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GDC 2022 provided a glimpse into the future of PS VR2 games



Sony may have been an official no-show at GDC 2022, but we know its developers were there behind the scenes in San Francisco, allowing game devs to try out the PS VR2.

While the media obviously wasn't privy to these backroom demos, I did get to attend an intriguing GDC panel: 'Building Next-Gen Games for PlayStation VR2 with Unity.' Headed by Unity developers who ostensibly have PS VR2 dev kits of their own, the panel ran through the differences coding VR games for PS5 VR compared to current headsets like the Quest 2.

Sony already announced the PS VR2 would use eye tracking to support foveated rendering, consolidating the highest graphics in your line of sight. But Unity provided the first hard statistics of how much this improves performance: GPU frame time improvements are up to 2.5x faster with foveated rendering and up to 3.6X faster with both rendering and eye tracking.



Running the popular VR Alchemy Lab demo with demanding graphics like dynamic lighting and shadows, rendering and tracking dropped frame time from 33.2ms to 14.3ms, a 2.3X improvement. And running a 4K spaceship demo, CPU thread performance and GPU frame time were 32% and 14% faster, respectively.

In practical terms, developers will be able to optimize their games to make the most out of the PS5's raw power, and you'll never notice the dips on the periphery.




According to the Unity devs, eye tracking can also provide UI benefits beyond graphical enhancements. You can magnify whatever a player is looking at, both visually and auditorily. Or players can look at a specific object and squeeze the trigger to interact with it, ensuring players don't grab the wrong thing and get frustrated.

The PS VR2 tracks "gaze position and rotation, pupil diameter, and blink states." That means that a PS VR2 could know if you wink or stare at an NPC, triggering some kind of personalized reaction if the devs program it. Or eye tracking can offer actual aim assist, so a poorly aimed throw course corrects closer to where you were looking.

And, of course, eye tracking will allow more realistic avatars for social VR games.

The Unity developers also made an interesting point that feels obvious in hindsight: PS VR2 games can support asymmetric, couch-co-op multiplayer with non-VR gamers in the room. You can cast the Quest 2 or other headsets to your TV, but the PS VR2 will constantly connect to a console that's always hooked up, making multiplayer a more natural fit.

It'll be exciting to see which of the best PS5 games can support this kind of hybrid VR/2D play.




Lastly, the PS VR2 controllers' haptic feedback, finger tracking, and trigger resistance will give devs more realistic, differentiated reactions based on whatever the player is doing. They gave an example of spatial haptics, where an explosion on the player's right could provide the most feedback in the right controller and scale down the intensity on the headset and left controller.

The Unity devs warned that "heavy trigger resistance should be used mindfully" to avoid fatiguing users. If players face resistance every time they draw a bowstring in Horizon Call of the Mountain, immersion can turn to frustration depending on the physical capabilities of the gamer.

 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius


Sony may have been an official no-show at GDC 2022, but we know its developers were there behind the scenes in San Francisco, allowing game devs to try out the PS VR2.

While the media obviously wasn't privy to these backroom demos, I did get to attend an intriguing GDC panel: 'Building Next-Gen Games for PlayStation VR2 with Unity.' Headed by Unity developers who ostensibly have PS VR2 dev kits of their own, the panel ran through the differences coding VR games for PS5 VR compared to current headsets like the Quest 2.

Sony already announced the PS VR2 would use eye tracking to support foveated rendering, consolidating the highest graphics in your line of sight. But Unity provided the first hard statistics of how much this improves performance: GPU frame time improvements are up to 2.5x faster with foveated rendering and up to 3.6X faster with both rendering and eye tracking.



Running the popular VR Alchemy Lab demo with demanding graphics like dynamic lighting and shadows, rendering and tracking dropped frame time from 33.2ms to 14.3ms, a 2.3X improvement. And running a 4K spaceship demo, CPU thread performance and GPU frame time were 32% and 14% faster, respectively.

In practical terms, developers will be able to optimize their games to make the most out of the PS5's raw power, and you'll never notice the dips on the periphery.




According to the Unity devs, eye tracking can also provide UI benefits beyond graphical enhancements. You can magnify whatever a player is looking at, both visually and auditorily. Or players can look at a specific object and squeeze the trigger to interact with it, ensuring players don't grab the wrong thing and get frustrated.

The PS VR2 tracks "gaze position and rotation, pupil diameter, and blink states." That means that a PS VR2 could know if you wink or stare at an NPC, triggering some kind of personalized reaction if the devs program it. Or eye tracking can offer actual aim assist, so a poorly aimed throw course corrects closer to where you were looking.

And, of course, eye tracking will allow more realistic avatars for social VR games.

The Unity developers also made an interesting point that feels obvious in hindsight: PS VR2 games can support asymmetric, couch-co-op multiplayer with non-VR gamers in the room. You can cast the Quest 2 or other headsets to your TV, but the PS VR2 will constantly connect to a console that's always hooked up, making multiplayer a more natural fit.

It'll be exciting to see which of the best PS5 games can support this kind of hybrid VR/2D play.




Lastly, the PS VR2 controllers' haptic feedback, finger tracking, and trigger resistance will give devs more realistic, differentiated reactions based on whatever the player is doing. They gave an example of spatial haptics, where an explosion on the player's right could provide the most feedback in the right controller and scale down the intensity on the headset and left controller.

The Unity devs warned that "heavy trigger resistance should be used mindfully" to avoid fatiguing users. If players face resistance every time they draw a bowstring in Horizon Call of the Mountain, immersion can turn to frustration depending on the physical capabilities of the gamer.


Maybe Sony fans take the weekends off, but it is surprising how little traffic compared to the GDC MS threads this is getting considering it has quite a lot of data and shows practical use of a feature some were concerned about such as foveated rendering being missing or not usable (eye tracking was thought to be a much cheaper/more basic version of the tech than the one actually in the headset).
 

Rivet

Gold Member
What are you talking about? You can play any VR game on the market using a Quesr 2, which means every PC VR game. Or are you pretending there are no good VR games?

Yes, I mean there's a lack of big games on VR. I played Half Life Alyx wirelessly with Oculus Air Link, but there is basically no other big budget games like that.

There are plenty of good smaller games though.

I want the equivalent of AAA games on VR. Or things like a Souls game in VR. That would be terrifying though.
 
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ManaByte

Member
Yes, I mean there's a lack of big games on VR. I played Half Life Alyx wirelessly with Oculus Air Link, but there is basically no other big budget games like that.

There are plenty of good smaller games though.

I want the equivalent of AAA games on VR. Only Alyx is close to fit that description right now.
Ok so you were just pretending there are no big games on VR.


Hell one would think someone with a Ratchet & Clank avatar would be aware of Insomniac’s VR games. But I guess those don’t count either.
 

Rivet

Gold Member
Ok so you were just pretending there are no big games on VR.


Hell one would think someone with a Ratchet & Clank avatar would be aware of Insomniac’s VR games. But I guess those don’t count either.

It's more a VR mode of an existing big game. What I'm talking about is full scale VR dedicated games. Made for VR from the start. There are basically none.
 
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DJ12

Member
What people are missing here is with that it means there is plenty of headroom on the current PS5 and there will be no need for a PS5 Pro this time around.
I'm not sure I follow you here.

Who doesn't want a fidelity 120hz mode with pro/double X.

Foveated rendering works with the eye tracking. So outside of vr will make no difference.
 

Rivet

Gold Member

None of those games, at least on the first page, are AAA games made for VR. With all the respect I have for Beat Saber or Pistol Whip, they don't compare to a traditional AAA game. They're made for VR though, obviously.

I know this website wants to call them AAA games, but they're not AAA games. Budget is magnitudes lower.
 
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ethomaz

Banned
Most of these are not AAA VR games.
Actually seems like the site is not talking about AAA definition but something he called AAA rated (a score that means 8-9-10/10).

Rivet is right about not having AAA games in VR.
 
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ethomaz

Banned
None of those games, at least on the first page, are AAA games made for VR. With all the respect I have for Beat Saber or Pistol Whip, they don't compare to a traditional AAA game. They're made for VR though, obviously.

I know this website wants to call them AAA games, but they're not AAA games. Budget is magnitudes lower.
The list has mostly indies and low budget games.

The site says AAA Rated that means the score the games received like 8-9-10/10 in their view I guess.

Not AAA as the industry term for budget.
 
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lh032

I cry about Xbox and hate PlayStation.
If sony wants PSVR2 to succeed, they need to price it very well.
No point selling AAA VR games if its as niched as PSVR1
 

mckmas8808

Mckmaster uses MasterCard to buy Slave drives
Maybe Sony fans take the weekends off, but it is surprising how little traffic compared to the GDC MS threads this is getting considering it has quite a lot of data and shows practical use of a feature some were concerned about such as foveated rendering being missing or not usable (eye tracking was thought to be a much cheaper/more basic version of the tech than the one actually in the headset).

I'm trying to wrap my mind around what all this will actually mean in practice. Do you know if PSVR2 games will have the ability to be made at 60fps and then boosted up to 120fps using Sony's older PSVR tech to fake double the frame rate? I forgot what the software tech was called, but I remember Mark Cerny making a big deal out of it. And RE7 used it very well.

Because if they can still use that software tech, combined with FR and eye tracking, I don't see why most AAA games wouldn't look like Spiderman: MM level in VR.
 

mckmas8808

Mckmaster uses MasterCard to buy Slave drives
If sony wants PSVR2 to succeed, they need to price it very well.
No point selling AAA VR games if its as niched as PSVR1

PSVR did well....6 million. I think if Sony can get PSVR2 to sell at least double that, it'll be worth AAA VR games. If they can get to 15 million, it'll be even better. And if they can crack 20 million........that number is the GOLD MINE! That'll be about the same number that Gamecube and the OG Xbox sold.
 

ethomaz

Banned
Talking about AAA development VR really needs a big push of big studios.
It is what is missing in VR to really start to become successful and not stay tied to a niche market.
 
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Three

Member
I'm trying to wrap my mind around what all this will actually mean in practice. Do you know if PSVR2 games will have the ability to be made at 60fps and then boosted up to 120fps using Sony's older PSVR tech to fake double the frame rate? I forgot what the software tech was called, but I remember Mark Cerny making a big deal out of it. And RE7 used it very well.

Because if they can still use that software tech, combined with FR and eye tracking, I don't see why most AAA games wouldn't look like Spiderman: MM level in VR.
Asynchronous reprojection
 

hlm666

Member
I'm trying to wrap my mind around what all this will actually mean in practice. Do you know if PSVR2 games will have the ability to be made at 60fps and then boosted up to 120fps using Sony's older PSVR tech to fake double the frame rate? I forgot what the software tech was called, but I remember Mark Cerny making a big deal out of it. And RE7 used it very well.
It's in most VR api's these days, Steam call it motion reprojection and oculus call their current iteration application spacewarp.
 
I'm not sure I follow you here.

Who doesn't want a fidelity 120hz mode with pro/double X.

Foveated rendering works with the eye tracking. So outside of vr will make no difference.

Probably means for VR. PS4 Pro offered a much better VR experience than the regular PS4, it was the reason I picked up one myself, but the way things are implemented with PSVR2 looks like it should offer a great experience without needing to buy a PS5 Pro model.
 

Ceadeus

Member
This headset should be groundbreaking for VR. Up to 3.6 times faster with eye tracked foveated rendering is huge.

The only question left is the software quality. On my Quest 2, it's clearly the weak point.
Not only software quality but also price point of the games.

It's my biggest gripe right now with the quest 2. But at least, there are far many sales on psvr than on quest 2. I'm pretty confident that developers are going to be excited to work for the psvr2.
 

SilentUser

Member
I'm beyond excited to try (and buy) the PSVR2 as the hardware is far above anything I expected before the official packed in HW reveal. The performance upgrade possible because of the foveated rendering is outstanding, much more than I hoped for. I'm 100% in, this will be my first VR.
 

Elios83

Member
Seems like the technology will be a huge step up over first gen PSVR (which I skipped).
Now it's all about the games. They should try to get a port of Half Life Alyx.
If the lineup is good I think I'm going to buy it, hoping that developers have learned tricks to avoid induced motion sickness (which is something I'm sensitive to even without VR, for example without the patch to adjust FOV and turn off all forms of blur I couldn't play Deathloop).
 
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ManaByte

Member
Especially if they add upscaling techniques like FSR 2.0 into the mix.

Not even that. The Zen CPU in the consoles this time is more than enough for VR. The whole reason for the Pro last generation was the Jaguar CPU they shipped with originally was barely suitable for VR. Sony knew this and why they timed Neo to arrive not long after the launch of PSVR so there'd be an option that ran PSVR better. It had nothing to do with TV resolution or frame rates (remember the PS4 was hitting 1080p when the Xbox was hitting 720p).
 

Romulus

Member
Tbh considering the specs of the ps4, it had no business running some of the VR games it did. Stuff like Dirt 2, Astrobot, and Hitman looked great. Ps5 not only has a ton more grunt, but psvr2 rendering saving techniques on top of that with closed box optimization will be great seeing sony first party devs behind it.
 
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Dream-Knife

Member
80fps is getting into dangerous territory with VR though. I assume it's going to use reprojection to get a minimum of 90fps?
 

clintar

Member
Wonder if they can provide modes with foveated rendering and eye tracking in 2D through the headset like the PSVR mode when playing 2D modes.
 

Keihart

Member
None of those games, at least on the first page, are AAA games made for VR. With all the respect I have for Beat Saber or Pistol Whip, they don't compare to a traditional AAA game. They're made for VR though, obviously.

I know this website wants to call them AAA games, but they're not AAA games. Budget is magnitudes lower.
Wait, you haven't played Imsomniac's last game?

There is also Lone Echo 1 and 2.

I mean, if you wanna try more high production VR games that is.

There is a Medal of Honor game that looked pretty polished but i haven't got around to play it so can't either recomend or talk about it's production quality.
 
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Ozriel

Member
Because we want more games like Lone Echo and Half Life Alyx on it.

Nothing wrong with that. Everybody should want more big budget VR experiences.
Everything wrong with dismissing smaller games, and with equating budget with quality.

That's like saying any random Ubisoft AAA game is better than Hades.

Scoffing at Resident Evil 4 VR - one of the best VR games in years - because it isn't as high budget as Alyx is quite silly.
 
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