Okay, that headline might be a little unreasonable. But it’s pretty much what I did yesterday after first seeing that the update bringing VR support Wipeout Omega Collection had gone live, then hearing the near-simultaneous news of a PlayStation VR price cut. I’d been holding out, but after selling my HTC Vive last week as part of moving house, this felt like a sign.
A sign pointing in the right direction, as it turns out, because Wipeout in VR is phenomenal.
If you’re not familiar with Wipeout, it’s a futuristic racing series that’s been inextricably linked with the PlayStation brand ever since its debut in the mid-90s, particularly in Europe. It’s about driving extremely fast while listening to techno music and looking at pretty fonts. I am very into it.
I was a little underwhelmed with last year’s Omega Collection, however. It included updated versions of Wipeout 2048, originally released on the PS Vita, along with the PS3’s Wipeout HD and its Fury expansion. Wipeout HD itself was a collection of sorts, since its content was taken from PSP games Wipeout Pure and Wipeout Pulse. So while Omega Collection played as well as ever and looked great in 4K if you had the hardware, it was second- and third-hand content that didn’t really make full use of the PS4’s power.
That criticism is no longer valid. Wipeout Omega Collection is one of the best VR games I’ve ever played, and may well be the best reason to buy a PSVR at this point. It looks absolutely stunning, runs like a dream, and even feels easier to play than the regular game. The sense of scale as you jostle for places among other racecraft is intense, reminding me of Namco’s VR version of Mario Kart, and the way you can use head motion and depth perception to judge corners is incredibly immersive.
Although it’s established that VR games that seat you in a cockpit are generally less likely to cause nausea, you might expect the twisting, rollercoaster tracks of Wipeout to test that theory. There is definitely potential for that if you select the option that locks the camera to your pilot’s vision throughout every loop and barrel roll, but by default the camera stays roughly level with the horizon, which I found a lot easier on my stomach. It helps, too, that the game maintains its smooth framerate perfectly even while using supersampling to clean up image quality.
Most impressively, this is a free update that works with the entirety of the Omega Collection. The original release felt a little muted, so I wonder if Sony wouldn’t have been better off waiting until it could promote VR as a major feature. No matter — it’s here now, and I would consider it essential for anyone with a PSVR headset. (I would also highly recommend it to anyone who likes racers and hasn’t played these Wipeout games before.)
In more good news for PSVR-owning racing fans, Gran Turismo Sport also got an update today that expands the game’s VR functionality significantly. You’re still only able to race against one computer-controlled opponent, but there’s now a new VR time trial mode where you can try to nail the perfect lap. This should be appealing to anyone who finds the extra presence you get with VR advantageous in racing games, especially as the VR modes now earn you rewards for your overall progress in Gran Turismo Sport.
In conclusion, it’s been a pretty good couple of days for PSVR as a platform, especially if you like driving things at high speeds. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go put my, um, racing helmet back on.