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GDC Expo: hands on impressions/media of Project Morpheus (Sony VR)


y'all should be ashamed
Dec 7, 2006

Live demos are happening now! The demos include the Deep, a special build of Thief, the Castle, and Eve Valkyrie. I'll update the OP as they come in.

Journalist Impressions:

Tested (video)
"That was literally one of the first things to jump out at me that this is software that was made by a real development house. Not that Oculus demos we have seen has not been great but the motion of the animals [in The Deep] is great. The flow of all the fish in there... The schools of fish were all really natural and fluid."

The term ‘revolutionary’ has been hijacked by public relations people and diluted with overuse, but like Oculus Rift before it, I’d happily describe Project Morpheus as such without fear of sounding disingenuous.

Associated Press (exclusive NASA demo)
NASA Mars Project: The technology demo created in tandem with NASA utilized high-resolution images captured by both satellites and the Curiosity rover to transport a user to the surface of Mars. The rover itself also made an interactive appearance, separately navigated by Project Morpheus senior software engineer Anton Mikhailov on a DualShock 4 controller.

The parts of the landscape closest to the user were crafted from rover imagery, while mountainous vistas in the distance were filled in using satellite data. By depicting the surreal sensation of strolling around a chunk of the Red Planet, the minimalistic demo was the most immersive of those on display and showed off the non-game capabilities of Project Morpheus.

Sony has had a very strong first showing for their Project Morpheus VR platform. It's clear that they've been working behind the scenes for some time now, and that this offering isn't just a me-too product. Overall, I've been more impressed with what I've seen right out of the gate than I have with any of the numerous Oculus Rift showings I've attended. The device looks better, fits better, and seems to have more immersive and higher-quality demos to share.

Oculus Rift still wins on resolution, and there is less motion blur in their latest kit, though. And they have what seems like all the brain power in the world at their disposal to figure out any issues that might come up otherwise.

"We did another demo with a companion app where we got [PlayStation exec Shuhei Yoshida] walking around in this creepy house, and on the companion app we had these different scary sounds. So we would scare him with these really eerie noises, but the payoff one was this really horrible face that would leap out really close [to the players' face], and Shuhei screamed 'Ahhhhh!'."

What Sony does have, though, is the ecosystem to make virtual reality a viable proposition for the living room - and in its open-armed relationship with indie developers, it's also got a community of its own who will help shape the future of what feels like the most exciting, disruptive technology to come to video games in an age. Regardless of that, though, it's made an accomplished start, and brought the VR dream a significant step closer to becoming a reality for all.

In Castle, it's all about physical interaction, grabbing swords and shooting targets with the crossbow in a very natural and intuitive feeling 3D environment. After smacking a hapless training dummy around with a sharp length of metal for a minute or two I was grinning from ear to ear, but when I realised I could rip his arm off and beat him around the head with it, the experience really started to hit home.

The cat's out of the bag and ... uh, on our head? Okay, we can do better than that, but what we're trying to say is that we just used Sony's new Playstation 4 virtual reality headset: Project Morpheus. You already know the specs and all that good stuff, we're here to tell you what it's like using the still-in-prototype-form virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4. Good news: it's pretty great! Surprise!

The Verge
There's no price or release date on a final version of Project Morpheus, and Sony has confirmed that it's definitely not coming this year. What we've seen, though, is a worthy entrant into the admittedly small head-mounted display market. Sony's hardware improves on the Rift's design, and despite some problems with image quality, it certainly measures up to similar options. For now, what we're really waiting on is a real stable of VR games, beyond tech demos and some adaptations of non-VR titles like Thief. And given its considerable clout with game developers, this will hopefully be an area where Sony really shines.

Having tried both Sony’s new Project Morpheus virtual reality prototype for PlayStation 4 and the latest development kit from Oculus, I have to give the slight edge to the young upstart.

For now, I mean. It’s important to realize that neither of these machines, in their current forms, is going to be sold to consumers. In interviews, Oculus and Sony reps both stress that their virtual reality headsets are not ready for prime time — they just want developers to be able to work on content while the hardware is still being refined. So there is every reason to expect that both of these machines will change significantly before gamers are ever asked to buy one. Still, at the moment, the boxy, plain new Development Kit 2 from Oculus was a more refined experience than Sony’s slickly designed Morpheus set.

VR Focus
Sony Computer Entertainment’s Project Morpheus was yet another of their poorly kept secrets, and yet little could have prepared the audience at yesterday’s ‘Driving the Future of Innovation at Sony Computer Entertainment’ for just how accomplished the device would be. Today however, VRFocus was granted access to the playable builds of both The Deep and The Castle Demo. There’ll be hands-on previews of both of these titles coming very soon, but before that there’s something more important to discuss: the headset itself.

We'll have more on Sony's virtual reality headset soon, including more detailed thoughts on how Project Morpheus compares with the new Oculus Rift headset. The bottom line, for now: Video game VR is here and it's no joke, and what Sony's got so far seems promising.

The post-Oculus world has a minimum level of quality for virtual reality that new products have to at least match, if not clear, and Sony’s push into console-based virtual reality could poison the well for other companies if their high-profile hardware isn’t up to the task.

Luckily, it works well. Very well.

The entire experience is exhilarating. With a full-coverage 5-inch RGB 1920 x 1080 panel (960 x 1080 per eye) and field of view at a future-ready 90-degrees, this experience is just as massive as Oculus Rift’s DK2. While it’s not all as perfectly smooth as Oculus Rift, since we’re still ever-so-limited by the PS4’s abilities in this unit, it’s still not bringing us the same queasy feeling we had with the first Oculus Rift experience.

Twitter Impressions:

Jeff Gerstmann ‏@jeffgerstmann 52m

Tried the Sony VR stuff. It’s pretty comfortable to wear, performance seems solid.

Patrick Klepek ‏@patrickklepek 53m

Enjoyed my time with Morpheus. I'm a sucker for VR, but it's like they made it just for me: a demo where a great white shark attacks.
Damien Kieken ‏@DamienKieken 10m

Sony gave us this guide before starting the demo :)

So, here is my Morpheus demo debrief. It's quite comfortable and easy to adjust. Immersion wasn't perfect: was still able to see the ground. The screen quality is good but you can still see the pixel like with the Oculus Rift (haven't tried the HD one). The Demo in itself was you beefing blocked in a cage with a shark attacking you. You couldn't really interact. Immersion is quite cool, even more with the pad mimicking your arm. As soon as the shark attacks the cage, everything is moving but not you. So it's quite weird and breaking your immersion. I'm subject to motion sickness but didn't felt it here which is great. Maybe because the character wasn't moving. Overall is great to see Sony moving to VR. Result is for me like Occulus Rift.
Solanimus - DavidHK ‏@Solanimus 3m

Picture of me being the first to demo sony's project Morpheus #GDC2014

So the resolution is not an issue for Morpheus. The depth is good, comfort is good... Not best tracking, but can be fixed I think. I'm definitely looking forward to developing for Morpheus. #GDC2014

Morpheus did not feel the same as oculus. I mean that in more than one way. The only thing I would have liked more besides tracking is that the sound was too quiet so I could not hear the nuances of the sound work done by Sony.

The first demo I played was The Deep. I was inside a cage going underwater and got attacked by a shark. The second demo was one where I could move more freely; punching and shooting in a medieval setting. I got eaten by a dragon. Both demos looked impressive graphically and the depth was very well done. Bubbles close and wreckage far away in the deep. The current downsides for Sony to work through: tracking, quicker resetting of calibration, and perhaps the sound.

What currently sets Morpheus apart from what I've done with oculus is the clarity of very near and far as well as full body tracking, and overall comfort of course. The consumer version of Morpheus (as this was a prototype) will hopefully have more precise tracking with good calibration, and good 3dsound. I must emphasize the comfort. Morpheus is very comfortable; I didn't even think about that I was wearing it until I got asked in an interview.

Project Morpheus gets Sony a gold star so far.
Sebastien 'Cb' Kuntz ‏@Cb_VRGeek 2m

#Morpheus: good rez, comfortable, low latency, wide range position tracking , hand tracking 2b improved, some blur pic.twitter.com/CYs4C29dXR

#Morpheus: not tried DK2 yet, but FOV was similar to DK1. Less blur, but still a bit. The tracking (head/hand) is very stable.

I tested "The Deep", unnderwater demo, IK was off, but position tracking really adds. Earphones not so good but 3D audio quite nice. Head and hand tracking are stable. It was really showing in the sword demo, especially hand tracking. They have body IK also

Daniel Jung ‏@DimensionalEye 54m

The Deep in action! #GDC2014 #GDC14 pic.twitter.com/7UpdAkHdlM


Jan 9, 2008
I really couldn't be more pumped for VR, this and Oculus', I can't believe we're finally getting this stuff.


Feb 11, 2006
The guide gave me an idea...

Imagine the headset comes bundled with some tech demos, like a Manta Ray and a T-Rex. I'd love that!


GAF's Bob Woodward
Jun 8, 2004
Cool that they split out video for the queue to watch. I wonder if they're all standing demos... EvE would presumably be better sitting down.


Jan 20, 2013
jett said:
Begun, the VR wars have.
I really hope this becomes the case. That way, we as gamers can get the best products possible. I don't want Oculus to rush but, if they know they have something ready to roll out, then they should do so. But, if they have something cooking that is so good that they need extra time, they can do that too. But, competition is good.

I mean both are for different platforms and PCs will likely have the better experience. But who will control the VR mindshare?


I'd be in the dick
Oct 29, 2006
I hope they can get good feedback from this showing for what needs improvement and what's good so they can really focus on getting this thing right.
Feb 28, 2012
Is there more potential to this than just first person games? I can't imagine playing a 3rd person shooter, sports game, or RPG with this. Maybe it's just me.


Oct 26, 2013
I may be in the minority here, but I love the blue lights at the corners. They really give it a futuristic look.

And I wonder how long before someone gets really into a demo and accidentally punches one of those Sony employees.
Feb 13, 2013
I really hope this becomes the case. That way, we as gamers can get the best products possible. I don't want Oculus to rush but, if they know they have something ready to roll out, then they should do so. But, if they have something cooking that is so good that they need extra time, they can do that too. But, competition is good.

I mean both are for different platforms and PCs will likely have the better experience. But who will control the VR mindshare?
Heck I'm just glad Oculus is giving regular consumers the option to buy in now if they want to. If the consumer version is 1440p I don't even wanna think about the gpu setup I'm gonna need to achieve presence at 90hz. So damn tempted to get a DK2 yet so conflicted...
Is there more potential to this than just first person games? I can't imagine playing a 3rd person shooter, sports game, or RPG with this. Maybe it's just me.
Totally doable.

Imagine a 3rd person game where it feels like you are following them in the real world instead of on a screen. Right now you are viewing it on a flat surface, but with VR you are essentially "in" the world but watching your character move and react. It's still much more immersive than the flat panel you have now.


May 31, 2006
Seattle, WA
Is there more potential to this than just first person games? I can't imagine playing a 3rd person shooter, sports game, or RPG with this. Maybe it's just me.
Don't think we really know yet. Still at that stage where the rules are being written. RPG and sports can be first person though. One of the Unreal demos was a first person table top RTS of sorts, but yeah different camera perspectives are an open question. Will a third person game in Oculus still feel technically like a first person game?