still a bit of light peaking in from the side of the visor, which kind of takes away from some of the immersion. I was also given some over-the-ear headphones to wear along with the visor, which seemed like a bit much.
I was given The Castle to try out, which is more of a tech demo than an actual game (oh by the way did you see Conan O’Brien try Street Luge?). Having the PlayStation Move controllers in both hands represented your hands in the virtual world, and it felt very natural. You pull the triggers on the Move controllers to clench your fists and grip objects, and the first act in the demo had me clenching my fists to punch a knight dummy in the head, arms, and torso. It felt similar the PlayStation Move game, The Fight: Lights Out.
The next act involved a sword and I was able to pick one up off of a rack, but then I immediately dropped it. I tried to pick it up, but apparently that capability wasn’t added yet so I had to pick up another sword off of the rack. I slashed and stabbed the knight dummy until his head and his appendages were cut off. The next act involved a crossbow and shooting the knight dummy and the targets around the environment. As a finale, all of my weapons disappeared and a dragon came down from the sky. This was the part where I felt the most immersion because the dragon was so big I had to look him up and down to get the whole visual. He snapped at me at first, but I didn’t flinch and tried to throw a punch, since I had no weapons. Then he reared up and came down on me with his jaws open, which did make me flinch in the end (it made Jimmy Fallon and Channing Tatum flinch too).
As you can tell from the video below, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but there’s enough in place to give you the basic idea. It’s hard to judge this early in the process, but my experience with it felt like the PlayStation 2’s EyeToy. The EyeToy games were very casual, and although the tech was cool there really wasn’t that much creativity in the games that came with it (is anyone really nostalgic for that “Wishi, Washi” game?). Hopefully with Project Morpheus, when it’s ready for retail, we’ll have some better experiences than previous motion-controlled games. I’m personally hoping for games with deep, rich stories and great graphics that take advantage of the new tech.[embedvideo id=”FVhPtlS9usU” website=”youtube”]