The new version of Sony's Project Morpheus is the most comfortable virtual reality headset I have ever worn.
The straps move all the weight to the back of your head where it's hard to notice, and the front screen can move forward and backward on a sort of track, leaving plenty of room for your glasses. There was some light bleed from the bottom, but overall it felt as close to wearing nothing as possible. Sony has obviously spent time on fit and finish, and it shows.
Sony has also announced a few details about the new hardware, and the specs are impressive. They've also stopped being coy about whether this is a product or just something to drum up headlines; the hardware is coming in the first half of 2016. There were a number of new demos at the GDC event, but the most impressive was "London Heist", a gunfight that used the Project Morpheus hardware and two Move controllers, one in each hand.
The demo begins with a man berating you about this and that, and it's hard not to flinch when he flicks a cigarette at you. He then hands you a phone, someone asks you to explain what happened earlier in the day, and you're warped to a shoot out in an ornate room as you stand behind a desk, complete with drawers you can open and find, imagine this, a fire-arm.
Sony's Move controllers handle virtual reality very well. I was able to reach forward and grab the handgun, and you have to manually pick up clips and slide them into the bottom of the gun to reload. There seemed to be some pretty strong aim correction as I ducked behind the desk and returned fire at people none-too-happy about my plans to steal a gem, but it felt like being in an action film. You have to make sure you stay behind cover, and return fire when they give you an opportunity.
The graphics weren't flawless, you can still make out pixels and interacting with the world through disembodied hands can be somewhat strange, but the level of interaction and feedback provided by the Move controllers and the PlayStation camera exceeds what we're used to from existing VR hardware.
It's an amazing demo. I felt in control of everything as it happened, and ducking to avoid gunfire while being able to aim back in a "realistic" way was a great way to show off the technology. It didn't feel real; I've handled a few firearms before and I know how hard it can be to fire accurately. It felt like you'd imagine it would feel if you ever found yourself in an action movie. It's wish fulfillment, and it works.
I've often written about how virtual reality needs to move past guns and violence, and I still believe in that stance, but I also can't ignore how well shooting games can be designed in virtual reality.
This is a tech demo, not a game, and I'm not sure how it can be turned into a full release, but Sony certainly proved that the Morpheus is up to the task of rendering complex scenes with graphics well above what we're used to in virtual reality. This is an impressive feat for the PlayStation 4, and a demo that does a great job of showing what the hardware can do.