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PlayStation VR2 announced, bringing eye-tracking and Horizon’s Aloy to the living room

Firesprite and Guerrilla developing a new VR adventure, with a new hero to play

the playstation vr2 logo Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

PlayStation VR2 is the next virtual reality headset coming from Sony, and a VR adaptation of Guerrilla Games’ acclaimed Horizon series is a launch title, the company announced Tuesday evening. Launch dates or windows for either product were not given.

Horizon Call of the Mountain is being developed by Guerrilla and Sony’s newly acquired Firesprite studios, the makers of The Playroom series for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR. The game will use the new PlayStation VR2 Sense controller, along with “new sensory features” that the headset can deliver, to provide a more lifelike and immersive feeling of playing virtual reality games, Sony said.

PlayStation VR2 will use headset-based controller tracking, which abandons the need for the PlayStation Camera. The headset will use embedded cameras to reflect the wearer’s movements and field of view in-game. Those will combine with headset feedback and 3D audio to amplify the in-world experience, Sony said.

“Headset feedback is a new sensory feature that amplifies the sensations of in-game actions from the player,” Hideaki Nishino, the PlayStation executive in charge of platform experience, said in a blog post Tuesday night. “It’s created by a single built-in motor with vibrations that add an intelligent tactile element.”

As an example, Nishino said that players “can feel a character’s elevated pulse during tense moments,” or perceive objects whizzing by their heads. “Additionally, PS5’s Tempest 3D AudioTech makes sounds in the player’s surroundings come alive, adding to this new level of immersion.”

The eye tracking means that looking in a different direction — without turning one’s head — “can create an additional input for the game character,” Nishino added. “This allows players to interact more intuitively in new and lifelike ways,” Nishino said.

Eye tracking represents the state of the art for VR headset technology; so far, it’s been integrated into the HTC Vive Pro Eye, introduced in 2019, and eye-tracking modules and add-ons are available for other Vive headsets. Facebook’s Oculus headset has yet to implement eye tracking, and Samsung has been said to be working on it for its Gear headset line since 2016.

Tuesday evening’s announcement confirmed previous statements and reports in 2021, some of them from Sony, about plans for the new PlayStation 5-compatible headset and controllers. Eye-tracking was discussed at length in a May 2021 report by UploadVR. Sony also touted the headset-based controller tracking in a feature list revealed last March.

As for Horizon Call of the Mountain, Sony and Guerrilla Games offered little beyond a teaser trailer that featured studio director Jan-Bart Van Beek speaking about the project for 90 seconds, followed by a short, in-game clip showing the player gazing up as an enormous, brontosaurus-like mech stomps by.

“We don’t want to reveal too much just yet,” Van Beek said, “but this story will be told through the eyes of an entirely new character. You will also meet [series protagonist] Aloy, other familiar faces, and new characters along the way.” The studio is keeping mum about additional details until its PlayStation 5 title, Horizon Forbidden West, launches on Feb. 18.

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